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Masters of Science Fiction and Fantasy Art by Joe Haldeman, Karen Haber

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(23434) Job No:01-23425 Title:RP-Masters of Science Fiction&Fantasy Art
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page 174 MASTERS of SCIENCE FICTION and FANTASY ART
TRADITIONAL TOOLS and TECHNIQUES page 175
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DAN DOS SANTOS
“I’ve always known exactly what I wanted to do. I very much
believe that anybody can achieve any goal. The hard part
is knowing the goal to achieve.”
Dan Dos Santos is so busy that he plans a year’s painting
schedule in advance. Recently named as one of the 50 most
inuential fantasy artists working today by ImagineFX
magazine, the Chesley Award–winning artist is an expert
at traditional brushwork.
The strength of his painting is his mastery of the face
and gure. Dos Santos excels at portraiture. He can paint
tight or loose, work with painterly effects, and always
creates a dynamic composition, never losing his original
emphasis: portraiture. Each of his paintings conveys
the sense of a living, breathing individual.
His ease at the easel seems to invite art directors to pile on
the number of subjects per painting. Dos Santos laughs
about it and says, “One? Three? Even better! Bring ’em on!”
“I like painting women,” Dos Santos says. “But beyond
that, it’s about the portrait. The subject is really a person.
A particular visual I read in a book gets me excited, and gives
me a key image to work on—something as simple as a
haircut. For example, in Black Blade Blues, there’s a tough
female lead ghting dragons in Seattle, with nice cool urban
fantasy elements. She’s a blacksmith, and she has a half-
shaved head with white hair and a black sword and glow-
ing red runes. How can an artist go wrong with that!?”
Green. Oil. Cover of novel by Jay Lake, Tor Books, 2009. When painting various
surfaces, Dos Santos makes a special effort to handle the paint differently.
For example, he uses larger brushstrokes with less refinement when painting
fabric. This helps makes different elements appear to have discrete textures.
Doppelgangster. Oil. Cover of novel by Laura Resnick, DAW, 2010.
Beacon Falls, Connecticut, USA
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“It takes me two weeks to do a painting,” he says, “including
reading the manuscript, model shoots, and so on. It’s
always a rush. I wish I had three weeks for each painting,
but I don’t.”
He notes, “I have to paint two a month to make a living. Right
now I have two covers going simultaneously, but I usually
do them in sequence. I don’t split my focus very well.”
Dos Santos says that working with live models adds a di-
mension to his work. “Models really make a difference,”
he notes. “I go out of my way to nd exceptional models.
A lot of my favorite models are not professionals—most
pros don’t work for illustrators. You really need an actor
more than a model. People have so much individual char-
acter, it helps bring a different avor to each cover.”
He acknowledges that he’s become known for his por-
traits of strong women. “I keep getting tough-girl covers,”
he says. “It probably has something to do with the nature
of the literature. More than half of what I do is vampire-
related. There’s been an incredible increase in vampire
literature, and there are a lot of tough women characters
in these books.”
He adds, “I grew up on comic books where everybody
is tough. The guys are tough, the girls are tough. So the
strong woman as a subject was no problem: It’s what
I’ve always drawn.”
Dos Santos didn’t expect to be painting fantasy art.
“I prepared for science fiction art in school, but got
a fantasy job first: a unicorn,” he notes. “Gradually,
I got accustomed to the visual tropes of that eld.”
Doppelgangster. Oil. Cover of novel by Laura Resnick, DAW, 2010. Stalking the Unicorn. Oil. Cover of novel by Mike Resnick, Pyr, 2008.
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