2020-03-09

Dancer from Atlantis

This is my fourth MOC Wars entry and maybe the one that took most time. The category is Frazetta, referring to artist Frank Frazetta, who is known for fantasy and scifi art; his subjects tend to be people in very few (or none at all) clothes, ranging from barbarian heroes to mysterious princesses. This category is Letranger Absurde's, who's the pirate captain behind the whole thing. He's also in the house team, which is my team (not competing for winning), and he spesifically asked me to build it. Who could have refused?

I went through Frazetta's web page's galleries. There are plenty of things, as he was very productive artist; there are album covers, comic covers and work from Tarzan and John Carter, with dangerous animals and Mars aliens; ridiculous heroes and damsels in distress or causing distress. Many of them were intriquing, but I wanted to work in larger character scale, and very big scenes would have been too heavy.

A less-known piece called "Dancer from Atlantis" caught my eye. It features a naked female skipping with a black bull: Dangerous! The human figure portrayed was remarkably more realistic than Frazetta characters in general, and the strong, hard light exposured the forms well. There was the bull, too - but it was lot more vague and flowing than the human figure. I though about this contrast, and how to create it with bricks. I ended up taking a "painting" approach to the bull, making it two-dimensional silhouette, while making the figure more traditionally. However, it is also supposed to be seen from the back angle only, as there is no front side (boo). This was mostly to save time, as this MOC Wars is rather hectic happening (there's about one week left, but I've got two finished builds after this one too).

Making a nude sculpure with bricks as such would have been interesting; it's a traditional, dignified form of art, from croques to painting and sculpting, but would usually require a model, which naturally didn't exist (or maybe it did, in Frazetta's studio in 1987 when the original was painted, who knows), and the concept of the category was to recreate the painting... A whole sculture would have looked better, and would have made a nice if conspicuous display piece in exhibit. It doesn't work in exhibits now, only in the photos. But making the front would have been hard without a reference, same person and same posture, and working without worrying about how the connections look on the other side was quite refreshing.

I began working with the shoulders. The hand design was there from the beginning, and I really like how the hand muscles turned out. The spine area looks almost grotesque, but I believe it's better than 1x2 tiles, not to mention jumper plates, would have looked. The butt took couple of takes - it's very prominent in the original, with the hard lighting. There's a mixel joint hidden on the right haunch to get the risen leg to the right angle. I especially like the foot on this limb. The left leg works as a pillar and is surprisingly sturdy, even though the whole things is connected to old type of 1x1 plate modified with ring. It's white but visible only on half-a-plate thick part, which is hard to spot. On the head - which was the last part I built - 1x1 quarter round "pie slice" tiles are used to capture the skull shape. It's very different from my usual heads, as the eyes didn't matter on this one. It's interesting how changing the angle affects what is important to show.

As mentioned before, the bull is two-dimensional. The whole thing would probably have been better with whole, big, beefy bull leaping, but hell, building a leaping bull without any experience on such things. Not piece of cake, a bull. But making a two-dimensional silhouette of the bull was interesting too, and created a similar relation than there is in the painting, between the dancer and the beast and the style they are painted in. There were still challenges, too - I had to adjust the height of the head and make the withers thicker to give it some strenght of animal selectively bred to have as much muscle as possible. The tail is a dinosaur tail with elephant trunk - somehow it adds a bit of humour to the build, but is still pretty faithful to the original, and I think those pieces create a beautiful shape together.

I took also alternative pictures with plywood backdrop. They show the bull shape better, but turn it into a barcode, and the dark bley stand looks bit silly with a lighter background, but at least the wood pattern is beautiful.

The next model will be published rather soon and it will be delicious!

-Eero.




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