Here are two more paintings for the War of the Elements set for World of Warcraft. A gun and a totem might not seem as exciting as a drake attacking a dragon but one of the challenges of illustration is to try making everything interesting. Consequently, I look for what I find visually exciting about a subject and emphasize that. In the case of the gun (the Kickback 5000), I chose to focus on the metallic and wood textures and push the highlights. In the second piece (the Tempest Totem), I focused on dramatic lighting and used elements like the swirl of bubbles and the surrounding sea life to create motion in the composition and to keep the eye returning to the totem.
Keeping the eye focused where you want it focus is always a challenge. For example, the Kickback 5000 painting is set in an environment dominated by warm colors and lit by lava and magma. Warm colors tend to come forward and cool colors recede so one of the biggest challenges in this piece was to make sure the warm background didn't overwhelm the gun. The solution was to keep the values in the background muted and have much stronger highlights in the foreground. As a friend of mine says, value trumps color!