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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Lovecraft Show

I was recently asked by Gallery Nucleus to contribute to a show based on the writings of H.P. Lovecraft called At the Mountains of Madness.

Lovecraft's writing is generally themed around a character's mind slowly descending into madness as they learns too much about the truth of existence. This usually involves sleeping, malevolent, primordeal terrors who dwell forgotten in the depths of the sea, but who will one day rise again to destroy their planet. Lovecraft is wonderful for his use of this imagery in these stories. He has a nack for catching the horror of the deeps and the darkness and the unknown.
There was a wealth of really great, dark and horrific visuals to pull from for this project, so it is perhaps odd that I chose to go with the image that I did for this, which isn't really all that dark or horrific on the surface.

As always, I began with a dozen or so thumbnails of various ideas. Primordeal terrors, leviathans, dead fish walking the streets, giant-tentacled-schoolbusses-of-doom, that sort of thing.

But in the end, I found the thumbnail above to have the most personality.

From this crude thumbnail I went straight on to the digital comp below.

I work on comps like this one as fast as possible in Photoshop. The above image took about an hour or so and I worked from the tiny obscure thumbnail at the top. The point is to get down the basic composition and mood that is in my head as fast as possible. I want to catch the image in my head before its gone, or before some new disaster strikes and I am pulled from the studio by air raid sirens. I also don't want to get caught up in the details here. I hate to retread the same ground twice and would rather save those details for the final execution of the image.


  1. Amazing work, can't wait to see how the final piece comes out! Any chance you'll ever do a breakdown of your comping process? I'd be really curious to see how you quickly tackle your digital comp.

  2. Man this looks really great. Very moody and dark.

    By the way, your new Silver Age Sketchbook came in the mail from Gallery Nucleus a couple of weeks ago, and I love it. Such an awesome concept and story, and the drawings are fabulous as usual. I would enjoy reading the whole story... any plans on completing it?

  3. Hey Casey,
    I may post up some process shots of the digital comp at some point. The reason I haven't yet is because the comp process is always a mess as it is the stage when I am struggling to resolve all the issues with proportion and layout. There's a lot of experimentation, trial and error. It can be hard to for me to even follow what on earth I was doing as I go back and look through an old PSD comp. When I come to one that is pretty clear I will post it up.

    I do hope to complete The Silver Age story, but it will probably be a ways out as I still have to finish several other personal projects first. It is a story that has always been in the back of my mind and that I always keep coming back to.


  4. I know what it's like having stories in the back of your head. It's kind of like ghosts following you around. But good ghosts I guess.

  5. "At the Mountains of Madness" is one of my favorite Lovecraft stories . . . Wish I could attend the show itself!