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Jozef-Szekeres's avatar


This is the History Map for the Antony and Cleopatra artwork.

The preproduction artwork for this artwork was published (therefore released to the public) in the A.G.E. 2004 Aristocrat catalogue.

The first step was the thumbnails.
I did 6 thumbnails before deciding to go with the 6th one.
I knew I wanted the main figures by a pillar with the Egyptian landscape in the background, I just needed to land the final poses for these two main figures. Sketches #1- #3 are in the first column, the following column has sketches #4 -#6.
#1 Cleo is looking at us and Ant is looking at her. The poses are adequate, but pedestrian, thus boring. I was my own art director for this, so this was not good enough, I knew I could do better.She holds both Upper and Lower Egypt Ruling Staves, one in each hand. I liked that idea.
#2 Was an abortion from the start with Ant hugging Cleo, all grunt and moans, not appropriate for the characters, but it got my thoughts flowing that they were deeply in love with each other and sexual too. I crossed it off.
#3 This one has them kissing. I knew this wasn't right either, but I explored it anyway, just to see. Sometimes seeing what you don't want and can't use is just as important to know.
#4 This is closer to the effect I was after, but still not there. I liked her body posture and body language, I also liked their intimacy here, but it was not hitting it for me.
#5 A nice one, nice and cheeky, and her crossed hands were nice holding the Staves, but I got an idea while I was drawing this one that lead to the next thumbnail.
#6 What if Cleo did not hold both Staves? What if these lovers that ruled together as Egyptian King and Queen for 3 golden years before their deaths each held a stave. She holding the Upper, he holding the Lower. They still embrace, she holding him close at the face, resting into his strength of pose as he cradles her. But they both look out to their empire that they also loved. I knew I hit the mark right here. I was finished and ready to progress without further thumbnail sketches.

The second step was the pencil drawing/s. Presented here is the final line art, however there was a rough version with all construction lines, etc, that came before this one. The line art is finished to be clean so that all the information can be clearly seen as I paint over it, plus it locks down the details.

The third step was the tonal study over the pencils. On this occasion the tonal was done in Photoshop from a scanned drawing. This was to decide the light and shadows and the general tonal values.

The fourth step was the color study. The original size of the study was only the size of a larger postage stamp, it was colored with acrylics on a reduced photocopy of the pencils. This tiny thumbnail color sketch revealed much of the color information that I needed to progress to the larger painting with confidence.

The fifth step is the final painting shown in full and with a detail of the characters faces. It was painted traditionally in acrylics.

Art by Jozef Szekeres, Copyright belongs to Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Limited.
Used with Permission.
Image details
Image size
2852x1300px 2.21 MB
© 2007 - 2021 Jozef-Szekeres
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I LOVE this slot machine game at the Casino and the eye catching artwork. I am so happy to finally put a name to such beautiful art. I actually portrayed Cleopatra in a show called "When Shakespeare's Ladies Meet". Were you approached to do the artwork for Aristocrat Technologies Australia or did you seek them out? Some of my artist friends are going more "corporate" to get their artwork out there. Do you think that that is the best avenue for aspiring artists to take? Even in your case, I loved the artwork so much that I "Googled" it and found out more about your other artwork. 
Jozef-Szekeres's avatar
Thanks for your supportive comments.

During the time that I did the "Antony and Cleopatra" artwork, I worked in-house at Aristocrat. It was painted traditionally in acrylic paint, wet on wet on watercolour paper. During the time of of this work, the working experience at Aristocrat was very good and very supportive.

It was in my last year when working there that a new position was put over the art directors, and this role was filled by a homophobe that basically fired me for being gay. I took this to court over this issue, and it resulted in my favour, wherein I could have had a payout. Rather then money... I instead sought to get the usage rights to my artwork, which I got, so I have the rights to show the artwork that I did for Aristocrat, and also release it in a published formats. Aristocrat tried to stop my first usage several years later when my Aristocrat work was included in a Heavy Metal Magazine artist portfolio, but each of their attacks fell away after very good legal help to rebuff their attacks.

The experience was...ugly... But the silver lining was that I had the forethought to protect future usage rights of my work for myself. Thus I have the rights to show my Aristocrat artwork shown here, whereas other artists who have worked at Aristocrat do not have this same freedom. This visibility of my Aristocrat artwork has given me opportunities to work for other gaming companies from around the world, who do not have an issue with the sexual orientation of the artist.

For aspiring artists, of course, if you can get the work, go where the work can pay you for your work. Though, have the work contract looked over independently, and keep in mind that such a company owns your work in its entirety, and at any time, for whatever reason... such as something as personal as sexual orientation (and really none of their business), can bar your usage of it even in your own portfolio if they are petty.
NessaCosette's avatar
Beautiful. I wish I could color like this.
Jozef-Szekeres's avatar
It's just practice....
NessaCosette's avatar
I only understand half of the Photoshop...
I have spent a very enjoyable evening looking through your gallery! I first saw your work when you were setting up the Tap show in Sydney last March (I was there setting up Mazz's exhibition space).
I look forward to owning one or more of these beautiful works in the future. For now some of the cards from that gallery exhibit and past M.E.N. invitations are framed and being admired here in Northern California.
Your talent, humor and energy are amazing and inspirational!!! All the best!
Aloha, "Curt"
Jozef-Szekeres's avatar
Hello Curt,

Wow to think that my M.E.N. artwork has legs that travel all that distance is pretty exciting to hear, especially as those card/invites are for a local party event, and distributed locally.

Still working on new works for M.E.N. and some new Artwork for Sleaze Ball.

I'd like to show in California someday soon.

Jozef ;-)
MacGregor's avatar
your detail is really incredible. the close up of their faces is just mind blowing! the lighting and colors and their expressions, it's all so wonderful. it's all very beautiful :)
Jozef-Szekeres's avatar
Thank you so much. Doing the color study first really takes the fear away from committing color to the larger work.
EvilHanyou's avatar
Oooh. All the effort and thought put into this definitely paid off. It's really cool to see the step by step process of sorts. : )
Jozef-Szekeres's avatar
thank you. The hardest part is that initial step.
I like play on words ;P
Again, diversity in style.. it's less organic...not as roundish (if that's even a word) as your other works... it's a bit more 'square-like'.. It's style has been influenced more by the art-style of the romans/Egyptians i think..Usually all your ladies have something similar in common that shows your style to great effect... This one has a different vibe to it..

(Also, i kinda shy away from egyptian influenced art, cause often it tends to bend towards the tackiness, somehow.. you stayed away fom that..)

I really like her...
As i said.. i love almost all the women you drew...But somehow.. this one has to be me all time favorite..great profile...Her look is as if the burdens she bears are too much for her. Like, as if she somehow lost her way and is trying desperatly to get herself (and Egypt) back in control,towards the glory days of old, but somehow.. she can't. She knows that allying herself with the roman empire (he's but a tool for her) was the beginning of her downfall and subsequently, her own undoing. There's great sadness behind those eyes...But also resignation...Her resignation of what fate has in store for her.

Her ambition you've shown in the way she holds her staff of seat above the one of her lover's, her arm fully stretched and high, his arm lower and with less strength, hesitation even...

His character somehow lacks strength.. as if totally subdued by Cleopatra's aura of ambition, not knowing what's in store... and yet, somehow, knows she never truly will be his...Truly enthralled by her personality and pushed his own to the back.

Or in less words...

She's saying...'I want that, get it for me'
And he hesitates.

Oke, that's about it from me..

One more thing, something seems off with his ear.
Jozef-Szekeres's avatar
Thank you.

Cool, I like having a different vibe.

Fo this artwork, it was about the characters, and the Egyptian aspects of the design were secondary to the characters emotions.

I like your description of what's happening here with the characters. This is the sort of thing I like my artwork to achieve, to get the viewer interested enough and thinking about why they're looking at it, and hearing what they get out of it.

Well...look 'ear.
kmaier99's avatar
I absolutely love when you post these.
Ariel523's avatar
I love the enlarged sketch and painting. You're so amazing, it makes me envy you. x3

I also love these process pictures you show, it's really interesting. : D Will you be posting more?
Jozef-Szekeres's avatar
Thank you for your compliment. Channel any envy positively toward artwork that would make use of such emotions, like an illustration of Poison Ivy...hehehe.

These History Maps have come about as a way to help some artists that I personally mentor, showing them how I think, and to encourage that they explore visually their concepts before commiting to their first drawing. Also to show that the art when at concept stage, is throw not get precious about every drawing. As I continue to mentor, I'm sure to create more Art History Maps.
Ariel523's avatar
That second bit is real helpful advice and something I really oughta follow. So I thank you for opening my eyes with your wonderful artwork : D

The first bit was good advice as well xD Lately, I just haven't been inspired to draw. I always feel like I'm not good enough (cuz I'm inspired by achievment) then I'm like, "Stop that, you're being emo" then I go, "Oh all right, I'll give it another shot" and doodle a bit and go, "This looks like crap, I'm going back to being emo and not drawing a tall"

Except not really.

I hope you liked my shortened life-story. :3
Jozef-Szekeres's avatar
I get in that space too, and it can be hard to crawl out of it, for it's a comfortable hole, but a hole it is, and you need to get out of it. Remember, if the drawing is the 5 thumbnail pics for this artwork were, then keep pushing till you get the right pic flow through you. Only you can make it real, and only by being at the drawing table and pushing will inspiration evolve. It's not often that inspiration just strikes causing me to drop my playstation or switching off the tv to run and draw something, it only comes from sitting down and committing time to create artwork. Remember, it's not "art" alone, but that portion of "work" that makes "artwork" real and possible to live.
Ariel523's avatar
Oooh I see. I usually just wait until I'm inspired. Probably from that, I don't make any improvements o_O

Thank you : D
Jozef-Szekeres's avatar
I might ask you to look at what happened for my own experience between thumbnail #5 and thumbnail #6. That's when the magic hit, and then I carried the rest of the artwork on that ignition. Had I not perseverred, I may not have found that point. Inspiration is 90% perspiration, and it will always come to you if your work it.
Ariel523's avatar
Yeah, it's really amazing the jump from some simple pose to such a breathtaking one. :3 From now on, I'll try to sit down and draw, improve my style, so on.

I thank you for being so helpful and such a big inspiration. n.n
trishna87's avatar
absolutely breathtaking :omfg: i am always bowled over by ur rich use of colors :)
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