"Worlds above, worlds below, there are none in the world like me"
- according to legend, those were the first words of the Buddha, and also the translation of the first cry of every newborn baby... if you speak baby. This image is not related to the Buddha consciousness inherent in all things, but I felt like it was a good caption for this image.
There is a mundane world on the streets above, where people go about their daily lives worrying about numbers written on papers and electronic devices. But if you pick the wrong alley or the wrong subway station, at the wrong time of night, you may get a glimpse into the world below, where myths and monsters still creep in the corners and shadows of the modern civilization that claims to have forgotten them... to no longer be afraid of them.
I created this image very organically, which may be why I find it so mysterious and unsettling. Usually an image doesn't have an effect on me, the artist, because I know what went into it. But here, I was just experimenting with my workflow, going from base character-to-scene as quickly as possible. When it was all put together, I was struck by these strange people who were looking back at me, and the conflicting feelings of intense curiosity and danger. I wish every image I created could suggest a larger story and raise so many questions.
Who are they? What are they? And where are they going? Are they alone, or are they part of a whole world of Others? There must be a reason why humans don't know about this. Are they dangerous? Will they make me forget? Will they kill me? Will they whisk me away to join their world and never return to my own? ...Do I want that?
"I-I think I picked the wrong station."
I've always liked the sort of "The city gets weird after midnight" movies like Quick Change, After Hours, or the very obscure Cold Dog Soup, for example, and of course I love fantasy, folklore, and fairytales. Not too long ago, I read Neverwhere, and American Gods, both by Neil Gaiman. Both of those books combine the sort of "weird city" and fantasy/folklore genres beautifully. In Neverwhere especially (which I highly recommend), there is literally a London Below, unseen by the London Above, inhabited by some very strange characters and creatures. This image has ended up being somewhere along those lines, or very fitting for something like White Wolf's Changeling: The Dreaming. Maybe this isn't "London Below", but instead it's Chicago Below, or New York Below, or even Paris Below, or Madrid Below.
Technical and Artistic Process:
Both characters are based on the Genesis 3D model by Daz Studio. I wanted to see what the base figure was capable of. I started with a girl, put her in a pose for the sake of looking natural and moved her facial features a bit so she didn't have a blank stare - it turned out to be an inscrutable expression, but I left it that way. I gave her unusual ears for the purpose of testing how the new Auto-fit system works with supernatural ears and hair (since I use a lot of elves). I decided to roll with that and gave her a tail, and later turned her hair white and gave her red eyes because you don't see a lot of anthropomorphic white mice - and because the scene was so green-toned that it needed some red to stand out and focus the viewer's attention. She stayed cute, but became a little unsettling. I put some clothes on her, and threw her in the first pre-made room I saw. The scene looked too empty with her alone, so I decided she needed a companion. I wanted to see if Genesis 1 was as versatile as they claimed, so I went for a monstrous character, partly for that reason, and partly to fill in a lot of the negative space in the scene. By then I started to get a feel for the scene, but I was still surprised by how evocative the image ended up being.
Then I put in lights appropriate to the set - a row of overhead flourescent lights, a bit of ambient tone, a bit of reflected light off the floor, and a spotlight on the wall down the tunnel to add a bit of depth -- all with the AoA advanced lighting set, and the Daz base 3Delight renderer. I may try playing with this in Iray or Reality/Luxrender to see if I can get a better result, but I'm very happy with how this turned out. Clearly, since I just wrote you this novel describing it. >_<
TL;DR: Cosplay looks a bit creepy when there's no convention in town.