Decoding Daily Deviations: Monster Eating Vampire

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Decoding Daily Deviations is the series that 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 keep track of!"

FEATURED ART: Monster Eating Vampire by pav327
DD DATE: 2016-08-23
TOOLS/PROGRAMME: Wacom Intuos 4 M tablet; Photoshop CS6; Toxic amount of caffeine and my shaky hands.

Monster Eating Vampire by pav327

Share with readers the details of how this piece came into being. Did you have a clear story idea/inspiration from the beginning?  

It started out as a big brushstroke mess with a faint idea in my head of what I wanted. This is how I often start my personal pieces, but not always. Sometimes it’s better to actually have a well-thought-out idea and a story before you start and decide to invest your time in the painting. Here I knew from the beginning only that it would be a character painting of a woman with a defeated dragon-looking monster in the background. As I was figuring out the technical side of the painting, at the same time I was thinking about what actually will be happening in the picture, what storytelling elements and details can I add and how to make the image more interesting. Story ideas are coming up much quicker than the painting is done, so you could have a number of different directions you can take the painting in the process of creating it. But you don’t want to make it be all over the place and you don’t want to switch ideas halfway through, so you have to choose one idea early on and stick with it. So, it came down to Mev (short for Maeve and an abbreviation for the title of the piece) collecting the blood from her prey."

“Monster Eating Vampire” departs from the usual dark vampire imagery with bright colours and unique details. Can you discuss your process of working on the painting and what elements occupied particular attention? 

Since it was a personal piece I didn’t have any deadlines or technical restrictions, so I could work on the piece as long as I wanted and in the way I wanted. Because I had a rather loose idea in the beginning, I started with random scribbles, throwing in different colours and values, hoping that something would catch my eye in the process eventually. It's a very messy, energetic and fun process. After some time scribbling, here is what I got:

Process 1 by lovelessdevotions

After establishing a general palette for the painting, I cut her out to a separate layer and added the monster to the background with an indication of monster’s claw in the foreground, all on separate layers as well.  You can see that a lot of things initially looked differently and were changed as I worked on the image. If something doesn't feel right and you have the opportunity to fix it or redo it, there is no reason not to do so. It's cool if you can nail the best result on the first try, but you don't have to stick with something you're not satisfied with, especially in digital media.

Process 2 by lovelessdevotions

I felt like there was very little breathing room for her and the monster, they felt squeezed too tight within the canvas so I zoomed out a bit. And I changed the dress to make her legs visible for a couple of reasons. First, having her legs visible would help to ground the figure and define its placement in the space better. Second, the dress was creating a monolith dark shape that was  not as interesting and it was merging with a foreground elements as their values were too similar. And it also was not as practical, but who really cares about that in a fantasy illustration, right? Downside to that decision is that the pose and the proportions are now kind of awkward. I also changed the head of the monster, because it was too round and cartoony-looking. I tried to make it more dangerous and angry-looking by making a lot of spiky and sharp shapes.

Process 3 by lovelessdevotions

At this point I have changed her pose using Puppet Warp tool in Photoshop. It’s a very handy tool, it allows you to make drastic warp changes with high level of control without distorting the pixel information too much (but you have to have an opaque solid layer in order for it work properly). I’m much more satisfied with this pose and it also fixed the proportion problem I had previously. Again, it’s always worth to play around with parts of your image that bother you. Unless you’re perfect and able to nail the best result first try, of course.

Process 4 by lovelessdevotions

I wanted her to have an unusual hair color that would stand out and make her feel not human. While the yellow-green color she had previously was pretty unusual, it was too similar to the color of the monster and the ground and I didn’t liked that. So, I switched the color to greenish-blue with a bunch of adjustment layers. I think it ended up working fine with the red color of the floating blood because they’re complementary colors.

Process 5 by lovelessdevotions

And a couple eons later, here we are with the end result."

Process 6 by lovelessdevotions

Did you encounter any creative challenges when working on the piece? If so, how did you tackle them? Is there anything you would do differently now if you could? 

Oh yeah, every painting is a challenge in one way or another. I’d say characters in general are my weak point, so this painting was definitely full of challenges. But it’s nothing that’s impossible to overcome with grinding and thinking constantly about where exactly the problems are and what you can do to fix them. The hair and blood required special attention because they are floating in air; I tried to make them as flowy and dynamic and I think I did an okay job and they’re creating the movement in the painting that I wanted."

What’s one piece of advice that you would share with other artists hoping to reach this standard of work in the future? 

I always suggest to learn and practice the perspective, because it helps to develop an understanding of 3D space and forms. It’s the most basic and the most crucial thing you have to know and understand. It’s important not only for industrial design and drawings of man-made objects but for absolutely anything that has 3D form and sits in 3D space. So if you’re doing something somewhat realistic then you have to understand 3D forms, otherwise it’s going to be painful and you’ll end up making a lot of mistakes all the time. If anyone tells you that you need to work on your fundamentals, they most likely mean that you have troubles with conveying 3D forms and space. Other things (values, lighting, colours, materials, details, etc.) should build up on top of your understanding of perspective and form. Sure it’s kind of hard to grasp and boring, but you will improve a lot and in a lot of ways once you develop spatial awareness. Be patient and persistent."

What does this DD feature represent or mean to you at this stage of your artistic development? What can your watchers look forward to next? 

It makes me all warm and fuzzy inside--I’m flattered! I will do more different stuff and experiments in the future!"

Bonus question: Can you cite a memorable reaction to this piece in the comments at DA? 

I actually have two comments: First was by :iconslyflyspyguy::

I just asked a question along these lines of my friends the other day. What would happen to a Vampire that drank the blood of the gods? I intend to write a story about it eventually.

I find something like this would be a good start for an interesting story. I don’t think I can name a lot of characters that hunt and eat something other than regular food or humans. Eating is such a basic thing and such an obvious source of power. A creative twist on what a character needs for food could create interesting motivations or good opportunities for interesting relationships between different characters and imaginary creatures."

And the second was by  :icontheangelswrathsaga::

The disintegrating sword is a very interesting symbol... traditionally the sword may be interpreted as the warrior's "soul"...

I wasn’t aware of such thing when I was making the painting, but it shows how some decisions might unintentionally create a meaning or become a storytelling element. We can elaborate on this concept and say that her soul is segmented like her sword maybe because each time she devours another monster she absorbs its soul as well. And maybe there is some other dude with an invisible or blurry semi-transparent looking sword, because he absorbed so many souls that his sword now consists of tiny sharp particles."

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