Hanging by a thread (2020)

[Original manuscript]

“You cast your fate in the face of a sandstorm by saving this wanderer’s life, Ashra”, the shaman hissed as he emerged from the shadows that hid the winding passage out of the Sadusi warren, “You know well that the wanderer’s lifeblood belongs to the tribe. He should have been left to die so that his water would be joined with the tribe’s.”

Malena tensed, wary of the shaman’s presence behind her unprotected back, poised like a deathwatcher, waiting for the man’s spirit to flee his body.

Slowly she drew her dirk, raising her storm lantern above her head, casting dusty shadows, revealing the other Sadusi standing poised in the shadows.

“If he dies, shaman, the tribe may have his water”, she hissed, the tension audible in her voice, “but not before then. He is of my kind, he is not Sadusi, so until then his lifeblood belongs to me, and not the tribe!”

She knew the knife edge that she walked on by challenging the Sadusi shaman, for her position within the tribe hung by the thinnest of thread’s as did the man’s life…”


Technical aspects: The original 2001 image “Hanging by a thread” was created specifically to teach myself how to create a volumetric light source based in a lantern, and to somehow recreate the artwork of Georges De la Tour, a 17th century painter known for his beautiful candle and torch-lit paintings. In 2001 I only had Bryce, and very little experience.

Admittedly this 2020 version gave me some surprises. I was struggling with how to fit a fully-grown man in the lap of a smaller woman, (something that Michaelangelo struggled with in his La Pieta sculpture) and I strayed across a image of a couple in some sort of romantic embrace that would partially work. When I had almost finished the pose in DAZ Studio I saw that the woman’s left arm was hanging in mid-air. A moment’s inspiration led me to put a lantern in that hand and a knife in the other. At that point, the picture (and the story) changed. Instead of a nurturing woman, caring for a wounded man, Malena had now become a wild tigress defending her cub from an imminent threat. I had started with one idea but I was led down a different and far more rewarding path!

I created a basic environment of wind eroded rocks in 3D-Coat and placed two pillars from a model of a crypt that I had purchased, to frame the two main figures in DAZ Studio. Some carefully placed key lights and some fillers finished of the basic image. The Sadusi shaman was added as an afterthought. There had to be some sort of dark threat that Malena had to react to.

The final rendered image was ported into my painting program, Affinity Photo. and after some tweaks and adjustments with various filters the final “oil-painting” look was created with a Wacom Intuos tablet.

Worlds in the Making