Greetings and salutations!
Well, I finally convinced myself to illustrate Cthulu, a character created by American horror author, H.P. Lovecraft. For a long time I have been mildly interested in the mythos that is Cthulu and having an interest in comic book and movie art, I thought this would be a great combination. Not being a great painter myself (believe me, I know a lot of really awesome painters), I also felt this would be a good exercise for me.
Here are the stages of my work on this illustration. As usual, I used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and Adobe Photoshop for this piece. I spent about half-an-hour a day over about 2 months, so my progress took a very slow pace.
The initial thumbnail was drawn loosely with a chisel tip tool, then enlarged to fit the final format. I had actually thumbed out a few different ideas, but I felt my chosen layout was the best to capture the feel of a comic book cover or movie poster.
After enlarging, I started drawing the line work and details on a separate layer. This is obviously one of the most time consuming steps, but it’s also where I feel most comfortable. I began with the Cthulu (since he is the focus), and later on worked on the individual human characters, one by one. My rough line work tends to be fairly clean and can be used for the final art. My preference is to keep a slightly rough line, as I like the natural look and constructive lines.
Onto black and white tonals. This gives me a basis for the lighting of the elements, as well as how the forms will be painted. Tones also help you construct the composition of the illustration through chiaroscuro. It was at this stage that I decided to reduce the number of foreground characters to 3 people, as I felt there were too many subjects in the initial sketch.
When I finished the tonal, I blocked in colours roughly and then added highlight and shadow areas for more definition of mass. I added most of the painted details towards the end, when I could see if they would help or hinder the painting. After Cthulu was complete, I actually moved onto the background to help unify and harmonize the overall palette. Funny enough, when I started on the human characters, I decided they may look better as a monochromatic element – I think I was right.
Finally, the painting goes into Photoshop where I tweak the colours, make any minor quality adjustments (like lost details or weird aliased airbrush effects) and add the text.
So, there’s my journey to finding the Cthulu in me! Okay, maybe not quite like that, because then I’d be insane.
Hope you like it!