Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Dark Sun - Digital Tweak.

I hope you all had a good Holiday and have a great 2010. December was very hectic month for me, I had some very cool DnD cover projects that I was working on (though of course I wont be able to share any details for a little while), and as a consequence I let other things slide. Sadly this blog was one of them, so I thought I would start off the year with a new entry.

Last Year I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to work on  the cover for a forthcoming Dark Sun supplement; Marauders of the Dune Sea.
It was great to be able to revisit such an iconic setting, and one that has had some notable artists work on it. I also got to paint another Thri-Keen ( my last rendition of one received a Chesley award nomination - so it was nice to do another one).

This was my final submission.

The rider and steed have such complex silhouettes, that I felt they could hold a lot of the focus and interest in themselves. I emphasised their forms further by colour/value contrast and strong rim lighting.

The same time as I was painting this cover Wayne Reynolds was working on the Campaign Setting. Typically when both our pieces were set side-by-side we had done slightly different takes on the Sun and it was decided to go with a darker rendition of the Sun. This meant a revision was in order.

I always find the prospect of going back to a 'finished' traditional painting daunting. Sometimes it can be hard to achieve exactly the same palette, or match the marks and feels of an area. The latter can be especially true with  a background, where the forgreound figures might have been masked off and broad brushstrokes applied. There can also be the psychological block that even when changes are made they may still need further amendment, and I can also have the desire to leave a piece as I intended.

Whatever the reasons I now find it far easier, both for speed and flexibilty, to make tweaks at the 'Final' stage digitally. I can set up layers in PS and play with different amendments. These are also then easy to alter if I didn't quite hit the nail square on with the first pass.

Here is how this piece looked after it's digital tweaks.

The clone tool is one of my favourites tools, as with it I can keep a lot of the marks and texture that appear through using acrylics.


  1. Fabulous job Ralph. Tweaks and all - this one really rocks !

  2. I'm very pleased you think so Larry. It was fun to work on some very different characters :)

  3. Hi Ralph! Really loverly colour palette although it maybe seems a little cooler after tweaking the sun and loses some of the hot desert feel of the first one (good you still have the original intact teehee).
    I just noticed a tendency for the clouds in this (and some other paintings) to look a bit puff-ballish (is that even a word- I'll have to ask that Miles woman) Anyway, is this a 'device' or just something that slips in subconsciously?

  4. Thanks for the comment Tommi. Yes making the tweak did, of course, impact upon the appearance of the whole. I guess it's natural that I am going to prefer 'my' final version, but it tsil lworks for me.

    I agree that there might be a tendency towards stylising my clouds too much. This is something I have been addressing ;)


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