May 3, 2012

Second set of painted illustrations.

In my last blog post I described the big step I recently took to doing my work in oil paints.  That experience was breaking the ice and jumping in head-first to doing a new mode of work. While I already knew how to technically paint, I was learning the practical aspects of using those skills for jobs on deadline.

My next set of illustrations was 5 more paintings for the new Pathfinder RPG book, "Giants Revisited". Completed in ten days (after finishing the drawings),  I did these ones in the middle of January during a week of -30 cold while I was sick.  Wearing a hat and snow pants in my studio with the portable heater it was still only 12c inside, but other than that everything went smoothly.

Below are my final drawings mounted down on masonite ready to paint.  For speed I just do the drawings on the computer, as I've found the process of oil painting takes about twice as long as digital painting...

Here is the acrylic underpainting and my board surrounded by various references...

Below is the final painting for this one.  I learned that I need to be better at quickly coming up with costuming ideas (the blue giant's costume is quite plain), but damn there are alot of things to do when doing numerous oils on deadline... there's really no time to pause and explore ideas.

Below are the 2 spot illustrations I did for this set.  I learned its not really worth it to do these in oils and I should allocate this time to improving the larger scenes.  I had cleaned these and the dwarf one (below) up on the computer and handed in layered files with transparent backgrounds.

The main thing I did differently in my second set of oils was to use figure reference.  This set of paintings went really easy, and the reference was likely part of the reason.  That being said, its obvious why few others are doing RPG work in oils, especially 5 at a time on deadline.  Its really hard to compete with digital illustration when the process takes twice as long and the digital artist is putting the time into finishing and detail while the painter is sanding masonite and cleaning his palette.

 At this point after my second set of oil illos, I've learned that the time it takes me to finish a painting is pretty consistent: from 2-5 days depending on complexity.  I've tried and learned lots of other lessons since doing these, but that'll have to wait till the next installment when I compare digital painting and mini golf: :)


  1. AWESOME post, Mike! I hope you will have these with you are Illuxcon (if you are attending) I would love to see them in person! Keep up the great work and I hope to see more!

  2. Thanks Chris! Will do for Illuxcon as well. Shadowcore in da house y'all

  3. Nice! You're rockin' the oil paint! There's just as much light and color as your digital work, and you're finding the time to do it for gaming clients. Impressive!

    (Hey, I like playing mini golf :)

  4. Just got the pdf of Giants Revisited and have to say I hope Paizo uses you a lot in the future - that's some lovely paintings you've done here.

    And I rather like the simple costume on the giant. Makes for cleaner lines (which I approve of ;) ).

  5. hey thanks! Not to spoil it, but I do have alot of Pathfinder stuff in the works... really... lots and lots and lots... :)