Tuesday, July 3, 2012

illustrating Ghost River Red.

Ghost River Red by Aidan Doyle just went live over at lightspeed magazine. It is a stunningly rich story: when it showed up in my inbox with a request for an illustration I could hardly contain my self. Every part of the story is lush with incredible imagery and symbolism. And COLOR. Oh the color. (Read the author interview here for more about it). Many thanks to John Remy who helped me with some image reference for the story.

Here's few snapshots of how the piece came together:

I started out sketching in the forest setting and experimenting with various iaido sword fighting stance:

I really wanted to show the fact that Akamiko was elderly (an awesome aspect of the story),  so I  tried several variations with gray or white hair:

I ultimately went with a dark haired Akamiko for design purposes. And finally limited myself to one sword as well (that was also hard: the story has some pretty powerful symbolism linked to the various colored swords):

Halfway through, I realized the image would be stronger if I flipped the whole thing:

A bit further along I realized the image would be stronger still if I flipped Akamiko:

And, finally finished. 

created in Photoshop, cs3, with an intuos 4 tablet.


  1. Wonderful, beautiful work, as always! Thanks for sharing your process.

  2. Yes, very interesting. With just the right feel.

  3. thanks guys.

    i must admit there's something nervewracking about showing process: all the ugly messy stuff. (but I do so love it when others do likewise... so here you go :)