How can I paint fig­ures from folk­lore in a fresh light?

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Imagine Nation -

Oc­to­ber 2015

Jason Jelf, Wales

Jakob replies

I chose Me­dusa for this task and be­fore I start draw­ing I do some re­search. This stage is cru­cial, be­cause you need to get to know your sub­ject! What are its most im­por­tant fea­tures? How was it drawn hun­dreds of years ago? How is it de­picted in re­cent il­lus­tra­tions, films or video games? Do­ing this ground­work also means I be­come aware of what’s been done be­fore, and what to avoid if I want to find a new and fresh di­rec­tion.

To give my char­ac­ter an orig­i­nal twist I con­sider ex­per­i­ment­ing with dif­fer­ent gen­res. How about a zom­bie Me­dusa? A mu­tant Me­dusa? A cy­borg or ro­bot? If you don’t have a spe­cific brief then you have a wide range of pos­si­bil­i­ties to ex­plore. Pick one or two and carry out the same re­search as for Me­dusa her­self, but this time look for ways these gen­res are de­picted in dif­fer­ent media. Don’t copy what you see, though. Take what you like and mix it with things you find in real life. These can be to­tally un­re­lated ob­jects or your own ideas.

Tak­ing this ap­proach will give you a bet­ter chance to cre­ate some­thing fresh, that no one has thought of be­fore.

I make my re­fine­ments dur­ing the fi­nal stages. I sim­plify cer­tain ar­eas and make oth­ers more in­ter­est­ing, un­til the de­sign is well bal­anced.

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