January 28, 2012

Paizo Characters

A while back I was contacted by Paizo to do a series of characters for Pathfinder.

I had a load of fun with these characters.  I love getting into their detail, their armor, and their weapons.  For me characters are also a good way to try out new techniques and skills without getting bogged down with the complexities of a full illustration (although even in illustrations I am constantly trying to learn something new).

In this case, I wanted to try out using more opaque brushes in my work as well as really focus on a unifying color scheme.  In fact, I think you can even see that transition in brush use from the green samurai to the other characters.  The green samurai was done completely with a round brush with the opacity and flow set to pressure.  In the other characters, I started using a harder edged opaque brush in areas as well (these are not the only brushes I ever use however, there are others). This not only drops in some really vibrant color that gets lost when using lower opacity, but hardens up some edges, and in general makes you think more about how you are painting.  Actually, I should say that thinking about painting is not so much a consequence of brush choice, but rather trying new things helps you think about what you are painting in a more conscious manner.  

Here are the characters that I did. The character from the full illustration and the geisha in orange were not my own designs but based on those of an image provided to me by Paizo, but the other characters' costumes were developed by me.

progress and detail:

I usually start with line art and then paint an opaque layer under (or over it on a multiply layer) to rough in colors.  This speeds up the process quite a bit, as it gets the major color decisions out of the way.

January 19, 2012

Brave new world

Just before the new year I finally made the time to try painting traditionally for the first time. This is something I have been thinking about and worrying about for most of 2011. Having primarily only rendered in pencil and then working digitally I never really had the time or courage to try my hand at traditional paint media. Even though I thought I was going to die in the early stages of the first painting I was able to make it through none the worse for wear. This is how my first traditional painting turned out...

Myopic Thrasher
11 x 14 Acrylic on board
© 2011 Christopher Burdett

I had hoped that these years of working digitally would transfer over just a little when working traditionally. I was pleasantly surprised that in fact I think some had. Here are some images of how the painting progressed, I was so focused on the figure I forgot to address the background until very late in the painting...

Myopic Thrasher painting progression part 1.

Myopic Thrasher painting progression part 2.

I am of course hooked how. I quickly got to work on my second painting while prepping several more for when I finish the second one. I know it will be a while, if ever, before I attempt to work traditionally for a client. I know my digital work is more refined and I know I have a lot to learn in regards to painting traditionally, but I am personally very happy with how my first paintings are turning out. For now I am going to be making these for myself and for personal projects... speaking of personal projects, here is my second painting, a Bugbear...

9 x 12 Acrylic on board
© 2012 Christopher Burdett

Bugbear painting progression part 1.

Bugbear painting progression part 2.

People have said for a while now that my digital work felt traditional to them, so I figured it was well past time to see if my traditional work feels digital! As I said, I know I have a lot to learn about working traditional, but as I am only two paintings in, I am trying to stay objective and optimistic that maybe there is some hope for me after all.

January 14, 2012

New Pathfinder art and tricks of the trade

I can now show some art I made in the summer for the just released Pathfinder game module "Ruby Phoenix Tournament"  This book has the adventurers take part in a martial-arts style tournament in an Asian-type fantasy setting.

Making these half-pagers is usually a balance between providing exciting art for the client and planning where to put your efforts to maximize the results in a short time frame. Often an art order can be 5 images requested on a relatively short deadline, so you need to have certain tools and tricks to get the job done fast.  I happen to have a very literal, rendered style at the moment, so I'm constantly employing 3-d models and other bits of reference to get the perspectives and realism needed for a consistent level of detail.

Below we see a quick 3-d modeled "set" that gives me the correct perspective and lighting for this multi-tiered fighting platform.  This may take an hour or so to build in the computer, but its way faster and more accurate than trying to draft the structure out in pencil.

The structure is then worked into the drawing of the 2 characters fighting.

 Similarly below, I've got a character running at us drawn without reference just using comic book construction techniques.  Since he's mostly clothed, I just need some information to flesh the head structure out at this angle...

Which is obtained by holding up a foam planar head model and snapping a quick photo.  It just worked out the character was bald and fairly generic anyways, so my foam head does the trick nicely.

If you've got a more graphic, cartoony or otherwise efficient style, I salute you.  If you're like me and have to "get it right", then employ whatever tricks you need to get the job done as a professional in your allotted timeframe.

January 13, 2012

Concept & Costumes

Shortly before christmas I finally got the permission to publish work I've done more than a year ago for Frogster Online Gaming. I did countless sketches and drawings, here is a selection put together in my gallery over at Behance - just click here: