by Jérôme Huguenin
For this cover about a magical ritual for Trail of Cthulhu, I had decided to work on the idea of an invocation of a great cosmical horror. I wanted the horror to be huge and over looking his invocator, ready to serve him or eat him.
Step 1 : I chose a picture of a piece of wood cover with fungus and mud. Eyes from a pic I took at a dinos exhibition we saw last year with my daughter and tentacles from a pic from the internet. I start to generate a quick shape and multiply tentacles at the basement of the hideous form to see what it could look like. I also placed at the bottom of the picture a section of earth with a waterfall (I erased here the sky and trees that were there). I wanted the water to be part of the invocation and decided to built a small temple over this falling water.
Step 2 : I added a sky made from a photo taken from above the clouds when I was in a plane and turned it upside down. Here I realise the horror would look better if coming out of the clouds instead of standing there, just floating. I have also resized the tentacled thing to have a more equilibrate picture.
Step 3 : I copied a piece of the sky and put it on a layer in front of the creature. The image suddenly works better. The horror is now moving out of the turbulent clouds. Cool !
Step 4 : I started working on the tentacles and cleaning them to have more precise shapes. I also added shadows over the clouds and unified the background sky so the head of the beast came out better.
Step 5 : I added the temple, taken from a picture of the Berlin gate. I also added some white in the clouds where the creature pops out.
Step 6 :Then I modelled the temple and used the clone stamp tool to add stone texture and then added shadow with the burn tool. I also duplicated the upper part of the temple to create a kind of step and erased extra from the stone cliff.
Step 7 : Then I added the cultist. It is always cool to have a cultist to put in a picture. This one is done from various Japanese priests for the dress and my face and hands. I thought that the picture was too symmetrical, mostly because of the creature shape. I decide to change this.
Step 8 : So I erased some of the beast, creating more tension and making it more dynamic. I like how the movement goes down to the tentacle near the cultist. I think it is better like that. I also start thinking of the magical lights that will symbolise the ritual energy coming from the cultist. It will also help the silhouette emerge from the background.
Step 9 : I added some more bright lines and engraved symbols turned in negative color on a new layer using screen mode so that only the white comes out. I was still not satisfied with creature. I would have liked to see more of the structure of its body. I also worked on the tentacles and finalised them. One is almost touching the cultist’s head !
Step 10 : I added a new layer with some kind of stripes for the creature. I think it helps in understanding how the beast moves, how it can contract or expanse. I also added more tentacles but make them clearer so they seem to be on the other side of this cosmic pet. I decorated the background with some lovely trees.
Step 11 : Then I flattened all the layers (I never go up more than 10 layers, here I had around 6 or 7 during the conception) and then turn the pic in CMYK, created a new layer in color mode and start putting the colors. Very few to have a nice unity ! There it is done.
This illustration is about 5 hours work.
Thanks for reading.