Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Creation of Hunger from "Servant of a Dark God," a Wonderful Fantasy Novel by John Brown

Below are the steps it took to get to the above image. 
 This whole thing began with an experiment. I had sat down to work and flipped open an art book with paintings by Richard Schmid.  I recalled that he normally started his oil paintings with a wash of light color which served both to give him a harmony of color and a pulsation of color right from the get go. So I thought I'd give it a try digitally.
Next using a number of different brushes, using color burn, multiply, screen,and color doge, modes, I painted away, simply enjoying the fun shapes. At this point I had no idea what I wanted to paint. I let the abstract shapes "speak" to me, as I focus on design. I wanted something interesting on an abstract level. As I did so, that dark wedge shape caught my eye.. It looked lik a good candidate for a subject. I sifted around in that area, like a gold miner in a stream, wondering what I would find. A fairy on a rock? A troll?
 And then I had a shape. Fairly ominous.

I believe it was about here that I decided to make it the character Hunger from a "Servant of a Dark God," by John Brown. Hunger is an interesting character. Essentially Hunger, just as its name suggests, has a insatiable hunger. Hunger moves through the ground and nature. When he finds a victim he forms up out from  the ground using rocks, mud, grass and roots to make a body. Notice the branch like shapes on the left. Initially I focused on geting dark muddy feel and ambiguousness. 
Then I went more strong in pose. I like this stage and might use the design for something else, but it wasn't my idea of what Hunger would look like--looked too wolfish. So I continued on.
And then we jump to here. I refined areas and left much of it dark. I think it works for a concept piece. But I wanted to explore Hunger a bit more.
A ton of work went on between the last image and this one.
I added a figure for interest and scale and got in there and defined the branches and muscles. I thought a lot more about the arms and mouth areas. 

Doing this is a trade off. If you compare the earlier phases of Hunger you get more mystery/horror because of the unknown areas lost in the darkness. This phase you get detail and thus lose that edginess, but the detail does give the viewer more to look at, and slides the image more firmly into the "Fantasy" genre were wonder and awe are the main emotions people go to the genre for.
And nigh near complete. This stage I spent forever messing around with elements, trying to clarify shapes and relationships as well correct everything possible. For example I've added atmosphere( Hunger is"contre-jour" which means his figure is silhouetted against a light background--the light bleeds around his edges). I tweaked hungers expression to be a bit more crazy, defined the right arm (his left) and basically fussed like a mother rabbit would getting her litter ready for church.


  1. I love learning about an artist's process and this explains so much about what happens or is happening between stages. Others could go back and try to look at the abstract images and see what you were looking at when you had that "ah ha" moment.

  2. Vincent, I'm happy you found it valuable. I should post more of these.I also love to see how other artists create, step by step.

  3. I'm from Codex, and I would *love* to take you up on your offer. Your work is amazing. If only I had a book ready to self-publish!!! But I don't. I'm shopping my novels to agents and the big publishers first.

    I'm also an artist, but more on the animation & cartoon side of things. I work in games. I wish I could paint like you!

  4. Thanks for the kind words Abby. And I wish you luck with the novels!

  5. Fabulous work. This is amazing. Thanks for taking the time to post WIP steps for us to see. Keep up the work.