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June 22, 2010
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Deep Ones in the Sanitarium by nightserpent Deep Ones in the Sanitarium by nightserpent
Illustration for Call of Cthulhu RPG acrylic 8-1/2x11" 2010
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:iconscorpionlover42:
scorpionlover42 Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2014
I like this Deep One design. Clap Yes, as other commenters said, this specimen's big, but while this might be a bit of a handicap outside the water, he likely would be powerful when swimming underwater. I especially like how you designed the hands and feet--along with the hands and face of what I'm assuming is a hybrid at the door. You've made the Deep One aquatic while not making it just another version of the Creature of the Black Lagoon.
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:iconnightserpent:
nightserpent Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2014
Thanks for your input! :)  After illustrating the mythos for 20+ years I'd learned that unfortunately it is going to be impossible to please all of Lovecraft's fans.  In part I think this is due to his descriptions being so evocative that they let people's imaginations run wild, so there will be varying degrees of interpretations.  I also find his fans to be pretty bright people, and combined with their creativity they've come up with a lot of interesting and varying interpretations.    Early on I was criticized for depicting Cthulhu with eyes, because according to this person Cthulhu had no eyes because eyes were never mentioned.  I don't see this as an airtight argument, but it showed me that we're all going to formulate varying ideas and interpretations.  The best I can do is see my visions through, and hopefully others will enjoy them as well.

I based the hands and feet largely on those of snapping turtles (which I had as pets some years back) yet with an opposable thumb to hint at their human past.  Just like your comment, they are powerful swimmers but struggle a bit on land (and this is what gives them the 'grouchy' reputation, because they are in less control).  You're correct, that is a hybrid at the door, I thought it would suggest a bit more of a story- such as how the deep one gained access to the Sanitarium or found his target victim.

I tend to not like the spindly deep ones, they remind me a lot of the Sleestaks from the Land of the Lost TV series. 
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:iconscorpionlover42:
scorpionlover42 Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2014
You're welcome! I think you're right: Allowing the reader to exercise his/her imagination is one of Lovecraft's strengths as a storyteller. He offers suggestions about how a entity or place looked, but does not create a set in stone "correct" version. The fact we see so many versions of Cthulhu despite having a fairly complete description of one idol in "The Call of Cthulhu" is evidence of Lovecraft's technique. Each reader brings different life experiences along when a story is read, so we end up with many interpretations. I've seen a few eyeless Cthulhu idols, but they seem to lack personality to me; so many of our emotions are presented by the eyes.

I see how you based the Deep One's hands and feet on snapping turtles: I've seen those in the wild and at zoos. And adding the hybrid does suggest a story: it's certainly no chance encounter! That Deep One certainly looks like it could rip that guy apart, so what could it be doing with that fellow? Yes, probably an attack, but could it actually be helping him, too? There are so many ways you could read this picture.
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:iconnightserpent:
nightserpent Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2014
I can also appreciate that some of Lovecraft's fans prefer some lack of definition in the artistic depiction of his characters, creatures and entities rather than depicting them in full and even light.  I think they may feel it robs them of their own imagination if there is nothing left to imagine.  I find some vagueness to be a powerful aspect of some of Lovecraft's descriptions, as the unknown remains and the unknown is what we often fear.  The movie Jaws was so effective because you don't see a lot of the shark, and this was by accident because the shark 'puppet' wasn't working well.  Neil Gaiman once said (in a documentary where my art also appeared) that he disliked any artistic representation of the Mythos, because it would permanently affect his imagination of this.  I was a bit saddened to hear this as I am a great admirer of his stories.  For me, personally, I enjoy both the vague and the clearly depicted on their own merits, and no one's depiction has ever set my imagination in stone. 

The Cthulhu eye comment was just so strange to me, just because eyes weren't mentioned doesn't mean they didn't exist.  It's like saying I saw a pretty brunette the other day, and if I don't describe her nose it must imply that she didn't have one?  Lovecraft's own sketch of the idol has three eyes to a side, interestingly enough.

This painting is an illustration for the Call of Cthulhu role playing game, according to that book deep ones have some psychic ability, as do some insane people.  In this scene, the Deep one is actually reading the human's mind. 
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:iconscorpionlover42:
scorpionlover42 Featured By Owner Oct 24, 2014
I also like seeing renditions of the beings and places in Lovecraft's work, and I will admit they influence my own interpretations somewhat, but that's fine. In a way, I get a slightly different "picture" of a Lovecraft story or other literature every time I read it. Sometimes I incorporate things I've seen throughout my life into my interpretations. For instance, I've visited plenty of declining communities in the course of my work. The things I've seen, smelled, and heard combine with my few experiences of the seashore and become Lovecraft's town of Innsmouth. If you or another artist created an Innsmouth cityscape, I'd probably incorporate it into my vision of place, but it wouldn't replace my vision entirely.

I agree vagueness is a powerful tool. The late H.R. Giger's creature for "Alien" was at its most powerful when you couldn't see all of it, I believe.

And I've got to admit I find that Cthulhu eye comment odd, too. A writer shouldn't have to spell out every little detail.  I mean, I could describe a car, but if I don't mention the tires, it didn't have any? I've seen that Lovecraft Cthulhu sketch and models inspired by it, and it definitely has eyes. I'd have to day that Lovecraft credited his readers with having an imagination.

Your Deep One is a little heavier than I had imagined, but it's also much more formidable looking. Mind reading? That's a new facet to me.
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:iconkaijusaurus387:
kaijusaurus387 Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2014   General Artist
Interesting take on this here gentleman, I'm just not sure how to feel about it, I really like the head, but i feel like he's too big to be able to swim about. The illustration itself is amazing, don't get me wrong, I'm just not sure i like the design of the deep one.
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:iconnightserpent:
nightserpent Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2014
Thanks for your thoughts, James, I appreciate any thoughtful or constructive comments.  I've found Lovecraft fans to be the sort who really think his concepts through, so I do have to keep on my toes.  You're the first to express uncertainty about my deep ones, actually, but that's fine.  I've based this design on the sculpture I did, and I am wondering if the relative darkness around the neck region of the painting leaves some interpretation open in regard to it's anatomy.  The head is no thicker than the torso (it's smaller, actually), it's much like a fish in how it blends into the body, yet with a more mobile neck like a human.  With the powerful arms and wide webbed hands I think it could swim rather well.
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:iconkaijusaurus387:
kaijusaurus387 Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2014   General Artist
It's a beautiful piece, I just like the skinny deep ones, i always have, but this is a much more original design. I love to see a head like this one's on a skinnier deep one, but again, it's great, and I'm not trying to squash your imagination. 
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:iconnightserpent:
nightserpent Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2014
No worries at all, and thanks again for sharing your thoughts!  As an illustrator I had to learn to accept that there are going to be differing (often contradicting) opinions on how imagined characters, places, artifacts and entities should be depicted, and that it would be impossible to satisfy everyone at all times.  But, it is no less interesting to hear about why people came to their own conclusions, especially if they put thought into it.  Funnily enough, I was just looking at a friend's deep one image and I'd advised him to add bulk to them! :lol:  For me, I find the skinny or lanky ones to not be threatening enough.
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:icondark-precipice:
dark-precipice Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Stunning work!!
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