Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Forged in Fire

-By Dan dos Santos


Here is a new piece I just finished up for Tor Books, for the novel 'Forged in Fire' by J.A. Pitts. This piece is the third painting in the 'Sarah Beauhall' series, the second of which I shared recently HERE on Muddy Colors.

With the exception of the dragon's eyes and the red smoke emanating from the sword, the piece is painted entirely in oils. Though, I expect now that I've figured out what looks good, I will probably go back into the painting and make these adjustments to the original as well. This is quite typical of the manner in which I work. I usually get to a certain stage in the painting where guesswork is really detrimental to my deadline. So instead, I take a photo of the painting, bring it into Photoshop, and figure it all out there. Once I find a solution to my problem, I go back into the original with a concise game-plan.

I submitted four different sketches for this job, a little more than my usual. Below is one of the alternate concepts that was unused.


The cover concept proved to be a little bit tricky. Despite being set in modern day, the heroine battles a dragon while clad in traditional chainmail garb. Meanwhile, druid-loooking henchmen with magical abilities battle all around her. Because there were no real modern cues in this scene, it threatened to make the cover look like a high fantasy novel, rather than urban fantasy. To avoid this, I opted to omit the druids from the painting, and instead insert the Ducati from the second cover. It may not be as accurate to the scene, but I do feel it better captured the flavor of the story as a whole.

Lastly, here is a detail of the painting. In it's entirety, the original art measures 18 x 27 inches.

12 comments:

  1. My sister loves the series. Whenever I see her reading these books, I just get a little smirk on my face.

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  2. Dan, this turned out really great. I especially love the vertical dark to light transition you have going on here.

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  3. Looks great Dan! The texture on the chain mail is wonderful and the lighting is fantastic!

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  4. The play of cool and warm colors in her skin is awesome, I need to learn how to do that :) Your the man Dan.

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  5. nice pic, love youre work :)
    funny that she almost locks like me haha (but shes mutch cuter :P)

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  6. I've never understood these types of compostions. In both pieces it seems like she is posing for a photo shoot and not participating in the action going on behind her. Can someone help me out?

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  7. @Andre: It's called 'pin-up'. Think of it like a movie poster. The poster usually focuses on the actors, and eludes to a story. It doesn't typically depict a literal scene.

    I have done paintings like what you mentioned, but they are far less successful as covers. The look like movie stills, or concept art, and lack the same iconic impact.

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  8. @Dan,
    Thanks man. I've seen pinup work in the past, but never with so many story elements. Usually it is just half dressed girls in provocative positions. I feel dumb, but it makes more sense now.

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