For the last few years I've been working to build up as much additional free content for the books as I can produce. One of the things I've done is scanned and posted the sketches from my personal notebook. I've never been happy with this being the only content, and while I'm searching for contributions from other artists that can be posted I have decided to teach myself to paint in Photoshop Creative Suite. I've been using that to update my photos: crop, clean, paint and post. The creative heat from this process kindled a furnace of desire to produce new work, even whilst I was updating my older sketches.
I often enjoy an homage to a well known painting, though some of them are overused by pop-culture (BSG and Watchmen both recently used the iconic image of Da Vinci's painting of the Last Supper). I wanted something unique as a starting point, but I also wanted it to capture the maelstrom of action that I intersperse throughout the books. I turned to the art-world for some direct inspiration and I found this:
I, unfortunately, have not been able locate the name of the artist nor the name of the painting, but it depicts a massive confrontation between Greek and Roman forces and more importantly has a woman as the focal point of the picture. I was instantly inspired by this image to depict a scene of chaos surrounding Julienna. My first step was to print out a copy of the picture and sketch a foundation of the image. Once I had my outline down I placed a sheet of white paper over the foundation sheet, back lit the two papers and retraced my sketch on a clean sheet of paper in pencil. Then I inked the image in black and white and used my watercolor painting style in Photoshop to color and shade it. Here is the final product:
For me this image manages to do a few things. First, it sets a color tone for Normand and allows diversity among its citizens (the multi-colored coats are an indication that they are not a dedicated military or para-military force while the unified design sets a cultural precedent). Secondly it has a sense of motion; it isn't overwhelmed with gore, but it adequately conveys the violence of the moment. Lastly it tells a story. For someone who has never read the books there is a clear vision of conflict and for people who have read the books the scene is instantly identifiable.
I'm hoping to have all the black and white images replaced by color images by the end of this next year. Since nearly all have been updated I don't see this as an unreasonable expectation. I will also keep putting up additional new pieces and of course... keep you all informed of my progress.