Thursday, August 21, 2008

Chooser of the Slain

I've always found the Valkyries from Norse Mythology rather interesting. Valkyries, minor female deities that served Odin, chose the souls of warriors killed in battle to take to Valhalla to fight beside Odin in Ragnarok.

I decided to create a rendition of a Valkyrie in Illustrator, and started with a concept of the Valkyrie looking over her right shoulder with a weapon in her right hand. I wanted the right shoulder open and her hair to flow so that it looked like she turned suddenly and looked at the viewer.

I work better with a photo reference for body positioning. But, my Comic Artists Reference didn't have a pose close to anything I wanted. After looking through dozens of anime magazines and manga and not finding a close approximation of the pose, I looked at anime wallpapers on the Internet.

I finally found a wallpaper of a character from Neo Ranga that was almost exactly the pose I had in mind. I worked up a rough sketch and refined it several times before I started adding details. Originally, the Valkyrie had armor, earrings and other jewelry. But, I developed a pretty elaborate body tattoo and decided to make the Valkyrie naked so all of the tattoos could be seen.

Her weapon was originally a recurve bow, but I changed it to an over sized boomerang. I decided on a boomerang because the Valkyrie could throw it and the boomerang would return with the soul of her chosen slain warrior. The boomerang also gave me a larger pallet to draw a pattern similar to her tattoos.

After I completed the drawing, I scanned it and did the inking and cell shading in Adobe Illustrator. I had done some work in Adobe Photoshop for the background. I created a star field for the night sky, but decided it overpowered the drawing. So decided to go with the original background from Illustrator.

My original Illustrator document is 11x14 because that's the largest size print I can have made locally. I resized it to make a wallpaper for my laptop, which is the wallpaper that accompanies this blog entry.

Total working time was about 30 hours to complete the project. It took me about two hours to draw it and about four hours in Illustrator. The rest of the time was spent developing the tattoo pattern and pattern on the boomerang. I did about 14 or 15 variations of the tattoos before I settled on something I really liked.

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