Looking at my reference I’m struck by the delicate frills which adorn the body of many Praying Mantis. Imagery of fashions established during the era of Queen Elizabeth 1st of England are conjured up in my mind. I know I want the character to appear quite regal and although this wasn’t something I’d considered from the outset, I run with this new concept.If I could tie this exotic character in with design cues from history, it would help to anchor her into our world and make her more relatable, …. well as much as a Mantis Queen can be!
I decide to run with the idea of a royal portrait and frame the character with a simple black border. There is so much going on with the character that I don’t want the frame competing with her. Additionally, I start to break certain areas of the Queen out of the frame to give the piece a more dynamic feel.
|On a new layer I applied more of my shape brushes to create the flowing lines over her crest. I then used a mixture of dodge and burn layers to enhance certain areas of these patterns, bringing forward the pieces I liked and pushing back those which I felt where in conflict.|
I used simple round brushes to bring out the designs and develop them further.
I purposely kept the face simple so as to draw the viewer’s eye in and offer an oasis in the myriad of patterns. Many of the design elements were in place so I started to go in and refine what I had. Up until this point I hadn’t allowed myself to zoom in too closely, which is another way of ensuring I don’t noodle any one area too much.
It’s well known about the predatory nature of the female Mantis towards the male in courtship; so I ensured the mantis on her hand was male by ensuring he had eight segments in his thorax as opposed to the six in females. This was something I didn’t know before I set out on this painting. So for our poor little green mantis, he might be a tasty little appetiser in the next few moments.
Using various soft light layers, I applied markings to her skin to give her more variation in pigmentation where blood vessels might run closer to the surface. I created another layer for bloom lighting and softened off the details towards the edge of the painting to bring the viewers attention into the glare of the beautiful yet creepy Mantis Queen of the Insect Dynasty!
|'The Beetle Lord' in EXOTIQUE 4. |
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|About the artist|
Nick Miles was born in Britain. He graduated from Kent Institute of Art and Design in 2004 with a BA in Graphic Design. Since then Nick has worked in the video games industry as a concept artist for nearly three years at Blitz Games Studios in the UK. In that time he has become known for his exotic character creations as well as the world building exercise he has undertaken known as Exula which he hopes to publish as an illustrated novel over the coming years.
His work ‘Mantis Queen’ appears on page 12 in EXPOSÉ 6. Other works from Nicholas Miles, ‘Harbinger of Kestralia’, ‘The Butterfly Assassin’, ‘The Beetle Lord’ and ‘Sedna’ appear in EXOTIQUE 4, as well as ‘Milani’ which features in EXPOSÉ 4.
|'The Butterfly Assassin' in EXOTIQUE 4.|