Meet Orazio Arancio (i.e. how to draw a rugby player)

Leggi in italiano

As I came from Catania, I’m a bit “provincial”, inthe sense that I have a “small-town” mentality, (even if Catania is not so small), so I love to celebrate my fellow citizens who succeded in their activity. An example is Orazio Arancio, nicknamed “bimbo” (i.e. “baby”), who made the history of rugby playing in Amatori Catania for a decade and then taking the San Gregorio from nothing to the Super 10 (the maximum italian league), not before winning the title of Italian Champion with Treviso and traveling in Italy and abroad, then becoming a coach and eventually manager of the Italian Rugby Federation.

I don’t know why, but I remember him especially for a try with the National team that made him the first European to score against South Africa, also because Italy was the first selection to host the Springboks after the end of apartheid and the subsequent resumption of the International test matches. It was a match played in Rome on November 12, 1995  in which Italy made a great performance, considering the value of the opponent (who win 40-21).
Well, you can find more details about Orazio Arancio career and biography on Wikipedia, while an interview to “La Gazzetta dello sport” reveals why he is nicknamed “bimbo”.

I just want to show you the caricature portrait that I did one day that I wanted to train myself on a subject that required an aggressive pose and a gritty expression to the limits of evil.
You may like it or not, I like it (!) and, above all, I liked to draw it, even it was a hard work.

How I did it

I had a good start: I downloaded my reference images and I easily found a rugby pose and may portraits of Orazio Arancio. It was not trivial to understand which features I had to emphasize and I consumed a lot ‘of paper in warm up sketches before making one convincing me.

Orazio Arancio reference photo
Orazio Arancio

I liked the final pencil, anyway. But after scanning, I was no longer satisfied with the likeness, also becouse at the beginning my intent was to represent Orazio Arancio as a player, that means younger, beardless and with a long hair, then I changed my mind and I decided to actualize it, also because a good sportsman Orazio Arancio is aged little and well.

Orazio Arancio
Orazio Arancio caricature: firt version.

So I drawn the head again and I also desired to practice with the tablet and I traced the lines of the drawing in Photoshop. In short, I revolutionized my normal workflow increasing the time of realization.

Orazio Arancio second version (face)
Second version 0f  Orazio Arancio face: from the pencil )on the left) to the digital lineart (on the right).

After the merging of the head and the body and the lineart clean-up, I completed what I thought was the bulk of the work, instead it was only half the work.

Orazio Arancio digital ink
The digital lineart after  I drawn again the face.

Thinking to speed up the realization without losing quality I chose to color in a different way than usual. Instead of putting the right color at every point, I did a single Photoshop layer for grayscale shades and then overlap the color using the blend method “color”. In this way, if you have worked well with the shades of gray, you just have to add flat colors in the “color” layer.

In order to add color to the caricature of Orazio Arancio I created a Photoshop layer devoted to flat colors and I overlap it to the grayscale shades layer changing the layer blending mode of the first one from “normal” to “color”. 

The problem is that creating grayscale shades has been far from easy, and especially in the area of ​​the skin I could not prevent the overlapping color from distorting, giving a totally unnatural effect when changing the blend method of the level. Working patiently with the brushes and the airbrush I obtained what I wanted.


Orazio Arancio grayscale
Orazio Arancio caricature in grayscale.

But I do not think I have recovered the time lost for the initial errors: maybe I would have done better to use the standard coloring method, especially since the shirt of Italy that Orazio Arancio wear in my drawing has no stripes, so I would not have had to continuously jump from one color to another to make the shades.
It is not the first time that I used this coloring strategy but I slowly improve in terms of speed, although the final result is not bad.

Orazio Arancio colors
Color version.

As usual I added noise to improve the whole figure.
The last step was to create the background. Although I remember many controversies between Orazio Arancio and Amatori Catania at the time of the derby with the San Gregorio, I think it was right to remember the original link of this great athlete with the red and white club, on the other hand 10 years spent together do not cancel some misunderstanding. So I reproduced in the place of the sky the sequence of horizontal red and white stripes typical of the Amatori. The dark vignetting in the corners and a bit of noise serve the purpose of avoid to much distracting light. The final touch represented by the white frame, in my opinion give the right balance to the composition and it represents unexepected added value.

Orazio Arancio caricatura by BAnt
Final version of my Orazio Arancio caricature (I added the gray border in orde to make the white frame visible).

In short, as often happens when the work is laborious, I am no longer able to judge if the result is good or not, for the simple fact that I looked at it too long and then I do not know if the portrait really resembles the subject, rather than his transfiguration created in my mind as a result of the application at work.
Anyway, one more time I refined my drawing and caricaturing skills and I hope you can get inspiration from reading this long post.
If so, please let me know in the comments and, why not, tell it to your followers on social networks 😉

P.S.: Find below the animated GIF summarizing the workflow in creation of this artwork. See you next time!

Orazio Arancio GIF animata

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