Saturday, July 20, 2013

Tomb Raider

-By Dan dos Santos

Here is a newly released piece that I created for Dark Horse Comic's upcoming 'Tomb Raider' comic.

The comic was originally slated to be released along with the game, but was unexpectedly delayed. Because I had to create the piece long before the game's actual release (almost a year ago now), there wasn't a ton of material to work with. The game was still in development, so the lack of screen grabs, 3D models and advertising available at the time definitely made capturing the character's likeness a real challenge.

Below is an unused sketch that I thought could have made a cool cover as well.

Like I typically do when painting a celebrity or likeness, I photograph an actual model for the body, and try splice in a referenced face (or alter the model's face accordingly).

In this case, I actually used more than one model.

Firstly, I met and photographed two Lara Croft cosplayers at Dragon Con who just so happened to be models! It was totally serendipitous, and I decided to take advantage of it. So I did a super quick shoot with Erin and Tara in my room simply to help me generate some preliminary ideas. Nothing crazy, no lights or anything, just a few rough shots to get the ideas rolling.

Then I hired friend, and fellow illustrator, Liza Biggers to pose for a more controlled shoot where I could really nitpick stuff. I shot Liza both indoors and outdoors, where she proved herself to be not only incredibly fit, but remarkably patient as well!

After the shoot, I reworked my composition digitally, printed it out, and began re-drawing directly on my illustration board. As usual, I started with a fairly tight underdrawing...

And then a light wash of oils to establish the overall color scheme...

And finally, the the finished painting.

'Tomb Raider', 2012, oils on board, 16 x 24 inches.


  1. This cover is cool, but I really dig the unused sketch—a different mood.
    James Gardner Art

  2. Very cool Dan! Great atmosphere and lighting.

  3. Great post Dan! seeing all the process shots, and insights.

  4. Really awesome!! Thanks for always showing your color sketches when you do these cover posts. I really like seeing them. :)

  5. So beautiful and so well thought out. Thanks so much for sharing this Dan. I love your rim-lighting and your back-lit imagery. Your process is both brilliant and inspiring. :D

  6. Dan, thanks for sharing. Can't wait for the book!

  7. While playing the game, you're going to be attached to the character of Lara Croft. Sure, she's an incredibly beautiful gaming goddess in this game but that's not what I mean. What I mean is that you're genuinely rooting for her. In the beginning of the story Lara takes her first life. She's not Master Chief; you actually feel the weight of ending a bad guy's terrible bad guy life. The storytelling in this instance was moving and believable. Weirdly enough, shortly after she kills her first bad guy, she's moving around and killing guys left and right. It was a hiccup to pace the game a little bit more but only a minor gripe.

    Tomb Raider


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