Pirate Paintings for National Geographic Pt. 3

Gregory Manchess

This one was a bear.

I had no deck plans for the Whydah, Black Sam’s ship. The client knew what the ship looked like, but because we were all moving so fast on the project, I didn’t get the 3D animator’s images in time to use on this one. I was nearly in the dark for reference, and had to listen to general descriptions and look over deck plans from a ship of the same time period, circa 1717.

This was the only thumbnail sketch I made. From there I shot my models and sketched directly to the canvas. There was just no time to do a finished sketch.

Here’s the basic sequence. Nearly finished and after making the deck glisten just the way I wanted, I realized I’d forgotten the cannons that lined the deck. I also noticed that the ship’s bell, the main artifact that told the divers they had actually found the Whydah and integral to the Geographic exhibit, was placed on the wrong deck. It was supposed to be mounted on the forecastle. This was going to take a total deck redesign and lots of repainting.

Notice the lack of cannons in the last frame...

What did I do? The first thing was to scream, “NOOO!” (and other choice phrases). I mentally beat myself to a pulp until I was begging myself to stop, slumped in a chair, and noticed the clock. No time to grieve.

I continued immediately by redrawing over the top of the mistakes with the brush, redesigning as I went, cussing a blue streak until I had control of it again.

Here I’ve added the cannons.

And redesigned the forecastle.

The final painting.

I pinned it on the wall and moved on to the next painting that involved the Whydah’s capture. Four down, six to go...one month left.