Petrichor, 2017, In Progress Pics

March 19, 2017

a pleasant smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather.

As a creative person (an artist, I suppose) you can find inspiration in a lot of things. Sometimes a word or a short phrase of a jingle of a song can construct a whole world or a story in your head. Most creative people know this, but I know some people who are not so intensely embroiled in the creative field usually don’t realize this. There are even people out there who can’t conceivably visualize things in their head, which is personally strange to me. As a creative person, I can envision how something should look — the feel of it, the colors, the palette, where things should be sharp or soft, the message I want to convey. The real frustration comes when you’ve got your idea, and you just can’t articulate it in the way you want to.


“It’s embedded in my flesh. I smell of pine and petrichor. Like my mother tongue, it’s impossible to erase.”

This word and this bit of dialogue was jangling around my head late at night at one point. Azra thinks certain things are just permanently stuck with him, including trauma, his mother German tongue, his name, the forest, his homeland. Things that left permanent scars, visible or not, that impressed on him so deeply they’re impossible to remove. He thinks of himself as an animal (and in the story, people like him, “freaks” are treated as such, helping nothing but to reinforce this notion and negative stereotype), often, with his tapetum lucidum eyes and his need for blood and flesh. He’s just adapted well to human society, he thinks; he can put on a suit and walk upright like everyone else, can drive a nice car and live in a nice home, can make money like everyone else. But ultimately that life bores him, and the animal, the feral beast, is always still deep within.

I’ve explored similar sorts of themes in Kamille and Ungezähmt.

Pine and petrichor. Petrichor. Petrichor. The word was echoing with me, and I find myself more often lately drawing forest scenes and getting into a lot of atmospheric perspective. I’ve done a lot of atmospheric type perspective and limited palette with Waldeinsamkeit, Hunted, Wounded, and even Ghost.

Hunted, 2016
Hunted, 2016. I love utilizing fog, especially on top of snow, and limited, almost grey color palette to evoke emotion.
"Ghost", 2017
Ghost, 2017. Slightly more colorful than some of the others, indicating a fondness for this memory of this ghost. I used a blown out sort of atmospheric perspective that translates also as a double exposure — and leaves you wondering about who the ghost exactly is.

And that was when he saw him.

Standing, naked, amidst the trees, his generous black wings with their stark white markings covering his head, his eyes lighting against the shadow cast by the giant, heaving feathers. Azra, hair moistened by rain, stringing onto his pink and irritated face, staring directly at him, staring directly through him.

I doodled up a thumbnail (or two) and started playing with some compositional ideas. I’ve been really into adding rough textures (think like drawing with chalk) into aspects of my drawings, especially in lineart and details, to really push them apart from the smooth and glossy shading in other areas.

Petrichor Thumbnail

I came up with this, and then started pasting in a gesture I drew that I really liked, then started drawing on top and figuring out where everything would go.

Detailed Petrichor Thumbnail

And so it goes. Background first so I know where my lighting is for sure.

Basic Background

Background with Trees

Then I did the foreground so I knew what I wouldn’t really have to draw (i.e. knees on the figure).


Lastly I got to work on Azra, in making him kind of “pop” off of the background without being too detailed as to stand out as something that shouldn’t have been there.

Azra Inserted

Had to do some moving around, some fixing, more details… More foreground, more atmosphere.

Near Final Pass at Petrichor

Almost there. But something was weird about it and I wasn’t sure what it was. I went back and forth with a lot of different color options and ideas thinking that might have been the problem.

Ultimately, I figured out that there wasn’t quite as much atmosphere near the bottom that I wanted. There were also some very sharp edges pulling focus, so what I did was soften some areas and edges as well as erase a few, and I added more fog to make the figure as well as the background and foreground move in and out of one another. I also did some adjusting of some of the colors and found out that I had to recalibrate my displays as neither of them were accurate!

Petrichor, 2017
Petrichor, 2017

Aimee Cozza is a freelance illustrator out of Southern New Hampshire. She graduated from the New Hampshire Institute of Art in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in illustration. Since then, she has been working in a variety of ways completing various illustrations for clients, friends, and for herself.

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