CGChallenge XXVII - TEN - Boco


Hi everyone,

  Great entries so far! Couldn't let this one slide myself so I'm in.
  I actually decided to get in the ring about a month ago, but couldn't figure out what to do with the subject '10'. I only knew I didn't want to take it so literally so I did some random sketches and penned down some idea's, but nothing came up for a while. That was until I started listening to Stephen King's audiobook from 'The Stand' while doing some straight forward painting on another commission. I absolutely adore everything that comes with lots of lore - and The Stand comes with tons of it - so I figured, why not write up my own Wikipedia-like lore and build around that. 
  Anyway, that's what I did, so here goes.[b][u]
  LaGrande & the 10 Sea Beggars[/u][/b]  

  LaGrande (Italian: ‘La Grande’, literally ‘The Great’) is the name of the flagship of the infamous buccaneer Bartholomew ‘The Cutthroat’ Van Helgen. Together with the 10 Sea Beggars he formed a massive fleet that plundered and pillaged over 120 Spanish settlements and ships along the Caribbean coastlines during the first period of the Golden Age of Piracy.

LaGrande (variously written as ‘LaGrande’ or ‘LeGrand’) was originally a fully rigged frigate called ‘The Minotaur’ and was built in England in 1713. Later the ship was modified to hold more cargo, including slaves and was used by the English as a slave ship, until she was captured by the pirate Marcos Robert Moore on August 11, 1716. Moore turned her over to one of his men — Bartholomew Van Helgen, later known as ‘The Cutthroat’ — and made him her captain. Van Helgen modified her again, this time almost doubling her in size, and renamed her ‘LaGrande’.

On November 21, Moore’s fleet went ashore Tortuga. For the coming years they used it as their homeport, mostly due to the fact that the early English governors of Jamaica freely granted letters of marque to Tortuga buccaneers and to their own countrymen. Moore and Van Helgen used that as an excuse to raid the Caribbean shorelines together for some time, until in 1719 Moore’s ship was found wrecked and abandoned on an uncharted reef somewhere between New Providence and Mexico. The entire crew, including Moore, was missing. The LaGrande who harbored in Tortuga as well, never showed up again. Nor did any of the other ships that were part of Moore’s original fleet.

Around 1727 several settlements and ports got ransacked and burned to the ground by (according to a few survivors) a fleet that consisted of an enormous frigate and 10 smaller galleons. All hoisted a black flag that depicted a hand shaking the hand of a skeleton, with a knapsack connecting the two. It was the same logo that was used by the famous Sea Beggars who in 1566 opposed Spanish rule in the Netherlands. The only difference was that the Sea Beggars’ original emblem consisted of two normal hands shaking each other.

Since then more and more raids took place around the Caribbean by a similar fleet. More and more survivors and stories found their way around, but none could be backed up by physical proof, other than burned down houses and ports. Several survivors claimed they recognized the LaGrande as the flagship of the fleet, others say it could not have been the LaGrande, because that ship too would have been wrecked along with Moore’s ship. No actual evidence has been found to back any of the two stories up.

Image: The flagship LaGrande & the 10 Sea Beggars raiding a settlement.



I love all the research that you’ve done and you’ve got some nice compositions there. :thumbsup: Looks like this be a still image entry?


Hey man, thanks for the comment! Love your portfolio btw.

It’s indeed a still image. I’m aiming for a shot that can be used in the entertainment industry, hence the aspect ratio. I’ve also been reading ‘Framed Ink’ by Marcos Mateu-Mestre, so that probably has a lot to do with it too :slight_smile:


Those are some sweet sketches - I think I like top right, and second-to-bottom right. Top left is great too, just the other ones look more dynamic somehow. Can’t wait to see more :slight_smile:



I liked the top left at first as well, but after sleeping a night on it I felt that it was indeed too stable to convey the chaotic feeling of a raid. I made two new variations today, combining the best elements of the thumbs and making sure the composition still works as well. They still need some tweaking though, so I’ll upload them in a little while.

In the meantime I created a moodboard. I’ve always felt that it seems like a waste of time, but it really helps me to visualise what it is I’m exactly painting. How is the ship exactly going to look, what sort of buildings will the settlement be made up off, how do the Sea Beggars go ashore without being blown to pieces by the LaGrande itself, what colors am I going to use, you know the deal.

Fun trivia, the quote in the middle is an original pirate quote and I think it sets the mood fantastic: “Yes, I do heartily repent. I repent I had not done more mischief; and that we did not cut the throats of them that took us, and I am extremely sorry that you aren’t hanged as well as we.” - Anonymous Pirate, asked on the gallows if he repented. (Johnson 43)


Moodboards, in some way or the other, are great, really help to organize the reference. It’d be awesome to have a Live Tile like tool, inspired by win8 interface - to neatly organize lots of images, tile size based on rating…


That would indeed be a great idea to puzzle something like this together. It’s finding the right images and reference that takes so long though. And that doesn’t even include how long I’ve spend researching how galleons and pirate ships actually work.


But that’s where a lot of fun is, in the research ;). I’ve stumbled upon so many interesting things, often unrelated, but interesting nonetheless, during research for various projects…


True that! I once got lost in that strange part of the internet. It took me days to find my way out.

Here’s a little update. I did some sort of montage of the previous thumbnails and went on with a little bit of detailing. These are still sketches of course, so not at all cleaned up, but the tension’s there I think.

I also included a little compositional study that explains how I tried to get that tension. Red lines are obviously the Golden Ratio, the blue line is the horizonline on 1/3th (basic stuff) and the white lines are the ones that create the tension seeing as how they arc conversely to the other lines in the composition.

Also, I’ve just found out the amazing Dave Brubeck died. If you don’t know him, google him he’s got some amazing tunes to paint on. You just feel yourself getting smarter by listning to him.


I like the second one best, because of the foreground humans - they give nice scale to everything. But check if the ship is not too big in relation to those triangular mountains on the horizon - something fishy going on there ;).


I had a good feeling about the second one too, so I guess I’m going to go with that one. Now that you mention it, the ship does seem a bit big in comparison. I’ll probably scale it down a bit, and show more of the sails.


Worked out the first part of the lineart. To be honest, I’m not used to doing very detailed linework. That’s mostly due to the fact that when I’m starting a new image I’m usually too eager to get to the actual painting. On simple images (or when I have a thight deadline) I often just skip that part, work with shapes and values and hope for the best.

I feel the advantage of lineart however, is that it keeps things simple. Doing a complicated and detailed drawing like this, really demanded me to figure out how ships and sails actually work. By doing a detailed drawing I didn't have to worry about color or values, but just about lines and perspective. Also, planning this far ahead will definitely make the actual painting easier in the end.  


Hi guys,

I’ve been busy with some other assignments lately so it took me a while to move forward with this one. Anyway, I’ve blocked in the main shapes and took the time to quickmask the most important ones (like the ship, the sea beggars, the mountains and the foreground). I also used some quick textures here and there, but I still need to tweak, render and highlight those. I also worked a bit on the color palette which I have to say I’m pretty fond of right now. I feel it really has that ominous mood I was aiming for.

Big up for the other entries so far, I’ve seen some great ones among them.


The mood and colors are great, but there’s still something strange going on with relative size of the ship and the village. I’m not sure I can point my finger at any specific point - they all look great on their own - maybe the background village should be bigger in scale? Now it’s just tiny dots of light, so seems small.


You’ve got a valid point Azazel, I’ve made lights about two times bigger and that does work much better. It’s weird how in hindsight I didn’t see that myself, but I guess when you stare at something long enough you just don’t see simple issues like that anymore.

Thanks a million though!


I’m almost there. I’ve resized some of the building blocks and then rendered the ships a bit. I also turned the flag inside out because the flag design got lost in the previous versions.

The light effect was created with an overlay layer on top of a color dodge layer. Those were covered partly with a smoke layer which really is just a custom cloud brush in various sizes and colors.

I’m almost finished, but I still need to work on the foreground and the settlement on the left.


Now that’s just beautiful. Would love to see it in hi-res.


Thanks! I’m making sure to super-render it so I can release it HD. I’ll upload a big one once it’s finished.


Looks good!I think will be nice if you make the small ships more variate.Position and maybe the siluete.
All the best!



This is just a general message to everybody in the forums to remember to upload their deliverables to the Challenge engine ( Only 2 days to go!

Please ignore this message if you already have. :slight_smile:

Good luck, Mike