Without disclosing the name of the magazine I did this for, I was assigned an illustration of Hillary Clinton.
I was meeting illustrators up at the Society of Illustrators and saw Anita Kunz. She said she passed on the job. That's always funny. I used to get bummed to be the second call, but I would absolutely call Anita first. The concept I was working with was that a Hillary campaign for President would be a brutal process and she is the GOP's top nemesis. They hate her.
Still, she forges ahead.
Joan of Arc seemed a nice portrait twist.
I said I would do it if I could come in close; the AD wanted to see all of her and the area below her feet. Too much background and I lose my eye contact connection. I did a rough sketch that indicated my pose. I kept seeing the Hugh Syme album cover for Rush's 'Moving Pictures' in which movers are moving paintings. (Hugh Syme is an amazing artist).
My thumbnail of Hillary at the stake
When I have a job and am being asked to do something I would rather not do, I try to show the AD what I would do. I rarely charge for this preview if I request to show my idea. It's a good faith offer to have them consider my design. Most often I get to do what I offer.
Thumbnail with Tweaks
However, I am wary of showing thumbnails. My roughs are so different from my finished illustrations and if the publisher or art director doesn't know me I worry that they will get cold feet. So before I sent my rough, sketched in minutes, I photoshopped a bit of environment that I thought might sell my idea.
A more accurate drawing
The client approved the design and environment, but wanted more of her and for me to turn her a bit more in order to see the stake. I then had the time and at the Society of Illustrators while the editorial jury was working, did this drawing.
A sexy drawing of Hillary with environment. The client approved the sketch.
I then took my drawing and shot it and imported it into photoshop to show the general tone. One additional comment was to NOT have her in flames but merely indicate some smoke around her.
Reference for her body
In cases like this, a client provides me reference of the subject. The reference in this case was perfect if I pushed her pissed off look a bit, so I had to fit a body to her head. I purchased a stock photo to use for her body. While not perfect it was enough information for me.
The headshot of Hillary had restricted uses so I can't show it here, but the top of her head was cut off and she was far less annoyed.