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.