You might think that as someone who works in the art field, I should want to spend my free time taking a break from doing anything “creative”. But telling a creative person to stop being creative is like telling Dracula to stop drinking blood and meet you at Tim Hortons for an afternoon iced cappuccino.
It’s just im-Poe-sible.
Hmm, “Poe”? Poe? POE. What kind of a pun was that?
That, my frightful friends, was an Edgar Allan Poe pun, because he is the subject of today’s post.
When I’m not creating art for clients, I can still be found holed up in my studio, hunched over the desk, playing with paints, clay, pencils and too much glitter. The irony is that client art is not something I typically think of as being a “creative” process. It is, of course, but when you’re working for someone else, there are all sorts of constraints and rules, and when it comes to commission artists especially, your job is less about being creative, and more about bringing someone else’s vision to life. I love it, but it’s work. It’s not “fun” in the sense that you can play around and just try something for Creativity’s sake.
Regular Seeker of Truth readers will remember the custom Twilight Zone Funko Pop! figures I designed a few years ago.
Now that was fun. Designing these creepy critters was one thing. But customizing an actual Funko Pop! was something else entirely.
A number of years ago, I picked up a Pop! figure that I thought had potential to be transformed into a custom Rod Serling. I still have plans to do that, but when I saw this American Gods “Mr. Wednesday” Funko Pop! a few months back… I knew what was going to be my very first custom Funko Pop! figure.
Instantly, I imagined this figure with a dark suit, sad, melancholy eyebrows, and a lopsided mustache.
I saw Edgar Allan Poe.
I mean, look at the birds. I don’t know what they’re supposed to be because I’ve never seen American Gods, but as far as I’m concerned, they can certain pass for ravens.
He’s already got that wild, unkempt hair, and a somewhat old-fashioned looking suit. A little paint, a little clay, and I was confident I could transform him.
Doll repainting is all the rage right now, and I’ll admit that I have been hooked on watching doll repaint videos on YouTube for the past few months. In fact, there are two Monster High dolls
collecting dust sitting in my studio right now, waiting to be repainted into a Bride of Frankenstein/Mummy mash-up, and Elvira.
Because I don’t have the “proper” sprays, etc., for doll repainting, I wanted to utilize as much of the existing Pop! figure as possible. The first step was using acetone to remove his eye brows and that blue ring around one eye.
I tried to be careful because I didn’t want to have to repaint the entire face. So using a cotton swab, I attempted to remove just the black brows. As you can see, I wasn’t expecting the vinyl head to be BLACK underneath the flesh-coloured paint, so I kept rubbing thinking I was just smearing around the black from the brow. I wasn’t.
But that’s okay. As Bob Ross says, we don’t make mistakes, just happy accidents.
I mixed up an acceptable flesh tone to repaint above and around the eyes, as well as painting on some slouchy eyelids to give the figure Poe’s signature tired, melancholy look. I also started penciling in his mustache with my watercolour pencils — easier to remove if I needed to redraw it… which I did… four times.
Once I was happy with the mustache’s shape, I finally painted it in with acrylic black.
I felt that the eyebrows were perhaps the most important feature, so before I attempted to style them, I wanted to change the colour of his clothes so it would be easier to visualize how the brows should be to look like Edgar Allan Poe.
I used pure black for the pants, and then a slightly lighter ebony black for the jacket, and a charcoal/white mix for the vest. The paint didn’t want to stick in a few places, and then I remembered that I should have either scuffed him up with a nail file, or gently wiped him down with the acetone to give the paint something to stick to. I wiped away the paint and then gave him a haphazard brushing with the acetone. It helped!
Now onto the eyebrows and eyes.
Once again, I used my watercolour pencils to sketch (and resketch) the eyebrows until I was pleased with their shape before I filled them in with acrylic. I then decided to shadow around his eyes to give the figure that tired, gaunt appearance that Poe always had. I also gave him just a hint of a mouth under the mustache. (Typically Funko Pop!s don’t have mouths, but more and more, they’re being added to the designs, and it often really helps to sell the character likeness.)
Once the face was done, I cleaned up some of the hairline with black paint, as well as adding stray hairs to add to his unkempt appearance, and bulking it out in a few places to aid in achieving a more a-Poe-priate face shape.
At this point, he was really starting to take shape. But the open-collared button-down shirt that Mr. Wednesday was sporting just wasn’t very 19th century Poe-esque. So using air drying clay, I modeled the figure a period-accurate cravat, and set it aside to harden and cure before I continued.
The next day, I realized that the shiny grey shoes didn’t really suit the era, so I turned them a lovely shade of oxblood, which I thought Poe would have approved of. I painted them as well as the cravat, and to make his jacket just a bit more interesting, I mixed metallic silver with black and repainted it for added dimension. Then as a final touch, I broke with Funko tradition and decided to add some shading to the clothing in order to make the whole figure… if you’ll pardon the pun… pop.
A dab of white for the ravens’ eyes, and it was done!
The final step was to protect my work with a coat of clear spray.
I stuck Poe down to my board with a bit of sticky-tac and then did some very light-handed spraying of the entire figure. This not only provides protection for the acrylic paint, but it also helps to smooth out any texture and colour variances that resulted from the repaint.
And there you have it! My custom Edgar Allan Poe Funko Pop! figure. Quite the transformation for what amounted to about 2 days’ work, no?
This custom Pop! will bring my total number of Funko figures to erm, 41-ish — I know, I know, I swore I wasn’t going to collect these things, but I’m telling you, Funko just keeps landing the best licensing deals! Believe it or not, I’m SUPER picky and selective with which ones I’ll buy.
Anyway, Edgar is a right proper start to the Halloween season, I think!
And the Funko, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting,
On a bookshelf by the entrance way to my studio door;
And his eyes have all the sadness of a Poe who’s trapped in madness,
But dreams of her bring gladness to his tell-tale heart once more;
Yes, the rare and radiant maiden from forgotten days of yore,
He will remember—forevermore!
Until next time. Unpleasant dreams…