Bear Shaman

Bear Shaman

My name is Svetlana Kostina. I am a freelance illustrator/concept artist from Russia but 
I also like to paint with acrylics and oils.

I started my character concept (Bear Shaman) with a simplified sketch to capture the main idea. My character represents Russia. She is a shaman who summons bears to attack or defend herself. To make my idea better perceived by the viewer and more fun for me to draw, I decided to use some clichés about Russia - bears, snowy cold forests, kokoshniks, etc. So her clothes are warm, comfortable, and functional to show the personality of the character and her story. 

In the next step, I needed to focus on the design and refine it to make it look more harmonious. For the main color, I chose a neutral brown color and, as accents, the colors of the flag of the selected country (this was in the rules of the competition). 

Also at this stage, it was necessary to think about composition, values, materials, and silhouette.

The character is harsh, serious, but kind and friendly.

When I decided on the things that were important to me, I finished rendering and started a new stage - sketches for the main illustration.

I usually make several thumbnails to look at the concept from "different angles" and find new solutions that differ from the very first idea that came to my mind. I liked option B. It feels more powerful, but it's pretty static. It seemed that the last option (С) was more dynamic and I continued to work with it.

Next, I made the first color pass. Usually, I really don't like my first color sketches, but at this stage, I do not worry that the drawing looks strange and try to turn off my negative emotions, I just make a base with which I will work further and warm up.

I tried to balance the composition and soften the tones (lighten the black a little and darken the light). I also worked on the girl's facial expression.

These bears have been redrawn several times. For me, drawing bears turned out to be a challenge and in the process, I have made some studies.

Don't be afraid to make mistakes, we learn a lot when we fix them.

I changed the paw of the bear in the middle ground to add more dynamic and a sense of movement.

And when the time was up I had to stop rendering.

You can see some close-ups and details here:

Thanks for reading this and I hope it was interesting and helpful for some of you!

Follow Svetlana here: