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Hughes on Artwork

The Eight Doctors Montage

By Alistair Hughes

The 'Eight Doctors' idea came to me in the shower one night. The 25th anniversary year had just passed and I imagined a sort of 'class reunion' type photograph, with the personalities of each Doctor reacting to one another (all eight Doctors in one room? Four of them in the Dark Tower was volatile enough!)

Starting left to right: I placed Colin Baker away from the others in an almost 'standing in the corner' pose because his era almost assured that this reunion would never happen. (Enraged Colin Baker fans note - I say Baker's era, not Baker himself, though personally I think the best thing about the sixth Doctor's personality was the Valeyard!)

Moving along, I felt that the Seventh and Fourth Doctors would get along well with each other - kindred souls because of their inherent zaniness. Consequently we have Tom Baker offering Sylvester McCoy a jelly baby.

1/ One of the very quick figure
drawings I sketched of my wife, Rose,
which eventually became the 3rd Doctor
in the finished illustration.

The First, Second and Third Doctors' relationship has already been well established in the 10th and 20th Anniversary stories - hence we see a lot of mutual glaring and defensive body language.

Although an excellent character, it is generally agreed that the Fifth Doctor was probably the quietest. So I have emphasized his apparent 'youth' and put him cross-legged at the front (as the youngest members of such 'photographs' are often placed). He is looking up with astonishment at Peter Cushing's Doctor (or should I say 'Doctor Who'), edging his way into the picture.

Cushing is furtively adding himself to the ranks because I suppose there will always be some amount of controversy over whether he should be accepted into the fold as a true Doctor, or not. I have included him because, although the Dalek films were somewhat juvenile, I believe that having an actor of Peter Cushing's calibre creating a version of our favourite hero is a milestone which shouldn't be forgotten.

One factor in this illustration which I had firmly in mind from the beginning was a determination to avoid simply copying various photographs of the different Doctors and then hashing them together to try and form a convincing 'group shot'. I felt it was very important that they were seen to be reacting to one another - something which I wouldn't have been able to achieve by using pictures of the Doctors in totally unrelated situations.

So - with a combination of subtle persuasion, bribery and pleading, I somehow convinced my wife to dress up in (wait for it...) various coats, jackets and scarves, and adopt poses for each Doctor while I sketched her. (Very rapidly - modeling for a sketch isn't much fun, as she continually let me know). I couldn't, however, persuade her to keep Peter Davison's relatively uncomfortable cross-legged pose for long enough, so I set up a mirror on the floor and modeled for myself (which is why the Fifth Doctor has anorexic legs in my illustration - and why I've still got cramp in my calves and thighs).

[Intermediary stage]
2/ An intermediary stage in the illustration, showing how I gradually applied dot-stipple to outline the drawings of the Doctors

Using a live model seemed to give the inter-relating and spontaneous feel which I was after and, having composed the final drawing, I then embarked upon five weeks of cramp-inducing dot-stipple. This involves building up tonal areas of light and shade with dots of ink from various different Rotring pens (this time driving the long-suffering Rose mad with over a month of constant `tapping' noises as I dot-stippled on into the wee hours). I then backed the illustration with a dot screen, produced on an Apple Mac computer, to give the final effect.

My mistake this time was a matter of scale. The actual size of the Eight Doctors illustration is well in excess of 1 foot by 1 1/2 feet and, because of the necessary reduction (over 200%) to fit onto a TSV page, and my lack of understanding about the processes involved in printing TSV, an awful lot of detail was lost.

It was an unfortunate error on my part, but taught me a valuable lesson in making sure that my artwork can be reproduced without difficulty in future. The original artwork really has to be seen to appreciate how much time and work was involved, but I did receive the honour of having 'The Eight Doctors' appear on the cover of the Trakon programme.

[Final illustration]
3/ The final illustration, now backed with a graduated-screen tone.

This item appeared in TSV 19 (June 1990).

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