Thursday, July 21, 2011

Blood Divided

-By Dan dos Santos


Here's a new cover that just went went public yesterday. The image is for the book 'Blood Divided', by K.J. Breaux, and is the sequel to the book 'Soul Born', for which I also did the cover.

For those of you keeping track, this is 'Red Painting #2' that I mentioned earlier this month. Not being completely satisfied with the previous painting, I decided to take some of what I learned, and try it again. Red is a surprisingly difficult color to work with. The problem lies in that the brightest of reds is relatively low in value. If you lighten it, it either shifts orange or pink, and either one in undesirable. The result is, you really have to dull out and darken everything else in order to get the illusion of vibrancy.

Testing the exposure prior to shooting.
For me, the best part about this job was the model shoot. I decided to hire a new model that I found via Model Mayhem. This is always a real gamble for me, because you don't know if they'll be any good. By the time you find out, it's too late. Money and time have both been wasted. In this case, I really lucked out. The model was not only beautiful, but turned out to be sensationally good. Great poses, expressions, hands, everything.

I also did something I hadn't done in a long time... really spend some time on the costume. I don't think there is any element of the costume that I couldn't simply make up if I had to, and usually that's just what I do. However, actually crafting something for the model to wear is not only really fun, but also helps you put more care into it's design. You are also much more likely to come up with new solutions that you might not come up with if you were just drawing the design on paper. But perhaps the most important part of having a good costume is that it helps the model feel more in the role. Spending an hour transforming your model into something else has a psychological impact on their performance. If they feel like someone else, it's easier to act like someone else. The result was a sensational photo shoot. Honestly, I had the perfect shot with the first 20 frames. Lighting, pose, costume... it was all there. All that I needed to do was paint it as is!

In addition to spending some time on the costume, I also spent a little extra time making a model bird. If I know I am going to be painting the same animal several times in a single piece (like a pack of wolves, or flock of birds), it almost always warrants making a maquette. In this case, I just bunched up aluminum foil around a wire armature. I spray painted it black, and viola! The wire armature actually enabled me to bend the wings into new positions, allowing me to experiment with the silhouette of the bird quite easily. It may seem like a lot of work, but in actuality, I only spent about 20 minutes making the thing. I would have spent ten times that amount sorting through Google images trying to find the right poses otherwise.

My assistant helps pose the bird for additional shots after the model leaves.
I painted the image traditionally, using oils on illustration board, at 20 x 30 inches. I scanned it myself, and sent the file off to the client. They approved it without revision, and just sent me the final type treatment a few days ago.


29 comments:

  1. That's another great cover! I really liked the wolf one too. One thing I noticed was that you used a red gel to photograph the model against a red backgd. I'm sure that was quite helpful. Good Work!

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  2. Wow...I think that is my favourite piece of yours, ever! Her skin just pops off the background so amazingly, and the blue black is a perfect contrast.

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  3. It's stunning.
    I also have to say that I recently purchased your cover illustration tutorial for the Warbreaker cover and found it very informative and helpful. So thank you very much for making that video.

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  4. Beautiful as always, but even more importantly, a reminder of how vital good custom photo reference is.

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  5. What a beautiful cover this is, especially like the striking colours, it might be difficult to paint around reds, yet this looks like you did not struggler at all!

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  6. Nice one Dan! Sometimes even with pro models through an agency you can get stiff models that aren't that into the shoot... though you'd hope your chances of getting a good model would be better. Just because you have the look doesn't mean you can act the part - so you're right, the more you can do to help the model get excited about the project the better.

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  7. You know, Dan, I'm regularly blown away by images posted here, staring at them for a long time, trying to absorb what makes them so striking. I always enjoy seeing what pops up when the page loads.

    But this time, when the page loaded, I actually gave a little gasp. It kind of took my breath away. A truly stunning painting.

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  8. I've always thought red & black go perfectly together - red & black & gold are a close second, although you have to be very careful with the gold.

    Congratulations! This is a beautiful beautiful painting! And it's one of about a dozen painting book covers that wasn't ruined by the addition of type! The "type person" needs to be congratulated also!

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  9. Beautiful! Beautiful! Beautiful!

    ...Steve.

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  10. Being able to read about the process has made my experience working with you, Dan, even more incredible. I love seeing what you did with the model. Its nice to see some people still believe in working hard and putting the extra time and effort into their projects. Your integrity as an artist and businessman is excellent. A+. I am truly a lucky guy to be working with you.

    Kevin James Breaux

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  11. Wonderful Dan. I love how you paint women: beautiful and strong. Thanks for sharing the process and the final.

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  12. *jaw just dropped*.... Wow... amazing Dan. I love how you share your process with us. Great call on the reds... it's totally beautiful, sultry and a wonderful balance between values and saturation. I love this painting...and the model is clearly a winner! Amazing Dan... you NEVER cease to amaze.

    Funny thing, I was at school last term and saw someone reading the book : Green. I told her that there's this amazing artist named " Dan DosSantos" who is one of my topmost faves who painted that beautiful cover. She told me that she literally bought the book SOLELY because of the cover. How AWESOME is THAT? :D

    -J

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  13. Absolutely Beautiful...the painting is nice too:)

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  14. Gorgeous, Dan, in many ways. Congrats, and thanks for the example!

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  15. That beautiful painting deserves better type treatment. They should at least modify the "D"s so they are not clones.

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  16. Holy sh#t Dan! this painting caught me by surprise. It is so arresting as an image that it gave me butterflies in my gut.

    I dont want to be overdramatic, but this is the reason I started painting. The impact a painting can have on the viewer is what this is all about. You must be pretty proud of this painting because I get the feeling from looking at it that you know you nailed it. That must feel pretty great Dan.

    Your enjoyment of the shoot must have really inspired you to do what I think is your best piece yet. Very cool Dan, very cool.

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  17. Amazing! instant save for desktop image.

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  18. Really gorgeous.
    I recently did a drawing for the art order challenge that had birds in it, and I was feeling pretty good about, but looking at this made me realize that I need to work harder.

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  19. Another beauty, Dan. Just finished watching your Massive Black DVD this week and am ripe with inspiration! Thanks so much for sharing!

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  20. Absolutely stunningly beautiful! Just amazing work. I don't care what people say, I do judge books by their covers. A really great cover makes me pick up the book in the first place (where as an uninspiring one will make me pass by). Great job!

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  21. Beautiful illustration, as usual I'd say. My question though is, how do you scan your painting? Do you work with a flatbed scanner (what size?) and scan it in pieces then join the pieces in Photoshop. I started working smaller size so I could scan my art in 2 pieces on an A4 scanner (european size) and join them in Photoshop. But at the size you work, that's going to be a lot of retouching.

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  22. Great job, Dos Santos. How do you you deal with the legal issues of having someone's likeness on a commercial illustration?

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  23. Thanks for the compliments, guys.

    @Mario: I am currently writing a whole post devoted to photographing your artwork... stay tuned!

    @Dom: When you hire a model for a painted illustration, it is a 'work for hire' agreement. They are relinquishing their likeness for a one-time flat fee. Many companies require a model release stating such.

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  24. Thanks Dan, I'm curious. Great you guys are sharing your knowledge and experience. Glad I found this site with all that great stuff.

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  25. Thank you so much for posting your process. I really enjoy reading about it. The painting is really stunning!
    I am curious about the scanning part - do you have a really large scanner or did you scan in pieces? You don't photograph it?

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  26. P.S. great advice about the bird maquette!

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