September Contest - Kadlu Process



  • This is a story of going down a lot of paths before you paint.

    So, I was going to do "Everyone was shocked to see her show up to school with and octopus." I had lots of fun sketching some cute girl and her octopus sketches.

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    But, when I went to draw and paint it, it just wasn't me. It wasn't the kind of magic, myth, fantasy, and folklore jam I love doing. I don't even want to share the line art I started, but for posterity's sake here ya go.

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    So, I went back to the drawing board, and tried to figure out a way to turn the prompt on it's head, so I focused in on the word 'shocked' and thought about a girl literally bringing lightning to school. So, then, I went down a research hole into lightning folktales and mythology and stumbled upon the story of the Kadlu, and fell in love. According to Inuit folklore, Kweetoo, Ignirtoq, and Kadlu are the three little sister goddesses of lightning, rain, and thunder. Kweetoo makes lightning by hitting flint stones together, and I was thinking how fun would it be to show the moment when Kweetoo goes to school and shows her sisters that she can create lightning.

    These are some of my favorite thumbs.

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    I went all the way to finished line art that never got a bit of paint. When I finished it, it just didn't have the spark I was looking for, and just had that generic kidlit look that is not my jam.

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    So, I started over -ish AGAIN! But, I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to do a portrait and expression heavy piece, but wanted to make sure it had good storytelling, and that's when I thought it'd be good to really bring the sisters in.

    I'm pretty proud of the finished piece. I took Jake's critique to heart last time, and really tried to get the full range of levels in there, and did everything I could to make the final image and any illusion I wanted to include as realistic and magical as possible.

    Line Art
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    Watercolor
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    Finished Illustration
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  • Wow! It looks fantastic! 🤩 and I really enjoyed reading about the process. Thank you for sharing! How do you go from the watercolour to the finished piece? With a computer? I would love to see the full story illustrated by you.



  • Of all the pieces on your website, this is my favorite one. The energy of the characters is so palpable, it’s amazing. Thank you for sharing the process!



  • It is wonderfull, great process



  • Thanks so much y'all! I'm glad to share. Making art is often a long journey with lots of twists and turns, not a one stop shop. Sometimes you gotta just dig your heels in and keep going til you get where you really want to go.

    @Julia I've been working on a process that blends watercolor and digital painting together. It's kind of my secret sauce right now, and I'm having so much fun with it. Ultimately, the look I'm going for is that it looks like something very tangible and relatable and real, the watercolor; but then has a lighting quality and magic to it that doesn't make sense for watercolor to do by itself--not easily anyhow--so the viewer isn't quite sure what they are looking at. I've tried to get the look just using one or the other and it just isn't the same. Watercolor has a natural alchemy that you just cannot re-produce digitally, and it also already has a natural luminance to it--and digital painting always has that human touch, hand to media, missing from it. Sometimes the pieces look more watercolor and people can't even tell there is digital painting involved, but there almost always is in my work. 😉



  • The outcome is great! Thanks for the explanation!



  • Wow. There is nothing indicating "school" in any way, but oh man is this amazing!!! Would love to see a whole story based on this image.



  • Thanks for sharing your process on this. Your watercolor work is really nice, particularly those subtle skin tones. I really like your linework in the sketch, too.



  • I really loved this piece when I first saw it in the critique and seeing your process just blows me away. Thanks for sharing how you got to your final work. Also this is such interesting mythology I'd never heard before.



  • Yeah I love this one too.
    (Still haven’t seen the crit though)
    Do you take it so far in watercolour then tweak it digitally. It looks amazing


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