For several years I've had it in the back of my mind to create a new 3-dimensional layered book (Jane Ray's Snow White is a great example) and I last made some while at RISD some seven plus years ago. This project is the first time I've attempted fully rendered illustrations in my style in this format. My other books were more graphic with simple drawings, so this is a bit of an interesting challenge.
The book will be composed of six separate spreads, each featuring a beautiful mythological creature in their natural habitat. The overall concept is to feel as though you (as the viewer) have inconspicuously stumbled upon them while they're just...hanging out...doing whatever it is a mythological creature would do...
Narrowing my creatures down to the top six most common AND most beautiful was tough. Dragon, unicorn, griffin, and phoenix were obvious enough and at first I wanted to avoid humanoid creatures. But pretty much everything else (like cerberus, hydra, etc) are just too aggressive or scary to fit with the vibe I'm going for. So instead I picked two humanoids, a male and female (centaur and mermaid) which I think round out the top six most common creatures pretty well anyway.
Here are the color, light, and composition thumbnails for each spread:
The book order will be Unicorn, Mermaid, Griffin, Dragon, Centaur, Phoenix.
Now that I've captured the basic idea of each spread, I can move into the second planning phase: breaking each spread into three separate layers. Each layer will need to be completely painted, whether or not you can see the entire image behind the others. Figuring out how all three will work together to create the illusion of deep space is a lot of fun. After that will come the drawing revision phase where I really nail down each creature's appearance.