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.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Return to Forgotten Realms

The Forgotten Realms was the first D&D setting that I worked on for WotC, and I always enjoy revisiting that world, so it was with eagerness that I embarked upon my assignment for the latest D&D supplement: Ed Greenwood present Elminster's Forgotten Realms.

I had three very different pieces to create, which are shown here with their develomental stages; the line sketch, value study and final.

A Goddess of War bestriding a battlefield

The Red Knight Rides 

A magical musical duel between Elves

Settling A Private Matter 

and a pact between city dwellers and the Illithids living beneath them

Sometimes Enemies Are Wiser 

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Conventions: IlluXcon & Dragonmeet

The last couple of months have been very busy, I have been working on some great projects and attended a couple of shows. Unfortunately during this time I seem to have been remiss in updating my blog, poor show as that may be it does mean I have a backlog of some great art to show over tne next few posts

IlluXcon 2012
As to the shows, well the first , at the start of November in Altoona, PA, was  IlluXcon, a fantasy art for fantasy artists/collectors symposium and uniquely enjoyable because of that. The restricted numbers made for a very informal atmosphere and gave me a good chance over the long weekend to talk to the majority of attendees, something you would definitely want  to do considering the unique gathering of artists; where else would a row of artists consist of Todd Lockwood, Lary Elmore, Jeff Esley and Fred Fields all shoulder to shoulder, whilst elsewhere in the room Donato Giancola and Justin Sweet are working away on oil paintings.

Not only did I come away from IlluXcon inspired, and motivated, but I also gained some new friendships and awesome art for my walls.

Dragonmeet was held on the 1st December in London, and is one of the (sadly few) UK gaming shows. It was great to attend a 'local' event, and meet some UK artists who I'd only previosuly known through their work.

Dragonmeet 2012
Scott Neil added for scale.

I want to thank everyone that stopped by at either show. These events are made by the people who want to stop and talk about art, and their enthusiasm for it, oh, and purchasing the odd piece does help a litte bit too. I have had a great few show sthis year, and am alreday making plans to top it in 2013.