Late to the Stranger Things Party

I’ve really been slacking on my usual pattern of art and website posts. In the last two or three months, I’ve only written a couple of things, which is definitely outside of the norm. Holiday travel is my usual excuse this time of year, but I’ve also had some other things consume my leisure time. One, which isn’t the topic of this post, is a sandbox RPG-style video game called Kenshi. I hope to share a post on it (plus some artwork) at some point, but it’s incredibly fun. Sort of like a mash-up of Age of Empires and Elder Scrolls Skyrim with some post apocalyptic samurai style. The other thing that consumed some of my free time recently has been the Netflix show Stranger Things.

I’m obviously late to the party on Stranger Things. It was a phenomenon that everyone was talking about way back in 2016, so I definitely missed some of that fun. And it’s a show that so many people I know told me I would love – a science fiction 1980s homage, with somehow splashing in elements of the X-Files, the Goonies, and many other nostalgia triggering sources. How could I not love it? I even willingly acknowledged that it probably would be something I would love. I tried to watch it with my wife once, but the series starts with an intense monster scene immediately followed with one of the kids in the show dropping an s-bomb. That just wasn’t workable with a toddler in the room. Eventually, my wife watched it during children nap time and using headphones, but I just never got around to it.

I’m not sure what made me finally watch, but I dove in about a month ago. Wouldn’t you know it, everyone was right – I absolutely loved it. I’m not someone who really binge-watches shows, but I ended up plowing through all three seasons in less than two weeks. I’m actually a little surprised the show fully lived up to all the hype, because it seems like few things do when hyped up so much. Anyhow, I was actually sad when I was done with it and found myself missing watching it.

I’m not really going to drop huge spoilers here, but I will talk about some broad points. I really like the entire cast, but especially Joyce Byers, Jim Hopper, and Steve Harrington. Winona Ryder knocks the Joyce role out of the park. I mean, she has a vast resume as an actress, but I really think it’s her best. The Jim Hopper character is extremely entertaining, but has some dimension to him as well. Although he’s a flawed hero and doesn’t always know the appropriate path, his sloppy best efforts are hilarious. Lastly, I have to mention Steve Harrington. His transformation from easy-to-hate token jerk to meme hero was quite surprising and something I didn’t know I even wanted. His interactions with the kids, especially Dustin, and role in Season Three’s “Scoops Troop” are fantastic.

As I tend to do with things I really like, I had to attempt some fan art. I decided to work on two different pieces, with the first being one of Steve, Dustin, and third season new edition Robin. Rarely do you see a late character addition to a show become such a fan favorite, but Robin is an exception. Her interactions with Steve, Dustin, and Erica at (and under) Scoops Ahoy were some of the best parts of the third season.

So, here’s the Scoops Troop team in action:

So, a lot to talk about with this one. The first noticeable thing to me is the poor planning for the initial sketch. I did not center the subjects very well at all; Steve is mostly in the middle, but somehow Dustin is in a weird place. But once I got the initial sketch down, I just charged forward rather than trying again for something more centered.

Another observation is that I really plied a ton of pencil into this one. All three subjects’ clothing and faces are literally saturated with pencil wax. The tooth of the paper can’t hold on to any more color! It’s a good thing I’m fairly satisfied with how their faces turned out, because the paper won’t accommodate changes in many of these areas. Because of all that blending, I also ended up with a lot of colored dust that settled all over the place. Unfortunately, that means I got some blue hues in the background that I didn’t want.

As I mentioned, I am pretty happy with how the subjects turned out. That was not true throughout the process though, as both Robin and Dustin had some very awkward phases. You can’t really see it in any of my progression images, but there were some stages of this drawing when I thought I’d ruined both Dustin and Robin’s noses into poorly-defined blobs of color. I had to use a graphite pencil to regain some defined shadows there. Somehow I was able to salvage that aspect. Overall though, despite the rough spots, all three subjects did turn out decently. I’m pretty happy with the end result of this one.

I didn’t take many photos as I went along, but I managed to grab enough for a progression .gif. Here’s how it came together:

Well, that’s the first Stranger Things drawing. I also started one featuring Hopper and Joyce, but I haven’t gotten beyond the rough outline yet. Hopefully, I won’t take an entire month to get back to it! The outline started out on the right track at least, so that’s encouraging enough. Again, I won’t drop any huge spoilers, but…a Stranger Things Season 4 trailer just came out yesterday, and it reveals some really great news somewhat related to my sketch.

Also, last thing which is sort of random. When I was cropping this Scoops Troop portrait, I accidentally reversed the image. Since it’s not the original drawing, I didn’t post it in the main portion, but I actually really like the reversed image. It makes the subjects look somehow better. It does sort of emphasize how off balance the entire thing is though. Check this out:


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