Wednesday 27 October 2010

Fightback! -Dragon #392 Cover.


Acrylic, Approx 26" x 23"
©Wizards of the Coast
Original artwork for sale. £1500.

I had the great pleasure of working on the lastest Dragon magazine cover. A piece which had lots of fun elements to work with, but which also presented a challenge with the composition.

One of the key aspects I enjoy about illustration is the storytelling, and this brief had a compelling narrative. An Elf, battered and beaten, is cornered by a fearsome War Troll, when a Dwarf Cleric intervenes by throwing up a defensive ring of  obsidian spikes, then fighting back with her earth's grasp power. Oh, and of course this needed to work in two formats, the full one above, and a second cropped version for use internally, as below.
The cropped value study.

I decided to emphasise the cornered predicament of our heroes by using the Troll as the framing device, and also to elevate our point of view. Looking down upon someone helps make them appear more vulnerable. Whilst placing the Troll in the foreground like this gives him that imposing mass and big silhouette.

The Trolls body and sword provide a neat triangular window through which to see our protagonists. I combined this with stronger 'spot' lighting upon them to really make the beleagured heroes our focus. The white Elf shield also aids in letting the Dwarf head stand out clearly. Important as she is the source of the action with her spell going off.

The earth's grasp presented the biggest challenge. An illustration is a 'frozen moment', yet the spell required some clarification, and a sense of movement. The Dwarf seizes a handful of dirt, throws it into the air, where it transforms into a grasping stone hand that grabs, and starts to crush, the Troll's face. The trailing dust cloud allowed me to cover both those bases. Plus the swirling 's-shape' is given energy by breaking the frame set up by the Troll, and is further emphasised by the contrasting, saturated, red of it's magical effect.

Initially this might give the impression of a final stand, but really it is just the start of the Fightback!

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Portfolio Theft

I have been very saddened to learn that Scott Altmann had a portfolio of his work stolen from his booth at last weekend's New York Comic Con.I don't need to say what I think about this. Instead check out his blog
where he is beginning to post images from the stolen collection, if you see any of these pieces anywhere you know what to do.

Friday 1 October 2010

Rules Compendium - Focal Points.

Taunting Memory

Acrylic, Approx 16" x 22"
©Wizards of the Coast.
Original artwork for sale.

The Dungeons & Dragons supplement Rules Compendium has just been released, and I am very happy to have a couple of pieces in the book. Whilst showcasing them I am also going to discuss how I try to bring focus into my work.

Taunting Memory was great fun as for once it depicts a group of characters socialising after the fight. Usually I find myself showing a combat in progress, but this time we get to see how the Dark Elf behaved when faced with a Beholder - although I also like the fact you could interpret this as a prophecy of events yet to happen - either way he doesn't look too happy about the telling.

The viewers first attention is drawn to the Dark Elf by the strong contrast of his skin and hair. Something further reinforced by his clear profile and the framing element of the light coloured picture on the wall behind him. The row of heads helps keep our attention in the upper part of the picture, whilst various lines, the Elven staff, Dark Elf's sword and scroll case, Dwarf's arm and roof beams, help draw the eye towards the conjured memory. This in turn is more saturated than the surrounding elements, again, hopefully, getting our attention.

Healing Hand

Acrylic, Approx 16" x 12.5"
©Wizards of the Coast.
Original artwork for sale.

Healing Hand has another appearance from Falon  (I'm getting quite familiar with this guy now), this time helping out Shara, who nearly bit off more than she could handle by taking on that Troll.

Shara's red clothing helps provide the colour contrast to make her and Falon the focal point, with the nice glowing hand provide the pinpoint. The softened, light. background, also helps pull our eye that way, whilst strengthening Shara's silhouette. It also allowed me to lose the edges around Falon, adding to the mystical feel.