The medium

Alan worked on strong smooth artist's board and built up all the detail in pencil directly onto the surface of the board. He then sprayed on (without using masks) thin layers of acrylic paints. He completed the painting using artist's oil colors applied thinly. One of his most successful techniques is to gently remove the surface of the painting using a hard pencil eraser. Carefully handled, this technique creates highlights and reveals colors applied previously. Illustration from The High...

Using your own photographs

The camera can be a tool, just like a brush or pen. You can use its ability to record detail as a means of sorting out the visual qualities of your ideas. Begin by first sketching your intentions, then when you feel confident with an idea, use the camera on location or in fixed lighting to build up your knowledge of the subject. The picture (above right) looks ghoulish it appears to be of a child's frightened response to something terrible. His hair is standing on end, his hands are grasping...

Fantasy of popular culture

Wherever there is an audience artists perform their skills at weaving magic and fantasy. Comics, children's classics, adult fiction, theatre, movies, videos and record sleeves are all media which provide space for creating images from the imagination. The great fictional writers, past and present, have invented special worlds to which artists have responded by developing their own visual forms. Preceding pages Weird Tales 1924-40 US popular magazine covers Pulp magazines are an outlet for...

Saint George and the dragon

The legend in which St George rescues a maiden by slaying a dragon was a popular subject for both paintings and sculptures. To both artist and audience alike it symbolized the struggle between good (the hero) and evil (the monster), and asserted that virtue and innocence (the maiden) cannot be harmed by evil. Uccello worked in a Christian environment, decorating churches and the homes of devout princes. The use of classical and mythological subjects as symbols to express Christian beliefs was...

Representational worlds

This device left) represents a mythological demon dog. It was used to decorate a doorknob in Renaissance Italy. Dream worlds (above) The 19th century author Lewis Carroll created a dream world for his heroine Alice. Here, among rabbits, walruses and frogs, human properties were attributed to animals so that they could converse with Alice. Allegorical worlds (above) The shadow puppets of Malaya include animals who talk and walk as humans. These fantasy figures are interchangeable with gods,...

Acrylic and oil colors

Flash Gordon Hentai

Book jacket design for Planet of the Damned, published by Futura, UK 211 2 x271 2 (55cmx70cm) Alan Craddock is one of a new generation of artists who have developed their skills to suit the needs of publishers of science fiction and the rising popularity of a 'comic culture.' From childhood he collected small-format comics and advertisements for bodybuilding aids. He is a self-trained artist, but was inspired and given confidence by his high school art teacher. All his technical skills have...

Inks and watercolors

One of four paintings for a calendar, unpublished 15xl2(38cm x30cm) Ian Miller trained as a fine artist and slowly developed from an oil painter to one who uses inks and watercolors extensively. Although his ideas have great freedom of expression, the detail within each picture is carefully resolved. His images come almost entirely from memory - they are stored details of the observed world which he can recall and build on. He seldom uses photographic or technical source 1 Ian dampened a sheet...

Exploration

There are two sources of ideas available while you are actually working on your drawing discoveries made either while drawing or during printing. Different tools, surfaces, media and processors can all provide methods of exploring accidental results. The word 'DANZIG' (right) was altered by first drawing the characters in a slow-drying ink and, before it dried, blowing through a drinking straw at the wet ink strokes while moving the paper around. Textures often have a graphic quality which is...

Science fiction worlds

This is an airbrushed painting by Robert Chapman see page 124). The artist must hold clearly in mind the tonal values of the areas obscured under the mask to avoid producing results which flatten the image. Using the airbrush requires a steady hand and smooth movement. One of the most impressive qualities of airbrush artists is their ability to add very small gradated values such as shining lights or softly darkened forms. There are two ways of adding tone or texture to a drawing. If the...

Building tensions

The photograph left is of a stationary car with a small child standing in front of it. It could be used for the creation of two sequential drawings involving a car accident (above). Sand writing Most artists would find it difficult to record accurately letters written in sand. A way of providing yourself with a visual reference is to write the letters in a tray of sand, then photograph it with a strong side light (left). Artists have often built models of parts of objects they want to draw in...

Establishing the images

Joshua Nava Artworks

4 George uses a photographic projector to transfer his studies onto canvas left). This method enables him to paint the tonal areas directly onto the surface without the presence of outlines and construction marks. You can use a home transparency projector and transfer your pictures onto the wall against which you have placed your work surface. 5 George begins with the dark areas of the cave to establish the composition. He then projects his drawing of the dragon into the central area. Using...

Fantasy of superstitions

Naive belief in supernatural forces has been a common inspiration for fantastic imagery. Superstitions often mix crude, inaccurate tales about demons and devils with the spice of sex and pornography. The stirrings of the lower belly rise to stimulate the imaginings of the mind to create popular fantasy art. Any unexplained event is quickly transformed by folk culture into the machinations of extraordinary forces which are then portrayed as devils, witches, demons, ghosts, vampires and other...

Dragon depictions

The Latin word 'draco' means both dragon and serpent, but to artists worldwide a dragon has legs, often wings and sometimes breathes fire. The mythological beast appears in all cultures and is both feared and revered. 1 The dragon of the Nordic warriors represented death, destruction and the guardian of hell, so it was a fitting decoration for a Viking battle-axe of the 10th century. 2 The dragon of medieval heraldry represented prowess and power. A mark of authority, the device embellished the...

Graphic techniques

The tools and techniques of the fantasy artist can be explored to create more powerful images. 1 An original image with a full range of tones. 2 The image described as lines traced along the edges of the dark and light areas. 3 The image drawn as only pure blacks or whites with no intermediate tonal values. 4 A negative version where the dark areas are white and the light areas dark. 5 This is illustration no. 3 distorted by photocopying it without placing it directly onto the photocopier's...

Applying selfadhesive film

Using this method you will have strong, black containing lines with a variety of textures. Avoid using tones of either type over large areas. 2 Lay part of the texture sheet (with the backing sheet still attached) over your work. Using a scalpel, cut out roughly, but not wastefully, the area required. Remove the backing sheet and the unused pieces of tone with care. Put the shaped area of tone over your work and rub down in the centre only to keep the piece in place. 3 Carefully cut around the...

Unseen worlds

Story-telling by adults is a universal and ageless way of conveying ideas. The storyteller (right) uses his arms to describe a monster's actions, invoking the children's imaginations so they 'see' the demon's threat. Fantasy images begin in the mind and not in reality. Old worlds (right) European artists have always been inspired by myths and symbolism. The Greek myth of Hercules fighting Achelous (as a bull) is also recorded in Asian cultures, and in sculpture, on vases and on walls. For a...

Fantasy of the ordinary

Normality is an excellent source of fantasy art because it is everywhere, always available, and because of its familiarity. The effects are usually achieved by juxtapositions of incongruous objects and ideas of inverted normality. The elements in a picture are often arranged as if asking you to make up your own story of the preceding events. This form of art can have a very successful impact, as though casting a spell over the observer. We know reality is around us, and we are always disturbed...

Progressing a painting

Robert Chapman began the painting far right) by producing a careful pencil sketch of the idea. He worked with a hard pencil on tracing paper using templates to construct accurately the ovals of the major parts of the design. 1 He then transferred-down onto finely-grained cartridge board the major elements of the design, subsequently covering the board with a film of clear masking material. 2 He then removed the outer areas having first cut a very careful line around the central object using an...

The real into the unreal

The photograph (left) was taken while I was on holiday in northern Greece such a startling cliff needed to be recorded for later use. The 19th century Scottish castle (above) is a fairytale building come true. These pictures were combined in the creation of an illustration for a comic book series (right).

Technical sources

The most surprising and varied sources of imagery are technical publications, on engineering or microbiology, industrial catalogues or academic text books. The unfamiliar can be a starting point for your drawing. Many fantasy artists have used bizarre diagrams from surgery manuals as inspiration for horrific visions. The transparent study of a railway engine (above right) can throw up ideas for futuristic machines. The microscopic creature (right), enlarged a thousand times, could be the start...

Frivolous fantasy

Frivolous Fantasies

Many newspapers and magazines offer a ready supply of objects for private fantasy, either social or sexual. This is a means of achieving in imagination new levels of life not at present available by normal means elevated shoes to increase your height, or plastic aprons (right) to change your sex. Almost all are unbelievable and none fulfill their promises. An illustration of an invitation to the private showing of the Russian artist Ivan Bilibin (above). The exhibition was held in Alexandria...

Sources of fantasy

I once overheard a beautiful conversation between two children, one aged six and the other ten years old. The eldest was explaining that comics have words in them for people who cannot read the pictures Fantasy pictures have a meaning. Understanding the pictures is a major part of enjoying such works of imagination. Very often when we discover new forms of fantasy art we have difficulty in 'reading the picture.' The roots of the ideas and forms dig deep into many levels of human experience, and...

Shadow effect

Nick cut separate masks to reveal the shadow areas and reworked the shadows over the initial drawing (i). When the design was complete he began to rework all the areas, and particularly the edges of the masked surfaces using wax crayons, pastels and colored pencils to fuse the elements into one cohesive design. Finally he removed the central area of the small object held by the skeleton and completed the copy of the Van Eyck figures (j).

Preceding pages The temptation of St Anthony

The painting and details (over) are on an altar panel. The trees, plants and creatures are from the dark forests of Germany, the home of wolves, demons and evil spirits. The monsters are a strange mixture of animals, some slimy, some feathery, some scaly and some with human flesh. They behave like freaks they hiss, fight, bellow at St Anthony and at each other they torment and are tormented they are disfigured and diseased. The monster (lower left) has leprous or syphilitic skin blisters....

Other worlds

With faith, there is life after death in an existence as real as the earthly one. The early medieval wall painting (right) shows the ladder of salvation, a path each Christian must follow to avoid eternal damnation and achieve salvation. Faith makes heaven and hell real and the emotions, such as hate, love, lust and sloth, have personalities which come alive in the bodies of men, women and creatures.

Pencils and watercolors

Maurice Wilson worked for over fifty years producing delicate studies of real and imaginary creatures and plants. He was renowned for his ability to portray creatures using very little reference material to aid the task, sometimes reconstructing long-dead creatures with only a few surviving bones as a guide. He worked mainly with water solvent inks, adding highlights in acrylic paints. After planning his pictures he usually began painting the dark areas, building up the main elements in...

Childrens fiction

Carroll, Anderson, Kipling and Potter and the lesser-known authors of Pinocchio, Goldilocks, Red Ridinghood and Mother Goose have created magic worlds. 1 Gulliver's Travels, offers giants, dwarfs and horses that talk. Adult literature The horror stories of Poe, Shelley, Lovecraft and Stoker or the fantasy of Burroughs, Conan Doyle, Wells, Verne and Tolkien all provide strange and bizarre images. 2 Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein has spawned hundreds of pictures and portrayals on TV and film.

The human form

Chinese Goddess Costume

Either as costumes or statues, ancient and primitive societies used the human form as a starting point for the depiction of the unimaginable. Their Gods are transformed into variations of the human figure. 7 Chinese carving of a female deity 8 Classical Greek fertility goddess In the mind of a master artist images float to the surface of his consciousness and are captured for eternity in his art. You should never be embarrassed about copying their discoveries for your own use. They, too, have...

Fantasy of faith

Religious beliefs have provided the means for artists to portray worlds other than the real, physical, observable parts of the Earth. Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish religious buildings and books abound with fantasy art. The temples of ancient Egypt, Greece, Central America and Asia all contain depictions of fantastic worlds envisioned and drawn by the faithful. With faith, everything is real. Heaven and hell have reality. With faith, emotions can be personalized, shown as individuals,...

Superimposing pictures

Fantasy Art

One successful way to achieve fantasy pictures is by superimposing images. This is frequently done with the photographic technique of double exposure. Alternatively, two matching images can be successfully combined without a high degree of sophistication by the use of tracing paper overlays. 1 Michael's pencil study self-portrait is made menacing by the addition of a snarling lion copied from a nature magazine and the surprised creatures protruding from his ears. 2 The ghoulish face produced by...

Demonic creatures

Paintings 16th Century Witch

Popular tales of devils that tempt young girls or old hags who have power over lives were used by artists to stir up secret fears. 1 The discovery of witches, a 17th century book on detecting witches. 2 The devil and the disobedient child, an 18th century American storybook illustration on morals. 3 A bewitched groom, a 16th century German illustration on the source of illness. 4 Witches' trail sign opposite . The tourist highway sign in Salem, USA, commemorates the time when its bigoted...

Planning

Giovanni produced a pencil sketch of the composition so that he could build up all the elements required within one grouping. He used a soft lead pencil on tracing paper, and worked to the size of the final painting. Tracing down After working out all the major details, and possibly reserving particular areas independently on separate sheets, he transferred the composition to the board using a hard pencil. This left a fine groove in the surface which does not appear in reproductions, but which...

Joshua Nava Artist

Joshua Nava Arts

A picture produced from the images within the mind can be a more accurate portrayal of human perceptions than one based entirely on observations. When we look at the work of a fantasy artist we can respond to the mystery on a number of levels the source of the ideas, the constituent parts, and the subject matter of the picture. The construction of the composition, its use of the elements of light and shade, and its depictions of imaginary forms are all...

Animals as people

Attributing human characteristics to animals has been a long tradition among fantasy artists. The fictional animal world of popular children's literature abounds with human-style walking and talking animals. Bears blow their noses on spotted handkerchiefs, dogs quote Socrates, elephants go to the barber's shop and foxes eat their supper using knives and forks.