Friday, August 17, 2012

Rata Blanca

Here I go...  my first medieval castle!

Rata Blanca is the most classic heavy metal band in South America and this image was commissioned to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the band.  When it comes to album covers, working with classic bands is always a privilege for any visual artist.   One of the first things that got me into art and graphics when I was a kid were all those fantastic illustrations on heavy metal covers from the 70s and 80s.  So the minute this band got in touch with me, I knew it was going to be something special.
The original gold was to upgrade the cover of the band's first album; a modern, more sophisticated version of that old castle.  Even though the original illustration is extremely simple, I didn't want to departure too much from it; just to add more detail, color and volume.  

My first approach was to add characters since I thought it lacked some action; so the first sketch featured a wizard and a couple of dragons!  This idea was quickly dismissed by Walter Giardino (the band's leader).  He also didn't want to departure too much from the original idea.  So I made another one, which was according to Walter, right on track but "too evil".  "It has to look magical and welcoming... people should really want to come inside", were his words.

So my final proposal is what you see here.  For this, I researched a lot of photo material of castles all around Germany and Austria.   

So please!  Come inside!

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click on every image for full size


Cover with logo

Sketch #1 (unused)

Sketch #2

Sketch #3 (with variations suggested by Walter)

Original Cover (1987)


Friday, August 10, 2012

A Journey to The Hollow Earth

I'm a huge geek of strange myths and the paranormal but I don't have the habit of proposing that kind of stuff to my clients. Strangely enough, these subjects find their way to me regardless.   This concept was commissioned by AFM records to be cover art of the album "Center of The Great Unknown" by romanian band Magica.

The Hollow Earth is probably one the most popular paranormal myths. According to Hollow Earth theorists, all planets are hollow and you can access the interior through huge 500 miles openings in each pole. Supposedly, as you navigate or fly through these openings, you are never really aware of where you're going since the holes are so huge that curvature is not perceived by the view.
As our "exterior surface", the "inner surface" has also oceans and continents with various landscapes. All life in the interior is possible due to the "inner smoky sun". It is said that the inner civilization is much more advanced than ours, they had electricity hundreds, probably thousands of years before we had, some people even have suggested that the inner earth inhabitants are the survivors of the last global extinction event some 100.000 years ago; survivors of the big flood and even the lost continent of Atlantis. It has been suggested that even UFOs might have their origin in the Earth's interior!

There have been several expeditions with the intent of proove or disproove this great myth. There are stories of miserable failures and fantastic accounts of new civilizations. One of the most popular stories is Admiral Byrd's expedition to the North Pole. In his Diary, he describes an encounter with the leader of the inner civilization; after that meeting, the leader sent Byrd on his way with a terrifying warning about humanity's fate.

The artwork is partly based on Admiral Byrd's Diary of his expedition to the North Pole and partly based on the book "The Goddess of Atvatabar" (which is somewhat similar to "Journey to the Center of The Earth by Jules Verne). The book tells the story of a group of expeditionaries in route to the North Pole on board a trap steamer. Eventually, they realize that they are actually going to the interior of the Earth through a huge opening in the Earth's pole!. Once inside, they sail the inner oceans to discover amazing cities and new civilizations.

Since I haven't yet visited, the interior of the Earth, I have no idea of how exactly the landscape looks like...   so imagination was a big factor here.    It was quite an issue to achieve the inner-horizont effect; since we are in the opposite/interior side of the Earth's crust, the horizont should curve upwards instead of downwards. The result is a spectacular view of the landscape curving up to the clouds and all the landmasses visible "in the sky". Since the "inner sun" is floating static in the Earth's center, all shadows must be at a perfect 90 degree angle underneath everything. If I would have follow this idea to perfection, the result would've been a very flat (and boring) lighting setting... so I decided to cheat; you can't actually see the sun, but light comes slightly from behind... resulting in a much more dramatic effect.

So here you have it... my take on the inner earth

Click on every image for full size.

Album Cover Art

Wide alternate scene

Concept Sketch #1

Concept Sketch #2