-By Dan dos Santos

Here’s a new cover that just went went public yesterday. The image is for the book ‘Blood Divided’, by K.J. Breaux, and is the sequel to the book ‘Soul Born’, for which I also did the cover.

For those of you keeping track, this is ‘Red Painting #2’ that I mentioned earlier this month. Not being completely satisfied with the previous painting, I decided to take some of what I learned, and try it again. Red is a surprisingly difficult color to work with. The problem lies in that the brightest of reds is relatively low in value. If you lighten it, it either shifts orange or pink, and either one in undesirable. The result is, you really have to dull out and darken everything else in order to get the illusion of vibrancy.

Testing the exposure prior to shooting.

For me, the best part about this job was the model shoot. I decided to hire a new model that I found via Model Mayhem. This is always a real gamble for me, because you don’t know if they’ll be any good. By the time you find out, it’s too late. Money and time have both been wasted. In this case, I really lucked out. The model was not only beautiful, but turned out to be sensationally good. Great poses, expressions, hands, everything.

I also did something I hadn’t done in a long time… really spend some time on the costume. I don’t think there is any element of the costume that I couldn’t simply make up if I had to, and usually that’s just what I do. However, actually crafting something for the model to wear is not only really fun, but also helps you put more care into it’s design. You are also much more likely to come up with new solutions that you might not come up with if you were just drawing the design on paper. But perhaps the most important part of having a good costume is that it helps the model feel more in the role. Spending an hour transforming your model into something else has a psychological impact on their performance. If they feel like someone else, it’s easier to act like someone else. The result was a sensational photo shoot. Honestly, I had the perfect shot with the first 20 frames. Lighting, pose, costume… it was all there. All that I needed to do was paint it as is!

In addition to spending some time on the costume, I also spent a little extra time making a model bird. If I know I am going to be painting the same animal several times in a single piece (like a pack of wolves, or flock of birds), it almost always warrants making a maquette. In this case, I just bunched up aluminum foil around a wire armature. I spray painted it black, and viola! The wire armature actually enabled me to bend the wings into new positions, allowing me to experiment with the silhouette of the bird quite easily. It may seem like a lot of work, but in actuality, I only spent about 20 minutes making the thing. I would have spent ten times that amount sorting through Google images trying to find the right poses otherwise.

My assistant helps pose the bird for additional shots after the model leaves.

I painted the image traditionally, using oils on illustration board, at 20 x 30 inches. I scanned it myself, and sent the file off to the client. They approved it without revision, and just sent me the final type treatment a few days ago.