Recently, as I’ve been ramping up my research for Book IV of the Bell Forging Cycle, I came across the work of illustrator Sebastien Ecosse. It’s no secret that I’m a fan of genre and concept art, longtime readers will immediately understand why Ecosse’s work stands out for me.
I was first drawn in by his landscapes, his cityscapes in particular. They’re layered, rich, and beautifully textured. Places of light and shadows. You can almost feel the humid air against your skin, smell the mix of bizarre aromas, and hear the tapestry of sounds echoing throughout. In many ways, they could be cousins to the megalopolis of Lovat from my novels. With his other work, Ecosse manages to capture a sense of foreboding and dread that lends itself well to horror—in particular, his Lovecraftian work. I’ve posted some of my favorites below, as always you can click to view them larger.
I’ve been ramping up my research for The Bell Forging Cycle, Book IV and while browsing through my Pinterest boards, I kept coming across the work of Chinese illustrator Zhichao Cai also known as Trylea.Since I found his work inspiring, I figured it’d be worth it to take a moment and share some of my favorite pieces with you.
When it comes to mood boards, I tend to like grimy and dank cityscapes occasionally interrupted with bright splashes of neon. So my eye is always drawn to pieces that show clusters of humanity. Trylea’s work has that, but it also differs significantly. It’s mainly due to his use of color. Even his densely packed cities are awash with a vibrancy that captures a unique and frenetic energy—it makes his work stand out, and his pieces serve as a good reminder that even in concept art we don’t need everything to be grim.
I included a small gallery of some of my favorite work below.
Yun Yunzhi – Tiangong Qingyang (Detail)
City in the Clouds
Izumochi – Moonlight Panorama
Song of Void Mountain
You can check out much more of Trylea’s work on his Zcool page, that seems to be where he shares most of his work. He also posts high-resolution versions as well as some process shots. It’s worth spending some time on his page. You can also find him on Behance, and he has some work on Art Station. If you’re not a member of any of those sites, I encourage you to join and give Trylea a follow.
If you like Zhichao Cai’s work be sure to check out some other illustrators and concept artists I’ve shared in the past:
It’s been too long since I’ve done a visual inspiration post on here, so let’s fix that. I’ve long been a fan of the stunning atmospheric work of Russian artist Yuri Shwedoff, but when a friend of mine mentioned him today, I figured it’d be the perfect time to share his work with you. (So, you can all thank Chris.)
There is something very evocative about Shwedoff’s work and it’s more than his incredible compositions. Each piece tells a story and leaves the viewer hungering for more. That’s why I find it so inspiring. You can hear the howl of the wind moan across vast expanses. You’re there as his figures stare at immense landscapes of ancient monoliths. You can feel the energy present as an unlikely warrior steels herself for the coming of a terrible monster. It’s incredible work.
Shwedoff is active all over the internet and I highly recommend following him. Start by checking him out on Twitter and Instagram. You can buy your favorite piece from his shop on Society6and you can also support his work via Paetron and get exclusive HD images, process videos, and PSDs. If you want to see more of his work check it out at Behanceor at Art Station. There are a lot of great pieces, it’s hard to pick a favorite. If I had to decide I’d probably settle on Dragons (featured above). There’s a lot going in that single image and clearly more to the story. Which of Yuri Shwedoff’s work is your favorite?
A few days ago, my friend Michael pointed me in the direction of concept artist and illustrator Jordan Grimmer. He mentioned that a few of his pieces reminded him of Lovat, the city that is the central setting of my book, The Stars Were Right, so my interest was piqued. After seeing the work I can’t say I disagree. It’s pretty spectacular stuff and instantly got me in the mood to brainstorm, I knew I had to share his work.
There’s a lot to love here. Grimmer has a wide range of work ranging from the fantastical to the grounded. I love the moods he’s able to capture. Trains billow clouds of white smoke as they rush through cities, airships drift above titanic walls like fat clouds, and neon reflects off the wet streets of a buried neighborhood. It’s great stuff. Click on any of the images below to see them larger:
I especially liked these two pieces.
These images are just a fraction of Grimmer’s impressive body of work. See more on his portfolio site at http://www.jordangrimmer.co.uk, he’s also active on deviantART as well. What’s your favorite piece?
My buddy Darby shared concept artist Robin Olausson’s work with me and I had to post it here. It has that blend of grimy realism with a sharp pop of color that I absolutely love ( if you read Stars you’d know why.) Check out a few of Robin’s pieces below (click on them to see ’em bigger) or check out all his work over on his deviantART page. Good stuff.
I love cityscapes. Those of you who have read “The Stars Were Right” will know instantly why I am attracted to these concept pieces by Gustavo Mendonca for the now canceled Star Wars 1313 video game. There’s something in these three pieces that captures a seedy and gritty part of a sci-fi city while still remaining grounded and feeling like people live there. (Something missing from the prequels, if you ask me.) It’s a shame this game will never get to see the light of day. These even more over on Gustavo Mendonca’s portfolio I would encourage you to take a look. As always click any of the following to see them larger:
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