Saturday, January 5, 2013

New Year at the Beach

Well, we've successfully completed another transit around our local star, and we've ticked forward an increment on our calendar. Time to celebrate!

This time I spent New Year staying with some friends, a couple of whom were generous enough to host us, in Cleggan, County Galway. It's a more rugged, rainy, and windswept place than I am used to in Ireland. Dublin's gentle, graceful shore is nestled against the rather contained Irish Sea. The West coat, by contrast, is hewn into its serrated undulations by the unrelenting violence of the Atlantic Ocean's full fury. 

Click for full-sized version

Now back in Dublin after strolling those beaches, strewn with rocks and tide-pools, I've kicked together another little digital painting. This has wound up becoming another bit of concept art for my "Land of Winter" narrative project that's been in the works for some time, but I'm pretty happy with how it's turned out for a relatively quick piece of work. I was doing some experiments with layering textures to give the sense of a large, shallow, sandy tide-pool, one only a couple of inches deep, but blasting a reflection of the tumultuous sky back at us.

Here's a version without the two guys fighting to the death, in case anyone's interested.

And just for the sake of documenting, here's the rough composition about five minutes in. Unlike how I usually do these, I didn't start with a scanned sketch, so I just kicked around digital paint for a bit. As anyone who has taken a cursory glance at my other illustrations can see, yes, there's the overpowering backlight again. I'll tone it down next time, but in this instance, I stuck it in there as anyone who's spent a winter as far north as Ireland will tell you, that low, blinding, cold sun is a feature that is difficult to escape, and is one of the main visual cues I plan to use in "Land of Winter" to create a sense of contrast and alienation in our poor hero. (It also makes driving here in the winter a real pain.)

The combatants' poses I came up with while referring back to sketches I had done at a fencing club a few years ago. I can't claim that they are terribly accurate or effective poses for skewering one's enemies, but I hoped that the downturned sword in the foreground would both give a sense of being on the defensive backfoot, while also drawing the eye to the mid-ground figure. Our hero's the one in the unenviable position of fighting for his life with the sun in his eyes.

Rough Draft