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.