Droids Custom Ackbar: And so we begin anew!

by Bill Cable
on 2020-09-02, 08:17:19

With the PSWCS Summer Social all wrapped up, the PSWCS 20th Anniversary in the books, and no other artistic obligations hanging over my head for the moment, I decided it's probably time to get started on my next custom.  This is the last custom I'm doing from the batch of bubbles I ordered back in 2016, which also included Lando Skiff, Ree-Yees, Squidhead, Gamorrean Guard, Gonk, and AT-AT Driver.  Of that entire series, Admiral Ackbar has been giving me the most trouble coming up with a design.

That's because Admiral Ackbar is SO BORING!  I mean, what exactly does Admiral Ackbar do?  He stands next to a table.  Then he sits in a chair.  And that's it.  And I already drew Ackbar sitting in a chair once in my Cable Original series.  I didn't want to do that again.

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I mean, sure, I could pull from his Clone Wars action... but at that time he wasn't an admiral.  He was a guard for the royals or something.  And Ackbar's Vintage action figure is decidedly not a Mon Cala Royal Guard.  So we're back to sitting and standing.  Absent any inspiration, I got to doodling.

I popped in my ROTJ DVD and took a couple reference photos on my phone, and printed them out.  Just to get a feel for the layout of the room.  I didn't want to just reenact the scene from the film, but I did want my piece to take place in that setting.  My first sketch was entirely vanilla, so I abandoned it.

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I'm searching here.  My next idea... so how about Ackbar is looking over the Death Star plans and has his "EUREKA" moment!  And we have General Madine next to him to share in his joy.  That could be fun.  So I start sketching that out... and I run into a brick wall.  The thing about Ackbar is... he's a squid.  Squid heads aren't especially emotive (no offence to Gerald Home).  The only emotion I'm gonna be able to depict in this piece is via body language and his Ackbar's eyelids.  When I completed this sketch, Ackbar's body language screamed disappointment, and it looks like Madine is consoling him rather than congratulating him.  No matter how happy I make Madine look, this just wouldn't work.

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Time to try again.  I want Ackbar's staff to feature prominently in this piece, so I'm thinking of him pointing with it or something.  It's too goofy of an accessory NOT to include!  But the problem with him pointing is that it makes the drawing too horizontal, which is bad for the layout on the Droids card.  As soon as I realized that, another sketch abandoned...

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At this point, I was getting frustrated.  Frustrated!  That's an emotion!  And it's an interesting emotion... one that can be effectively portrayed through body language!  What if we peek in on Ackbar and Madine while they're at their lowest point?  They got their Bothans' intel, are looking at the attack vectors, and it's hopeless!  The energy shield makes any attack impossible!  They're gonna miss their chance to end the Empire!  Yep... that's something I can work with.  So I started sketching.

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I'm not 100% there yet, but this idea shows a lot of promise.  So we're on our way!

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