Process: Pierced

It's the month of love. I hope you're all eating your fill of chocolates, spending time with your loved ones, and preparing for what I consider to be one of the most heinous holidays of the year: Valentine's Day.

Every year illustrators feel obligated to work on a piece that relates to Valentine's Day. But as many of us know, the holiday isn't all roses. In the right light, Cupid, the icon of this holiday, can be viewed as a sinister god who makes it his mission to complicate the lives of unsuspecting people.

The character in this illustration is one of his many victims. Watch its time-lapse video on my YouTube channel, or continue reading for a step-by-step overview.

 Sketch

Sketch

The roman god of love is a force to be reckoned with. With one cleverly placed arrow, he can inspire or dismantle war. And he strikes anywhere, anytime, any place!

In this case, a warrior is stricken with love for an enemy that she meets on the battlefield. She fears that giving in to her desire will jeopardize the victory of her comrades. Rather than failing them by forsaking her duty, she resolves the problem in the most honorable way she can...

 Base of color

Base of color

I wanted to experiment with color for this piece. How far could I take the range of hue? How many colors could be used together harmoniously? The answer was as many as I was willing to try. It's a new year. I was feeling the rainbow.

Also, I thought it would be interesting to give this piece colors that contradicted its own morbidity. Love is pretty. Love is colorful. Even when the one afflicted is unaware of how it is changing them.

 Developing a floor pattern

Developing a floor pattern

This piece wanted much more than just the drawing. Actually, it wanted so much that I liken it to a toddler throwing a tantrum. Floor tiles? Sure. Sword design? OK. Mosaic pattern? Fine!

 Fleshing out detail

Fleshing out detail

It still needed something to increase the sense of depth. Since this was a personal piece, I had the freedom to add something at the bottom where there might have otherwise been a book cover title or other publishing element.

Then I looked at that little bird on the sword and thought, "Hm, maybe he needs a few friends."

 Birds!

Birds!

And there you have it! Make sure to watch the time-lapse video to get a better sense of the work's progression. Here is a process GIF:

 Process

Process

Thanks for reading. Happy Valentine's Day!