Koschei the Deathless

I’ve more or less finished the Koschei painting, and submitted it. So here it is.

It was a great deal of fun to work on, and actually didn’t take very long — maybe 10-12 hours total? I think I’m finally settling into some sort of process.

I started out with a very loose sketch (first frame, below). I did that in my sketchbook with a dark, blunt pencil and a very light touch, just letting things happen. Next I took it into Photoshop, set it up as a Multiply layer, and dropped a gradient behind it. I wasn’t feeling the pose of the arms, so I redid them completely. I gave him more of a menacing hunch, like he’s ready to spring, while creating a nice triangle pointing up to the right with his upper arms, lower arms, and leg.

Then I worked up some tones in the figure, pushing the shadows back and pushing the highlights up. I threw down a rough layer of blue to separate his skin tones from the background, and further enhanced that separation by building up the light behind him and reinforcing his silhouette.

 Next I gave his face and beard some detailing so as to draw attention to that area, and added the cloak streaming out behind him. Oh yeah, and the duck. I had to use reference for that!

Koschei Process Shots

Speaking of reference, at this stage I started collecting reference images from the web: pictures of old faces, Slavic patterns & designs, Russian hats, photos of Ian Anderson (“Cross-Eyed Mary” was going through my head for most of this painting…)

Koschei ref sheet

The final stage consisted of making choices about his headgear and working out details on his clothing & jewelry, then enhancing the color saturation a bit.

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