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Monday, 9 July 2012

New Artwork - Jason McKinney's Hell is What You Make of It

My good friend Jason McKinney has a new collection of short stories up on the kindle store, all with his usual mix of macabre humour and outright horror - everything from a bar of soap POV from the Bates Motel to a rather disturbing - but funny - take on the children's classic, Charlotte's Web.
I'm very proud to have had a small hand in this, since Jason trusted me enough to let me do the cover and some of the beta-reading and editing. Carry on reading for the book description, Amazon links, and of course, the artwork itself - I'll put a few technical details on the painting at the bottom, for anyone interested in them.


Everyone has an image of Hell. Whether your punishment is to walk an endless desert with redemption always in sight but never within reach or being a bar of motel soap whose soul purpose is to be Norman Bates’ unwilling accomplice, we all have a personal hell.

But what if hell is what you make of it. Being damned can’t be all bad…can it? Take a trip to an alternate dimension where soldiers from World War 1 ferry war casualties to their reward.

Or is it worse than we think? If you step through the looking glass where one of Santa’s elves finds a meteor that has undead ramifications, a Marine combat veteran from Desert Storm has to answer for his sins, and a familiar, beloved female spider spins a web of flesh eating destruction for a hapless pig.

These tales show that at the end of it all, hell is what you make of it. : :

For anyone interested in the techie details, the entire drawing was done in CorelPainter 12, and took around 8 - 10 hours or so. I have a huge stock of photos (this is the girl who took 17 pictures of snow on leaves for textures. Don't judge me.) and I love to re-paint over photos and mix it up with painterly effects, like the hat and the flaming lips. The skull itself was painted in chalk and airbrush to get it as photo-real as possible. It's perfectly possible to use a photo and leave it at that, but depending on the rest of the painting you intend, it isn't always suitable; and in this case it would have destroyed the feel of the painting. The hat was done in oils and chalk. The lips were painted in oils, chalk highlights, and the burn tool, then the flames painted in individually, which probably took the longest to do - there is a flame brush on Painter, but it's about as real looking as a blue hippo. There are a lot of layers on those flames, and they were done using the airbrush tool and smudging.
The back ground was achieved by using the gel brush and a couple of shades and then playing with the saturation levels.

The fonts were done in CorelDraw (probably the last time I'll do it that way, since my programmes are on two different machines and it is an utter pain to switch between them) and then transferred over. Tablet used was a Wacom Bamboo, and after struggling on a cheaper version for nearly a year, it's pretty sweet. When it comes to graphic art,  go for the best upgrade you can afford - the difference in what you can achieve is astounding. (If the tooth fairy would like to leave a Cintique under my pillow, btw, no complaints here. Just sayin'.)

Actually, if you're just starting out, I'd recommend skipping the ultra-cheap tablets altogether and moving straight on to one of the low-priced, high-quality versions. Cheap tablets drag, stick, and on occasion have you screaming at the screen, and I'd be surprised if a number of budding artists didn't just give it up at that point.


J H Sked is the author of WolfSong , Basement Blues , Die Laughing , and Quarter the Moon  and a contributor to Sweet Dreams, all of which are on Amazon and enrolled in the Kindle lending programme.