Illustration done for "The Moon Pool" by A. Merritt, to be published in December's Baen's Universe E-Zine.
An excerpt from the story: Far, it seemed immeasurably far, along this stream of silver fire I sensed, rather than saw, something coming. It drew into sight as a deeper glow within the light. On and on it sped toward us--an opalescent mistiness that swept on with the suggestion of some winged creature in darting flight. Dimly there crept into my mind memory of the Dyak legend of the winged messenger of Buddha--the Akla bird whose feathers are woven of the moon rays, whose heart is a living opal, whose wings in flight echo the crystal clear music of the white stars--but whose beak is of frozen flame and shreds the souls of the unbelievers ..... Now I saw that within the mistiness was a core, a nucleus of intenser light--veined, opaline, effulgent, intensely alive. And above it, tangled in the plumes and spirals that throbbed and whirled were seven glowing lights.
Beautiful. Give me chills... and the feeling that if the clouds were to close and the light disappeared then so too would the creature. Haunting... ephemeral... and, as in the description, not entirely benign.
Er, yeah, photoshop CS5 costs like 500 dollars or something, and corel painter also costs a lot, more than 200 dollars I think. And you also need a tablet for the best results, like a wacom Intuos4 that I use and I believe Nam uses too.
Maybe you'll be happier when I tell you that there are many nice free softwares you can download or use online too. Pixlr is online, it's not bad, not bad at all. dA muro is right on deviant art, that program is also online and pretty nice. And many people have learned to be pretty awesome things with just a computer mouse. It's just a ton easier with tablets