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my name is not Baba Yaga by GregStevens my name is not Baba Yaga by GregStevens
Anyone who does a careful examination of the myth of Baba Yaga really can't avoid an obvious and inescapable conclusion:

Baba Yaga was an alien whose spaceship crash-landed in a forest in medieval Russia.

Let's take a look at the evidence from the myth:

  • She is described as a witch, but does not have any of the stereotypical witch features: no pointed hat, no broom.

  • She is described as having inhuman features: an abnormally large nose, an inhuman skin tone, and iron teeth.

  • She travels through the forest in a large bowl, and whenever she appears on the scene, a wild wind begins to blow, the trees around creak and groan and leaves whirl through the air. "Shrieking and wailing, a host of spirits often accompany her on her way."

  • She lives in a "hut" that walks around on two legs (said to look like chicken legs), and that has no door but opens at vocal commands.

  • When the hut moves around, it spins and "emits blood-curdling screeches and will only come to a halt amid much creaking and groaning."

  • She has a host of "spiritual helpers" that appear at her commands and do her bidding, including a pair of "disembodied hands" that perform manual labor for her.



Isn't this the perfect medieval description of an alien with technology?

Even her name doesn't sound like a name: Baba yaga. Think about it. It sounds like the sounds a person makes when he is trying to imitate a language that he does not understand.

So that is what is shown here: Baba yaga with her hut. A poor exiled, possibly crash-landed alien creature who is trying to survive in the forests of ancient Russia.

Technical details:

Drawn using a Wacom Tablet with Corel Painter 11, using a mixture of brushes and techniques at different stages:



First I drew a rough sketch using the Liquid Ink brush. Each main element I drew on a separate layer: the background, the hut, and the figure.

Next, I did a rough watch with watercolors to get a feel for the overall tone of the piece. I definitely wanted the "hut" to look like a decayed old spacecraft: somewhat metalic, but obviously something that has been roaming around a primitive forest for a long time, without access to care or technology.

For the next three steps I approached painting the details of each layer: the background, then the hut, then the figure. For each one, I used reference photos for individual elements, some special effects pens, some regular oil and acrylic paint brushes. Because the background is so complex, I actually painted over a photo of a jungle to start with, in order to get the details of some of the shadows and shapes right.

The trick that I am most proud of, however, is this: after painting over the forest background with acrylic paint, I then used the "magic wand" selector to select different colors individually and put it on a separate layer. I put the "highlight" colors (yellow and light green) in FRONT of the watercolor wash, and the dark colors BEHIND the watercolor wash, so that the highlights would really pop. I like how that effect turned out.

I am probably least proud of Baba yaga's cloak, which is too impressionistic to look realistic but too realistic to be stylish. Oh well.

Baba Yaga's skin and hair are done primarily with Oil Blender Brush and Smudge.

If you would like me to upload the full-sized version of any of the earlier stages, so you can see them up close, let me know.

Total time: about 6 hours.
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:iconmustakettu85:
mustakettu85 Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2011
that's some amazing painting job! and it's fascinating to see how you did it.
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:icongregstevens:
GregStevens Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you!
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:iconblooomberg:
Blooomberg Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2011
It doesnt look like Baba Yaga but little big))) I want to tell you more about this person so you can paint her right way:
She is known as Baba Yaga Boney Legs, because, in spite of a ferocious appetite, she is as thin as a skeleton. In Russian that's: 'Baba Yaga Kostianaya Noga'. Her nose is so long that it rattles against the ceiling of her hut when she snores, stretched out in all directions upon her ancient brick oven.Not being a boringly-conventional witch, she does not wear a hat, and has never been seen on a broomstick. She travels perched in a large mortar with her knees almost touching her chin, and pushes herself across the forest floor with a pestle.Whenever she appears on the scene, a wild wind begins to blow, the trees around creak and groan and leaves whirl through the air. Shrieking and wailing, a host of spirits often accompany her on her way.Being a somewhat secretive lady, (in spite of all the din she makes,) she sweeps away all traces of herself with a broom made of silver birch (what are brooms for anyway?). Baba Yaga lives in a hut deep in the forest. Her hut seems to have a personality of its own and can move about on its extra-large chicken legs. Usually the hut is either spinning around as it moves through the forest or stands at rest with its back to the visitor. The windows of the hut seem to serve as eyes. All the while it is spinning round, it emits blood-curdling screeches and will only come to a halt, amid much creaking and groaning, when a secret incantation is said. When it stops, it turns to face the visitor and lowers itself down on its chicken legs, throwing open the door with a loud crash. The hut is sometimes surrounded by a fence made of bones, which helps to keep out intruders! The fence is topped with skulls whose blazing eye sockets illuminate the darkness. When a visitor enters her hut, (not too often). Baba Yaga asks them whether they came of their own free will, or whether they were sent. (One answer is the right one!)
Thankfully, she appears to have no power over the pure of heart, such as Vasilisa and those of us who are 'blessed' (protected by the power of love, virtue, or a mother's blessing.)
She looks like [link] and [link] and [link]
she lives here [link]
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:icongregstevens:
GregStevens Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts with me in such detail! I very much appreciate your interest!

I actually am familiar with the original myth, and the traditional way that Baba Yaga is drawn and depicted. I actually like the links that you shared very much.

But... I also know that when stories are passed down by mouth over the ages, things get distorted, and vague descriptions get interpreted, and things are not always what they seem.

My depiction here is deliberately different from the traditional drawings.... while at the same time trying to capture some of the same features or essence of the original. And I am trying to imagine: what if Baba Yaga was NOT human?

In my mind, even if the original alien looked like she does in my picture, when the description is told over the ages.... people will end up drawing her as a woman witch with a big nose.

Does that make sense? The hut, too, is the same way: a spacecraft on mechanical legs gets described by a primitive culture as "a hut on chicken legs". And so then that is how it is drawn.

I hope you understand what my intentions are...


Thanks again for your interest!
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:iconsystemcat:
systemcat Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011  Professional General Artist
That forest looks amazing for being purely painted.
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:icongregstevens:
GregStevens Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Oops I should have started that off by saying "thank you".... :-)
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:iconsystemcat:
systemcat Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011  Professional General Artist
It's ok :hug:
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:icongregstevens:
GregStevens Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I did a lot of google image searching on "forests" and copied a lot of things to get the effect. The thing that I learned the most from looking at the photos was the "speckled" quality to the light, so I spent a lot of time on that: picking a color and then just dotting over and over... and then picking another color and dotting over and over.... Very boring, really. LOL

Another thing I should reveal, that I didn't put in the description: the original work was all done at 2x the size of the final product. My original canvas was 2048 x 1560 and only after I was done painting did I reduce it.
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:iconsystemcat:
systemcat Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011  Professional General Artist
Say you don't use the same Corel as me but maybe the advice would still work. Do you know how to get the tracing paper feature into use while working on a project? I want to have it active to help me with an animation project soon. By the way I'm working with Painter 4.0 .
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:icongregstevens:
GregStevens Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Well, I would love to help if I could.... but I have not yet used the "tracing paper" feature. :(

Good luck finding out, though. I saw you posted the question on a group, I hope they can answer there.
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