Suri Chief's Orphan Dream
It took two solid days to create an initial version of this image. Then I went to other projects so I could come back with fresh eyes to spend another three days finalizing the illustration.
I use this checklist of 5 criteria to see if the image is complete:
1) Does it tell a story?
2) Is there some sort of implied movement or drama?
3) Is there dramatic light?
4) Does it evoke some human emotion?
5) Could it be a message from the unseen or does it evoke some sort of spirituality?
Interviewing the major Suri tribe chief
In a remote corner of Ethiopia's Omo region, this is the group of people involved during my interview with Chief Bolagadong with his baboon cap in the center. In the left foreground is my guide and interpreter Irmius, our Suri interpreter sits just to the right of the chief and the disinterested chief's son is in the white shirt. The others are just village spectators hanging out.
When I asked the chief about a powerful dream he had, he told how his deceased grandfather came one night in a dream to tell him to care for the tribal orphans.
Chief Bolagadong sleeping
During my interview, Suri Chief Bolagadong mentioned that his grandfather came to him in a dream. I knew that I had to get a photograph of the chief sleeping, or at least looking like he is sleeping. The bystanders chuckle. This is one of the two major chiefs of the tribe. But the chief complies.
Finding the background environment image
Then it is a matter of finding background images in my library of more than 1,000,000 photographs. I try to use images taken in the tribal area, in this case the Suri tribe in a remote corner of Ethiopia's Omo region.
Modifying the Chief to be his deceased Grandfather
Figuring that the current chief must look somewhat like his ancestors, I modified this image of Bolagdong as the dream advising grandfather. I changed the hands and coat.
Find and outline kids
I found appropriate images of orphaned kids, then selected them from the background to drop into the final illustration.
Various layers of textures are added
Combining separate images in Photoshop
One of the initial versions.
While I liked the bones of the image, I just didn't work for me yet.