When it comes to character design, revision is the name of the game. For this final alien dream encounter, I really wanted the central alien to have some dramatic flair, something to set it apart from the creatures in the earlier pieces. This one needed to have some sense of concrete resolution to it. At first, I kept the alien very simple- a two fingered kind of stalk on top of the vast writhing mass of gesturing tentacles. However, something about it just didn’t ring true to the feeling of a sort of supernatural prophet/religious figure I was aiming for. I needed to go back to the drawing board and come up with some better ideas, and a sort of horned crown appeared. A decorative, gleaming pattern may be in the works to further ornate and embellish the cosmic status of this central character, but so far I’m happy with the shape everything is taking in the underpainting. And the moral of the story is… revise! It makes everything that stems from an original nugget of an idea better.
Beauty comes in many forms. Recently, I’ve been looking at other organisms to inspire my alien designs, and I had the lucky chance a couple of weeks ago to attend an orchid exposition in San Francisco. I’d never thought of looking to the exquisite flowers for ideas on alien design, but upon seeing an entire warehouse full of them it occurred to me that they are the perfect reference for something out of this world. The first two sketches were at the event, and the last is an idea that formed from them. When color and form are added, the semblance will be more apparent; I plan on using at least two patterns from the orchids for the skin of the upcoming extraterrestrial in my next illustration. All credits for the beautiful photos go to Amelia Robison.
I have henceforth released the title of my next project… it is “They Came From Dreams.” It is going to be a series of illustrations totaling somewhere around 6 to 8 (haven’t quite decided that number yet). Thumbnails and sketches are coming together for what I am think should be an intriguing set of images that will explore psychological themes revolving around astronauts that encounter aliens in their dreams during cryogenic sleep. ETA for moving into my new studio space is less than two weeks away! Can’t wait to get set up and start painting this series.
More concepts for my sci/fi project! They seem to be heading into more of a horror direction, via H.P. Lovecraft… and I am very much OK with that. The unknown is always the most frightening, so I think it’s perfectly suitable for this type of genre. Sci/fi horror blends have always been some of the most intriguing stories in my opinion- examples like such brilliant films as Alien and The Thing come to mind.
In other news: I just clinched a deal on renting an art studio with fellow artist Lauren Szabo. You can find her brilliant paintings at laurenszabo.com. Needless to say, I am ecstatic to finally get a space in which to execute my new ideas, alongside another oil painter who is equally enthusiastic about her work. Photos of the new space coming soon!
I find aliens to be a uniquely enjoyable creatures to imagine and create. There are no definitions or boundaries for what they can be, so it’s actually quite a challenge. More often than not, when aliens are depicted in popular culuture they don’t look too much different from ourselves (two arms, two legs, etc…), they’ll be different in just one way, be it green skin or three eyes. Conversely, aliens spark less visual interest when they are too different from ourselves… who’s more interesting, the gangly grotesque green guy, or that shapeless blob of nonexistent matter?
Been sketching some character ideas for a new project that’s currently marinating in the creative cooker… I’ve been on a bit of a sci/fi kick recently, and I realized it’s been quite some time since I explored the genre in illustration. After watching almost the entire first season of the original Star Trek, (I’m traditionally a Star Wars fan so it took me some time to cross over) it got me hooked and I think I’m going to head in the “realistic future” sort of direction. I’d like to have aliens be a dominant feature, but in an unexpected way, no invasions or battles or even scientific discoveries, but something on an entirely different kind of level. I’ll keep my mouth shut for now, before I spoil the whole thing…