The Process Behind Moon Angel

After about six weeks of trying to squeeze in an hour or two here and there on this piece in between designing tattoos, I finally finished it! This here Moon Angel is the first of many angels that I’ll be painting for a new strategy card game that I’ve spent the last year developing and playtesting, which, I dare say, is pretty awesome. I become fully aware of its awesomeness at Christmas time a few months ago, when we set off to Colorado for two weeks and spent the days we were snowed in playing the game with my brothers, sometimes for 5 or 6 hours at time, and when I saw how obsessed they became with it, I knew I was on to something. 

Anyway, I thought I’d share some process shots of each piece as I complete them, if for no other reason than to encourage aspiring artists who might stumble upon this to realise that what seem like mediocre or downright terrible sketches may be the beginnings of a nice piece, if they just keep working on it. They say great stories aren’t written, but rewritten, and that’s true of art as well. 

For example, look at this sketch at the top! Nothing special, that’s where this one started. But once I’ve got a rough pencil sketch worth developing, I scan it into Photoshop and start trying out different ideas for it. So here I decided I wanted her face to be more bug-like, or more like a mask than an actual woman’s face, and also decided she needed some extra limbs to make her less human.

The idea for this card was that she’s a kind of shapeshifter, that can take on multiple animal forms at once, so I wanted her to look like she was in the process of transformation. 

Once I was happy with her general shape in Photoshop, I printed her out, lightboxed the sketch, and began a more detailed drawing. That’s when I added a lot of her more specific features, her tendril hair, her beetle feet, and played with another idea for her face. 

Then I scanned that in, and started shading it in black and grey on Photoshop again. The main changed I made then were to her horns, I just felt that the larger, wider, more antler-like horns fit the shape of the composition better, and I also decided that I’d swung too far and her face wasn’t human enough anymore, so I gave her more soft, feminine features. Once I was happy with the black and grey layer, I started adding some colour washes.

Finally  I started adding in more subtle colour effects, and giving more consideration to light sources and the reflections they would cast. Her face was still bothering me, and I realised that I could keep her feminine features but give her big bug eyes at the same time, and once I did that she had the look I wanted, alien, insectoid, dangerous, but also seductive, playful and wise.  

So there you have it. Next up, the Angel of Mercury!

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