A Glimpse Beneath the Mask
Designers Paul Douard and Victor Vergara brought their distinct illustration styles together in a series inspired by voodoo and dark magic of the past. In Elemental Masks, they played with the disguising nature of masks to give earth’s primary forces a physical form. And the results were stunning.
It’s fun to visualize the celestial being behind the Arcanic Mask, glowing wisps trailing from a vaguely feminine face; or to picture what could have withstood the Metal Mask’s weight. Are wearing these faces a high privilege or a burden? Each mask is distinctly impressive, but the fan favorite may have been the time-weathered Vegetal Mask. We recently had a chance to chat with Paul about how he did it.
Can you tell us about your background as a designer?
I’ve been working as a product and graphic designer for a promotional product agency for three years, and I use Adobe Illustrator for product design and to create technical documents. Lately I’ve been trying out those very same tools and techniques for my freelance design. And now that’s what I really love doing.
What was the inspiration for this particular mask?
I wanted to create a piece that fell somewhere in between wood and vegetation, showing the strength of nature through the wood’s rough texture.
I looked at photos of wrinkled old men to help create realistic age indentations in the wood. I was also inspired by light, like the way rising sun falls on treetops in a forest. So I spent a ton of time on the glow that’s radiating from inside the wood. It symbolizes power and eternity.
Did you run into any challenges during your design process? How did you resolve them?
I started the Vegetal Mask after completing the Arcanic and Ice Masks, so I had picked up new methods while working on the first two. For example, when I first started working on the Vegetal Mask’s beard, I was tracing every shape with Illustrator’s Pen tool. Eventually I realized I could use the Brush tool and Eraser to work faster while producing this irregular and raw effect that I loved. By the end of the series, I had definitely learned to create light and shadow more efficiently.
How much time do you usually spend on a piece like this? What’s your favorite part of the process?
It depends on the project and the complexity of the illustration. But either way I’ll keep working until I am satisfied. I spent almost 100 hours on the vegetal mask alone from the first sketches in Adobe Photoshop to the full colorized illustration in Illustrator. I like spending time perfecting each detail in the drawing, but it won’t be final until I’ve traced it in vector.
My favorite part of the design process is colorization–especially the light. I think it’s the most important part. It’s the moment when the character takes life. When I give the illustration atmosphere. You can get a sense of that in my Behance tutorial before and after the glowing light has been added. I love the metamorphosis.
Any tips or tricks you can pass along?
I don’t think I’m in a place to give tips because I’m a still a beginner, and I’ve been working in Illustrator for eight years. To get better, you’ve just got to be curious, patient, and experiment a ton within the app. I also recommend using a “pen on screen” table. I use the Wacom Cintiq13HD daily.
Try new techniques, even when you think you’ve mastered a process. Behance is a good place to learn from the best creatives and get your daily dose of inspiration.