Behind The Artworks: Consecration - Cinis (2022)

The artwork for the cover of ‘Cinis’ is titled ‘The Rotting And The Earth.

Medium and processes:

As with our previous effort ‘Fragilium’, I decided to use charcoal as the primary medium. As I intended it to be a very detailed piece with a lot of different aspects to it, I went quite large for the drawing this time around - which measures in at a whopping 44 x 22 inches! At the forefront of my mind was looking forward to having it on vinyl with a large centre spread. I thought the large size drawing would be a great idea at the start, but later on down the road I wished I had done it a little smaller – as it took months to complete!

To start with, I did a very light pencil sketch to sort out the final composition and flesh out my original draft sketches in more detail. I then laid down charcoal powder to block in some areas of tone, working that in with a fine mop brush to subtly blend it all as I went along. This was further manipulated with putty eraser and blending sticks, until I was happy with these areas. I then employed both willow stick charcoal, various grades of charcoal pencil, and compressed charcoal blocks / conte crayons for building up the drawing from there.

As always, the charcoal pencils were used for fine detailing, especially with the main body on the right side, or for when I needed finer control on the marks I was making. The willow charcoal was used for all the subtle blending, laying down further tones, and also for the bulk of the texture work. For example; I defined the trees with willow charcoal first, blended that back, and added highlights in with the putty eraser, before accentuating some darks and the finer branches with the pencils. The background trees in the mist were done very lightly and subtly, then partly erased, to make them quite hazy looking.

The headstones were done in a much more abrupt way, with harsh strokes, which were tidied up later with finer work over the top. The mossy areas and earthy textures were stippled and blended and then shadows were applied to define them further. Conte crayon was used sparingly for some rich blacks in limited parts of the drawing; for a little bit more variation in tonal depth. I also used very, very minimally, white charcoal pencil and compressed sticks, just for the odd highlight here and there, and to accentuate areas, for example with the mist in the foreground, to make some of the swirls really stand out.

A putty eraser was used in the negative, working back from areas blocked in with willow charcoal and charcoal powder. I developed a good way of doing this with the previous album artwork on the trees/roots – so applied this here too – I love the little accidents that happen and all the unintended marks which can also be progressed further. I find this a very natural way of building up textures. I must admit it looks very messy at first, but as you go over and over the area, it gets a life of its own almost – I suppose a bit like sculpting in a way. The ghostly figure on the left was created, once the steps were done, by applying more charcoal powder and erasing parts to make the drapes on the gown, etc.

I was conscious to try and create as many textures as possible for the stone, wood, mist, sky, and for rotted and decayed stuff, and had to figure out the best way to achieve it with a lot of experimentation along the way. The background mist took a lot of work, as every now and then I would need to redo certain highlights, as charcoal has a tendency to contaminate light areas when you blow it or brush it, so that was a pain in the arse!

Once the drawing was complete, it was professionally photographed by Tina Korhonen (who also did the fantastic band photographs for the album), and then I digitally adjusted the contrast a tiny bit, only to account for the photography. No further digital alterations were made to the drawing.

Album overview:

Cinis is a stark and brutal album, blending together the core elements of our sound, together with some fresh new ideas which all developed and came together very naturally - I think it perfectly shows where we are now as a band. The title Cinis, taken from Latin; means spent love, ashes, embers, and ruin - which embodies all of the different tracks on this album. I wanted to capture all these aspects in the artwork, so took inspiration from my lyrics and song titles, along with how these songs made me feel and added elements to the overall composition. Important to me was maintaining a sense of completeness - about how the image was represented as a whole. I didn’t want it to be loads of random images cobbled together, it needed a story to present all of the ideas together, and I think I pulled it off. I think it is a great statement as to what you can expect from the music. We are all very pleased and immensely proud of this album – I put a lot of pressure on myself to create a piece of art that did the music justice.

Imagery & meanings:

As mentioned above, I wanted the art to reflect all the different translations of ‘Cinis’, with the embers, spent love, decay etc, and also to represent the tracks individually. I won’t go everything here as it would take forever - see if you can find them all, or find your own interpretations and let us know what they are!

Some of the main ideas from the songs in the artwork are:

‘The Dweller In The Tumulus’ is represented by the burial mounds in the top left, and in part with the ghostly figure (which has a few meanings, as you’ll read later on). Also, the twisted trees that are referenced in the song are quite evident on the left side.

‘Ground To Ashes’ I didn’t want to be too overt with this one, as a crematorium wouldn’t fit the overall image I had in mind, so I added the smoke billowing from the poor chap on the left as a subtle reference to the furnace and the chimney. The chap also has other nods to this song on his body (or lack of it).

With ‘These Fleeting Memories’, I wanted to be a bit metaphorical with this one; as it’s about the passing of a loved one – so with the mists, winding paths, and bleak horizon, well they all conjure up images of grief to me, recounting memories and things like that. So that was the intention here.

‘The Charnel House’ is with all the bone references, the open grave, the bone-like root structures and all the grisly stuff.

‘Embrace Of Perpetual Mourning’ and ‘A Sentient Haunting’ are both represented by the ghostly figure – these tracks reference someone being all but a ghost to the world, solitude, isolation, depression, and stuff like that - the looking back of that figure is a kind of sad passing gesture at the viewer, as they enter a dark place. The twisted tree, again, can be seen here in the suicide aspect, as, for example; being transformed into malformed trees was the punishment for suicides in Dante’s Inferno, these tree-like figures enduring harpies tearing them apart for eternity. Also, all the thorny twisted bits I throw into these tracks as well.

‘Unto The Earth Bethralled’ is all about the burial process, so the main figure emerging from a grave is an obvious reference here, as are all the headstones scattered about the place, the sodden earth, and again with the roots and textures like that to really be emphasize the earthiness of it all.

There are other references to my inspiration for the songs in there too, and a lot of the images used can have multiple ideas attributed to them, which is something that I always like to try to accomplish.

Additional comments on the artwork in the booklet:

The artwork I adapted for Vinyl, CD, and cassette formats. The front cover on all of these is the right half of the artwork – focusing on the rotting figure, with the band logo and title added. The back cover was the left half of the artwork, with the tracklist and label info overlaid on it. I also intended from the outset, for all formats, to have a fold-out or center spread of the whole artwork on its own, unedited, so you can see it in all of its g(l)ory.

The booklet internals I did much darker than the greys of the cover, to contrast the inside and outside. These were all digitally manipulated, which took a few details of the main drawing, cropped and blended them together with loads of texture overlays and tonal adjustments, as the basis for each page. I purposely chose parts of the image that referenced strongly the respective track in the CD booklet. The Vinyl and Cassette booklets were done slightly differently, with a range of details adjusted as outlined above, creating a different spread layout with the lyrics overlaid on top. Added to all format booklets were edited versions of Tina’s promo photos for the album, set behind the texture layers, so everything tied together nicely.

The CD & Vinyl body designs are just detailed views of the main figure, as that was always the main focus of the artwork.

I have also produced several merchandise designs too, from art postcards to T-shirts. The theme has been kept the same throughout, either using the internal styling (as per the stickers, compliment slip, etc) or the original greys (for the T-shirts, art cards, and the like).

Daniel Bollans

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