Illustrating the future
Marc explains how he illustrated a book from the influential Dune series I made this illustration for Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert for Centipede Press. Dune is one of my favourite books: it had a huge impact on me and on thousands of people, so it was a big thing to able to illustrate one. This image represents the walk of the Reverend Mother toward Paul Muad’dib, in his huge reception room – a room that could contain the biggest cathedrals from our world. I had several objectives: convey the sense of scale, make the two characters clearly visible, create a kind of architecture that fits the book, and show the time period – a time thousands of years ahead of us (the first Dune starts at the year 10,191). It had to reflect an alien architecture, with millions of known planets, and a huge empire. So I had to take some actual architecture references and create new patterns and shapes.
1 SIMPLE COMPOSITION
I first did a very simple, central composition: the subject had to be extremely massive and impressive, and the characters have to be dwarfed there. Then I did a very fast sketch on 3D-Coat that I rendered into KeyShot. This first step took me less than one hour, but helped me develop a solid base for this illustration.
To correct a composition, I follow two paths. I try to avoid tangents and graphical nodes that would make the illustration hard to read. Second, I just try to feel things out. When a composition is good, things just feel natural.
3 ADDING COLOUR
I began adding colours. I wanted something very coloured, as complex as possible, to create contrast between the very simple tapestry and the very complex bas-reliefs of the wall.
4 PAINTING WITH VALUES
I could then start to paint using the values I had from the colours and the tones of my base.
5 PERSONAL ART
This project enabled me to make a very personal piece with a professional subject. I think mixing the two is best, both for me and my clients, because in these cases I can give them something a little less usual, something that just comes from me.
6 GOING FURTHER
This piece was a long push to the end, but it’s the kind of work that makes me go further and adds new worlds to my visual library. A new subject can bring new shapes and new arrangements of colours, and spending a lot of time on it just embeds it deeper into your mind, making those assets part of your vocabulary.