Over the summer, David Bressan, the author of the Scientific American blog History of Geology, asked me to create illustrations to accompany his upcoming article about legendary creatures said to cause earthquakes. I gladly agreed. He sent me descriptions of the creatures he was thinking of writing about, and I had great fun visualizing them.
Here's the initial sketch for the A'yaho, a fierce monster who often appears as a deer-snake-dragon thing. I had a lot of fun designing him, and the final version is almost identical to the bottom drawing; I just had to give him a more ferocious expression.
As you can see, I nailed the Giant Toad's character design pretty early. He's almost identical in the final painting!
Interestingly, Thunderbird and Monster Whale were the only Earthquake Beasts who gave me trouble, at least initially. It isn't often you get the opportunity to draw something as awesome as two gigantic elemental beings at war, but it took me a few tries to figure out how to best depict their battle. I decided on the lower-left idea, since it actually shows the earthquake happening.
And here's a cleaner drawing of that lower-left idea with regrettable and rather garish digital coloring. This was the style I was initially going to do the final illustrations in, but after finishing this version of the Thunderbird/Whale battle, I decided that style did not fit the creatures at all. I decided to go with good old watercolors instead.
I drew the illustrations very lightly in pencil, and went over that with a watercolor wash.
I inked the outlines, did some details in colored pencils, and did as little cleanup as possible in Photoshop. If you compare the two images, you'll notice that Thunderbird and Whale had the most extensive Photoshoppery, mostly in adjusting their scale.
Here's the initial painting of A'yaho...
And the very-close-to-final-version.
The initial painting of Giant Toad...
And the very-close-to-final-version. I say very-close-to-final-version because these versions needed a little bit of size adjustment before they were ready to publish.
I want to thank David once again for this terrific opportunity. If you haven't read it yet, here's the article with the final versions of these illustrations: An Essential Field Guide to North American Earthquake Beasts