May 20, 2014

D&D Core Books

The new core books for D&D's 5th edition have just been announced and I had the opportunity to paint a couple of them.  Let's just say I couldn't say yes fast enough when I received the request. Talk about a once in a lifetime opportunity!!

The first one I was given was the Player's Handbook.  The original image was cropped down a bit for the final cover.  I don't always like when this happens but it is part of the process and typically why many ADs ask for lots of bleed on the image.  Ultimately I think it turned out really nice with the tight crop.

The Player's Handbook (Uncropped)
Final Print Version
The second one commissioned, only about a couple months ago, was the Dungeon Master's Guide.  This time around we anticipated a close crop and I painted the image for that specifically.

Dungeon Master's Guide
Final Print Version
I was truly honored to get to work on two of the core books for the next installment of D&D.  Big thanks to the ADs, Melissa and Shauna for these two paintings.

Jeff LaSala wrote a great article over at Tor discussing what D&D has instore with 5th edition.  We had a little chat about the covers I painted.  Check it out here

May 1, 2014

The Year of The Sundering

For a good amount of 2013 (and some of 2012) I created a series of character focused images for D&D's Sundering Campaign. A lot of this imagery has finally been hitting the shelves in the past few months for D&D's Sundering Adventures.  A while back I did a couple posts on the two major character posters for the Sundering announcements. Head on back and check them out. The Sundering announcementThe Sundering Campaign key art.

I wanted to show how the packaging came into play on these pieces because I don't often get to see the final result until well after these items are in stores.  The graphic design work and logo placement on all these really made them come to life. One thing to note is that a lot of the time, especially on covers like this, a good amount of the work will get covered up or cropped out. The client will ask for that extra bleed so that they have a good amount of space to work with for placement.

Each booklet for these adventures contained foldouts highlighting the characters.  This meant all the characters need to be fully painted and on their own layers in the final file.  Here is how some of that looked.

This was a really great set of pieces to work on with lots of fun and interesting characters to develop.  I really had a blast and its great to finally see them all in print. 

I should have a few more things relating to the Sundering around the corner so stay tuned.

April 23, 2014

Ravenous Leucrocota - Journey Into Nyx

YIKES! Where does the time go? Been too long since I shared anything here and I am woefully behind in posting my work. Need to remedy that.

Moving in that direction, here is my contribution to the newest expansion to Magic the Gathering, Journey into Nyx. I was asked to design and illustrate the most hungry of hungry monsters, the Ravenous Leucrocota. RAWR!

Here is how the final art, my toned drawing, and production card turned out...

"Ravenous Leucrocota" - Magic the Gathering - Journey Into Nyx
© 2014 Wizards of the Coast

"Ravenous Leucrocota" - Magic the Gathering - Journey Into Nyx
12 x 9
colored pencil on toned paper
© 2014 Wizards of the Coast

Ravenous Leucrocota in handy card form... RAWR!

April 12, 2014

Journey into Nyx

Journey into Nyx has finally arrived.  Here is the final piece of art (out of three) that I did for the Theros sets.

Journey into Nyx
Check out the set over at MtG's official page here.

January 30, 2014

New Born of the Gods Magic Cards

Here are a few of the new card illustrations that will be in the Born of the Gods MtG set.
Perplexing Chimera

Pain Seer

Eye Gouge

Grisly Transformation

Take a look at all the amazing cards in the set.  Born of the Gods

January 25, 2014

First 2 Magic cards in oil

Just Spoiled for the next Magic set are my first 2 oil-painted cards.

There is always a bit of trepidation and lack of knowledge of end-results when doing something the first time.  This being my first Magic card oil, I had to guess what size of painting would work to have enough space to render the faces properly and have the right scale for the image and its reduction to tiny card-size.  I went with a fairly large 18X24" format as I thought the subject lended itself to a large, aesthetic painting good for wall decoration and future appreciation outside of the game application.  Not too happy they cropped it in closer, but I guess that underscores why its nice to have originals.

A year ago when I did this I was struggling with getting a good surface, free of priming brushstroke-marks and smooth with some tooth.  I experimented by gessoing my panel and dabbing with a sponge to create a slight stipple and then sanding on top.  I achieved a fine texture that worked well, but have since found pre-primed boards that are the same thing but even better. (and no work!)

After printing out the drawing I rub charcoal to the back and trace over the lines.

The transfer to the board is a bit ugly as the lines migrate and lose their smoothness.  I prefer this extra step to my early process of mounting paper to the panel with clear gesso, as its more archival and won't warp the panel.

I mix a few tints of raw umber acrylic and go over the transferred lines to get a drawing on the board that will be strong and visible as I paint.

Acrylic washes tint the linework and put the whole painting in the right contexts so that I can paint one object at a time, visualizing the final effect from the start.

Painting from back to front, rendering each area at a time...

The final painting is completed and properly photographed...

The second one depicts a Satyr Troublemaker gleefully setting a Trojan horse ablaze...

As usual, I rub charcoal to the back of the drawing and trace down onto a panel.  This panel I gessoed myself again, keeping it smooth and slick as I intentionally wanted the paint so go on a bit uneven to get some "free" texture to the application for the rough wood areas.

Going over the lines so that I can see them through the underpainting... This time using a warmer burnt umber.

Establishing the contexts in acrylic washes allows me to paint quickly, completing one area at a time.

 Rendering background to foreground, right to left...

More rendering...

and more...

The final painting..

It seemed like the first painting I posted (Aerie Worshippers), the collectors were keen to see the object finished rather than cropped close. Here is a shot in the frame.  In fact my final photo didn't look nearly as good as it does in person.  I'm still trying to figure out the best-practices for photographing art, and images that have alot of darks and red tones are particularly problematic.  Its very difficult to do these in oils and learn at the same time, as I essentially have to accept a lower standard of quality for the print image due to all these factors.  Going back to digital art is very compellling...

16x20" oil on panel

January 13, 2014

Born of the Gods

After painting the Elspeth key art for MtG's Theros release I moved onto the next phase.  Here is the art I painted for Born of the Gods.
Born of the Gods


January 9, 2014

The Last Stand of Thorin Oakenshield

"The Last Stand of Thorin Oakenshield"
30x40 Oil on Masonite

If you were at IlluXCon in Sept of last year, then you've seen this already.  I had the original on display at the show.

One of my first illustrative drawings when I first started attending art school was the iconic scene of The Battle of Five Armies from the book The Hobbit.  It was a decent effort, but an ambitious image to tackle, especially for a new art student.   I had always wanted to illustrate the scene again at some point.  So, when Ares Games emailed asking me to illustrate their The Battle of Five Armies board game cover, I jumped to the opportunity.


There were a couple of artists Matt Stewart and Justin Gerard who've illustrated this scene before and they just nailed it!  As much as I wanted to do my interpretation, I just didn't know how I was going to go about not looking like a hack next to these amazing works.  The director and I agreed that picking another moment in the battle might be best.  There were a few key things that happen in the battle that would make for a cool image.

We finally decided on the scene where Thorin enters the battle and is surrounded.  Seeing this as a golden opportunity, I wanted to go as epic as I dared with the image.  I came up with a composition that I thought would make a great image.  It encompassed a pretty large scene with 20 or so characters in it.  The director only needed a certain amount of the image for the box art, but I had a second agenda.  I made sure to finish what they needed first so that I would be able to hit their deadline.  The final box art also has some digital manipulations.  They wanted key elements on the box art that didn't fit exact with what I had in mind for the original paintings.  For example you'll notice the eagles in the background are moved closer to the center.

After the assignment was over I would spend another few months, off and on, finishing the painting.  Since half of the painting was for my own pleasure I had to work on it in between jobs.


I wouldn't normally do something like this, but the subject was something I've always had a strong passion towards.  I would have been a fool not to take the opportunity to do it.  Plus, I wanted to get this out before Peter Jackson put the visual out there that will forever be in people's minds!