I think this was the last picture I made before I left London for Sydney. L'ete had made me feel that my Art Nouveau / robot idea was a good one, but I didn't think I'd completely nailed it. When I found this Paul Emile Berthon image, I knew it would be a better image to appropriate, as all of the framing and decoration had great potential for being updated. Also, it's just a fantastic image.
This was, as you can imagine, a very long pencilling stage. I really wanted to appropriate as many elements of the original as possible, so the framing, flowers, and even the clouds in the background were included. Breaking the face into plates like this is a technique I've largely stuck with since, and is kind of a signature of the Mechanicals at this point. Turning Berthon's framing into browser windows seemed the most sensible update, and gave me a few elements to add variety with, like the loading wheel and the buttons at the bottom. I could have made the fingers a bit thinner, but the posing still gives them some of the elegance that Berthon gave them.
I knew I was setting myself a lot of work to do when it came to inking the hair on this, but I really think it was worth it. With the largely clear linework surrounding it, the dense lines of the hair have a real textural contrast. The entire time I was inking them, I was worried I was wasting my time, but I think it paid off in the end. I do wish I'd rendered the plant in the background with a slightly different style, though.
I did try to emulate Berthon's very subdued palette with my colouring. At the time, it was probably my favourite colouring job, and I think I've followed this sort of style to some degree ever since. I did make the choice to give the hair a bolder colour than Berthon did, to go with the texture, and make it stand out further.
While I was never 100% happy with Summer, this was a piece I was really happy with. What do you think? Can you see this piece in elements I'm doing now?