-By Serge Birault 

My first artbook is going to be available soon. Here’s a quick walkthrough of the cover …

My 3 favourite subjects are pin ups, tentacles and shiny things, so I had to use all of this in this picture.
I had several ideas but, as usual, I decided to try different compositions.

My wife, Chloé was my model. I took a (very bad) photo as reference. You can notice she really holds an octopus … The contrast was very bad and the tones were ugly. The lights were quite interesting. I decided to change her expression a little bit.

My process is always the same. I started with a basic sketch on an “multiply” type layer. I painted under the sketch.

1. A flat skin color with a “splatter” brush (standard brush). I worked with 100% opacity.

2. On another layer, still with the same brush, I tried to find the good tones and the good contrast. This time, I worked with very low opacity, about 5 %.

3. On another layer, I tried to have more soft gradients by using the soft round brush (standard brush), once again with a very low opacity.

4. On another layer, I did the skin texture with the dry brush (standard brush). For the beauty spots and the freckles, I used the soft round brush. (I wrote something on this blog about digital skin here : http://muddycolors.blogspot.fr/2012/08/digital-skin.html)

5/ On another layer, I did the hair. I started with a black area, I added all the little hair one by one with a very small brush. I did the same for the reflections, using the background color. No, it’s not so long …

The hands are always a complicated part. I had a good reference this time but I retried several times. The tattoos were a little bit long to do but I found a “quick” technique. I did all the tattoos on a single layer, I duplicated this layer several times on different types of layer (overlay/color/multiply/…) and I decreased the opacity of all the layers. (I did a quick tutorial on my FB page HERE)

My first idea was to do a gynoïd-like octopus. Hajime Sorayama is my mentor so I thought it could be a sort of tribute to him. I changed my mind for a more “narrative” picture.

The piece took a very long time. I added a lot of details and I had to be very precise. My file was very big (about 1 meter tall, 300 dpi). As we had to do some very big prints, my picture had to be very “clean”. It was about 80 hours of work … Gasp …

Finally, I did a few adjustments (colors/contrast/luminosity/… )

We did a lot of print tests. I worked with a very good team. So I have to thank :

– All the CFSL INK (http://www.cfsl-ink.com/en/) team for the design of the cover.
– Céline Antoine from Ankama (http://www.ankama-editions.com/fr) for her help and her advices during the print tests.
– All the Proost team (http://www.proost.be/)