A few months ago, I took on a large painting commission in an effort to try to loosen up as a painter.
The job in question was Kalimpura, the third installment in Jay Lake’s “Green” series. In this volume, the antagonist packs up everything, including her two children, and ventures back to her home country.
The idea of a single mother, with all of this burden quite literally placed upon her, really struck a chord with me. Given that she is an assassin, I immediately had visions of Lone Wolf and Cub. I knew I had to show her as a Warrior Mother, protecting all that was precious to her.
Here are two alternate sketches that weren’t chosen. One has a little more action. The other, more mystery. Ultimately, the Art Director chose a sketch that I felt was a good balance of both these themes, and accentuated the importance of the “journey.”
The themes, and local, of this novel had a notably “Orientalist” feel to them. Thinking along these lines, I wanted to paint something full figure, outdoors, with a strong sense of spacial atmosphere.
The trouble with painting loose, is that it means I have to paint a lot larger than normal, or I just can’t get the necessary amount of detail in the face that my clients expect of me.
Logistically speaking, painting big usually isn’t great for deadlines. It simply takes more time to cover that much surface. Plus, there’s a lot more STUFF to paint. In this case, it took me about a week and a half longer than I normally would spend on an illustration.
I started with an abnormally loose underdrawing, in the hopes that it would force me to loosen up some. And it did... a little. But ultimately my OCD got the better of my intentions, and I ended up rendering everything way more than I should have.
In the end (and I say that reluctantly, as I feel like I can keep working on it forever), I’m fairly happy with the result. I tried a lot of new things that were out of my comfort zone, and discovered a LOT of weaknesses that I now know I need to work on.
Below is the final product, and how it looks with type treatment alongside the others in the series.
This post originally appeared on Muddy Colors.
Dan Dos Santos’ work spans a variety of genres, including novels, comics and film. He has been the recipient of many awards, including a 2010 Silver Medal from Spectrum, the 2007 Jack Gaughan Award for Best Emerging Artist, and the Chesley Award winner for Best Paperback Cover of 2007. His illustrations have graced the #1 spot on the New York Times Best Seller list numerous times. Aside from freelance illustration, Dan also co-hosts a series of instructional demonstrations called “Art Out Loud.” You can view a gallery of his work here on Tor.com.