Last year, my friends had a chance to visit the Carpathian region of Eastern Europe. They brought back lots of photos and interesting stories about their adventures. I was so inspired by the atmosphere of these places that I had an idea for a picture.
First I made a sketch of the landscape in Photoshop to put down the visual impression I'd gained from the photographs I'd looked at. Most of all I liked the mountains, and the rare trees with bizarre roots and stumps that stick out of the ground. I used the default brushes with wet edges to draw all of this. The sketch took me 15 minutes. I did it quickly and then began to imagine the bigger picture (Fig.01).
When I started working on sketches, I had to reverse the figure of the horseman because I wasn't going to draw the woman. And later I had to change the figure of the horse to create the warhorse. I was interested in reproducing the natural movement of his animal. The proportions of the horseman were an interesting challenge for me too (Fig.02).
I started to build in color gradually. I usually do sketches in Photoshop, but after that I do all the basic work in Painter 11, because I like imitating oil painting. So at this point I started using Painter. At first I worked with the big oil brushes (Fine Feathering Oils 20, Fine Camel 10 and Smeary Bristle Spray) and Smeary Palette Knife 10. In such a way I planned the sky and started to work on the man's figure. I worked out some details and made a helmet. I first I thought to make a traditional helmet, but then I decided that it would be insufficiently fantastic. Also I wanted to show the wild and mad expression of my character's face (Fig.03).
I worked with the clouds more, using the same brushes, but making them a little smaller. I used a blender (Just Add Water) to do some edges softer. I sketched mountains in a background. I wanted to depict how the distant clouds hang over the mountains, therefore I made a ray of light between the clouds, which separated them (Fig.04).
I started to work with color in the others parts of the landscape. I wanted to make twilight illumination, without bright colors. According to my plan the landscape and the figure in the foreground should look like a dark silhouette against the sky. I used Painter acrylic brushes (Wet Soft Acrylic 10, Captured Bristle) and oil brushes (Fine Feathering Oils 20, Glazing Round 10) with different opacity to draw vegetation. I like to work with colors very much. That's why, when I start coloring, I never paint the outline. I mean I never work with color on a sketch contour. I think that work should be live and drawing must be changed all the time until the end.
I made the general earthy complexion to add to Koshei's skin. I used a small oil brush (Fine Camel 10) and a blender (Just Add Water), and I used F-X Glow to add shine and expressiveness to Koshei's eyes. I used an airbrush (Fine Detail Air 8) to draw small details. I used some transparent layers to make the face of Koschei more natural and I also painted more powerful armor (Fig.05).