Incubus Summoning (Summer 2014) is my first digital painting in Adobe Photoshop. I am very pleased with this character portrait, and this is the direction I would like to push my artistic abilities.
Since ancient times, religions and superstitions have cast demons as instruments of man’s downfall—supernatural beings we, as humans, must loathe and fear for the good of our immortal souls. This scapegoating and fear-mongering of demons has persisted to the modern day, and no doubt will continue through the future. In my digital portrait of an incubus, a male demon who enjoys exchanging sexual energies with mortals, I present my take on a demonic figure through a sympathetic, romanticized female and/or gay male gaze with the intent of capturing the seductive darkness that appeals to my gothic sense of style.
Incubus Summoning is my first attempt at painting digitally. I started with contour lines drawn with a WACOM Intuos 4 tablet and pen in Adobe Photoshop. I filled in blocks of solid color and then layered low-opacity shading on top, alternating between erasing and shading to blend and form highlights and shadows. My work is both a character portrait and a study of the male nude, a form just as beautiful as a female one.
One of my obvious influences comes from Akira Yasuda’s character design of the popular video game succubus (female counterpart to an incubus), Morrigan Aensland, from Capcom’s Darkstalkers series. In popular art, especially in the male-centric game industry, incubi are underrepresented. If they are even shown, they are more monstrous and non-human in figure than compared to the highly sexualized and humanoid succubi. Compare Morrigan Aensland to Henry Fuseli’s incubus in The Nightmare (1781). I wanted to address this disparity of the male/female gaze in my portrait.
My main inspiration, both thematic and visual, comes from Ayami Kojima, character designer for Konami’s Castlevania game series. Her disturbing and gothic aesthetic in her often androgynous and/or sexualized male character portraits resonate with my desire to portray demons and other supernatural beings from the eyes of a sympathizer, not an accuser. I don’t fight my demons—I embrace them.