This illustration is inspired by the short story Call of Cthulhu by Lovecraft. There is plenty of amazing Cthulhu art around and I've always been fascinated by the subject so I decided to do my own version of it. It's based on the part of the story that describes how the sailors accidentally manage to free Cthulhu in the nightmare city of R'lyeh.
His tomb is described to be a "monstrously carven portal" and Cthulhu itself as being an entity of cosmic evil, the size of a mountain, that looks like a cross between a human, an octopus and a dragon (Fig.01).
The first thing I was concerned with was the creature design and the colossal scale it had to convey. To do this some good results can generally be achieved by adding a scale reference. For example, it could be a person, doors/windows, birds flying etc. Because we know how big all those things are, when we put them next to our subjects it gives a sense of scale that would otherwise be difficult to convey.
The use of perspective with a really zoomed out field of view or a fisheye lens effect also affects perception of scale. Another very helpful thing is cutting something off the frame. The viewer will perceive a subject to be huge if it cannot even fit into the picture; it implies there's so much out there and leaves something to the imagination, which is generally a pleasing effect anyway. In this case you can only the pretty big head so we assume the full body must be enormous.
After a quick exploration on paper I moved to Photoshop for this sketch. Most important problems are solved at this stage: composition, rough perspective, patterns of light and darks, big shapes vs. details and so on. I generally leave the color to a later stage (Fig.02).
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