How I Approach Commissions


This image was created for the fantastic Occult Detective Quarterly magazine. I was asked by one of the founders if I would like to contribute so I jumped at the chance. He forwarded on a story to me and basically gave me free reign, which was brilliant. I’m sometimes asked to do commissions but with only a brief outline of the story – which is very hard to do, as I’ll explain below.

Firstly, I read the story quickly. As I mentioned before, without the story to read I don’t find it easy to produce images. By being able to read the story I can get a feel for the story –  to try and understand the genre. Was it pulpy, prose-y, gore-y and so on.

Secondly, I read the story again but much slower. This time round, I wanted to try and get a feel for where images sprung to mind. As I was reading it, a few key parts of the story stuck out to me and so I focused on those.

Thirdly, once I had some ideas in my head from the story it was time to try and see if I could replicate what was in my head into reality. As I work digitally using 3D pose-able models I am sometimes limited to what models are out there. However, it also allows me to work within certain parameters quickly and, using the relevant software, easily.

After a few drafts, I focused my attention on what eventually became the above image. I posed the character to be sat in meditation, and posed the exact same character behind him to look like he was floating in an out of body experience. I had to learn how to shade the character to appear ghost like, but with a few tweaks I got the look I wanted.

As Rob Ross was keen on saying, happy accidents should be embraced. When I posed the character I didn’t originally intend the light source to be directly behind his head but the resulting effect was very cool so I went with that. The only problem was the light source didn’t light up his face. Hence the lamp in the center of the image. The dead crows added a slight folk-horror twinge, something that I personally enjoy.

Once it was all done and dusted, I rendered it out full size using Daz3d’s IRay render engine. I probably should have rendered a test render to see what the editor thought, but I got carried away. After a few small tweaks in Photoshop to bring out the sunset/eclipse effect (and produce a black and white version) I sent it to the editor to see what they thought. I’ve done commissions before and there tends to be a lot of tweaks needed before the editor is happy. Luckily, this was a first as the editor loved it straight away and ran with it. I’m keen to say this image is now included in the Occult Detective Quarterly magazine, and I believe the full colour version is included for some lucky people.


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