It's. Finally. Finished. Behold: my most ambitious illustration ever. 13 characters, seven birds, one elephant. This is the final illustration for one of my thesis stories; Hans Christian Andersen's The Wild Swans set in Mughal-esque India.
Yes that guy does have a bird arm. It's part of the story, ok?
Why did I do this? I asked myself the very same question several times throughout the development of this drawing. This complicated setup solved several problems:
- Summarizes the ending of the story, with the wedding and the princes restored to human form
- Emphases the Indian setting of the story
- Makes a colorful, high-key piece for my portfolio
- My portfolio was lacking in crowd scenes, and also drawings of men
So when I first sketched out the thumbnail for this scene, I thought it was great. A perfect storytelling solution! I am a genius! Meanwhile a muffled voice in the back of my mind was shouting "YOU WILL REGRET THIS LATER".
After a thorough internet search, I realized that I was not going to be able to find any birds-eye-view photos of elephants. It's just really rare to even see an elephant from that angle, I guess. So using a technique I learned from my teacher Julie Downing, I bought a toy elephant and used it as my model:
After working on the drawing for many hours, I realized how hard this thing was going to be. I set the drawing aside for an entire semester, hoping that my drawing skills would improve and I could come back to the drawing better equipped. Amazingly, my procrastination actually paid off. After six months, I battled this drawing again with renewed confidence and understanding of perspective. And I finished it!
This is what I imagine happening immediately after this scene: