Ambush (2020)

[Original manuscript]

““The signs were all there, the surface tracks revealed by the light of her storm lamp, the musty carrion smell on the light zephyr that stirred the dune slip slopes. It was only when Malena heard the abrasive slithering and the roaring hiss of the sand salamander’s passage behind her that she knew she was in mortal danger.

With a squeal of tortured sand the salamander erupted from the dune behind her, poised to strike down on its prey with its myriad teeth and lighting speed. Desperately, she swung around and threw herself to one side bringing her power rifle to bear on the the salamander’s head…”​



Technical aspects: With original 2000 “Ambush” image my intentions were to capture a moment of extreme action.

In this image I chose to rather capture a moment of tension, just before the action. The point of view is important to the viewer as they see this impending danger, but Malena does not. I almost wanted the viewer to shout out “look out behind you!”

The sand worms of Frank Herbert’s “Dune” books are so iconic that any worm on a desert planet would, by definition, always be compared to, and look like the Shai-Hulud of Arrakis. I wanted to try to steer away from that association, and instead based my sand salamander on a combination of an extinct genus of prehistoric coelacanth fish, from the Cretaceous period called a Mawsonia and the body (and mouth) of the microscopic bristle worm.

The sand salamander was created entirely in 3D-Coat and then finally imported in DAZ Studio. The dune face was a warped surface object, with the footprints and salamander tracks carved into the surface with an additional texture generated by FilterForge 9. My Wacom Intuos tablet  was used to create the final “oil-painting” look in Affinity Photo.

Worlds in the Making