Using change

The great exponent of changing forms was the 19th century scientist Charles Darwin. The idea that we could begin as one species and develop into another was a startling proposal to people who believed in eternal forms. Nevertheless, metamorphosis (the changing form), has always existed. Caterpillars change to butterflies, eggs to birds, seeds to trees. Nothing is constant. A contemporary cartoon (right) ridiculing Darwin's ideas on evolution. A contemporary cartoon (right) ridiculing Darwin's...

Studying nature

The natural world is one of the most commonly-used inspirational sources for the fantasy artist. The great Renaissance painter Leonardo da Vinci instructed pupils to observe You should look at certain walls stained with damp or at stones of an uneven color. If you have to invent some setting you will be able to see in these the likeness of divine landscapes. He suggested you should look at the embers of fire, or clouds, or mud, or other similar objects from which you will find ideas . . ....

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,...

Using the size

Our experience of life leads us to assume the size of objects or creatures. A bear or a bee have a generally imagined size. Fantasy artists use this feature to disturb our views of the normal, placing objects alongside one another with disregard for their actual, related sizes. Our imaginations are stretched by being confronted with the visually impossible. Human beings are often used as an indicator of scale. The groups of figures below through their contexts are, in one case, made to appear...

Smudging

A very common technique, but take care to avoid a messy result. The end of your finger (left), soft material, or a putty rubber can be used to spread the tone. Spray fixative over the finished drawing to prevent accidental smudging. Resistant materials (below) You can create interesting effects using wax with water-based tone. A Cover part of your picture with wax, either by rubbing a candle or wax crayon over it, or use liquid wax applied with a brush. B Add a wash of tone. This will shrink...

Selecting a texture

A large range of tones and textures, both regular and irregular, are available, but they tend to be costly. Only buy the ones which you know you want to use, and store unused pieces carefully. A few examples of the available range are shown (below). A Rub-down B Self-adhesive film 2 Lay the sheet of tone over your drawing and rub down using a blunt tool (a burnisher is ideal). Lift the sheet up occasionally to check the effect. 3 Move the unused tone to another area and apply again. You can...

Heightened normality

The drawing (right), entitled The death chamber, by the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, shows the interior of a bedroom in 1892. Although we cannot see the person in the bed, we assume from the positions and expressions of the other people in the room that they are considering the finality of death.

Victims

The purpose of this picture (right) was to describe the nightmare idea that we are all victims needing help from a source we cannot see or understand. The wall was drawn from a photograph, turned upside down, of the floor of an iron foundry. The hands were created from the study above) of the artist's own hands. The attentive jailer was created from a study of museum illustrations of Pacific crustaceans. Images of this nature stir our imagination because they provoke the questions Who is behind...

Fantasy of selfindulgence

Every individual has a fantasy world of his own, but only a very few ever depict it in pictures that this kingdom be imagined or dreamed about and then forgotten seems to be sufficient. But 19 th and 20th century artists have very frequently exploited this private realm as a storehouse of ideas which they have recorded, usually in great pictorial detail, and put on public display. Because this art-form can emerge only from sources already digested in the subconscious, it invariably contains...

Horror sources

A great source of fantasy art is the depiction of horrific events. This 19th century illustration (below) is of a particularly gruesome child murder. The retreating back of the man, the child's smiling head on the table, the trail of blood from the body under the bed, all set in a normal interior, produce an impression of involuntary and perverse action, the work of a madman. (Preceding page) Collection, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Kay Sage Tanguy Fund. (Preceding page) Collection, The...

Acrylic and oil colors

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...

Preceding pages The temptation of St Anthony

This painting was requested by the religious order of St Anthony. Attached to its church was a hospital which specialized in treating venereal disease. A sufferer who sought a miraculous cure was asked to contemplate the horrors of evil in front of this painting before being given treatment. The painting is no larger than a dressing-table mirror and only close examination will reveal its details. The many groups, costumes, objects and buildings were intended to convey ideas now lost. Each image...

Comic sources

Pictures are the best way to capture children's attention so, before television, artists developed the comic strip to a high art. Today adults often find fantasy comics more attractive than children. From the creators of Batman, Superman, Rupert Bear, Barbar the Elephant and Tintin came new worlds. Here are three examples of great comic artists at work 1 Frank Bellamy, an English illustrator of the 1960s, created space pilot Dan Dare. 2 Winsor McCay, illustrator of the New York Herald, created...

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...

Contemporary sources of information

Early man used art to depict creatures and events central to his existence. The illustration (below left) is a Neanderthal man's representation of woolly mammoths. It was painted on the wall of a cave, and is one of the few surviving records of life at that time Present-day sources Hills, birds, faces and figure shapes are all derived from photographic sources in magazines such as the National Geographic. From his collection of over a thousand color magazines Giovanni can find references which...

Progressing the drawing

Only selected areas were revealed. The others were protected from smudging by a protective cut-out of paper. He then applied a soft B pencil to the reverse side of his tracing (b) to enable him to transfer all the key lines onto a sheet of paper which he used as a mask (c). When this was complete he gummed the back surface of the masking sheet and, using a scalpel, he carefully cut out the skeleton from the design, and stored this shape for later use (d). To...

Other applications

Jim has been asked to apply his creative ideas to the world of movies and even to present-day vehicle design. He worked in Hollywood on the movie Bladerunner where his enthusiasm for futuristic vehicles was incorporated in the movie sets. The sketch (below) shows one of his many ideas for vehicles in the movie. In Europe he has also produced ideas for new electrically-powered vehicle design in which traditional body shapes have been completely rethought.

Creating incongruity

When combining images, their joint effect is best described as 'the sum is greater than the parts'. The property of subjects when combined creates a mix which exceeds the effect of the basic ingredients. Scale, textures, substance, events, space, when mixed irrationally can create disturbing combinations. Shoes are made to protect our feet so a shoe with toes left) is a contradiction. Pencils are hard, inflexible objects so a pencil tied in a knot seems impossible. Our prior knowledge of 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...

Your own inspiration bank

By collecting objects, you will have a library of images which can spark off ideas. When out walking, or while cleaning out tool boxes -whenever your attention is caught by the unique qualities of small objects -try to collect them. By displaying them in a wall-case (opposite), you will create your own personal bank of shapes and textures which it would be otherwise difficult to imagine.

Establishing the images

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...

Building up the detail

The dark areas were slowly built up to form the major structures of the composition (a), and, within these structures, textures were established by dabbing the wet surface with pieces of kitchen roll (b) (detail right, actual size). This technique is excellent for natural surfaces, but requires great care as you are unable to repeat or revise the results if they are unsatisfactory. During the painting, the highlights (c) are worked back into the picture by using thicker, opaque colors. Detail...

Your point of view

To achieve drama in a fantasy art composition the artist can use visual distortions of the elements, extremes of lighting, dramatic scale variations, and unusual or disturbing positioning of the focus of attention. These tricks are particularly exploited in the production of comic book art, where the repeated use of the comic strip as a vehicle for images and text can be monotonous. Artists often select a viewpoint from which the elements draw us into the picture (1 and 2). Drawings need not...

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...

Doubletake pictures

Sometimes we are caught unawares by visual tricks. 1 This could be a giant head or a rocky landscape. 2 The top illustration could be a young girl or an old lady. The subsequent two illustrations have added detail to clarify each interpretation. 3 This can be a black-faced doll, or by turning the page upside down, an old smiling granny. 4 Is this two confronting faces, or a vase containing a leafy plant

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...

Childrens worlds

Movies, TV, comics and popular stories abound with animal creatures. How many can you name in this collection (below) Do you know where they appear in children's entertainments and what other famous ones have been omitted Satirical worlds (above) The 19 th century illustrator Granville depicted animals performing human activities. He used this technique primarily so that he could expose the follies of contemporary society.

Materials right

1 The rubber drive-belt from a vehicle is formed in one piece. Its springy resilience when put on a flat surface creates new shapes and ideas for spatial patterns. 2 The metal sugar bowl (the drawing was copied from a photograph in a mail order catalog) has a highly reflective surface which can be used in the creation of space stations. 3 The commercial scrubbing brush, from a trade catalog, offers ideas for unnatural plant textures. 4 The simple study of a spiral telephone cable will help in...

Double deceptions

Fantasy artists often play with the readers' perceptions of the image. A visual game of 'look for the picture within the picture' is being played. Discovering whether we all draw the same conclusions about a picture can lead to interesting enquiries as to the very nature of perception. In children's comics and popular newspapers this theme has developed into a variety of puzzle games.

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...

Mastering techniques

The work of artists discussed in this section has shown that the techniques used have a great influence over the qualities of the work. You can only express yourself well if you are confident in your method. The pictures in this book are only reproductions and as such can do little to inform you of the surface quality of the works examined. Size and color are equally important and these are difficult to convey in a book. Without reading the text you might not have realised that the frozen...

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...

Book jacket design

Jim has produced many covers for science fiction books and he always insists on being allowed time to read the book and interpret its subject. Authors who have seen his work specifically ask for his imaginative interpretations. The cover (left) is for a collection of stories about the fantastical world of Majipoor. Jim has caught brilliantly the isolation felt by the girl as she enters the alien city. The composition is particularly striking in that it draws the reader into the subject by the...

Frivolous fantasy

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...

Techniques and tips

This section begins with a selection of eight pictures, each created by a contemporary fantasy artist, and each picture is an example of the way in which the artist has mastered his chosen medium. You too must constantly practice with the medium you find most convenient, and from which you obtain the best results. However, do continue to explore new media when not working on your finished paintings. Always try to keep your work surfaces clean and your tools in good working order. Never buy...

Seeing possibilities

The seven objects right were collected from illustrations in popular magazines. Try to imagine other forms which could be developed from these. Man to monster (opposite) Readers in the 19th century were particularly fond of stories involving human changes of form. This is an illustration to the Gothic novel by Stevenson of the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The effectiveness of these stories depends on the assumption that goodness has one face and evil another.

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...

Classical and ancient hybrids

1 A Harpy, with eagle's talons. 2 Medusa, with her head of snakes. 3 The Sphinx, with cat-like body and contemplative smile. 4 An Egyptian god, with a ram's head on a lion's body. 5 A Satyr, with goat-like legs and horns. 6 A Centaur, combining the bodies of a man and a horse.

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).

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.

Dry medium techniques

Pencils, chalks and crayons are tools of convenience. Pencils are ideal for thinking out your ideas and planning as the lines can be covered over easily with paint. Chalks and crayons are very useful for building up tones. Pencils are available in a wide range of lead strengths - the hardest produce the finest and lightest marks, the softest the darkest and roughest marks. They can therefore be used to record a very wide range of tonal values which can represent the qualities of later, more...

Elements used

An example of the work of Gauthier D'Agoty (an 18th century French illustrator). A black and white illustration by Jan Van Eyck depicting Adam and Eve. Unlike most of the other examples reproduced in this section of the book, this one is not intended for reproduction. It is one in a series of studies of the skeleton which were framed and sold in an art gallery in the same way as a painting.

Using manufactured objects

Objects made by machines, particularly with 20th century materials, have an artificial, unnatural form and texture plastics, rubbers, artificial fibers, metals - all have a 'man-made' quality. Advancing technology means that their forms need not comply with natural laws of structure and growth. Materials which are molded, extruded, printed, cast, burnished, glazed, galvanized, polished, coated, fused together, all possess interesting shapes and surfaces which are easily available for study and...

The theatre

Puppet shows, pantomimes, ballets, operas, plays and the circus all contain an element of fantasy. 3 The English pantomime, Puss in Boots, is a surreal tale of a cat that talks and walks on two legs. Movies Fantasy has become more sophisticated, from the 1902 films of George Melies to Star Wars, Aliens and Planet of the Apes. Tricks and animation have enabled artists to forget the laws of space, time, matter and logic. 4 King Kong is a classic example of make-believe. A giant gorilla is tamed...

Surface accidents

The watercolour painting (right) is by Victor Hugo, the French 19th century novelist. While out sketching he often rubbed substances such as cofffee grounds and cigar ash into the surface. He also used a type of pencil which produced soluble marks to deepen and dramatize the tonal effect. However these techniques should be used with caution as they can destroy the surface of your work. Shape accidents The 18th century artist Alexander Cozens developed an idea based on making landscapes from...

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...

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...

Toothbrush technique

Coarse gradations and textures similar to spray work can be achieved using an old toothbrush and a small stick rubbed across the inked bristles. Before applying paint or ink, mask areas you don't want it applied to. 3 The dark background areas were sprayed. 4 Next, he removed the central mask and cut a new mask to protect the background areas while working on the central design. 5 Bob cut a series of masks within the central area to enable him to spray different areas with a variety of...

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...

Art

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...