My thoughts approaching this piece was to gather references. I compiled at least a dozen pictures of leaping or swimming tigers, along with a few snarling faces. The sketching process came next, in which I quickly jotted down the basic shapes and expressions. Being concerned about the flow of the artwork, I made sure that all of the tigers were pouncing towards one central object. I tried to imply a balance between all nine tigers with three on the top, four in the middle, and two on the bottom. They all gravitate together in union, all snarling and clawing towards the same goal. I didn’t spend much time one detail until I started lining the piece. It took me roughly seven days to compose the lines exactly how I wanted them. This included foreshortening and individualizing each tiger to set them aside from the others. From paw pads to tongues, I tried to make each tiger special in terms of lines and colors.
Pertaining to colors, the next step was to compose all the color schemes. I wanted each tiger to be a different shade, in order to emphasize their differences. This was the most laborious process, and I utilized different effects while trying to tackle nine tigers. I mostly used the Overlay effect to achieve different tones on a couple of tigers. Once I was set on all the base colors, I blended them with the coarsest brush in my set. The most time-consuming portion was the stripes, which were applied with a smaller painterly brush at a lower opacity. This helped with the blending and soft appearance.
There is minimal shading in this piece due to the concept. I worked around the concept of a cat has nine lives, and even after nine, it’s never enough. All nine lives are fighting back against time, which is represented in a small pocket watch in the lower right hand corner. I only shaded small details like the mouths and paw pads, making sure to not to let them cast shadows to imply spirits instead of lowering their opacity.
Next, I approached the background. It’s the most challenging part for me, but I knew I had to use something to tie the artwork together. I used a lot of smoky and foggy effects with my own technique, implying their fantasy-like existence. In order to give more contrast, the nine tigers are leaping from colorful clouds and swirls. Around the stopwatch, there’s black fog ebbing out of a crack. The colors and dull shades are colliding, implying two different sides clashing. The rest of the background is simplistic and dull compared to the rest of the detailed piece.
The technique I used for the fog is something I use for a lot of my pieces. Using a brush from the Painterly set, I scribble colors and shades on the layers below all the tigers. I go in with a round eraser with lowered opacity and erase the edges inconsistently, making a very spotty and seeping looking mist.
To finish up on the artwork, I went around the outside of the lines with a continuing white line to separate each tiger. Wherever they touch, there’s a small white line to divide them. I believe this helps them pop out and make sure they don’t merge together. It implies a distance between them, even without shadows and shading.
I used a Wacom Bamboo tablet and Photoshop CS6 to complete this piece. It was composed with around 120 layers, which is including the first basic sketches that you cannot see in the final product.