Jason Raish Artworks Sky History's 'U-Boat Wargamers'
06 February 2023
Attention all history lovers, this one is for you! One of the top dogs of digital illustration, Jason Raish, artworks Sky History’s latest show ‘U-Boat Wargamers’. The show follows the story of the Women’s Royal Navy Service in combat with the head of the Nazis’ U-boat fleet. A hard-hitting premise to say the least, but nonetheless, artistically executed with an air of beauty, respect and foreshadowing of what’s to come. Would you believe us if we said he had little to no character reference? Keep reading to find out!
Jason, there really is no limit to your talents! You created the U-Boat Wargamers artwork with limited reference for the character likenesses. What's your secret to being able to join the dots?
I suppose all the years of drawing faces help when there is limited photo reference, which helps fill in the visual gaps and blurry low-res photos. I searched for photos of the actresses on their social media or from other shows they’ve been on to get a sense of their appearance and essence.
The juxtaposition between the three characters and the fire is especially visually hard-hitting, alluding to the premise of the show. Much of your work is joyously colourful but has a dark edge to it. Did you purposely set out to create work with undertones here, or does this develop naturally?
I think it’s something that naturally develops from the storyline. The light from the fire was used to unify all the elements together, giving the allusion that everything appears to exist in the same universe, despite the traditional key art format of the actresses appearing impossibly large past the horizon in comparison to the size of the ships. The firelight effect that touches every element of the illustration including the women helps bring everything into the same grim nighttime ocean scene.
Visually there is a dark undertone in that these women are responsible for saving many lives, but also in the taking of many German lives, with the war games they are running back at headquarters resulting in the sinking of many German U-boats. So two of them are looking pretty intense because there is real drama and lives at stake. It was a deliberate choice to give the main actress intensified facial expressions and the middle actress an older, leader-like and stoic expression, lit eerily from underneath by an explosion, she appears to be almost unflinching.
Your work often gets mistaken for being created with traditional means, when did you make the break and create purely digitally? Have you never looked back, or do you still like to flirt with pencil and brushwork?
I used to draw and render with pencil on paper and acrylic paint background textures until about 2016 when I felt the digital brushes of Kyle Webster were good enough to pass for traditional media. Now I only paint for personal work or gallery shows as the digital brushes allow for easy client revisions because the deadlines are usually tight. I wouldn’t be able to mimic traditional mediums as well if I hadn’t had so much experience with them over the years, which is something I always tell my students who may be prone to taking shortcuts without knowing the source material well first.
Feeling inspired? Head over to Jason's portfolio now...