Portrait of Ethelinde Gudruna, Osvaldo Enrique Colón Haver (2D)


Title: Portrait of Ethelinde Gudruna
Name: Osvaldo Enrique Colón Haver
Country: Puerto Rico
Software: Photoshop

Just a character concept portrait done for a friendly contest @ another forum. The theme was “RPG Character Showdown” (RPG as in paper & dice :stuck_out_tongue: the real deal!). I played her for some time when I used to enjoy Vampire The Dark Ages. Not my usual serious work. This is what I tended to paint and draw like in my earlier years, when I was still in school.

Some information:

Real Name: Ethelinde Gudruna
Current Identity: Atanasia Zaharia
Bloodline: Lamia
Disciplines: Mortis(Paths: The Grave’s Decay, The Corpse in the Monster,
Cadaverous Animation), Deimos (Now the Path of the Four Humours), Fortitude, Potence

WIPS: 1 & 2


hmmm not sure what happened to my earlier post, but i will say again I am amazed at the amount of detail and emotion you put into your work oz


Thank you Linda! <3

When I tried to edit my previous thread, it deleted the image. A glitch? I used to be able to edit the work with updates before…

I kept working on it until 5AM in the morrow with samsonreaper’s recommendations. Which was the only critique I got- for which I am very grateful.

But only ONE crit? What has happened to this place?


We have a thousand lurkers who come here to ‘rate’ your art.
These people don’t tell you why they decide to give you the rating either.

I see a lot of good art with just 3 stars or less. In my eyes *=F **= D ***= C ****= B *****= A.

When someone gets *** it means ANYBODY can do the same art they do, it’s just regular, nothing good, nothing that would take much of an effort to make, neither skill or talent. A C is just average… it passes but has no real effect. I think ‘C’ is the minimum anyone can give in any given task. D being deffective and F a total failure.

I do not mind getting lower rates, what I do mind is not knowing why. BUT Saying why would help me GROW as an artist, and would help me see where does anyone’s view come from so I can either work with it- or - reject if it doesn’t really make a point. Also if anyone can rate, i would like to see who, and how they work- this does bring me a more information on how to take their opinion.

Perhaps this may be the last time I post in the forums. I’ll keep my work in the portfolio from now on. I honestly dislike the vibes I get when I come here.

I believe forums are a places for interaction. Not a Fish tank. Why come here to try to get some exchange, when all people do is ‘lurk’?
We need feedback, no?- useful feedback! That is why we come here… to grow.

CGSociety better do some changes of dynamics and interaction around here, or it will start losing good artists.

Got trolls anyone?
Funnily my next piece has some Church Bells and Steel.


Nice painting Oz-Haver!

I like a lot of the details like the blood stained wings (great idea!). Her face has a bit Amano-ish (original concept artist of Final Fantasy) quality to it, which I like a lot. Or maybe more in the direction of Vampire Hunter D.

I do regret that her victim is a tad lacking in detail. It would be more gruesome if (s)he was facing up perhaps. But that may not be what you want, of course. Now it kind of looks like she’s petting her pet or something like that.


Hey, thank you!

Oh this painting has a lot of my pure-manga influences (I grew up with it) from Amano to Nomura to Kojima to Yoshida… I love VHD! The same guys who did Ninja Scroll worked there.

You see, your critique would be more useful if I wanted to make the victim more prominent, but I didn’t want her to take a huge part on the painting; the intention is to dehumanizing her. and you got the pet result right, she has this corpse on her lap from a body she just dug up and she’s playing with it- no respect or regards for it’s life. I was going to made a lot of blood splashes but decided to keep it more subtle in the end. I’m more interested in symbols than in ‘objects’ when it comes to all my art. And when I approach them I do from colors and negative&postiive space, rather than getting the shapes perfect. She does have a monstrous hand and arm and neck and her shoulders are too low, etc. but I’m more interested in getting the emotions and instilling thought than in ‘grounding characters’ realistically.

I appreciate the feedback!!! thanks again!


nice work OZ, like the colors and your style. nice details on the clothes, love the bloody wings.^^ good work!


I never saw the original VHD, but Bloodlust was fabulous!

I think her hands are good. A lot of women will have the make up on the face in such a way that they will appear younger, but the hands always show the real age.

Could you please explain what you meant with positive and negative space? Is this on what side of light / dark they’d be in greyscale, or the amount of value? I never quite thought about that. In what manner does it affect the painting? Do you look for a balance, or dominate one over the other?


zweiDee: THANK YOU! <3

RicoD: Well, positive space usually is the part of the piece which is “filled with something” or we could also say “more detailed”- the negative is the “empty area” and in cases “less detailed”. If you had a bicycle wheel in a ‘blank’ background the negative space would be the empty spaces that have triangular shapes near the wheel’s inside and the round empty space that sorrounds the wheel and defines the shape. The positive space would be the details of the wheel. I like to play with the kind of shapes the negative space can give me without taking a really important part of the piece (in this case the wing and feathery shapes).

Here in CGS, people usually approach artworks from a technical and very objectifying point of view. The want to see a narrative, and rarely take time to see beyond the presented action. Artists like me who like to go beyond this objectified way of doing art would have to explain in more detail. This piece in particular is quite shallow and uncommon from me- it is just a character concept. But I tried to put in as many clues to this character as possible to give information on her personality and who she is. Usually people here will approach this work and think: pale woman, vampire, holding corpse on her lap in the middle of a cemetery. But the reality is that she is not even in a cemetery… the graves are there to fill information and make the negative space (which is usually the background) more life. There are wings which come from nowhere and also wings which are really there (from the cat-like humunculus). There are skulls that are merely floating in the empty space, even a winged serpentine body of sorts. All these are really clues and symbols to who she is…it’s not mere decoration. Not even the little wings on the front of her dress should be taken for granted.

When it came to colors, I could’ve given her a more palpable skin- I do not have any problems with painting lush skin colors, even if she has (un)dead skin. If I was to render her realitiscally I would’ve used an array of blues, purples and yellow greens and chalkier greys that usually dead bodies have, added visible rotting veins, etc. But I wanted orange/red, blue/violet/indigo and light gray tones ONLY. Also not even the colors were chosen for mere aesthetics lol. Not even her names are random! :wink:

But, yes, I cannot ask people to look for symbols when they usually come here to see action. This is after all and majorly an illustration forum…and that is usually what illustration is: objective technical work. I’m not an illustator.


That’s a detailed and inspiring explanation Oz-Haver!

Now that I’ve read it, I do think my art teachers told me about it, but I guess I blocked it out, like much of the things they told me… And from an article on the building blocks of painting, although I think they called it by a different name (contrast or something like that).

The piece does look really well balanced. Light next to dark, saturated next to desaturated. Even her hair looks softer next to the hard, black pearls. But less soft when looking at the fluffy fur.

I’m wondering how you go about when you start a piece. I assume you have an idea and then start with a sketch. But at which stage do you start thinking about negative - positive space and the other contrasts? Do you do a color sketch?

I agree with you on the artist - illustrator opinion. Although I wouldn’t consider myself an artist (I even want to become a character designer), lately I’ve become more … how would I say it? Dissatisfied? Like, I ask a question and I get a technical response (more detail here, less detail here, more saturation here, less here). But I wanted a response on a more personal level like; Do this or that to invoke this emotion, set the focus on this area to achieve a sense of [name your intended sense], choose this POV to get a sensation of [name your intended sensation] etc. Even as an illustrator I think they are important, but I have a hard time finding more information on the subjects. But maybe I’m just asking the wrong questions. Perhaps I’m looking in the wrong area. Maybe I have more success with books on theatre and film making. I guess in the end I want to say something, but I lack the proper ‘words’.


When I want to say something, I just say it. Or write it down.

I think as a visual artist you communicate with other people by presenting with visual information. A good artist will take advantage of this to establish a language that is beyond words. Words themselves are visual symbols of other objects. When it comes to visual arts you have the quintessential meta-word at hand. You are creating and presenting that which put words in the ‘field’ in the first place. Emotions or sensations do not define art. If you come from a country like mine where self expression is quite dramatic, and people tend to have ‘big mouths’- there is no point to “the need to express”. Let’s say there is not much you ‘hide’ or ‘shut up’. This angst of ‘being unable to express oneself’ it’s more present in European and english speaking countries. The Latin-American concern with art tends to be different, even if art is usually defined by a very ‘franco-brittish-german’ ideals as of late. We didn’t suffer the WWII directly, etc. There are a lot of cultural ‘grounds’ that are absent (or not) depending on the background of the artist.

No one can really teach you how to convey an emotion- only you will know how. There are few illustrators who achieve this ‘personal contact’ between character and viewer. Usually direct eye-contact from character to ‘viewer’ is evaded, making it (in literary words) a ‘third person point of view’. It’s not easy to make a painting into the second or first person point of view- to put the viewer into the “You and Me” or into the “only you” position. And most attempts tend to fail. Its not unusual for even photography to fail at it- it can look fake easily. Takes something extra- a certain connection between the artist and the subject (be it on the canvas or behind the lens)- to achieve this extra personal level. Just like not every actor makes it believable… Just like an actor has to get ‘into character’ I believe visual artist have to too. The only way to convey emotions and sensations is by participating of them yourself. In abstract works this is easily done- but surely only the artist him/herself will really know what it is/was. The real challenge is in achieving this in the figurative type of arts and keeping it ‘genuine’. I have my personal decisions, like staying away from photographic reference, shutting the world out with music, and concentrating on what I want to create- without making it into a mechanical action. In the end if you want, you can go technical on it, but those first impulses and strokes are the ones who usually define how the piece turns out- and that must have space to ‘breathe’ and develop, before you become a bored painter robot.

In this particular case, the contest theme was RPG-Character Showdown. I laid out in front of me about 6 different characters and from them I was down to choose between 2. Considering the time, I chose her for being the most recent and ‘alive’ for me. I enjoyed giving life to her within words, and i had never given her a face. So the challenge for me was doing a ‘worthy portrait’- without ruining the character. I had to re-read all the info i had collected from playtime and background building etc. From there I chose on the things that should be in the work, even before I laid a sketch. Near the end more ‘elements’ started just sprouting out of impulse- but the ‘feel’ was there all the time. I stopped working once I lost the initial feel/mood and it became a bit mechanical. So i had to consider things beyond mere looks: the era (medieval), the type of art done back then, the type of garments they used, what she could do as a character, what she did, abilities, quirks, personality, and her conviction and conscience. To me she questions her own monstrousness- which is not the fact that she is a vampire but that she loses respect for humanity- it’s the inevitable apathy, and the thirst for empathy which moved me to paint her. I wanted to give a mixed glance in her eyes, a very subtle curve to the lip- but her eyes must have regret, guilt, sadness and a perverse enjoyment of this all. It’s a challenge to question, very smug but very disturbed; a hidden melancholy. This is to me the “soul” of this piece in particular.

A good illustrator must learn how to love his characters.
To me this was simple because i created her and she has tons of elements that I myself have in my own persona. It’s always better to get ‘personal’ when it comes to art. Now, as an illustrator (if this is your chosen career) usually you will come across characters that are not of your own, and you have to get in touch with them, learn them, love them (or hate) and this is the real hard part. It’s very much alike adopting instead of procreating yourself (unless you are the indy director, writer and conceptual developer yourself- all control in your hands, all decisions by your choice; which is rarely the case).

So it all depends on what you want to do really. Do you feel the need to do art because you crave certain communication with society or do you just wish to do art because you just like doing it (from a technical and “looks cool” point of view) and illustrating the words of other authors(be them novelists, poets, or script-writers/dramaturges) is what fulfills you? An illustration is always as ‘important’ as the textual body it represents; choose good ones. :wink: But illustration is always accompanied by a text (doesn’t matter if it’s simple or complex)- unlike other visual art variants- it depends on words. I prefer art that relies on visuals alone.


Thanks for the detailed explanation! Very educational.

It’s funny, when you discuss the piece more it becomes more and more a ‘personal matter’. I think I and many others will glance over something and decide on the spot ‘I like this’ or not, kind of like judging a person by his or her looks. Both aren’t really good things of course. I liked it, but as you reference to it more, I grow to love it more.

As for career choices, in my case it’s a ‘take what you can get’ kind of thing right now, but I’m always looking ahead, as disillusioning as it may be. I guess illustration is just easier to get. And work and private life can be two very separate things of course. I’m perfectly content with illustrating something that may not effect me on a personal level. I can do that in private works. Don’t most people do that? I recently started to get my hands dirty and paint in Photoshop, instead of just using it to manipulate photos and make buttons for websites and annoy people by making ‘funny’ alterations to photos. So I have to do a lot of really tedious and boring exercises just to get familair with the tools. Connect dots and such. Meanwhile, there’s always something in my head. An image, a motion, a feeling. Maybe it comes from something internal like a dream, or external, like an automatic visualisation of something you just read, or maybe days, or years earlier. This is then followed by the frustration from not being able to illustrate it correctly, even though I saw it in front me perfectly and sketched something with the proper ‘feel’ to it, to end up with something half baked which just lost every bit of emotion to it. I blame my technical inexpertice, not my imagination (fortunately).

Like you said, the dream job of having everything under control yourself as a profession is a rare thing, but ultimately, a goal of mine, well knowing how unrealistic it is. I guess I rather dream grand than not dream at all, much to my parents’ despair. :wink:

Wether you intended it or not, I do sense something when I look at this painting. But I know things are usually harder to explain in words than by just showing the picture. Especially since you probably see it, but since I don’t see it but only sense it, it’s kind of hard to explain to me. Like explaining the concept of a certain color to somebody who’s unable to see it.

Loving characters isn’t any problem, but letting them go is. :wink: And placing them in an environment. Sigh, all kids eventually grow up and leave the nest. I’ll let everything you said sink in some more. I think you actually did say what I wanted to know in the third alinea.

Once again, thanks for the extensive explanation!


This thread has been automatically closed as it remained inactive for 12 months. If you wish to continue the discussion, please create a new thread in the appropriate forum.