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Painting emotive fantasy art

Simon Dominic Brewer takes you through a no-frills approach to creating an evocative and original design...

My aim for this workshop is to help demonstrate a couple of things. Firstly, that fantasy art need not be clichéd and, secondly, that you don’t have to use a bunch of fancy tools to achieve your goal.
The piece I’m going to paint is called King of the Sea. Deliberately straying from traditional fantasy, I had the idea of a once-noble sea beast, now little more than a rotting corpse washed up on the beach to be pecked at by gulls and pulled at by the tide. Cheery, I know, but I’m hoping that the unusual theme together with a subdued implementation will prove a lot more evocative than your everyday grimacing monster or fire-breathing dragon.

I’m going to keep things simple. Understand that I’ve got nothing against the more elaborate tools digital artists have at their disposal – I’ll sometimes use them myself – but I’m a firm believer in getting to grips with the basics first. With this in mind, I’ll be painting on to a single canvas, primarily with a single brush, and staying well away from Ctrl/Cmd+Z.
Although I won’t be using references, I have spent an hour or so studying dozens of paintings and photos of beaches and cliffs, noting interesting features that may be of use. For instance, rocks on a beach often have a dip or depression around them due to the tide washing away the sand. Little things like this can add to the authenticity of a piece. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any dragon corpse photos, so it looks like I’m on my own there.

From issue 20.

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