Embers of the Desert: Hatchery Picture

Full Title: "Embers of the Desert: The Hatchery"
Created for the RDNA: Backside monthly Challenge in November 2010.

Popular mythology depicts firebirds with the colors of a warm, reassuring fire: crimson, amber, and gold. But fire can also burn hot. Very, very hot. And when a fire burns that hot, it turns blue. Only those few who are born at the height of the desert's heat are able to handle and care for the rare azure firebirds and, when they do so, they do so for life.

From the beginning I had this image in my mind, of a girl holding a firebird with Fabiana's long braids training down her neck and back. For this to work, first I had to wait for Birds of Legend to be released, then I had to find time to actually sit down and work on it! Patience paid off in the end, though, so when I was able to sit down to work on this I started with what I knew what would be the most difficult parts of this image: the camera angle and pose for both primary figures. Silhouette was going to play a big part in this image and I wanted to get it right! At this time I also undertook the mind-bending search for a long-skirted gown with as plunging a back as I could find.

Once those two aspects were roughed out, I then tackled the next, very difficult task that I knew awaited me: creating an original hairstyle out of multiple sets of Fabiana's hair that looked good from the back and side, was long enough that it could still be seen if pulled over one shoulder, and left the back largely bare. It had to leave the back as bare as possible. In the end we have one part Rapsody Hair (old), two parts Divine Hair 3 (new), one part Deja Vu Hair (old), and three parts Twin Fair Hair (new). The materials did need some slight adjustment to compensate for the fact that hair is generally darker at the base than at the ends. It was also originally going to be black, but it just looked grey, dull, and lifeless in this lighting.

The part that I thought would be easiest, setting the scene, turned out to be almost as mind-bending as the two prior stages, and not the least because a family member suggested I use an Arabian set for the background. It took some experimenting, but I finally found an angle that looked like it would work, and so began the task of setting up the lights to provide enough mood, illumination, and contrast to create an evening scene.

When it finally came down to using a skin on the main figure, I was a bit stumped. I did consider using a tattooed back, and even went so far as to load up Epiphany with its beautiful ivy knotwork, but in looking at it I realized that this ran completely contrary to what I was trying to achieve with this image. I wanted to use silhouette, careful lighting, and richly detailed skin to bring out her natural beauty, creating someone who was as just as stunning as the firebird she held without requiring the fantastic "plumage" of skin tattoos, makeup, or body paint. In fact, I ended up scrapping several of the clothing and accessory choices I'd made at the start, in light of this, and her face is deliberately obscured. She's even wearing a mask, although her hair all but hides this. I also ended up not using any of my first choices for skins, because they weren't suited to this lighting.

But, the biggest hiccup in putting this together was a problem of my own design, counting on something I didn't have and so didn't know how it worked. -Never- rely on something you don't already own to "make or break" an image!! In the doldrums that followed, where I added in details and sought to reclaim the spark of the original vision, an idea for the final touches finally arose that allowed me to complete the story for this picture.

And so we have a hatchery.
Full(er) Product List: Victoria 4, Birds of Legend, Rapsody Hair, Deja Vu Hair, Divine Hair 3, Twin Fair Hair, Essentials: Beaded Curtains, Bettine's Sekrets, The Sea (dress materials), Modern Muses Chandra (face morphs), Amy (skin), Hibiscus Jewelry, Evening Style Dress, VI: Jester, Nevermore, Lisa's Botanicals: Potted Plants, Lisa's Botanicals: Palm Trees, Saba'a AlKair, Abraxas, Render Studio Lights, ThrowZ Props and PoseZ by Jepe and Wylder, Jepes FlameZ.
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