This is one of those illustrations that comes from absolutely nowhere and you think to yourself "What?" I know that I was thinking about what monsters are doing when they aren't destroying people and devouring buildings when I created the original concept sketch.
It was originally a page in my sketchbook that I scanned in then painted in Adobe Photoshop with my trusty Wacom Intuos tablet. But where did it come from?
Breaking My Illustration Failures
So it all started when I realized that I could not create a good illustration without a heavy reliance on reference material. This might not seem like a big deal to you, but let me tell you, it is very difficult to find a zombie or dragon when you need one. Even more of a challenge, once you track one down just try and get them to hold a pose. I dare you.
This limitation was something I could never stand about my own abilities. How was I ever to create a truly unique illustration if every image I created was based off observable objects and beings?
Break the Crutches that Hold You Back
So I went back to a method for improving my abilities that I have come to rely upon. I completely cut out the crutch. I forbade myself from using any form of reference material. This rule is to stand until I can work completely without it.
This "self torture" is nothing new. I have put myself through this several times. The most difficult example was while I was trying to draw "cartoon" style.
It usually starts with an opportunity, in this case I was paid by my university to draw a caricature of each of the 200 professors in the engineering college. Necessity dictated that I drop my realistic style and pick up a more appropriate cartoon style. Why? Because I did not have the time to spend even a half hour with each individual, and in those days a portrait probably took me an hour or more. As you would expect those first 20 or so caricatures were basically portraits with small bodies. However, by about the 200th one I was fairly proficient. It still took me another 3 years of drawing daily single panel and strip comics for the local paper (a job I landed because of the caricatures) to really get the hang of it.
So, back to this illustration. This painting represents my first creation that is a direct result of the "Samurai Sketch" sessions. I started doing these sessions to force me to take time out of my day to work on my skills. I would sit down for several hours every night with only 3 rules a sketchbook, pencil and marker:
- Do not stop drawing at any point for any reason.
- No use of any form of reference.
- No preconceived ideas for the images. Those first several months were really rough. Allot of my sketch pages from those days are full of absolute nonsense. I would also tend to get into the rhythm of drawing similar things. Many of the earliest creatures I drew in those session look eerily similar, and there is a ridiculous amount of heads floating on pages. but over time it got easier, and the results improved.
This illustration is important step because it represents the first sketch from those sessions that was worth painting. I also rather adore the dainty hands and the domestic nature on such an otherwise horrific monster. I have a vision of more illustrations portraying monsters and aliens being domestic.
This Illustration - Self Critique
I will probably revisit this illustration in the near future. There are many things I really enjoy about it, but there are quite a few things that bug me. For instance, the background. This monster should be in the perfect suburban backyard. It creates the right sense of domestication and effectively contrasts the creature with the environment. Overall the illustration is too dark. This is a common trend in my paintings. This image should be bright and cheerful. Green Grass, sunny blue skies and clean white sheets. Maybe even a puppy playing with an alien child with a white picket fence. So I will likely widen the scene and spend some effort on the layout of the final illustration.