This is a picture of Queensbridge rapper Action Bronson, who’s been one of my favorites over the last year or so. Yeah, yeah, he sounds like Ghostface, but so what. Ghostface hasn’t really sounded like Ghostface since, ehhh….let’s say Fishscale back in ’06, so what’s the harm? Getting huffy over a young artist taking inspiration from a legend is silly. Nas blatantly appropriated the style, subject matter and demeanor of Rakim, but that doesn’t make Illmatic any less of a masterpiece.
This drawing was originally something I did in Photoshop, but I took my lines and reworked them in Illustrator. I don’t do terribly much vector work, so this was largely an experiment to see how flexible the brush tool was, though his beard is a shape crafted with the pen tool. The final color was added in Photoshop, and was an experiment to see if I could make a really loud, gaudy color scheme work. The base color is a pretty high saturation red, knocked down to around 70% opacity, and the “highlight” colors are are all on a separate layer, but only showing at around half opacity in the final piece. They’re all rather high saturation, “raw” colors, and without knocking them down a bit and allowing them to blend, the lines disappear to some extent and all that shows up are color blobs. Really, I can’t remember the last time I colored a piece and didn’t lower the opacity of the colors, or at very least place a transparent “wash” layer over top of them to make things gel. I’m always in awe of how something so simple can magically improve a piece tenfold.