Sunday, 20 May 2018

The Moon Maiden

As you can see, I am taking a somewhat passive-aggressive approach to the nude-art-is-bad ridiculoussness on social media sites.

If you have issues with nude art, or, in my case, attempts at creating nude art, please do not scroll any further.


There is a fantastic painting by Gerald Brom called Moonlight. (Do click on the link. Brom's painting is incredible.) I wanted to see if I could recreate, in a small manner, some of the sensuality of Brom's painting. I am not even close. Still, for me, pretty good.

If you check out a large version of Moonlight, you will see that Brom added a horrific twist. I left that out, for once. Maybe another time.

A Hairy Problem

When I started using 3D elements in my photos, and making entire 3D scenes, there was one problem I did not anticipate: While the 3D models I use are very realistic, and created by incredibly skilled people, they do lack certain anatomical features.

This is normally not a problem, since, well, clothes. So far, when I have created nudes, I have positioned the characters so that their lack of anatomical detail in certain areas is not a problem.

This particular picture was a bit problematic though, because the picture it is based on, Moonlight, is a full frontal nude.

While I have deliberately (and also accidentally), made a lot of things different in my version, I did not want to change the basic posture of the model too much. The viewing angle is a little bit different from Brom's painting, but I did not want to change that too much either.

Lucky for me, I had a serendipitous solution: Grass!

Some time ago, I practiced making a simple landscape painting. The picture sucks, but it has one feature that turned out to be useful: Lots and lots of grass!

You may note that the grass in the picture has a certain resemblance to hair. It occurred to me that if I changed the color of the brush, shrank it down a bit, changed the brush dynamics to increase the variation in direction of the strands...I just might be able to paint the kind of hair you do not have on the top of your head.

First, I tried to brush up (bad pun, I know), on theory. that is, with blushing cheeks I searched for a tutorial on how to paint the kind of hair that covers Lady Parts.

It turns out there is no such tutorial. At least not on Youtube.

Instead, I turned to one of my favorite digital artists, Aaron Blaise, to get a few pointers on improving my hairbrushing technique. (If you want me to stop with the punning, you got to pay me, okay!)

After watching the video, still slightly blushing, I took the grass brush from my grassy plains project, tweaked it a bit, and practiced making a patch of hair in the right shape. When I was satisfied I could do it, I performed my delicate task.

I think it worked. Phew!

I don't know why my stupid brain gets embarrassed by things that should not be embarrassing at all, but it does. That, I think, is a good reason to keep embarrassing it, until it gets more sensible about it.

Help from a Friend

The picture shown above is not the first version. If you want to see some of the earlier attempts, check them out at ArtStation. The differences are minor, but they have great impact. I am sure you can spot what I changed.

I had very valuable help with the final version from my friend Petra Brewitz. I asked her if she would have a look at an early version of the picture, and help me compare it with Brom's picture. As it turns out, Petra has a book about Brom's art, and it contains a picture of Moonlight that is much better than anything I have seen on the Internet.

That picture, and Petra's insights helped a lot. We tried to mimic the position of the woman in Brom's painting, and we discovered a couple of things.

Long arms, Bloody Fingers

For example, the woman in Moonlight has very long arms. Her upper arms are almost a decimeter longer than normal, and that matters a lot. Replicating the exact position with a live model is not possible.

It can be done with a 3D model of course, by making the arms a bit longer, but I decided not to do it. For this one piece, I wanted to stick to reasonable human proportions.

Another thing, that Petra saw before me, is that Moonlight is not just chock full of sensuality. Under the surface lurks thinly veiled horror.

Look at the fingers on the left hand of the woman. Look at how pointy they are, and look at the thick, sticky, red fluid covering them. That is not strawberry jam.

Finally, here is Brom himself, talking about his art.