Monday, 10 June 2013


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Monday, 11 February 2013

Dungeon #208

Last night I pulled out work  created over the last few months, and embarked upon an epic varnishing session. The spare room now resembles a mini-art gallery as the paintings stand arrayed around its walls drying.

Gathering all that work together in one place can be a great focus on what I have achieved, and where I want to be heading next. It can also remind me of pieces I have so far failed to share, and these are two such pieces.

These paintings were created for Dungeon magazine, issue #208.

Acrylic on Illustration Board,
Approx 9.5" x 18"

Mine Dash
Acrylic on Illustration Board
Approx 8.5" x 18"
Original artwork for sale: $ 350

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Talisman: Building A City, Part III

Having created a line sketch, then painted it up to it's 'Final', I was keen to receive feedback on the completed cover painting.
I got a positive response and a request for minor tweaks - lose the mechanical Owl and add mass to the Elementals neck and shoulders. I could have made these changes in acrylics, but it would have been hard to maintain some of the qualities in the water, esepcially the colour showing through from the background. Instead I opted for a digital approach, this meant mainly resizing, rather than repainting. I also favour a lot of 'cloning' within Photoshop, rather than direct painting, as this helps retain as much of the originals marks and textures as possible, otherwise the paintover can stand out too readily against the traditional media.

This now met with approval, and an invoice was duly dispatched.
However little did I know that The City was yet to be completed. A few weeks later, as the game was being laid out for print, a fresh set of design decisions was made. It was decided that the setting should be night time, and that the Houri should be dropped from the Elementals grasp, and take up position on the left instead.
Again Photoshop proved it's worth. I used a mix of overlays and adjustments to trasnform the image. I reversed the palette so that blue became dominant and orange the accent.
I had tinted the Elemental to bring it in line with his surroundings, but it was felt he was getting lost, so I upped the warm colours more and integrated him back into the light. The City was now finally built and is available here.

Talisman: Building A City, Part II

In the previous part I outlined the process that led to a completed, and approved, line sketch. This was drawn in graphite straight onto the illustration board, and would now be painted onto.

Firstly I do a quick pass with a broad house painters brush that has been lightly dipped in water. This removes any excess graphite, and sufficiently fixes what is left in place. I then started painting from back to front, concentrating on the background first. I had already decided on a palette choice; oranges complimenting blue.

The figures were going to provide enough 'fussiness', and already had their costuming dictated to me, so I kept the buildings relatively simple, letting the sky add more drama and draw attention to the Elemental.
Keeping control of my value range I build up the darker shades in the foreground buildings, whilst adding detail. Note the escutcheons on the building which echo my original Elemental concept.
Again working back to front I start on the figures.
As I progress through the figures they receive a base wash of local colour. This acts as a simple underpaint, and helps me check the palette as I go.
The left foreground figure is a strong contrast to the rest of the picture due to his intense green and red clothing. This in part why he was chosen to be the focus for the action. The viewers first attentions should be drawn to the Elemental and then the main protagonist.
I start rendering the elemental by building up washes. I wanted some of that background sky to show through the water of his 'body'.

 This was my working space. I accumulated a range of different reference to help me get the right water effect I was looking for. Note as well that I have rotated the entire painting. I often do this when I have a strong tilt in the perspective. I find it helps compensate against a natural inclination to bring elements back to a vertical.

The final as scanned in and presented to the Art Director.

At this point I email off a low resolution file for approval, and wait for a reply. Usually that is the painting over, but not always...
... find out what was to come in Part III.

Talisman: Building a City, Part I

The Foundation.

The process of creating a painting involves several stages, each of which needs to be successfully completed before progressing. This is doubly true with a commission that will not just have aesthetic, but also product based considerations.

I was very happy to work on the cover for latest Talisman release - The City expansion. As with my previous cover paintings Felicia Cano had already created the card illustrations of the diverse adventuring types who populate the Talisman game world, I just needed to meld them together into a cohesive image unified by their opposition to a monstrous opponent. for 'The City' that would be a water elemental.

I was given a blank canvas for the elemental., and after a series of thumbnail designs I found myself favouring a form that embraced elements from an oriental dragon and a breaking wave.

However, as I suspected, that was a little too 'out there', and I revisted the elemental, playing up the Dragon aspect. I liked the interaction with the characters, and transformed the pseudopods into  clawed hands that grapsed the Houri.

Additionally I set the line sketch within a basic graphics template. I always find that this helps myself, and the Art Director, see how the composition will work on the printed cover.
Unfortunately this was still seen to not quite be there yet. At this point it seemed sensible to take a step back, and present a set of coneptual ideas to the AD before reworking the sketch again. I had already created a value study for msyelf, and used that as a base template against which I created the following digital studies.

In the end it was a more humanoid form, with a skeletal visage, that won the day
 and so a fresh sketch was created.
The first stage was now complete, now I just needed to paint it.
In Part II I'll be looking at that process.