The Dreamer is the latest addition to my Tales of Quahnarren illustrated short story project.
This character went through an interesting visual development process, during which he transformed from a troublesome outlaw into a civilised musician and entertainer – quite a switch!
As is my normal working process, I saved many stages of completion whilst producing the illustration, which captures the evolution of the image over time. Below I’ve set up four individual versions into one image, which tracks development (top, left to right, then bottom, left to right) and shows the way I like to work on specific areas of importance, before making balancing adjustments or detail improvements across the overall piece.
This illustration initially started with a loose sketch drawn directly in Painter with my Wacom tablet, which at the time was little more than just a head shot without any preplanning for a particular background design or treatment. A key element for this particular character was to capture an expression that matched his nature, which partly explains his personal change in destiny. This pose presented a nice faraway look, which helped to solidify the character in my mind and brought forth the idea to place him in an outdoor setting, suggesting his travels through the countryside as a wandering entertainer. As the focus was purely on the main interest area of the face I only needed to suggest organic shapes and continued to blend his form with the background itself.
As can be seen I wasn’t originally working with any colour, and was unsure until almost complete about changing it from a duotone to a colour piece. I regularly import my finished Painter files into Photoshop for final colour, contrast and saturation adjustments, so after completing that stage added some colour overlays to decide if a suitable effect could be achieved without losing the simplicity of the piece that I favoured. Introducing a light brown for the character of Leahslee and supporting that with a blue-green background added a bit more mood and interest, so I was happy to finish with the final version you see as the main image.
The illustration took about 8-9 hours to complete and is a welcome new part of my Quahnarren series.