The thing about Doctor Who art is that there’s a hell of a lot of it. Traditional, digital, photoshop. Every DVD. Every book. The comics get about three covers each on a monthly basis. And that’s even leaving out the vast body of fan art, the dark matter that holds the internet together. And of course it’s all (mostly) amazing. This makes it bloody hard to come up with an idea for an image that doesn’t feel like it’s been done to death.
I knew I wanted to do another bit of Doctor Who fan art, and I chose Troughton because the 50th anniversary of his first appearance gave me the perfect excuse. I’ve always loved his ‘Harpo Marx’ air of shambolic eccentricity. (And the hat. That ridiculous hat.) The strange thing is that despite being a lifelong Doctor Who fan I mainly know the black and white stories through the Target novelisations and old issues of Doctor Who Monthly. It’s only more recently I’ve started to properly catch up with Hartnell and Troughton on DVD, and of the two it’s Troughton whose performance truly transcends the character on the printed page. Mercurial, always adding some little bit of ‘business’ to his scenes, but clever and sombre when he needs to be.
The problem was what do do with him. For the Peter Capaldi one I’d at least had the fresh angle of juxtaposing him with the earliest Cybermen. The idea of Mondas being Earth’s upside-down mirror lent itself to the angular yin-yang design of the image, which felt a little bit out of the ordinary. It crystallised in my head. I knew it could work. Now every other idea I could think of was either standard portraiture (like my preparatory pencil sketch) or a floating-head movie poster.
My eventual inspiration was the recorder. Lack of on-screen appearances notwithstanding, it’s attained an iconic association with the Second Doctor, and I suddenly hit upon the idea of making that the ‘hook’, with the tune emerging from it… and the tune containing images… and the images being a rough sort of record of his journeys. It’s pretty eccentric (in keeping with the character) and had the virtue of being something I hadn’t seen before, which always makes me much happier.
I’d originally envisaged more of a twinkly!Troughton, but it turns out that playing the recorder and smiling at the same time is quite tricky, so we ended up with frowny!Troughton instead. (More attack eyebrows). He has a really distinctive face which you’d think would be a doddle to draw. I even sketched him first, and it went fine. But I had huge trouble with the likeness for the painting. I mean, epic trouble. I’d show you, but I didn’t take any photos at that stage to spare me THE SHAME. It was only with quite a bit of over-painting that I found something I was happy with, and… the process went really smoothly after that. (Turns out it was just the usual “I can’t draw, I’m useless” stage I often go through).
I picked a blue colour for the ‘tune’, which does make it look a little bit like he’s blowing water out of his recorder (Daughter: “Daddy, I told you you should have used purple!”), but I think it complements the earth-tones of the face, and picks up on his blue eyes. I deliberately used a looser style for these phantom images as it’s not something I’d tried before and it suits the more ethereal quality of the visions. I kept fiddling with the pencils to find more dramatic angles, less standard reference photos, that better suited the flow. I decided not to distract from the main image with companions or human foes (and let’s be honest avoid any more likenesses), so stuck to the more alien foes. Those are the ones that appeal to the 12 year old boy in me anyway.
I’m quite happy with it overall. In hindsight and with a bit more confidence I’d have used an even lighter touch and left even more white space in the ‘tune’, maybe tailed it off a bit earlier at the top. Because of the looser style in that section my very light pencils still show slightly a bit in places, so that’s something to avoid. Live and learn.
The final image is here.