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...
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...
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!