I've been a fan of PopShot since I first came across it earlier this year. I love the general idea of the magazine which is to couple burgeoning writers with up and coming illustrators. So you can imagine my excitement when I was asked to contribute to the "Wild" issue which would have me illustrating a fantasy story written by Víctor Manuel Ramos. Not only was the magazine's theme great, the story I was working with would afford me the opportunity to draw a moody fantasy setting. The allure of drawing fantasy was what drew me out of a decade long stint as a designer so all this to say, I was pumped!
Unfortunately, real life doesn't always cooperate with our best made plans. Just as I was putting down sketches for this assignment, my wife ended up in the hospital and delivered our son 8 weeks before his due date. For those of you who may not know, that's a very serious situation!
Thankfully, my wife and son are doing great. PopShot's creator, Jacob Denno was very understanding and accommodating as I worked to get things situated at home.
When I was able to get back into the drawing saddle, I ended up channeling all the frustration, fear, and emotions I was experiencing into the illustration. As much as this was an illustration of Plinio, I realized it was also a self portrait which encapsulated my journey as a husband and father into the unknown.
Here is the sketch I did before our family emergency as I was trying to get the idea recorded as soon as possible:
Once I got back home, I sat down to do a more elaborate sketch. It doesn't always happen this way, but on some projects I know exactly what the piece is going to look and feel like before my pencil even hits the paper. This was one of those situations. I knew the big picture feel and composition, but I still had a few questions to work out as far as tweaks and adjustments.
While I liked both sketches, Sketch 1 turned out to be the best fit with the mood of the story as it placed significant emphasis on the scale of the environment Plinio was battling through. WIth the sketch in place, it was time for the fun part: shaping and coloring!
I really wanted to emphasis a sort of creepy underlighting which cast shadows unnaturally and really brought out the sense of beauty and doom looming around the character. The other idea I wanted to bring forward was the idea that Plinio had been wandering for quite some time and a significant distance. I did this using the smoke trail from his torch which, at this point, was now extinguished.
The rest of the illustration was simply a matter of execution on details, both implicit and explicit, as I worked to carry through the mood and tone of the piece.
I really love how this piece came out and it will forever have a special place in my heart as it was created during one of the most difficult and challenging times in my life. I'm thankful to have a profession which allows me to emote on a canvas and clients like PopShot Magazine who work with me in spite of challenging circumstances! Thanks to Jacob Denno for the great opportunity!
Here are some detail shots if you're interested: