Tremsin and the Firebird Illustration

Mixed media with watercolor and digital painting of Ukrainian, Cossack fairytale


This is the second image of Tremsin and the Firebird. The other showed when he found the feather, this one shows when he sees the bird itself for the first time. The story has some really classic parts that make you say “What….?” I recommend taking a look at this version of the text online.

The process for this image was the same as the first. Thumbnails, then bigger sketches, then shooting reference and composing it to match the drawings. After that it was drawing, inking and painting. the Final touches are reductions from several handmade textures overlaid digitally.

Prints of this and others are for sale on my Etsy shop!

thumbnail sketches with prismacolor pencils on toned paperSketch on toned paper with prismacolor pencilsWork in progress on watercolor and ink painting

Tremsin and the Firebird

I recently finished an illustration from the story of Tremsin and the Firebird. The story is a Ukrainian folk-tale and features some pretty wild adventures. I’ve left the scenes of naked Tremsin being pecked at by the Firebird and the evil nobleman being boiled to be illustrated some other time. This one features the moment Tremsin’s misfortunes begin—when he decides, against the advice of his loyal steed, to retrieve the magic feather they’ve discovered in the forest.

Illustration from Ukrainian folktale of tremsin and the firebird.

As usual, I started with a thumbnail and then moved on to a larger sketch and then the full-scale drawing. I took my own reference using myself as the model since I couldn’t find anyone else late at night and I already knew the shirt would fit.


I inked the drawing and then painted several layers of water color. I finished the image by digitally overlaying and subtracting several handmade textures.



The Firebird


This is my take on the Firebird. Of course, when most people say “the Firebird”, they mean Stravinsky’s ballet. If they don’t mean Stravinksy’s ballet, they probably mean “I have heard of the Firebird but I don’t really know what it is or how its story goes.”

The funny thing is, there really isn’t just one story of the firebird and the ballet for which Stravinsky wrote music, draws elements from various tales, but faithfully follows none. In short, the firebird is more of a recurring character in various Russian folk-tales. In fact the firebird usually seems to take an “and the” sort of role.  My illustration could be entitled: “Princess Vasilisa and the Firebird”.

On this image I went straight from my sketch/drawing to digital, but I tried to color it in a way that would feel like it is still made of something, like you wouldn’t be surprised if it was on a sheet of traditional vellum.

I was hoping to channel a little bit of Arthur Rackham, I don’t know successful I was at that, but I hope you like it.