I thought it might be interesting to delve into the creation process for some of the artwork and other media produced for the Elephant and Macaw Banner series.
For this first “making of” post, I’d like to tell the story behind the first EAMB illustration ever made: The Kalobo by Paulo Ítalo.
I chose the Kalobo as the first illustration in order to get some practice at directing the art process before moving on to the protagonists. With these first commissions, I wanted to try and put my vision of the characters on paper. To that end, I sent Paulo specific instructions.
My first instructions were to work in black and white and make the illustrations as realistic as possible. Paulo is a specialist in this type of illustration, which is one of the reasons I chose to work with him. That, and the fact that we’re great friends!
For references, I began with the head. The classic Kalobo of Brazilian folklore has the head of an anteater. For my version, I chose the Giant Anteater as the reference.
I did, however, feel like the anteater’s head is too narrow for the sense of massiveness which I wanted to impart on the creature. So for a face reference I used the Brazillian tapir, which Paulo later modified into a more birdlike head.
For the body, I required a bipedal creature with a lumbering walk, similar to the classical troll image. I chose to have humanlike proportions, yet with an immense musculature. Even hunched over, the Kalobo stands a full seven feet tall. The beast needed to exude power. This was complicated a bit by the need to cover that musculature in a thick layer of fur, head to foot. For hair thickness, length, and coloration, I used the musk ox, which also turned out to be an excellent reference for the beast’s huge hooves.
The upper legs would be human and terminate as ox legs, with hair covering everything except the hooves.
For the hands, I discovered the wonderful reference of the southern tamandua, which has some of the most wicked claws in the animal kingdom.
Southern Tamandua (anteater)
I wanted to work with a semi-profile view, and wanted the Kalobo to feel as ominous as possible, since the anteater snout could easily make the creature look comical if not done correctly.
Taking all that into account, Paulo came back with the first set of sketches:
Paulo did a spectacular job with this first set, and the pose on the right is the one we used in the final version. I did, however, ask him to add hair around the entire body to better fit the image from the story. For the first full illustration, Paulo also changed to a different pose.
However, this one felt too “active” for me, less menacing than I wanted. Also, it still didn’t have the thick, long hair I associated with the beast. For the final version, we returned to the original pose:
And there it is, the Kalobo in all its ferocious glory! The Kalobo appears in the second adventure of Gerard and Oludara, “A Parlous Battle”, where it creates no small amount of trouble for our protagonists.
Special thanks once again to Paulo Ítalo for doing such a fantastic job.
Please let me know if you enjoyed this “making of”, and I can plan more for the future.