The creation of ‘Max’ was a learning process for Kevin McNicholas. Created in an entirely different medium, Kevin overcame many challenges in creating this piece. Adapting the skills and techniques used in Kevin’s hyper-realistic acrylic paintings to graphic pencil was an impressive feat.
It was important to Kevin that the final picture intensifies Max Verstrappen’s instinctive and forceful nature both on and off the track. The 2021 Formula One World Champion and youngest ever competitor, entering the Formula One arena at 17, Max has raced his way into the spotlight. One of the most iconic attributes of Max is his celebratory fist bump. Captured in Kevin’s piece, it emphasises Max’s bubbling pride and excitement for racing.
With the initial sketch created while on a holiday to Cyprus, this piece was a challenge from the start. Using a variety of techniques and materials, Kevin created a dynamic portrait that brings Max to life. Using soft B pencils, Kevin blocked in the shadows and highlights. Starting with the helmet, Kevin worked his way down the portrait, using a blending stick and fine rubber to create smooth transitions in shade.
An area that Kevin had most difficulty with was the HANS (Head and Neck Support). Located behind the helmet, the HANS reduces the likelihood of head and neck injuries, such as severe whiplash. Made from carbon fibre, Kevin found it challenging to recreate the intricate woven details of the support. In order to replicate the details and incorporate the texture of the carbon fibre material, Kevin used blending sticks to smudge and remove the existing graphite. This gave the effect of texture associated with the HANS.
As crafting such a delicate and detailed portrait, Kevin was worried about potential smudging and distortion. To overcome this, he used a spray on fixative to set the graphite in place and prevent smudging. This left him with a crisp, clean surface to work on top of.
As a result the creation of Max has been a brilliant challenge to work through. Learning new skills and techniques that he can implement into future creations.