I recently finished an image for an illustrated edition for “The Faerie Queene” that I’d like to share with you today.
The image features King Arthur confronting a terrible beast which lives beneath an altar and which a terrible Giant feeds victims to. The creature is sort of like the Faerie Queene equivalent of the Rancor from Return of the Jedi. Previously in this chapter, Arthur slew the giant in question and defeated his armies, refused to marry any princesses, and is now just going around, killing monsters, and I guess this one was last on the list.
I loved this scene, not just because it had a great confrontation with a monster, but also because I had a chance to do a really cool statue of the giant. I drew a lot of inspiration from the Bernini sculptures I got to see while in Italy a few years back. I loved getting to paint this one.
My process for this image is very much like much of my previous work, but for anyone new, I will share my general approach to setting up an image. I like to first establish a clean layout design, then establish values, then full colors before finally moving on to rendering and detailing.
Monochrome Underpainting (Values)
With these core elements established, I can more predictably begin to work through my rendering and detailing, without having to worry about losing track of my composition or lighting or color arrangement. This image was painted in Photoshop, and it is worth noting that the Underpainting and rough color phases were done almost exclusively on multiply layers, applying the paint transparently, very much like watercolor.
For the brushwork, I am usually sticking to a very limited palette, often only 4 or 5 colors, and blending those colors together to achieve a broader range of colors. I like working from the limited selection as I feel it adds unity to the image, without the need of overly-laborious glazes to achieve unity. (Though I am absolutely still going to use overly-laborious glazes!)
Early on in the image, I use the simplest brushes I can, in an effort to move efficiently and fast. As I progress through the image I begin to use increasingly complex brushes to achieve more compelling textures and surface patterns. Much of my later brushwork is very relaxed since my values and colors are already established. Without all the hard effort of sorting out lighting and color early on this stage can be a terrible headache, so I tend to invest a lot into the early stages.
I am assuming that King Arthur survives this ordeal, but I haven’t begun book six of the Faerie Queene, (the final book I will be doing for the series) so I can’t say for certain. Hopefully in this image I have achieved something that is dramatic and compelling. Either way, the journey through it was a pleasure to work on!
I love this! I haven’t been to Italy in almost a decade, but just glancing at this picture brought all those memories of churches back in a surprisingly visceral way. King Arthur looks exactly as I imagined him btw. Great research! (From a traveling historian’s point of view)
Wow! Outstanding work and thank you for the detail post of the statue. Just about as marvelous as the monster herself. Also such wonders in the details of the snuffed candles and burning incense on the floor and stairs. When is this project going to be available? My recollections of The Faerie Queene mostly revolved around the Red Cross Knight. Obviously there is much of Arthurian Legend I’ve missed. I seem to recall a passage where Arthur overcomes a giant marauding cat creature. I still have my copy of Cretien de Troye’s work which I loved. This is wonderful and I look forward to the books.