(The color version is done! Check it out here.)
As I mentioned in my past blog posts for Symbiotic and Vessel, it's been a rough year (I'm far from alone!) and I've had to grapple with some fairly serious life challenges. I was in a bad place in the summer, and part of the journey for me is to work through my situation while improving my mental and emotional states in the process.
It's not enough for me at this point to just survive what's coming, it's been essential for me to allow my circumstances to show me a deeper meaning in life and help me embrace it more than I have in the past. (Shout out once more to Rich Roll and his excellent guests. I can't keep track of how many books I've bought from listening to his podcast, and his interview with Jud Brewer and the follow-up use of Brewer's Unwinding Anxiety phone app might've literally saved my life.)
Point is, I was in a grim state of mind for awhile recently, so I was pretty stoked to see this little stinker appear on my drawing board, as I felt it reflected the return of a healthier and more whimsical outlook on life.
For some reason, I had really been jonesing to draw some exotic mushrooms. I don't know if I had seen someone else's drawing of mushrooms or maybe just photos of them, but somehow the idea got lodged in my head and needed to work its way out.
I wasn't sure what form I wanted them to take until an Inktober prompt for "sour" got me thinking about something that would taste or smell sour, and through that process this smelly little mushroom turtle came to mind.
This drawing happened pretty fast. It's on a smaller piece of paper (8.5" x 6", same size as my Moonlight drawing), and I basically pulled four photo references together and then made some tweaks. Here are the four photos I pulled from:
Side note: I've been following David Petersen's art lately (he's known for his Mouse Guard comic) and I LOVE his drawing style, so a little of that came through in this one. And after I finished my stinky turtle I discovered that Petersen does a similar thing with taking photo references of different animals and mashing them together in a process he calls #drawtheextinct, the idea being that he's representing an extinct animal.
So definitely a similar concept here.
I've also been leaning more into a drawing style that is free of hatching and contour lines, I'd love to develop that out more while simultaneously pushing further into a gritty, thrash metal style like what I've done before on Soldiers of Hell and Hail the King.
I love the clean style for friendlier images like this turtle, it feels like fable illustrations to me. (And not exactly coincidentally the decision to drop hatching/contour lines was inspired years ago by Mark Buckingham's art on the Fables comic, which I loooved.)
As usual, I inked this one using a crow quill and brush with Winsor & Newton black Indian ink. Here's a quick timelapse of that process.
Color is underway for this guy now, see you back here in two weeks for the final version!