The World of Gerard van Oost and Oludara

Posts Tagged ‘making of’

Making of – Arrival in Salvador Painting – Part 2

This post continues Making of – Arrival in Salvador Painting – Part 1.

Once we’d agreed on the rough details of the composition, Leonardo began by collecting some references and creating a mood board:

Leonardo then modeled the scene in 3D.  This allowed him to get a good feel for both lighting and perspective of the scene and provide a vehicle to discuss them with me.

3D Perspective Tests

Amora offered some different options of perspective, but from the start I wanted Salvador to be tall and dominant in the background.

You can see that even in these early tests, the church appears as an important element.  This was also one of my requests.  The ship and the church, two important symbolic elements of Gerard’s arrival in Brazil, would each dominate one end of the painting.  The church, in fact, is intended to be the church mentioned in the first line of “The Fortuitous Meeting”.

(Side note: I even considered placing a small splotch of red over the cross (those who have read the story will understand the reference), but in the end I thought it would have just been lost.  For a high-res version, perhaps it might be worth it going back and adding that in.)

The next steps went quickly.  Amora began with a speed painting to get all the elements and basic colors in the right places.

Speed Painting

A second and third pass added in more color and lighting detail:

Then he performed extensive detail work to arrive at the final result:

Arrival in Salvador – Final Image

But Amora didn’t stop there.  He went on to create several variations of the painting, some of which appear in the artwork section of this site.

I hope you enjoyed this making of as much as I did writing it.  More on the world of The Elephant and Macaw Banner coming soon!

Making of – Arrival in Salvador Painting – Part 1

In 2007, shortly after creating Gerard van Oost and Oludara, I visited Salvador on a research trip.

While there, I had the pleasure of seeing the city of Salvador from the Bay of All Saints twice, once from Fort São Marcelo, and once when I visited some islands within the Bay by boat.

View of Fort São Marcelo from Salvador

View of Salvador from Fort São Marcelo

View of Salvador from the Bay of All Saints

Those experiences ingrained in my mind an image of the European ships arriving in that same port hundreds of years ago.  I could easily imagine Gerard’s arrival in Salvador.  It is a scene not contained in the stories, but one I thought could make a nice piece of art.

When I finally decided to have a shot at creating that scene, I chose Leonardo Amora Leite (or “Amora”, as he likes to be called) as the artist.  I chose him primarily because I’d worked with him for several years as a concept artist.  I’m a huge fan of Leonardo’s work in general.  His paintings tend to suggest a rich backstory to the image, and I’ve written one story and one poem inspired by his work.

But I also chose Amora because he’d painted a jaw-dropping pirate battle which made me certain he could get the right style for the Salvador painting:

“Pirate Ship” © Leonardo Amora Leite

Leonardo agreed to the project and we sat down together to discuss it.  I provided him with a rough sketch of what I imagined: a caravel sailing toward Salvador while the city loomed over it.  I also requested he use the vibrant, almost cartoon colors which are a staple of much of his work, as in the painting below:

“The Stone Giant” © Leonardo Amora

While this type of color scheme detracts from the realism of the piece, I felt it would give the painting the feeling of optimism and fantasy contained in the stories.

I also sent  over a few dozen painting and photo references, and a copy of the book “Images de Vilas e Cidades do Brasil Colonial” by Nestor Goulart Reis, by far the richest compilation of images of settlements in Colonial Brazil I’ve ever encountered.

In the next post, I’ll detail step-by-step how Leonardo arrived at the final painting.

Continued at: Making of – Arrival in Salvador – Part 2

Making of – Kalobo Illustration by Paulo italo

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.

Giant Anteater

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.

Brazilian Tapir

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.

Musk Oxen

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.

(Photos: Wikipedia)