Welcome to a brand new regular (we hope) feature here at C2F, the Digital ConceptGallery Flashback. Here we'll be looking at some of the memorable and impressiveimages from deep within the ancient and forgotten vaults of the DCG. The galleryhas been running for over five years, and I expect many of the newer artists andvisitors to the site are unfamiliar with the rich artistic legacy of the site.Many great artists (including a number that are no longer contributing to thesite) have submitted some amazing and beautiful images to the gallery that a lotof people have probably never seen. The DCG Flashback is an attempt to bring someof these hidden gems of the DCG to light, an attempt to allow "newbies" to see someof the great images from the olden days of C2F. Here then, in chronological order,is a baker's dozen of classic images from those forgotten days...
This is one of the first images that Iremember seeing that was more about feel and composition then it was just about thetechnical aspects. Although this is a simple manip and one of the older ones on the siteit still stands up to the work being done by many of todays artists. Simple and elegant,this image remains one of my favorite pictures to date. The monochromatic color scheme andcomposition gives the image an artistic look and appeal that many images lack. A trulygreat image from the past.
This is another great example of an earlywork that can still hold its own against the art of today. The texture work in this pictureis some of the best texture work I have seen in a long time. the image itself is rather simplebut the excellent use of textures is well beyond its time. I have yet to see an artist usingthe programs of today come up with the same amazing kind of texture work for this character.For that, this receives my thumbs up.
I know Essex hates this image (secretly,that's one of the reasons I picked it... shhh don't tell him!) but as an early manip Ithink it is well done. I think the image foreshadows the great things to come. It is thelittle details that make this image stand out as aN excellent early work. The hair, thechoice of a base picture with dynamic lighting, the skin tone... these are all well done.Looking at this early image it is easy to see how this fledgling artist ended up as BestArtist of the DCG for the first DCG Awards.
It would be a shame if some of the newer visitors of the DCG never got to see the awesome work of Rain King. I always looked forward to seeing what he would next submit to the gallery. Even though it's been a long time since he was a regular fixture here, I certainly haven't forgotten his work. This image of Joker and Harley Quinn might have been his most popular image, and with good reason. Joker has ben done many times in the gallery, but Rain King's version holds a special place in my heart. Rain King chose not to go over the top with his portrayal of Joker, and that's one of the reasons the result is so creepy. The large mouth and deep smile lines on an otherwise human looking face is absorbing and eerie. The tones Rain King has used on his face are perfect and the slight touches of purple around his eyes aren't something many artists would think to do, but it adds the perfect menace around his hypnotic eyes. Finally, Joker's geeky suit is well-rendered and acts as the perfect accessory to his personality.
Harley Quinn has also been added to the gallery many times, but Rain King's rendition is exceedingly different from any other versions. He chose to make her clothes loose-fitting, but that actually makes her seem even sexier, as the shiny, leathery folds actually highlight her figure. Plus, the white pieces of her costume are expertly created, with every detail accounted for.
It's a shame Rain King isn't still submitting work today, but consider yourself lucky if you've yet to explore his gallery. He's got a number of awesome images in there that show off his impressive handling of colour, texture and mood.
Blink is certainly one of themost manipped characters in comics not named "Wonder Woman" or "Supergirl." Justabout everyone seems to try their hand at her at one time or another (I myselfstand guilty of this offense). Since she's also one of my favourite characters,I tend to go out of my way to look at manips of her when they come downthe pike. Often, I'm disappointed. Sometimes, I'm not. Yet of all the many,many, many versions of the character I've seen, this is still one of myabsolute favourites. The artist is, of course, the one and only Marcelo Gomes.Few of the "veterans" of C2F would deny that of the many great artists who haveeffectively no longer post in the DCG nowadays, Marcelo was one of the best. Hiswork still has a very unique style and ambience, with some of the most effectiveuse of lighting and shadow in the entire photomanipping world. This image is notnecessarily his best, but I think it demonstrates this facility very well indeed:just look at the backlighting; isn't it a thing of beauty? It's the one elementthat puts this manip over the top, that takes it from being merely a good manipto being a truly great and memorable one. (And I can tell you from personalexperience that backlighting is not an easy effect to accomplish. The wayMarcelo makes it easy here is doubly impressive!) And what elsedoes this image offer? A good deal. Fine costuming, maybe not the best, butvery well donenonetheless. A very nice, subtle, realistic skin tone... (and that is somethingvery few people can do!) The attention paid to the eyes and the lips almostsinglehandedly makes the skin colour work... it adds that touch of reality thatis so often missing. There's also a very cool, understated power effect. Allin all, a truly great pic from an artist who is sadly no longer contributingto the gallery. This is still, to me, the definitive Blink manip. Andconsidering how many have come since, that's an impressive accomplishment.
I think it's fairly wellknown by all and sundry here at C2F that Essex is by some considerable distancemy favourite DCG Artist. Given that, I had to write about at least one of hisimages in this feature. After a lot of thought, I decided on this one: God Loves,Man Kills. With the (fairly) recent release of X2, partly based on this storyline,it seemed a rather timely choice. Now, this is far from being Essex's best work.It's not even his best movie poster, but since the image that is his bestmovie poster has already won a DCG award (look it up!), I thought I'd go with thelesser known option for now. This image is, however, one of the best manips andparticularly one of the best mock-up movie posters you'll ever see in thegallery. The composition is beautiful... not only is the layout of the variouscharacters nicely symmetrical (and thus pleasing to the eye), but the use ofAngel's wing to mirror Nightcrawler's tail is one of those clever little detailsthat only a master would think to include. It's appropriate thematically too:these sorts of external signs of their mutations can be seen as a sort of markof Cain for mutants, so it's appropriate indeed for them to be so visible in amanip of God Loves, Man Kills, a tale of religious intolerance. Equallyappropriate, of course, is the blatant Christian symbolism and the bloody X-Menlogo. And just to make things that little bit cooler, there's the standardEssex motif of translucent text floating in the background... in this case,biblical quotes (of course). This is, to me, one of the best images in thegallery, well constructed, technically near flawless, and visually interesting.But the most impressive thing about it is just how much better Essex's workwould later get. Just think about it, he did this then he blew it outof the water. Impressive, no?
This single entry by Moviemaker is awonderful example of diverse influences. This piece is a stand out for a few importantreasons. Mainly it's the fact that Moviemaker isn't trying to make a representationalimage. Instead Moviemaker uses color, form, and photographic elements to depict a wellknown character in a way that tells you something about him. We can see in this imagethat Ghost Rider is haunted, and alone, yet tries to maintain a calm exterior. Throughthe use of design and color Ghost Rider is firmly set in reality. Moviemaker uses themedia to express something more of the character than his appearance. This is one of thepieces in the DCG that has influenced me to look beyond the external appearance and totry to bring something of the character to the image. It also hold a special distinctionthat it is a great piece without conforming to the normal conventions of our little cornerof the photo manip world.
As I was compiling this feature, it came to my attention that all the greatimages the writers I'd recruited has chosen to critique had one thing in common:they were all manips. And considering how many superb illustrations there are inthe DCG, I thought it was only right for me to do what little I could to redressthe balance. Devilbunny is both my own pick for the best illustrator in the DCG,and also that of a majority of the artists here (according to the first two DCGawards for that category), so choosing to look at one of her works was a no-brainerfor me. The reason I chose this particular image is pretty simple. When Ifirst read the recent (excellent) comic book adaptation of Neil Gaiman's(also excellent) novel Neverwhere, I was surprised to find that Glenn Fabry'sversion of the Lady Door didn't quite work for me. Why? Because this piece offan art was already firmly ensconced in my mind as the definitive visionof the character. How about that? (And since Devilbunny actually posed for thisimage herself, does that mean she should play the character in any future adaption?Heh...) And if you want to consider some of the little details that take an imagefrom "good" to "great," just look at the background... it's a sewer... with a rat...and with locked a safe or door or something (I never did figure outexactly what, though that hardly takes away from my enjoyment of this image)...perfect for both the series (set in the underground network under London) andthe character (who has power over doors and locks)... if anyone is looking fora concrete example of how the background of an image can help bring it up a notch,here's a fine example. And if we're looking at how little details can improvean image no end, just look at the frame surrounding this picture. Doesn't itjust make the image that little bit cooler? This is still, to this day, one ofmy favourite illustrations in the DCG. The only real problem I can see withthis one is that it's too damn small!
The DCG gets new artists all the time, but it's rare that a new one shows up with a very distinctive style that sets him apart from all the rest. 'Dead Girl' wasn't B's first submission to the DCG, but it was with this image that it became totally clear that he was going to be a talent to keep an eye on. B's smudged, painted style made him stand out from the rest and even through his constant transformations, that main style is still dominant in his work today. What makes Dead Girl so impressive is the mood that B is able to communicate so clearly. Setting a mood can be one of the hardest parts about creating an image and it is something the majority of new artists never do. Some people may create awesome costumes on a model, slap it on a background and call it a day, but B doesn't settle for that. He instead succeeds in creating an eerie setting for his well-manipped character. As much effort was put into the background and was put into the character, and it shows. Dead Girl is fully integrated into her surroundings.
Having said that, I can't exactly neglect to mention B's utter skill in photo manipulation, can I? It's clear from this image that B has a natural talent for understanding colour and lighting. With his knowledge of both of these, he was able to create fantastic dimension on the figure that is both realistic and cartoony at the same time. The thin line between those two extremes is what makes B's art so interesting. Despite B's growth as an artist since this image was created, it still remains one of my favourites.
Deceptively simple layout and masterfultechnique are what stand out for me with Sereyala's Supergirl. There are few manips thatstand out to me as being singularly complete... What I mean is that you take in the imageas whole and understand it is complete. While not a "perfect picture" there is nothingout of place or discordant, even the strange background adds to the harmonious totality.The cape flutters in the wind, the background responds, and it and encapsulates thecircular layout. The costume is unreal, yet appears natural, and pleasing to the eye, asit does nothing to offend it. Supergirl herself gazes at us in a perfectly Supergirl sortof way. She is not proud, nor is she ashamed, but she is confident and perfectly suited tothe image. You can see in her eyes that she is aware of her own power. This wonderfullysubtle effect is the result of the eye of an artist finding in a base image with just theright combination of body language and expression. This is an influential piece for mebecause of how it works as a whole. None of the elements or techniques overpower the image,but rather combine to become something complete that transcends our genre.
This image spotlights how simpledoesn't have to be basic or simplistic. We've all seen face only shots of variousand sundry characters where one or two features are altered from the original andthe character name is slapped on. While this is a face shot with features addedand altered it is miles away from the quick and dirty manipulations. This is avery close up pic of everyone's favorite Cajun and the major thing that standsout to me in this piece is how beautiful and realistic the eyes came out. Whileeveryone knows that black sclera and glowing red irises are not something wewill ever see the eyes in this image could just about convince me otherwise.They are not a flat red on black scheme but instead both the black and redhas highlights, shadows and shading just like regular eyes. And beyond thata very soft and subtle glow reflects off his lower eyelid and through hiseyelashes. So for me this piece is a great example of how detailed work onone feature can make a piece overall.
A truly great piece that I feel not too many people remember, and we haven'tseen Miss Jellybrain around in a while. I wouldn't call this image a "classic"because really it is not that old, but it has been one of my favorite imagessince it was posted. It is the ambience and perfect feel for the characterthat makes this one soooo perfect. Everyday we get to see model "A" disguisedas whatever superhero, usually a little sexual in nature. It is rare that wesee a manip of a female that is not overly sexual or that captures the character.This piece just grabs you...the atmosphere of the image is perfect. There ismysticism in this picture, which is very important to the Witch's character, andit really heightens this piece. The "magic smoke trail" is a great addition, andit is a very difficult effect to pull off. Secondly, smoke?!?!? Very original,and outside of the box... and it just nails the mystic power set perfectly.The pose is downright beautiful... just so nonchalant and perfect. The flowingcape is just great, it adds that extra little pop to this piece, it just wouldn'tbe the same without it.
My girlfriend has seen every manip I've done, good and bad. She has also seenmany of the ones that you guys/gals post... so she has seen the disguised pornpics, half-assed white face jobs, etc. This was one of the first pieces shesaw that made her make me stop browsing the gallery. She is not a comic bookfan, she has no clue who the Scarlet Witch is until I told her, she just thoughtthis looked really cool and she enjoyed it. I kid you not, she says to me, "Whycan't you do one that looks like that?" Thanks dear, I love you too. Pointbeing, she looked at this and wanted me to explain to her how it was done andwho the character was....that to me is the best compliment I can give thiswork.
Anyone who has been around the DCG for awhile is familiar with our resident perfectionist and scene master, Bill Turner. He iswell known for his attention to detail and beautiful pieces. And while anyone would dowell to study Bill's pieces I wanted to use two of them to point out how something simplecan change the entire feel of a piece. While both pieces have the huge amounts of detailBill is known for I actually prefer the Sinister Six piece and that is why I wanted tocall attention to the pair of pieces. The window framing on the Sinister Six makes mefeel as if I'm in that room watching this out of that window. It brings the viewer moreinto the moment of the picture. And the detail on those windows helps to create thatfeeling. If you look closely the edges of the panes are slightly frosted with dirt orcondensation. So while I understand that he needed the room of the window for the addedvillians of the Nine I think the Six feels more like you are there while the Nine feelsmore like it might have been shot with Peter's camera. Both are very cool pics but havea very different feel.