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Making Of 'Gross Worm'

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Date Added: 8th April 2011
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When I sat down to create this image I had a rough idea of what I wanted to show. Having played many games of the survival horror genre recently, namely Dead Space and Silent Hill, I decided I wanted to paint a creature that would be right at home in this kind of environment. I wanted the image to have a disturbing feel to it, something that plays on the viewer's mind, and I have found that a good way to achieve this kind of unease is to mix beauty and innocence with something horrible and scary; the juxtaposition of the two generally causes the viewer to ask questions and feel uneasy about the creature. It sounds horrible; however, for the type of genre it's for, it's actually quite fitting!

The Sketch

I generally start a new artwork with a quick five-minute sketch to get down what I can see in my mind's eye. I tend to use line at this stage of the process, rather than blocking in values to make silhouettes, as I find line easier to understand when trying to get an idea down quickly (Fig.01).

Fig. 01

So once the five-minute scribble was down I could then assess what I had against the concept I originally outlined, to see if it would fit with what I had planned to draw. So far so good! The worm-like body is representative of Medusa and the Gorgon sisters, recognisable monster figures; this coupled with the juxtaposition of the women joined to the monster looked just like the kind of creature I was after!

The sketch had some anatomy issues, especially the woman host as she was a bit disproportionate at this stage. This is something I would normally fix at this part of the image creation process if the image was going to take many, many hours of work. I decided, however, to only spend about 2 to 3 hours on the image and approach it as a creature concept, so I figured I would simply fix the issues whilst I rendered, as the sketch was acting more of a guide than a definitive design in this instance.


When I work on creature and character concepts I generally block out values and details in many passes of greyscale (Fig.02). With each pass I decreased my brush size and added more detail, building up layers of underpainting and playing with design options. The brush I tend to use for this type of refining is a Standard Hard Round brush, with Opacity set to about 70% and Flow to 50%. I used this brush and the Eyedropper tool to blend my values. I find this process very quick, allowing me to change the design at will and to try out many options (Fig.03).

Fig. 02

continued on next page >

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