Recently a friend asked me to make him a profile picture for his Twitch account. He wanted half to be his face, and half to be a Dead Space mask. Since I’ve been in a flat design phase for a few months, it was a perfect fit. This post is pretty image-heavy, obviously.
Drew gave me a reference photo that he wanted me to use, and I started to research what Dead Space mask might go well with it. I’ve seen others play Dead Space, but I’m shit at horror games so I’ve never played it myself. After some exhaustive research* into the various helmets the protagonist, Isaac Clarke, wears in the series, I settled on the helmet from Dead Space 2, most commonly seen as the cover art.
For the face, I did a rough sketch of the photo in a simple, flat design. This might have been the hardest for me, because I’m not good at caricature. (Also please ignore the Groot head randomly in the image, I was testing a new pen.)
After that, I opened up Illustrator and reduced the sketch to simple shapes for the face and hair.
Mustache and nose next. The nose gave me trouble, I probably drew thirty different shapes beofre I was happy with it.
Next the soulpatch and beard.
I added the eyes and eyebrows (arguably the most important part of this caricature)…then realized that they were off-center. I don’t know why I didn’t start with the eyes first like I usually do, but this is why I start with the eyes first.
The finished wireframe.
Now was the time to convert this into color. The nose was fucking hard to create, and I ended up stumbling upon this great self-portrait by Alex Powell and borrowed his shading technique.
I tend to stick with the Material palette for most web work, but there wasn’t a great match for Drew’s skin or hair color, so the first attempt looked flat in an unintentional way. This forced me to choose my own colors for skin and hair (#firstworldproblems). I also added a slight gradient on various other parts of the skin to give it all a little depth and match the nose a bit more.
At this point, I decided the beard needed to be a little fuller and less chin-strap, and added a bottom lip to make the soul patch stand out a bit more.
I went through a lot of sketches before I finally agreed with my exhaustive research* that the Dead Space 2 mask was the best to use. (Also TIL Genji is 2 slits away from wearing Isaac’s mask.)
Next wireframing the basic outline of the mask. Far simpler than a face.
Now for the mask slits. All pen tool no live tracing here; I fucking hate that thing. Mostly because I can’t get good results from it.
Final wireframe. Simple. Classic. Timeless.
Now to color this bitch. Mask slits first, cause they’re the most important feature.
Then the mask itself. Super easy. I thought about doing some of the extra armor plates and such, but ultimately decided that since this was only one half of a final picture that would make it too busy.
Final colored version of the mask. If toyed with some gradients but they just looked like gradients rather than giving depth so I removed them.
Now for the construction. I chose to use the half of Drew’s face with the raised eyebrow because it’s more reflective of his personality, and it doesn’t matter which side of the helmet is used. Just slapping the two together looked okay (after I tweaked some of the larger angles on the mask), but I hated the flow of the beard into the chin of the helmet. It was too asymmetrical.
After making the beard mimic the line of the mask while widening the lower part of the mask as well, things looked way better.
The final result, complete with patterned background.
Drew’s happy with the result, I’m happy with it, and hopefully it gives him a good starting point for an eventual streaming brand. He’s just starting out with his streaming hobby, so my measurement of success in this situation is simply if he’s happy, and he seems to be. Success!
Drewschbaggery - Twitch Alex Powell Dead Space Wiki - Wikia
*Drew, my husband, and Google.