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Hecate, Mother of Witches

Digital Illustration & Artificial Intelligence

Hecate, Mother of Witches

In memory of the thousands of women burned alive by the Church.

Hecate is a goddess in ancient Greek religion and mythology, most often shown holding a pair of torches, a key, snakes, or accompanied by dogs, and in later periods depicted as three-formed or triple-bodied. She is variously associated with crossroads, entrance-ways, night, light, magic, witchcraft, the Moon, knowledge of herbs and poisonous plants, graves, ghosts, necromancy, and sorcery.

This illustration has been a hell of a ride to make. It’s been composed with hundreds of files generated in Midjourney, photography and digital painting. The original files were terribly messy since they were rendered in the beginnings of the algorithm (the very first version), so I spent weeks overpainting them so I could work on this beast of almost 10GB in Photoshop.

It has been a very challenging image, but I’m proud at the discovery that artificial intelligence and “traditional” artistic means (as “traditional” as digital art can be considered, even still nowadays) can coexist together in harmony. This image by itself is obviously imposible to render by any artificial intelligence algorithm, and I wanted to create something very complex and intricate to see the possibilities of using AI generated files as a resource, just as I would do with photography.

The debate is firing the Internet right now and is, of course, getting as polarized as it possibly could. But my opinion on the matter seems to be in what I consider a healthy middle point. I’m for sure concerned about the usage that can be given to images created after a text prompt, but after all, it’s just that, a tool. There are people already claiming to be artists just because they engineered a text prompt, just to try to sell their “creations” as NFTs, which I think is terribly wrong from all perspectives. Then there are people trying to burn the algorithm alive and calling “heretics” to any user who approaches to the world of artificial intelligence generated images to see its possibilities. My goal is to use artificial intelligence as part of the process, not as an end in itself. I used to mix photos and 3D elements and fusing them using digital painting (what’s is know basically as “matte painting”, as I’ve been teaching for years in this workshop), so why can’t I add files that I myself generated in the mix? The amount of work is the same in the end, and I retain full creative control so I can create meaningful images, not just aesthetic ones just for the sake of it.

For that reason, I proposed myself to create something very complex but iconic in design, to show the possibilities of the tool and how if used right, it can be a great addition to an artist’s workflow. “Hecate” took a couple of months to finish and served as a challenge and a starting point for what’s to come, at least for the time being. I’m curious to see where this leads, as afraid as I am at the same time.

Below you are going to find the finished artwork, which is actually 120 x 190 cm (47 x 75 inches). Monumental for a digital file, and as such statement and mythological figure should be. It almost killed my computer. Click on the galleries below to see the digital art from a closer view and to see some steps in the whole process. There’s is also a brief “making of” video accompanied by an animated version of the finished art. I hope you enjoy them!


Hecate Digital Art by Mario Nevado

Hecate (2022)





I hope this Hecate I created can come and haunt the spirits (even if that’s a thing) of the bastards that burned women alive, from the most absurd of the reasons to cases on which they just were wise woman. The Dark Ages of the West burned everything in the name of God, and the black, dense smoke is still flying high over our heads. A new polarizing world is serving us new taylor-made heretics, and the perspective of it cannot be more frightening. Of course, the not so new heretics are formed mostly by women, powerful women that won’t shut up, that won’t step back and that will fight for what they deserve, even if that means burning in the sacrificial pyre of Twitter.

Update: Fine art prints and canvases are now available on my shop! Click in the image below to browse! 🙂

Mario is a freelance Illustrator and Art Director based in Madrid (Spain), and works creating covers for music bands and publishing houses all over the world. Also, he writes Photoshop Tutorials from time to time and teaches Composition and Color Theory. In his free time, he sings and makes noise on his musical project, Nevado.