This is a long story. An idea spawned a poem and an illustration to go along with it ... and then the drawing and poem started going in two directions ... then the poem never materialized and this did. At any rate, the drawing went through numerous phases, took on many different faces to the point that the whole thing changed with each test sketch ... and then as I sat down to draw it, everything clicked into place. Strangely, I also wound up abandoning two-thirds of the ideas planned in the sketches, but the end result worked much better than what I had planned.
About the only things that survived were the overall concept, her pose, and the mounted wings in the background. The demon standing over her, the setting, even the shading of their wings just hit me while drawing, and it’s something I couldn’t have planned. Inspiration hit while creating, much like how ideas come to me while writing.
What set off the chain of ideas was the thought of a simple fallen angel which lead to the question, what would make an angel fall from grace? And I couldn’t help but think of the war between Heaven and Hell, Demons versus Angels, and thus came about the Hell Hunter. I wanted to do a lot of experimenting with this drawing, but I pulled back for fear of screwing it up. Looking back, though, I don’t think this drawing really would have worked with the line-only style that I wanted to experiment with. The line-less background versus the lined foreground came about by accident early on (laying down prelim lines that get absorbed in the shading); then after consideration, I continued that course since I liked the additional contrast it threw in there. I’ve never been too great at integrating foreground and background anyway. Why fight it?
Most of the initial line work was done with a simple mechanical pencil, but for all the shading I turned to a woodless 4B pencil for ease of shading and also for the texture the lead leaves behind—the mechanical pencil has too much of a smooth artificial feel, and it takes three times longer to do (plus it physically dents the page.)
I fought with the Angel’s pose for the longest time. The level and style of foreshortening played hell (no pun) for me, and I found myself doing rough sketch after rough sketch just trying to make her look remotely decent. At school, while eating dinner before class that evening, I actually came very close to asking a total stranger to pose for me, but, fortunately for my shyness, I didn’t have to. It turns out I always want to draw more than what is actually visible from a given angle. With the angel, my initial sketches showed more of her torso and also her lower legs and feet. Then it dawned on me that from that angle the viewer would not be able to see anything past her chest, and while you could theoretically see part of her legs, when the wings and the demon was drawn over her it effectively blocked the view and solved that problem too.
Initially the demon was not to stand over her, and her wings would lay flat on the ground; he was to sit perched upon a tombstone like a vulture, waiting for his wounded prey to bleed to death. But I never could get that idea to work in the frame—it never had the right flow of focal points, it didn’t have the right feel in its original asymmetrical form versus its current symmetrical form, and it was actually a horizontal frame versus the vertical one seen here. Again, while drawing, I placed him in the center of the frame over the angel and everything fell into place.
My personal favorite bit came very last when I realized my initial idea for her all-light wings would not create the focal point I was counting on to unify the image—their contrast to the rest of the frame threw everything off (not to mention they were pretty bland to look at.) Thus came the black-tipped feathers, and I really liked the look of her wings ... but damn, drawing that was another thing. I want to say it took me about an hour per wing, give or take thirty minutes. In the end, it was worth it. The focal points were where they needed to be, and the wings became the most interesting visual cue in the frame. I’m satisfied with it.