Let's Privateer

My first piece of fan art.

Originally published on Figment, Samantha Chaffin's Privateer is a YA historical with ambitious scope, cast, and complexity. Charmaine stars as the hero, a lady pirate captain who must navigate intrigue and treacherous waters while trying to rescue her sister from a blackmailing scumbucket.

This past weekend I was struck by the urge to draw. I cannot draw well. I do not really know how light or bodies work, but I make up for that with enthusiasm. And the source of my enthusiasm for this project was bodice-bursting, hunk-stripping romance novel covers of the 80s and early 90s. I decided that I wanted to draw a poster for Privateer in this style.  

This beautiful work of art began in sketches. I knew that I wanted to feature much of the cast: Charmaine the captain, love interest Derek, lovelorn Benjamin, sister Kitty, other love interest Sir Francis Drake, the villainous Randall, and first mate Presley, who unfortunately, is not a love interest. 

As I chortled my way through google images, I found some gems for reference. I also enjoyed my friends' AC apartment. (That might have explained how the entire cast appeared in sketches--the AC was awesome.) 

Watercolor paper, pencil. Eraser. I love the light sketch of Kitty and Drake in the middle. I hate Charmaine and Derek, who are front and center. 

I quickly discover that I cannot draw people in profile. Oh well. 

The pencil marks in vague shapes take shape. I force myself to commit to bodies. I also start blocking shadows, an old habit from my inking days. (See Charmaine's drooping blouse and Benjamin's biceps on the far left.) I decide to add a little island scene below Randall's menacing face. 

Oddly enough, Randall's menacing face is super easy. 

I discover that I cannot draw hands. I start thinking about texting my friends who can draw hands and feet to ask them if they can draw them instead. For me. 

I decide to add first mate Presley in a stripper pose hanging from a flag rope. I look up the flag for Sir Francis Drake. I do not look up a stripper pose. I wing it. 

I've started inking. Strangely enough, Charmaine, Benjamin, and Derek on the left side come together easily during inking. I'm afraid to do the hands. Disappointingly, I completely botch Kitty and Drake. I screw up Kitty's face chin placement, and I'm forced to ink her hair black and falling into her face. Hey oh! Drake's face comes out looking like an Egyptian wall painting. His six pack is quite distinct, however. 

Benjamin is beautiful. He's only one I love. I start growling at Charmaine's anime hair and Dereke's porn star mane. I commit. The inking is done. There is no going back. 

I swallow my fears because it's too late to bribe a friend to draw hands and feet, and I go on alone. 

I ink Presley's naked legs and forget to give him a butt. It takes me almost 30 minutes to realize this. 

I finish inking the dubious limbs and begin color. Benjamin is glorious. I decide that there is going to be a glorious, heavenly light over everyone. It makes no sense. Nothing makes sense by this point. 

Charmaine has Vegeta hair. I am at peace with this. 

Derek, however, looks like the saxophone player in a Spanish smooth jazz band. I give him a mustache. I wish Vegeta Charmaine was not about to kiss him. "Don't do it," I whisper at the page. "Turn around and see the glorious moon-lit six pack behind you..." 

I chop off Charmaine's fingers and make her hand a fist, tugging on Saxophone Porn Star Derek's vest. 

Presley is still filled with sketch marks and I don't know how to draw. I draw his sexily flexed foot three times before giving up and doing other more fun thinks, like the flex marks on Egyptian Drake's pants. 

I take off the training wheels and erase the sketch marks. The gleam on Kitty's bosom is, as far as I'm concerned, pretty glorious. The gleam on Egyptian Drake's abs and pecs, however, makes no sense, even in my artistic realm of loosely defined light physics. Oh well. Is he straddling a canon as he leans over to grab his lady friend? Good question. 

I shrug and give Benjamin a golden flexy belt instead of dwelling on questions. He's still my favorite. 


I color stripper Presley. He gets a sock (or a boot?) because I can't draw feet and I just give up. He still has no butt. But the red shawl draped between his shoulders is worthy of the Nobel Prize in art, I feel. 

It's definitely past 2AM. 

I color Randall like a freaking Daytona mechanic. It's breathless and easy. I wish everyone could be fat and old and have no hands or feet. 

I give Presley more tattoos in an attempt to distract from his sock and lack of butt. 

I give the poster its title. It's surprisingly easy?

Text is colored. More background work. I'm not in love with the brown, but I'm happy. In hindsight, this is my favorite version. But I have no self restraint, so I keep inking and coloring. 

I keep coloring the menacing volcano clouds. (There's no volcano in the book.) I carelessly draw the moon, freehand. It comes out like a malformed pancake. 

I leave my table, turn off the lights, and go to bed. 

I get up, turn on the lights and go back to the table because I can't sleep with the moon. I grab a juice glass, ink around the rim, and then fill in the clouds. Then I go to bed. 

Above is the final version of my fan art for Privateer.