Yes, Cthulhu is a big fellow. But he’s still just a little guy is the scheme of things. We all are.
The Call of Cthulhu
By H.P. Lovecraft —
“In the elder time chosen men had talked with the entombed Old Ones in dreams, but then something had happened. The great stone city R’lyeh, with its monoliths and sepulchres, had sunk beneath the waves; and the deep waters, full of the one primal mystery through which not even thought can pass, had cut off the spectral intercourse. But memory never died, and high-priests said that the city would rise again when the stars were right. Then came out of the earth the black spirits of earth, mouldy and shadowy, and full of dim rumours picked up in caverns beneath forgotten sea-bottoms. But of them old Castro dared not speak much. He cut himself off hurriedly, and no amount of persuasion or subtlety could elicit more in this direction. The size of the Old Ones, too, he curiously declined to mention. Of the cult, he said that he thought the centre lay amid the pathless deserts of Arabia, where Irem, the City of Pillars, dreams hidden and untouched. It was not allied to the European witch-cult, and was virtually unknown beyond its members. No book had ever really hinted of it, though the deathless Chinamen said that there were double meanings in the Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred which the initiated might read as they chose, especially the much-discussed couplet:
‘That is not dead which can eternal lie,
and with strange aeons even death may die.’ “
LIke Jesus, Cthulhu could return at any time. Unlike Jesus, He isn’t going to care what kind of life you’ve lived. He (and whether or not “he” is male is open to debate) will call out to His fellow Old Ones and they will be awakened and return to rule the world as they once did. So the cultists believe. But human beings have been twisting and misinterpreting the words of seers and prophets ever since there have been seers and prophets. Who knows what Cthulhu will want or what he will do when he arises? Will he be a morning person? Will he be hungry? What do beings who exist beyond space and time like to eat for breakfast?
Last Sunday I posted my basic sketches for the individual images that I planned to have make up the cover for Tails of Valor. Here’s what I did to turn those images into the final cover illustration.
Using Photoshop I collaged the images in a variety of ways to find a balance that looked good. The version below is number seven.
Once I figured out the basic layout I did a rough sketch that combined all the images in a way that (hopefully) worked together aesthetically.
Next I did detailed pencils of each scene. We (the book’s editor and I) decided to have me do each scene as a separate image and then have book’s cover designer put them all together for the final product. I regularly combined my working images in order to be sure that I was getting a good balance for the final illustration.
Next I “flatted” images for coloring, meaning I separated out specific areas of each image that I wanted to be able to color individually. At this point I wasn’t necessarily choosing the final colors that I planned to use, just something close.
And then I started adding detailed colors, adjusting colors on specific layers, doing gradients and playing with different brushes. I really don’t have much to say from here on. There was trial. There was error. There was “Hey! That looks good!”
I hopped back and forth between all the illustrations but, in the beginning, I spent most of my time on the Egypt and Rome sections.
I made my biggest post-pencil changes here by moving the jumping cat in the Rome section up in space. The change doesn’t look like much but it makes the scene livelier.
And done. Mostly. I’ve made some tiny adjustments to parts of the illustrations since I created the jpeg below but I’m probably the only person who will notice them.
Golden Goblin Press will be kickstarting Tails of Valor in July. I’ll put a post about that when the time comes.
I haven’t had a chance to finish any new illustrations for this site. I’ve been working on a cover for Tails of Valor, a collection of scenarios for the Cathulhu version of the Call of Cthulhu RPG to be published by Golden Goblin Press. There are three scenarios in the book: one set in Ancient Egypt during the time of the Pharaohs, one set in 15th century France during witch hysteria and one set in Rome at the time of Caligula. The editor asked me to create a cover that featured images from all three adventures.
Multiple image covers are tricky. You’ve got to balance the images and colors so that the results are pleasing rather than just chaotic. I started by sketching an image for each scenario by itself. I figured that once I knew which basic image I would illustrate I could then figure out how to combine them in a way that looked good.
The Rome image.
Come back Wednesday for a process post of the cover from pencils to final colors.