Steampunk Myths and Legends Entry: Nigel Quarless


Eric - Thanks very much for taking the time to comment - I really appreciate your thoughts, especially about the subject choice… I also really like the impression you have of the airships feeling like behemoths, I’ll push that… cheers!

Micro - Thanks alot man, glad you like where it’s going!!!

This is still in a REALLY rough stage, but I wanted to do a colour pass on this. I think this is close as far as pallete, lighting etc…although I’m sure it will change a fair bit.


I took a break from this for a while, and after some distance, I could see that I was happy with the developmental work I’ve done but not with the image as it was. I decided to start fresh but keep the decisions I’d made so far, I’ll post the progress on that soon, but for now here’s a character design I’ll be working from for the final.


Wonderful Style.
Love it very much.


really nice, he fits the steam age perfectly.I loved the details


You nailed steampunk with his design!


That’s really cool.I like the character.also the atmosphere.


Jakyll, yigit, Womball, beastiebb… Thanks alot for your comments! I am going to post my current progress and a rundown of my process so far soon…


Well, I’ve wanted to post a good summary of my process on this for a while, but haven’t had the time to sit down and write it until now.

After doing tons of sketches, it was hard to focus on one idea for a while, I settled on Icarus feeling like it was the best fit for the Challenge and after some positive feedback.

Once that was decided, I started a whole new round of sketching compositions, experimenting with the character size and placement, as well as bg elements etc. I pretty much burnt out on the piece at that point. Decision making got slower and I began waffling on compositions and poses for Icarus. I think at that point I had taken almost too much feedback (lots wasn’t from the forums) and was trying to incorporate everything that people had to say.

Anyway, after wanting to just give up a couple times and exhausting my motivation for it, I finally settled on a composition that put the character close enough to read his expression, but wide enough to see a good amount of his Steampunk wings coming apart as he plummeted from the sky. I broke out of the posing I had previously settled on and went for a more dramatic feel, where instead of Icarus being resolved to his fall, he was still reaching upward and grasping at the sky. It was really tough to get just the right angle for it to feel like he’s falling and to still get a good look at all the elements I wanted visible.

I also decided that the Labyrinth part of his myth needed to be part of the piece. So instead of the Victorian architecture I was planning on doing for the bg, I went to an idea of a Steam Labyrinth a reinterpretation of the island of Crete and Labyrinth from the original Myth…a structure of twisting pipes, tanks and shapes rising out of the ocean. I think it really adds to the story and gives a focal point to the bg…the character now feels like he’s falling back to where he came from.

Anyway, after all the frustrations and wheel spinning and taking a good break, I began the image again using the decisions I had come up with from my laborious early process and the new motivation from a fresh start and ended up with the WIP I’ve posted.

I’ll be updating this WIP as I go more frequently. There will be a glow from the overheated wings lighting up the character more, and there’s more detail to go in everywhere as well, but this WIP gives youa good idea of where it’s going.
Where I’m at now is from a restart of the whole image I began in December. I had done tons of sketching ideas


This is fantastic already, Nigel. The feeling really drives the composition from the core.

Gosh, I hope you have time to do this justice.

Good luck!!!


Thanks, Roger… Yeah, I’ll have to focus on this to get it close to being done in time…

Some progress from today…


I think this arm/hand position works better. He actually looks like he’s fighting now, whereas before the position of his hands and arms seemed too serene, as if he was giving into his fate.

Very nice work :thumbsup:


Hey dude, nice colours and composition. I’m not sure if you’re going for a more expressive, minimalist approach to your painting, but I’m liking it.



khendar - Thanks very much… I really appreciate the comments. Yeah… I was stuck on the old pose for quite a while… now that I’ve changed it I’m happy with where it’s going… I think it does alot more for the character… glad you like it!

domo - Thanks, man… I am gonna go for something a bit looser for sure… some areas will get tightened up much more, but I’d like an expressive feeel overall. I also want there to be a feeling of motion to it, so some painterly soft focus/ blur effects will come in there I hope.

Thanks for the feedback!!!


Great composition!
The position of the body is definitely better here.
I reallly like the whole work :applause:


Thanks very much, Multiudictus! I’m feeling better and better about the pose…

Another WIP image… just a bit more progress here. More form rendering and edge cleanup. I’m starting to get the wings’ overheated glow established to where it should be…lots more to do, I’m gonna have to pin it to get this done on time.


So just another bit of progress… I’ve broken up the wings a bit more, took out some of the heavy smoke and added a bit of steam.


Wow, this is looking really good. It is very dramatic and full of action. The gauges on his stomach might need some brighter highlights to make them pop out. Maybe not, its looking amazing though.


this is looking really fantastic, i love the colours and the composition is great. If i had a suggestion it would be to add alot of pieces of the wings and machinery in the air about him to add to the energy and chaos in the air. Good luck, and hope you finish in time


looking good!


I love the pose and expression, the hopelessness in his expression is convincing. The flow and composition are really great.