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Read this to learn more about the Deviousness Award
November - TBA!
October - MichelleHoefener
September - UszatyArbuz
August - Ellysiumn
July - Yuukon
June - Firefly-Path
May - Cryptid-Creations
April - Tohad
March - Chromattix
February - ToolKitten
January - eychanchan
View previous winners here
Decoding Daily Deviations aims to unlock the secrets of what it took to create these magnificent artworks and motivate others to work towards similar recognition. Each week we will present an interview with one artist who has recently received a DD and have them share the details on that specific piece, relating to their creative process, techniques, and narrative inspirations. If you've ever wanted to know more about a beloved artwork and the talented skills applied to it, this is the series to follow!
FEATURED ART: The shadow at my side by Valyavande
DD DATE: 2018-08-21
TIME SPENT: 15 HRS
This is an interesting question, and not too easy to answer! There are different factors that played along to lead me to this idea.
As many people do, I have a bunch of characters and their world jumping around in my head, always looking for ways to get out and be captured on paper and the digital canvas. The person with the mask is one of the latest additions to my line-up and just goes a few months back. At the time I started to look into materials and their properties for my studies. After long days of doing nothing but material spheres and research, I needed to paint something simple to relax. The result being a dude in a strange mask I was quite fond of. I knew at some point I wanted to elaborate on that - and the meantime gave me the chance to add more of a backstory and find out where his place in the world is.
Now, during the late summer, I was working on a new personal portfolio, based as much as possible on my own concepts -- as these things tend to take the back seat next to my freelance work. This is where the basic idea for “The shadow at my side” popped into my head and I knew my chance had arrived to bring back my masked character. It felt like he was the best choice to deal with my demons - he had become somebody who can befriend these things who usually lurk in the shadows.
I have a sweet spot for things being creepy, but also beautiful and graceful at the same time. The kind of creature depicted here appears more often in my sketches, but rarely in my illustrations. Which is a pity. There is too much fun in all the flowing shapes. Anyway, they're odd things; dangerous at times, curious at others. Here it's an almost symbiotic relationship: where the mask takes away the character's eyes, the creature watches from many. They complement each other, while neither is giving away their secrets. For me that's a very interesting dynamic. And these opposites are what I want to keep up at different levels: the almost serene lighting with the environment getting lost in mist, but also the scene moving away from the light and towards the shadows. The calm and peaceful against the strange and surreal. The relationship of man and monster. These are the themes at the heart of the composition.
Thus, I hope the precursors can already be found in my super rough thumbnail sketches. This is how I usually start with a painting: quick sketches to figure out how the composition is going to work and what kind of gestures I need after I got the initial idea. While the first bunch here existed within my sketchbook, I went through a second phase in digital media, where I would work just with values instead of lines. That helped to set the stage for the overall lighting situation.
From there my process goes through several stages of sketches, refining anatomy, gestures and designs while changing the size from a thumbnail to actual painting dimensions. At some point I usually just decide I have enough to work with, then I add the colours and switch to rendering mode. Somewhere in between it was time though to grab a camera and take some photos of me holding the kitchenware. It made for more believable hands than my drawing skills have to offer on their own.
Surprisingly, the painting went down quite smoothly without any major troubles, one of the rare times where the pieces just fell into place. Though, if I were to redo it, I'd consider bringing a bit more drama into the storytelling and maybe design the character less androgynous to prevent some ongoing confusion. But I really like it pretty much as it is.
Be clever and get a lot of reference! More than I usually do. It saves you from some headaches and helps a lot to achieve a higher level of quality. Also: don't underestimate the power of thumbnail sketches if you don't do them yet! Having an image in your head is awesome, but still, often the first idea isn't the best one. Thumbnails make it so quick and easy to explore an idea further and develop it to be more powerful.
This DD was quite special for me, as the painting is one of my personal favourites. For me it marks an improvement in my skillset and the theme itself is close to me and my personal feelings at the time. I actually hope I can just dive deeper into that direction and recapture in different ways what made the illustration work the way it does.
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