Tuesday 11 December 2012

Return to Forgotten Realms

The Forgotten Realms was the first D&D setting that I worked on for WotC, and I always enjoy revisiting that world, so it was with eagerness that I embarked upon my assignment for the latest D&D supplement: Ed Greenwood present Elminster's Forgotten Realms.

I had three very different pieces to create, which are shown here with their develomental stages; the line sketch, value study and final.

A Goddess of War bestriding a battlefield

The Red Knight Rides 

A magical musical duel between Elves

Settling A Private Matter 

and a pact between city dwellers and the Illithids living beneath them

Sometimes Enemies Are Wiser 

Sunday 2 December 2012

Conventions: IlluXcon & Dragonmeet

The last couple of months have been very busy, I have been working on some great projects and attended a couple of shows. Unfortunately during this time I seem to have been remiss in updating my blog, poor show as that may be it does mean I have a backlog of some great art to show over tne next few posts

IlluXcon 2012
As to the shows, well the first , at the start of November in Altoona, PA, was  IlluXcon, a fantasy art for fantasy artists/collectors symposium and uniquely enjoyable because of that. The restricted numbers made for a very informal atmosphere and gave me a good chance over the long weekend to talk to the majority of attendees, something you would definitely want  to do considering the unique gathering of artists; where else would a row of artists consist of Todd Lockwood, Lary Elmore, Jeff Esley and Fred Fields all shoulder to shoulder, whilst elsewhere in the room Donato Giancola and Justin Sweet are working away on oil paintings.

Not only did I come away from IlluXcon inspired, and motivated, but I also gained some new friendships and awesome art for my walls.

Dragonmeet was held on the 1st December in London, and is one of the (sadly few) UK gaming shows. It was great to attend a 'local' event, and meet some UK artists who I'd only previosuly known through their work.

Dragonmeet 2012
Scott Neil added for scale.

I want to thank everyone that stopped by at either show. These events are made by the people who want to stop and talk about art, and their enthusiasm for it, oh, and purchasing the odd piece does help a litte bit too. I have had a great few show sthis year, and am alreday making plans to top it in 2013.

Tuesday 16 October 2012


On the 1st December at  Kensington town hall, London,  I will be attending the Dragonmeet convention as part of the art show.

I'm going to be enjoying some great company too: http://dragonmeet.phoenixgamesclub.org.uk/content/dragonmeet-2012-art-show

Wednesday 10 October 2012


I have found people to be naturally curious about the materials and methodology that I use to create my art, and that also extends to my working environment. My studio office is fairly compact, being a little over 10' square, but it has everything I need - my drawing board, PC, storage space (most of my compleetd art is stored elsewhere), and the essential hi-fi.

I have put together a photographic panorama so that you can get the full impression. Finding  in which to stand and make the rotation wasn't easy, and naturally soom distortion has crept in, but you should get  a good feel for the clutter refernce material and resources I have about me.

The Panorama
The Drawing Board




Friday 21 September 2012

The Big Break - Formula Waaargh!

The notion of 'The Big Break' can be very alluring. During a career it is tempting to think that one life-changing event will occur after which all will be right with the world. Of course key moments and opportunites do arise, but these are built upon all the hard work that has gone before, and afterwards more hard work still needs to be done to maintain momentum.

I write that with hindsight, and with the knowledge that I have been guilty of thinking one project alone would be the lottery winner. 'Formula Waaargh!' was one such project. It was '99 and I was already working for Games Workshop's Black Library, producing illustrated stories for 'Inferno!' magazine, when Jake Thornton set up an offshoot division to produce board games. One of their first products was to be an orc racing game. I was commissioned to produce all the artwork, central to which was the board.

The board was a mammoth undertaking; I created it at 200% print size, and it measures 31" x 56". The track was relatively straightforward, the epic part was the spectators. Trackside I painted hordes of orcs, goblins and squigs brandishing their team colours and up to all manner of mischief.

I can't even recollect how many weeks it took to paint, but weeks it did, and that wasn't even accounting for the cards designs I also created. It felt like the accumulation of my entire career up to that moment.

It never got published.

Higher ups decided on a change of direction for the company, and the project was shelved.

This work never got seen by anyone outside of the company, until now.

Formula Waaargh!
Acrylic on board. Approx 56" x 31"
Copyright Games Workshop
Original artwork for sale: $5000
Here are some close-ups of the action.

Da Booze

Nobz Hut and Da Cup



Rat On A Stick

Run Away

Dr Hook

The Odds Just Lengthened


Da Pitz
I was so pleased to finish I signed my name in full!

If you want to impart some sort of moral onto this tale feel free; I did a job I was proud of, got paid and learnt a lot, from which I continued to build my career. I guess I can now tick the last box, which that people get to see it.

Oh, and even after all my work I managed to miss out painting one part. It was the first thing the AD commented on when I took the final into his office - can you spot it?

Tuesday 18 September 2012

Malfurion Stormrage


Malfurion Stormrage
Acrylic on board, approx 14" x 20"
original artwork SOLD
A Warcraft hero emerges into the light - Malfurion Stormrage. I always enjoy working on the Champion cards for the WoW tcg, as they require the image to work both as a cropped version with rules text covering the bottom third, and to be the full image when flipped over during play. I started off by creating a line sketch.
Line Sketch#1
The depiction wanted was of a young Malfuriion, and my first sketch placed him in his natural setting, gazing out of the panel (and to his future?)
However it was decided that as he is a Champion he should be more directly engaging the viewer, and so I created an alternative take.
Line Sketch#2
I kept the strong perspective to add drama, and give him an imposing posture, but now he engages the viewer directly and is more stoic.
With this sketch approved I created a quick digital value study to aid my painting.
Value Sketch
Then I began painting him with acrylics.
A general underpaint to block in the colours.

Painting from back to front

Losing the edges at the bottom,
to help keep the focus at the top.

Though not quite.. I was asked for one last tweak, which I did digitally, and here is the final (as shown at the top of the blog).

Wednesday 5 September 2012

GenCon & Triple Ennies

The whirlwind that was GenCon seems long past, even though it was only a little over a fortnight ago, so I thought if I'm going to post about the show I'd best do so now before the dust truly settles.

My Stand
I spend most of my time working alone in the studio and being able to connect with the industry I love is always very rewarding. This seems to break down roughly three ways - the public, fellow artists, and industry professionals.
Meeting the end consumers of the products is very gratifying, whether it is the person who suddenly stops in their tracks as they recognise a painting from the game they play, being asked to sign products or selling original artwork. Doing so feels like it completes some sort of cycle of work, that more often feels that it stops when the work is approved by an Art Director. Getting direct feedback from gamers and fantasy artwork fans is both insightful and satisfying.
I was kept very busy sketching.
A pack of Sharpies is essential Con kit!
In this respect I was especially pleased that a public vote placed three of my cover paintings on short lists for Ennies: Neverwinter campaign setting (Best Art Cover), Madness at Gardmore Abbey (Best Adventure) and Lords of Waterdeep (Best RPG Related Product ), with the latter two receiving Silver awards.
The art community is close-knit and very welcoming. I had a great time reconnecting, or meeting afresh, other artists. Not only is this a relaxed way to exchange information about working practises and clients, but is also a great opportunity to see a body of work gathered together in one place - and be suitably awestruck/inspired/covetous.
Wandering the halls I got to spot my art used in interesting promotional ways -
just a shame that bottom cube wouldn't fit in my case.
Meeting up with all the Industry Professionals, be they Art Directors, Play Organisers or Retailers, is also a huge part of being at a show like this. Time spent with them touches upon all the aspects of the show I have already indicated, and a quick chat is worth a dozens of emails.
Yes, the Con is work, be that selling or promoting my art, but it also reminds me what a great, friendly, business gaming is. Over the years, despite the compressed period of time at GenCon, I feel that I have made some good friends. It was fantastic to be able to see you all again, and make some new ones.
Gaming is fun for all ages.
Hopefully see you all again next year.
Lastly a special mention to Achsa Nute for her stand-watching, it was much appreciated - thanks.

Thursday 9 August 2012

Beyond Menzoberranzan

Beyond Menzoberranzan

Original Artwork for sale: $2500
Acrylic on Illustration board,
Approx 23" x 21"

Copyright WotC

Wizards have been leaking art previews from their forthcoming Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue supplement, and they have just got to the chapter start I worked on.

This piece was great fun to paint as it has lots of elements I really enjoy, namely multiple figures, epic scale, and a sinister atmosphere.

Here are a couple of close-ups showing the details.

Thursday 2 August 2012

Wildborn Greetings Cards

Further GenCon preparations include having some greetings cards printed up of my Wildborn series of images, these arrived in the post today. I am excited about them, think they look great, and hope they will offer vistors to my booth the chance to pick up a piece of my work very inexpensively.

Meanwhile for those of you too impatient to wait, or else uanble to make the show, you can purchase them via my web shop

These were my original Wildborn posts, which include larger images of the individual designs:
Arise, Statuesque, Glimpse, Glimmer & Sentinel.

Tuesday 31 July 2012

Roll 'Em

My preparations towards flying across the Atlantic to GenCon in a couple of weeks are slowly beginning to happen, and a part of that has been to complete my contributiom towards the charity art auction.

Every year Matthew Teets rallies the artists by providing them with dice bags upon which they can make a sketch, these are then auctioned off. Usually I find myself trying to make something half decent whilst manning my stall, but this year I invoked some planning, and had Matthew mail me a bag so that I could create it in advance.

Here is the finished piece:

A Photo

A Scan

The scan is truer to the colours and finish, but the photo adds a bit of scale. The sketch was made with a biro and acrylics. The cloth material provided an interesting surface to work on, very absorbent and roughly textured.

I hope he attracts a few bids and manages to raise some money for a good cause.

Tuesday 12 June 2012

Into the Unknown & Spectrum

The self selection process wherein I decide which paintings to submit to Spectrum is always incredibly hard, and this year I clearly didn't get it quite right, as the piece that was selected was actually submitted by one of my clients; Wizards of the Coast. So, thanks Wizards, and here it is - an Ilithid Dungeon Master weaving his wicked magic.

The Dungeon Master

Acrylic on board, approx 19.5" x 25"
Original artwork for sale; $2000

Copyright Wizards of the Coast.

The original line sketch.

This piece was commisisoned as part of a set for 'Into The Unknown: The Dungeon Survival Handbook'. Here are it's companion pieces.

Blood Painting

Acrylic on board, approx 14" x 9"
Original artwork for sale; $150
Copyright Wizards of the Coast.

Umber Hulk Companion

Acrylic on board, approx 19.5" x 25"
Original artwork for sale; $2000
Copyright Wizards of the Coast.

This batch of paintings all seemed to be about lighting, though three different glowing colours in The Dungeon Master might be considered excessive.