Finally completed, and it was as much of a battle creating him as he looks like he’s a veteran of. I used lots of new techniques which I’ve learned from professional illustrators, and incorporated into my own arsenal of digital and painting techniques. This is as far as I could take the image with my present skill-set, without getting absolutely finickity.
Followers of my blog may remember the initial line drawing, and early color phase:
I’m not the type of artist who rests on his laurels and does what he’s already good at, churning out variations on a theme as commodities for the marketplace. There always needs to be increased learning and experimentation: the carrot of mystery in what I can’t yet realize, and thus what I will manifest through my own endeavors. This, therefore, was as much an exercise in learning techniques as it was in making a monster.
Most monsters I see are kinda’ the same. They have tiny eyes, an overabundance of super sharp teeth, super muscular bodies, and exaggerated expressions of anger and evil. I sought from the beginning to invent my own monster, that was not derivative. I’ve never see the tubular nostrils like that, and the foamy green flesh between his outer, rougher skin, and his scaled underside is also a bit unusual. I even have a background story for him that’s, I think, a bit out of the boiler plate.
These are screen shots of my workspace at full resolution. As with all the pics in this post, you can click on the images to see them sized for your screen in a new tab.
Smaller Detials in a Gallery
Why the Bit of Paint in the Upper Left?
It’s throwing in one of my signature techniques, which is digital impasto. Now, before I switched to working much more representationally (at least for this piece), I did really a lot of experimentation in digital impasto, and I am a bit of a pioneer in that direction (and in digital contemporary fine art in general). So this just adds a bit of pesonal flare.
It also — in regards to modern art — is a tacit recognition, and celebration of the breaking of the picture plane. It is on the surface of the image, and intrudes into the physical space of consensual reality. We look into the window of the “canvas” to see our monster, but the smear of paint sits on top. Nevertheless, the monster is so three-dimensional that his mandibles extrude beyond even the paint swatch.
Yes, clever reader, you are right, even the smear of paint is digital, but this adds another dimension. where the picture plane has been surmounted, but it is also an illusion. It establishes that while this is in many ways an illustration, and belongs to the paradigm of illustration, it is also fine art.
Someone asked, in the comments of an in-progress post, what the background story about the Ant Man was. I hadn’t bothered about it, because it’s not the real point, nor necessary. I remarked that when I was a kid I used to look at pictures — especially in an Encyclopedia of Sci-Fi and Horror neighbors gave me for a birthday — and scarcely even read a caption beneath them. There’s that love of the frozen instant, a sliver of reality spread on a slide and studied through a microscope. It’s a different avenue of accessing and assessing reality, and the foundation of visual art (no matter how many conceptualists will say that the idea is more important than the image, and that not only are images and paintings unecessary, they are redundant and not the real art of our times). But, I made up a story on the fly, which I rather like.
The Ant Man was a front-line grunt, and everything he did was for the Qeen, the colony, and the larva. He battles other ant tribes, and worked incessantly, all for the pleasure of being able to continue to do so until he would eventually be torn apart by rival ant species.
And then he became self-aware, perhaps after that chunk was taken out of his head (signifying an opened mind, escaped immaterially into a broader, more universal perspective). He saw no purpose in serving Queen and colony. He just wanted to step out of formation and wonder off, taking in all the rich colors and textures of his external world, which before were just objects that had represented obstacles, tasks, goals, and rewards.
Here we see his moment of awakening, when he looks in the sky at his sun, is awestruck, and can no longer go back to what he was before.
He quickly scurries up a tree, and his former ant army down below can’t find him, simply because he has done something completely outside of conformity. He is not missed, except as a nameless presumed casualty picked off by some predator or rival ant patrol.
He lives as a fugative, avoiding all ant men and other dangerous creatures. He eats leaves, bark, sap, fungi, moss, pollen, and other inanimate things only. He sees the beauty in the nature that surrounds him, but also the horror. He ponders, basks in the sun, enjoys cool breezes, and develops a fondness for berries.
And if you like my art or criticism, please consider chipping in so I can keep working until I drop. Through Patreon, you can give $1 (or more) per month to help keep me going (y’know, so I don’t have to put art on the back-burner while I slog away at a full-time job). See how it works here.
Or go directly to my account.
Or you can make a one time donation to help me keep on making art and blogging (and restore my faith in humanity simultaneously).