The evocative photorealistic portraits of Euclase My latest divine influence comes from Licia (aka Euclase), a self-taught artist in Pennsylvania. Her recent portrait of Gus Fring captures the quiet, calculating intensity of Breaking Bad’s über-villain in a way that I’ve rarely seen. The piece is indicative of a portfolio filled with undeniably beautiful and evocative realistic portraits of characters from movies and TV shows like Game of Thrones, LOTR, Supernatural, Sleepy Hollow and many more.
Blogger Sal Gabriel describes her work perfectly: “What I love about her art is not just the technical skill, but the way she captures her subjects in almost vulnerable, exposed moments. There’s something about the simplicity of her compositions, using mostly moody backdrops to frame her characters in reflective, candid moments. It’s a side to these characters we don’t get to see much of and it’s haunting.”
Licia was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about her work. I learned that the 33-year-old typographer has been drawing since childhood, that she’s heavily influenced by illustrators of 70s and 80s and that she dedicates about 20 hours each week creating and sharing fan art for pleasure and a bit of rebellion.
Why haven’t you pursued art as a profession? It never felt right to me. I don’t want drawing to be my job. I’m really lucky that my current situation in life lets me draw for fun.
For me, what sets your portraits apart from others is that they are emotionally evocative. Your portraits aren’t just a realistic rendering of a character, but rather they are communicating something internal to the character. What are your goals when creating a portrait? My goal is to make the portrait look like the person. I promise I’m not being facetious; making it look like the person is complicated.
What artists do you consider influences? Michael Whelan, Alan Lee, John Jude Palencar. People like that. A lot of 70s and 80s illustrators influenced me because that’s the stuff I grew up with. Lots of album covers, too, like the covers Hipgnosis and Hugh Syme made. I used to copy album cover art when I was a kid.
Which pieces are you most proud of? Which ones are your favorite? Any of myCastieldrawings. I’ve utilized that character dozens of times in the process of teaching myself digital painting, so I’m very fond of all those drawings. I also really like Lagertha and Miss V Improves a Wall.
Most of the work you share on Tumblr is digitally made. Do you also work in traditional media, or are you primarily a digital artist? I used to be a traditional artist until I was given a tablet as a Christmas present. Now, I mostly do digital. I like them both equally. Digital is easier to share online, and traditional is easier to share in person.
What’s your process for creating a digital portrait and what tools do you use when making them? I usually start with a character in mind, and I gather references (screenshots, publicity photos, etc.). I work up a sketch in Photoshop and play around with composition and different colors until I find a color palette that I like. Once I’ve done that, I do a nice, clean line drawing. And then I start painting, using my line drawing as a guide. I start out bold, laying down as much color as I can, and then I gradually work in details. You can see some of my processes here. Once I finish the actual painting, then I do some final color tweaking in Photoshop. As for tools, I like to keep things very simple. I use a plain round Photoshop brush, not too many layers, and a narrow color palette. I use a Wacom Intuos tablet. Sometimes I use a Bamboo or a Solidmate, but mostly the Intuos.
What’s the biggest challenge working digitally? The biggest challenge for me is getting people to realize that they’re looking at something I drew. Many, many times I’ve been in a situation where people have overlooked my art because they didn’t think it was art.
Learning these digital techniques can be tricky and very time-consuming. How much time do spend on art each week? Probably 20 hours. Maybe more.
How many hours does a typical piece take? Around 15 hours for any basic portrait. It depends on how much stuff there is to draw. Fur, hair, patterns in clothing, wings. All of those details can add time.
Do you have a ritual or routine when you are creating art? Paint us a mental picture of you creating art. I usually just sit on my living room sofa or at my kitchen table with a laptop and a tablet and start drawing. I don’t really have a routine or ritual, but I like to watch movies while I’m drawing.
I adore your recent Gus Fring portrait. Why Gus Fring, and what were you trying to achieve in this portrait? I like the character. Gus is a bad guy, and but he wears these thin, fragile little glasses. They’re so improbable. They’re almost a disguise, like an abomination of Clark Kent. Usually we wear rose-colored glasses to see a nicer world, but these glasses work in the opposite direction, so people see a nicer Gus. It just seemed like a fun idea to try and pull off in a drawing.
What’s your favorite episode of Breaking Bad and why? “Ozymandias” was amazing. I also really liked “ABQ.” “Phoenix” and “ABQ” together were really outrageous. I love it when Breaking Bad really goes for it, even if it’s ridiculous, and “Ozymandias” and “ABQ” were both like that.
What’s the purpose of creating fan art? To sell, or just to share and pay tribute? I make fan art to share with other fans.
If you don’t sell your work, why not? I’ve never felt comfortable selling my work. I tried it for a bit, but I didn’t like it, so I stopped.
You sign all your pieces Euclase. What does your pseudonym mean? Actually, I sign my pieces EAD because those are my initials. But yes, I go by Euclase. Euclase is a mineral.
Is there are particular reason why you chose “Euclase” as a pseudonym? I read that it roughly translates to “easily broken.” Ha ha. No, I’m not that emo. I picked that name ages ago back on LiveJournal. I wanted a gemstone URL. I got the idea for “euclase” from a Jeeves and Wooster gag about words that start with “eu-”.
Why use a pseudonym? I never really understood why artists do this. I can’t speak for other artists, but there’s a bit of rebellion in making fan art. And in making fan fiction and other fan works, too. It’s about reclaiming your right to storytelling. You’re taking things back from these huge media empires that control what stories we’re all told. So by using a pseudonym, you’re giving yourself a name in the spirit of that rebellion and the fandom community that comes out of it. People might know my real name, and that’s fine, but fellow fans know they can call me by my pseudonym, and it’s just as meaningful, maybe even more meaningful.
What advice would you give to a young artist trying to get a start? Get enough sleeeeeeeeeeep.
As an artist, where would you like to be 10-20 years from now? Hopefully in a comfortable chair.