I was honored to be one of the 12 artists featured in the latest issue of the precious Beautiful Bizarre Magazine. I wanted to have at least one new-to-the-eyes picture to show among the 12 pages featuring my work. With all the commissioned work that makes my schedule 150% full, I barely had time for that piece.
I decided to jump in without thinking or planning anything. Working fast, instinctively and see what comes from it. I was ready to not even like the piece and just get rid of it.
But the opposite happened. The fast pace made me work without thinking too much, focusing on the painting flow and energy. Dropping elements in the piece and dealing with it, trying to harmonize everything.
DEATHFLOWERS came from that.
Thanks to the magnificent Laureline, and Sir Valnoir for the reference materials.
Thanks to Beautiful Bizarre for the publication.
To get your hand on the beautiful and bizarre magazine, here is the link:
Bastien Lecouffe Deharme
Created for Beautiful Bizarre
Because the Fox Barks / Allegory of Death
Bastien Lecouffe Deharme
Thanks to Laureline.
Soundtrack —> Current93
Prints available —> CLICK HERE
Here is a tutorial + video on a personal digital piece I just finished.
I started this piece during an online « LevelUp! » session and ran out of time. The session was 2.5hours, and I usually spend in between a day and a week on a picture.
So I decided to share here the complete step by steps, from the anatomy study to the finished artwork. Using « gif » files so you can see the progresses accurately.
Step 01 / Anatomy sketch
I always work with references. My work being focused on characters, I need to work with models full of personality. Visual strength.
Working with references is the way for me to achieve realism and accuracy. Not paint random characters, but actual portraits. I have my own little photo studio at home for this purpose.
This work though was created from a collaboration with a model living in Paris. We never found time to work together when I was living there, so she sent me photo-references accorded to poses I sent her. Those were the material I based my anatomy study on.
I sketch on a neutral value background. I select a neutral skin tone and start building the silhouette, using the strong angles of the body as a base. Something I can grab on to not get lost in the proportions.
I use 2 or 3 kind of brushes: one hard, to sculpt the values and one soft to blend them. And most of the time a good soft painting brush to start giving a bit of painterly style to the figure.
I work with colors, but trying to not care that much about it at first. I just put enough colors in the picture at first so it can react with the colors adjustments (Adjustments —> Color Balance). These adjustments are a good way to start building a good cold/warm relationship in the tones.
Step 02 / Building the Image
(LevelUp! video session)
The first thing I did at this step was to start organizing the space inside the canvas. Just blocking big shapes and elements. I imported the character into this system and tried to get a mental picture of the illustration I wanted to create.
This was made during the video session. You can follow this link if you are looking for 2.5 hours of demo with a french accent:
Video —> LevelUp! / Session 42
Texturing and blending
During this step I also import any kind of materials (textures, random photographs, pre-painted elements) that I will use to blend into the painting process. Anything is good to just create accidents and randomness. This voluntary randomness is essential in my workflow. It creates unexpected effects that I decide to keep or modify, or delete. This triggers a sort of fight that goes on during the rest of the process: making choices at all time. Creating accidents and reacting to it.
I also use the lasso tool to push even more on random effects. Select/paste/modify/blend/etc …
Step 03 / Finish
Detailing and painting
This step is the longest and takes place only when the composition is stable enough.
I started by modifying a little bit the elements from the live session an adjusting the canvas size.
Then it’s all about painting, using the right brushes, and adjusting everything together while building the picture.
The brushes I used are part of my personal set. This set is composed by brushes created by myself and other talented digital painters.
This set is available to download on my DeviantArt account:
Brushes —> Deharme’s work set
!!! Created and used with Photoshop CC !!!
Questions / Answers
During the live session and after, I received many questions and wasn’t able to answer it all. Let’s do that now:
Did you go to art school ?
—> Yes and no. I have a MFA from a french university where I studied academic drawing, abstract painting engraving and photography. I never went to school for illustration or any digital techniques. I built those myself with the support of my traditional and academic background and the influence of digital artists I admire.
What would be the « keyword » to define your process ?
—> « Choices« . As mentioned in the video, I consider my process like an accumulation of choices. trying to always make the right ones. From the choice of the model I work with, to the composition and all the little details during the painting process.
One of the really specific aspect of digital work is the fact that you can undo things endlessly. This can be dangerous in the process because it removes the « weight » of the decisions you make (You can always « go back » so what you do doesn’t really matter). But it also have the great advantage to allow a maximum amount of experimentations, that are specific to digital, such as superposing textures and scanned materials to create accidents, going crazy with odd brush effects, etc … Because I work digital, I consider it some kind of « artistic duty » to take advantage of my medium as much as I can. This process of experimentation leads to accidents and randomness, and therefore choices. What to keep and what not. What gets interesting and what parasites my picture. The artist must practice and educate himself always, in order to develop tastes, to make the right choices.
How do you deal with « bad days » ?
—> I don’t allow myself « bad days », unless I’m really sick or need a break in between two commissions to clear my mind.
Freelancing means being your own boss and it’s easy to let yourself go into the « I don’t feel good today, I’ll do that tomorrow ». Today I simply have too much work to afford being « lazy ». Every hours count. In order to stand the pressure of perpetual « ready to create » state of mind, I take care of my body. I have a routine of running and exercising. It helps a lot for the mental stability and creative state. And it balances the hours spent in front of a screen.
I also try to alternate between my traditional and digital works.
I cannot do a good job when I wake up, so I try to start my days with things that doesn’t require much painting skills. Like emails, paperwork (a big part of the freelance job), etc …
Where do you get your inspiration ?
—> Books, music of course. Movies. Good ones.
I use Pinterest to keep tracks of things that inspire me —> Pinterest/Deharme
Something very important to me is to stay curious and to not waste my time.
I sometime compare the art process and inspiration with the eating/shitting human system.
You eat things, digest it and finally produce something that comes out of yourself. What you produce depends of what you eat. If you eat only fast-food you will get sick and die young.
I try to feed myself with good books, good movies, good references. And I am very careful to not let negative products contaminate me. There is many things I sincerely despise in that world, and I stay away from them and their influences. And I feed on what I love.
Those things will define you and your artwork, it’s a duty toward yourself to be very careful and specific about it.
Comments, questions are welcome.
I really hope this helped.