Commissioned medals and coins begin with a wide range of resources, from a vague verbal concept to an actual pre-existing coin.
Here are some comparisons of the resource and finished piece.
Seattle University School of Law asked me to design a blind justice medal and provided me with the text. I showed them a few options and this is what they chose. Left is my original drawing, in the middle is the wax cast and on the right is the finished bronze medal.
The most challenging task, and most highly criticized, is to replicate an existing coin. There is a government provision called the Hobbyist Act that allows replicas of some coins to be made which follow the guidelines. On the left is an original Peace Dollar and on the right is my best attempt to replicate it as it might be in prefect mint condition.
For this project I was asked to design a modern Liberty Head to be used as gold bullion. I don’t typically make such a complete drawing (on the left) as this to begin with, but prefer to start with a simple sketch and let the details happen in the sculpt. In this case I was really just having fun with the drawing. The middle image is the finished plaster model and on the right, a very pretty sold gold medallion.
Here is an example of artwork that was provided for me. The client also provided the layout with text (not pictured here). In the middle is the finished plaster and on the right is the resulting bronze high relief medal. I enjoyed adding life to the rustic line drawing.
It is common to get less than desirable resource material. I, of course, prefer good photographic reference for portraits. This is perhaps the worst example of portrait resource. Since the graphic on the left is all that I had to work from, I just had to wing it and do the best I could with what I had.
While the internet can be a treasure trove of image resources, sometimes they get pixilated within an inch of its life as was the case for Stephen Austin University Medal. I chose a loose texture to compensate for lack of visible detail and it actually worked out surprisingly well.