Lately I’ve been seeing more and more artists I follow on Twitter participating in some gloriously geeky collaborations. One example is Mario Collab, where each artist draws a unique character from Nintendo’s wonderful and enduring flagship franchise.
I thought it might be fun to join in, but the Mario project was too far along. Then my pal Colter let me know about a similar Zelda-themed collaboration that Dan Jones was organizing, which seemed like a wonderful jumping-on point.
Anyone who’s played the first world of Ramps knows I have a soft spot for piranha-based enemies in video games (I blame Chopper and Masher). So it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that I chose the Fin Piranha when picking an enemy for the Zelda Collab. (It also helped that I recently beat Oracle of Seasons.)
I wanted my drawing to be free of the restraint of pixel art without losing the inherent simplicity of the character design.
I’ve been told my sketches are really loose. I like to get my ideas out quickly, and I find that the inking stage holds my interest better when my pencils aren’t very refined. Otherwise it can feel like I’m tracing my own artwork!
Colter gave me some feedback that the squarish tail fin in the sketch was working against the motion of the piranha jumping out of the pool. I agreed, so I made the fin shape more stylized and kinetic.
At first I thought that the rocky “exoskeleton” of the top half of the fish might feel too similar to the smooth underbelly. I changed my inking style between the two halves to try to convey the difference in texture more clearly. The eye got a bit more furrowed and angry in the process.
After filling in the major areas with color, I like to go in and color the line work, too. Maybe it counteracts the inherent falseness of objects rendered with lines (see this interview with the amazing Bernie Wrightson), maybe it softens the unnatural harshness of pure RGB black on-screen, or maybe it just obscures some of the drawing’s imperfections.
I held off on finishing any of the pool until the rest of the image was finished. I don’t remember exactly why… I think maybe I was nervous about getting it too far along only to have it steal focus from the piranha.
Here’s the final image (original tweet here). I added some highlights and shading, finished the pool and added my Twitter handle (standard for this sort of collaboration).
This was a lot of fun, especially when you get to see what other talented artists cook up, too. I did a few more before ringing in the New Year… but those will have to wait for another post.