Friday, April 22, 2011

Getting There

by Arnie Fenner
One of the myths that sprang up around Frank Frazetta (and there were and are many) was that he didn't do roughs, that he just sat down and drew or painted spontaneously without any forethought or preparation. That, of course, is all hooey: Frank was a constant doodler and he created roughs for virtually everything he ever did (we gathered a number of his sketches and comps in Rough Work). How an artist "gets there," how they problem solve and noodle out a piece, is perhaps the most fascinating part of the process—and that fact is clearly proven by the marvelous examples Jesper, Justin, Greg, Donato, Dan, and Eric have posted here in recent weeks.
So, for those that are curious how Frazetta "got there," I thought I'd quickly show some of the thumbnails Frank did in preparation of drawing an illustration for the 1973 Science Fiction Book Club edition of The Chessmen of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs.


  1. Yeah Frank was one of my best students. Thanks Arnie.

  2. Mr. Fenner, this is absolutely fabulous. Thank you very much. It is great to see sketches where the masterpiece came from.

  3. Bill--Frank always hoped he could make you proud.

    Jussi--Glad to oblige!

  4. drool... has anyone been to his museum in the Poconos? I've been dying to go...

  5. The museum, sadly, is no more. It closed after the incident reported here:

    There's been talk of another incarnation of the museum in New York or Florida, but there hasn't been any news as the family has tried to resolve some of their disagreements over the estate following Frank's death. Some major pieces of the collection have been sold over the last year.

  6. I'm surprised. I'm under the impression that Frazetta winged it. I do own the DVD documentary on him, "Painting with Fire", and it does open with a quote attributed to him that he worked entirely from his imagination, no photos and no swipes.

  7. This is great. I always like seeing people's sketches. It's easier to see their early thought and planning process.

  8. Even his thumbnails look like finished drawings!

  9. CES--
    Frank's cover for CONAN THE CONQUEROR (his title, "Berserker") sold for $1 millon in late 2009. CONAN THE BUCCANEER (his title for the revised painting was "Destroyer") sold for $1.5 million a couple of months after he died. "Moon Maid," "Swamp Demon," "Back to the Stone Age" (1970s version), and others have reportedly been sold as well.

    Frank not only did roughs for everything, but he occasionally used photo references as well (he just didn't want anyone to know that he did). Some references he found in photography magazines or art books, some he shot himself: I've seen photos of he and Ellie posing for various paintings and drawings. He was never married to his references, though, and changed them to suit his needs when he was doing the art—but use them he did, at least sometimes.


Contact Form


Email *

Message *

Whatsapp Button works on Mobile Device only

Start typing and press Enter to search