Sunday, June 30, 2013

Designing Phèdre's Marque

Everyone who has read the Kushiel's Legacy series instantly recognizes the twisting knotwork of Phèdre's rose marque.  It's become so iconic with the series that it was a very tough decision to decide to change it at all!  I decided I should continue my pattern of trying to be a special snowflake by designing my own version.

Admittedly, I also always thought the established marque, while lovely, doesn't quite work with the description.  Here's a refresher for you all:

"With some effort, I recognised the underlying design, which was based on a very old pattern, the briar rose. Somehow Master Tielhard had kept the dramatic vigor of the archaic lines, yet infused them with a subtlety that spoke at once of the vine, the bond and the lash. The thorny lines were stark black, accented in only a few choice hollows with a teardrop of scarlet - a petal, a drop of blood, the mote in my eye."
-Phèdre no Delaunay, Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey
Bearing that in mind, the first indicator of the look is the fact it takes Phèdre effort to actually discover the underlying floral arrangement of the design.  Here are some wonderful versions by other fans that I drew on for inspiration during my research process:

Both of these examples are by Elegaer on DeviantART

EDIT:  Thanks to Google 'search by image', I've finally located this cosplayer here! I found this version via Tumblr, but don't know the cosplayer/photographer. If you know them, please comment so that I may properly credit them!  The curling vines in this version really stood out to me as truer to the 'briar rose' inspiration.

I went through a few iterations, some which swung wildly from a very literal rose bush and others that went more abstract.  In the end, I decided to keep it simple and to preserve the flail 'tail' of the original design (with some slight modification) because it feels to me like the perfect representation of 'bond and lash' all rolled in to one.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Sketch Dairy: Kushiel's Dart Cover Part 2

The last entry involved a lot of ideation about the composition of the cover.  Well, we're not through yet!  Here comes the fun part that the research nerd in me adores.

Gathering Reference

The reason I gather references after creating my thumbnails instead of before is so that I can preserve the energy of my drawing without getting caught up on details that don't need to be defined just yet.  It can be a real time sink when you're trying to get ideas out fast!

But now? Research, glorious research!  Here are just a few of the images I pulled up to get my creative juices flowing:

This is just a sample of the items I've gathered
on my Kushiel's Legacy Board  on Pinterest.

The visual themes I kept in mind while I researched:

- Classical Orientalist/Romantic paintings
- Blood red roses
- White marble
- Sheer cloth
- Glowing skin

I also lit and photographed my own references for the figure.  Here's just one from the set of many that I took trying to get it right:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Master Copy - Offering to Venus

Re-sharing this study here since I painted it specifically to guide me in painting the redo of the cover of Kushiel's Dart that I'm currently working on. This painting has given me some fantastic ideas about how to handle Phedre's wardrobe as well. I can't wait to get back to it!

What I Learned from Master Copying - Offering to Venus
I recently finished a master copy of John William Godward’s painting, Offering to Venus.  This was my first ever attempt at copying a masterwork and it’s proven to be a most enlightening experience!  Many thanks to Sam Hogg for her suggestion to try this exercise and her tutorials on the matter.

See a step by step with detailed notes at WiPnation.

Why Do This?

Why would someone drive themselves insane this way, you ask?  For me, I did this exercise to prime myself for another painting which I had hit a dead end with.  I wanted skin glow, gorgeous roses, a classical painterly feel, and translucent material, but it all seemed flat and plastic no matter what I did with it.  I needed some time away from the piece to figure out how this was done. 

The ‘other’ painting, a reinterpretation of the cover of
Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey.

That’s when I came upon John William Godward’s Offering to Venus.  This painting had everything I wanted in my own - glowing soft skin, roses, sheer cloth, and a classical feel…
Read on at the full blog post.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Kushiel's Legacy Covers from France

Here we have more Kushiel's Legacy cover inspiration!

For images you can enlarge, see my tumblr post.

These are some of my favorite covers to the first trilogy of Kushiel books that were sold in France. Some of the best and most fitting illustrations, in this fan's opinion!

More covers collected at the Jacqueline Carey cover collection site.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Donato Giancola's Kushiel's Dart Cover

Awoke this morning to find that Donato Giancola has shared his version of a cover for a re-release of Kushiel’s Dart over at Muddy Colors!  Definitely check out his blog post to see the beautiful preliminary sketch for this one. It’s quite lovely!

Talk about massive inspiration for me to finish up my redo of the cover!

EDIT: Now with text treatment, thanks to the Art Director's blog post!