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Old 12-28-2012, 08:35 AM   #714
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Default Re: It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's the Superman Costume Thread! - Part 1

Originally Posted by Dr. View Post
Yes. Here’s my theory.

Purists consult the comics as ultimate authority. They note the bright blue and red in the costume (not to mention the fine smoothness of the “fabric”) and conclude that this must be the model for a live-action recreation. Yet when this is done, there’s something distinctly unimpressive about the result - between media, something is lost in translation (just review the examples posted in the last couple of pages). What happened?

Well… look again at a typical comic book image of Supes. There’s actually a fair amount of “black” augmenting the blue and red. Of course, we don’t read this as the color black - we correctly interpret the dark ink as the shadows and shading that define muscle contours, fabric folds, etc. But I maintain that this “black” has a cumulative perceptual effect. It tends to subdue the blue and red (which would be overwhelmingly bright/gaudy otherwise) and it adds valuable “texture” and “visual interest/realism” to the image. So far, so good.

Except… when a costume designer tries for a reasonable facsimile, there isn’t (obviously) any “black” on the fabrics chosen; they’re pure blue and red - because that’s what the comics seem to specify. And the unsatisfactory result is a bright, flat, washed-out effect - even when the actor has a Mr. Universe physique. (As you note, you can partially address this by lighting Supes in a harsh, shadowy “film noir” style. But Superman isn’t Batman; he often appears in broad daylight.)

The solution, imo, is “interpretation” and not “imitation.” This would include darkening the colors (to compensate for the lack of “black”). It also makes sense, I think, to add “fabric texture” to (re)create the aforementioned “visual interest” (which is non-existent with a plain/smooth leotard).

And note that MOS has done these very things.
And again, another extremely well thought out and comprehensive post. You found the hidden theory buried beneath my simple post. Bravo.

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