Thursday, 8 July 2010

The Raising of Osiris part 2

Above is my final version of the Isis and Osiris piece for the IFX cover competition, and below is how I arrived at it.

As mentioned in the previous post I didn't want to attempt a realistic histroically accurate rendering of the characters (after all they were mythological not historical). They did have to reflect their Egyptian background however so in terms of costume I was looking more at our modern theatrical interpretation of 'Egyptian' style. My Isis then is a sort of composite of many interpretations of the female Egyptian figure, from classical paintings, opera, film, and comics.

Isis Inspiration: Clockwise from top left, detail from Cleopatra before Caesar by Jean Leone Gerome, (1866) ; 1920s Egyptian ballet costume; Claudette Colbert in Cleopatra (1934); Abadazad cover, Mike Ploog (2006); Promethea cover, Alex Ross (1999).

In original Egyptian paintings Osiris as lord of death and resurrection is almost always portrayed with green skin, which helped suggest a supernatural aspect to his person in the illustration. Isis' divinity in Egyptian art isn't always so obvious. She looks like a normal woman, though sometimes she is given wings. I thought the wings would give me some trouble in terms of the composition so I swapped this supernatural attribute with one from another Egyptian goddess. Nut, goddess of the sky was often appropriately shown with blue skin so I decided to give Isis this colouring. Hopefully the blue skin says she's not just any old Egyptian lady enjoying a spot of necromancy - she knows exactly what she's up to. Over the centuries many Eyptian gods and goddesses merged or took on the attributes of others so I didn't think it would be too bad to add a little Nut-blue to the Queen of Egypt here.

As this was going to be a cover design I tried to work within the confines of the publication's cover template (supplied by IFX). I started off with a line drawing that I added a tonal layer to, then I played with different colour washes over this to see how they worked with the cover typography.

I went on to paint over the line drawing and tonal layers in monochrome. I then built up the colour using transparent soft light layers in photoshop. Finally some alterations were made in another colour paint layer in Painter. For instance Isis' face and make-up details were changed slightly (see below).

So that's it, but we can still look forward to seeing who actually won the competition when their entry appears on the cover... sometime soon hopefully.

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