Some friends traveled to the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico this past summer on vacations. It sure was a fantastic trip, and my husband and I felt very jealous every time they sent us incredible pictures of landscapes, beaches, monuments, and food. One of the pictures caught my eye immediately: it was from a dinner theater, and it showed a man dressed as an ancient Maya. He had a beautiful and elaborate headdress with the head of a crocodile and very long feathers (I assume there were from a quetzal). His skin was painted, adorned with symbols, and he had a big seashell horn. He was amazing! When I told this to my friends, they sent me a lot more pictures of him, almost from every angle! So for me, it was clear: I had to draw this man!
I just had to choose one of the angles and started to sketch in Photoshop. I did not want a realistic design; the picture was good, and I wanted to provide something more. I suddenly remembered the movie of Coco, and I thought it would be great to draw everything with a Disney-like style! I also wanted to show that something was happening in the drawing, so I thought of the character as a real young Maya in some nocturnal ceremony, and I posed him for this. Then, I look for some references: Coco (especially the character Hector), Robin Hood (for the crocodile and animals details), and Aladdin (for color and lighting).
I decided to use a strong line and some flat colors. The line took time because the design was elaborate, but I liked working on it. By the time I ended the colors and started to make the shadows, it was clear that I would need more layers for the sense of deepness and drama I had in mind. At that moment, I moved away from the Disney style and added the details I considered better for the drawing and to create the desired ambiance and lighting. I had a great time!
I learned a lot with this drawing and enjoyed every part of the process. I hope you enjoy it!