Judge Dredd Custom Playmat

Today we are going to look at what up until very recently was the latest comic book mat. More on why its now the second to last next time. Since I haven’t talked about it in a while this time round I will be focusing on the early stages of production ie the bit with the pencils and lots of paper.
The brief this time around was to get Judge Dredd, Movie Bane, and Deadpool on the same mat with Dredd being the main focus. I’ve drawn Bane before so know where I stand there and as for the other two while I have a limited knowledge of both I’m going to have to put together reference material on both of them
That done we move onto thumbnail sketches. These give you a better idea of the possible layouts and any potential problems you may encounter later. They are also worth spending a little time on even if you think you know what the final peice will look like, you could surprise yourself and find you like another layout more.
On this sheet development goes anti clockwise from top left to end up quite close to the final layout in the top right. Theres no particular reason I worked it that way, its just how it worked out.
The first few things that doing the thumbnails made me realise however are that A. Dredd and Bane are both quite broad shouldered, and therefore likely to take up a large amount of space on the mat and B. That as much as I would like Dredd’s gun to be on the right of the page for aesthetic reasons he’s right handed so it needs to be on the left.
Both factors influenced the final design leading to Dredd posing as if charging forward letting me fit more of him on the diagonal axis while leaving enough room for Bane. Deadpool is relatively thin in comparison so he will have to squeeze in where he can.
The alternative obviously was to just draw the characters smaller and fit more of them in the image. However I have found that faces, especially the more realistic style ones tend to work best at a certain size on mats, if for example you were to put a large black area at the bottom of this design you would find the size of the faces to be quite similar to those in the Bataman and Avengers panel mats. Also unless your doing some sort of fight scene with dynamic movement how interesting are someones legs anyway?
Having decided what thumbnail we are going to work from its time to go full scale. You will likely note however there are a number of issues yet to be resolved primarily Bane’s head is a bit too small making him look a bit like a Goomba from that live action super mario movie.
On the other hand Deadpool is near enough in a final state and Dredd mostly needs some nips and tucks or rotates and transforms in Photoshop terms. I don’t, for example, currently like the tilt of his head, he needs to be a bit more symmetrical, and his gun hand probably isn’t big enough since its meant to be out in front of him.
I’m still not entirely sure what to put on Deadpool’s book at this point, with him it could be anything although if its something a bit 18+ I’m going to have to do some creative censoring which puts me off bothering to draw that sort of thing in the first place. In terms of Dredd’s outfit its design is something of a collage of components I decided I liked the most from various iterations of Dredd, there are a number of helmet and badge styles for example. Which isn’t surprising really when you think how long the comic has been running and the number of people who must have worked on it.
I’ll skip over the editing on the computer and jump back into pencil work since all that really happened on my laptop was moving components around and resizing things. Afterwards the image was flipped and I worked from that to create a more final piece in pencil.
Usually to do so I would print out the altered image and work from that but with my printer out of action at the time I had to construct another solution. In this instance that solution was to connect an external monitor to my Mac and use it in a similar way to you would a light-box, using the image underneath as a guide to creating a much more detailed final piece. Hence the fact the final piece is made up of smaller components, sticking a A2 piece of paper over a monitor is a tad impractical.
Bane’s head is the right size now and all the angles are a bit more sensible, Deadpool is still reading an empty book but I’m sure I’ll come up with something soon. Its also worth remembering that that an A2 piece of paper isn’t as wide as a Playmat, I still have a little room at the edges to play with.
The next step is to draw the design again this time on the mat itself, yeah its time consuming but each iteration brings in extra detail and weeds out more weird geometry.
As it happened i didn’t figure out what the book would be until after I had done the background, which itself was another element that didn’t get decided until i had the rest of the design on the mat. Once I had settled on the setting being Mega City One the notion that the book was a tourist guide was quite appealing, the only downside is that theres not a massive amount of reference material for the design of the city, I guess its not something the creators have ever been that bothered about, leaving it a bit abstract leaves you more options to make new stuff up.
Although if my map is anything to go by its probably not the best tourist destination in the world.
Next time more Bane and some super villain friends.

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