Sunday, December 23, 2012


I've been very busy personally and professionally for the past few months but unfortunately, as is often the case in this business, I can't show you anything I've been working on yet. Instead, here's a D&D illustration I did a few years ago. I was very pleased with the poses and line of action in this one.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

More Character Illustrations

Here's another pair of bards created for Paizo's NPC Codex. Like last week's characters, there's an elf and a dwarf but hopefully their appearance and personalities appear distinctly different from the pair I posted last week. I hope you enjoy them.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Character Illustrations

Here are a pair of bards, a dwarf and an elf created for Paizo Publishing's recently released NPC Codex (for those unfamiliar with roleplaying game lingo, an NPC is a "non-player character"). I painted two dwarves and two elves for this project. I'll post them in pairs, along with the drawings.

I actually prefer the preliminary line drawings for these characters to the painted finals. Looking back, it would have been nice to do these in pen and ink and watercolor as opposed to the all-digital I approach I took to the drawings and paintings. Nevertheless, I like the final artwork and I hope readers and players of Paizo's Pathfinder game will like it too. The NPC Codex book itself is simply loaded with artwork and is well worth checking out.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Mind Flayers

This Photoshop painting of a pair of Mind-Flayers leading a hypnotized drow (basically a dark-skinned elf for those who don't know) down a hallway was a real challenge so I thought I'd share the process. I won't go into too much detail describing it since I think the images speak for themselves. I began with a line drawing (not included here but typical of the preliminary line drawings I've posted with other paintings). I then painted the figures and the basics of the surroundings in gray, using basic Photoshop brushes. I began adding color, texture and detail, making changes as the picture progressed. The textures were created by pasting texture images over the painting, adjusting the transparency and distorting the texture image to match the perspective. Further texture was added using custom brushes. As you can see, my initial instinct to use an intense gold backlighting gave way to a much more muted choice. The wall relief was loaded into the painting from the preliminary drawing and If I remember correctly, I simply made a Levels adjustment to to darken the colors where the line drawing was loaded. I then painted back into the walls, to finish the piece off.

I've included a detail of the characters. I hope you enjoy the piece and I hope all of this is enlightening!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Orc Death Knight

This is a third card for the World of Warcraft TCG set, War of the Ancients. The title and image should be self-explanatory so I'll talk briefly about technique. As I've mentioned before, I sometimes find it useful to paint an image purely in value, in tones of gray, so that I can focus on light and shadow first without worrying about color. That's the approach I took with this one, going from sketch to black and white "underpainting" to full color. The entire piece was created in Adobe Photoshop and for those who need to know such things, the color was added gradually, on layers, using several different layer modes (primarily overlay, color, saturation and normal mode).

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Tauren Timewalker

Here's another card painting (created in Adobe Photoshop) from the recently release War of the Ancients set for World of Warcraft. It depicts a Tauren warrior, guarding a location called The Caverns of Time. Like the previous post, it's another relatively warm painting with a bright, hot color in the background. That pink hue worked well as edge lighting for the Tauren character.

This was one of those illustrations that just flowed out almost effortlessly. Sometimes a painting can be a real struggle from start to finish, involving a lot of tweaking and re-painting. This one went smoothly from start to finish... a rare treat!

Sunday, October 14, 2012


It's been a while since I've had new work I could post so I apologize for the long delay between updates. I've been "in the weeds", working on new projects, none of which can be shared publicly yet. Eventually, that should mean I have plenty to share with you. Meanwhile, I'll do my best to get back on a weekly update schedule.

The handsome fellow above is an ogre named Cho'gall. He was painted (digitally) for the World of Warcraft trading card game. I love painting big, ugly characters like this guy. The lighting was a challenge but I think it works and I gave myself an extra challenge (to go with Cho'gall's extra head) by using red as the sky color. Warm colors like red tend to come forward and cool colors tend to be recede so it's fun to try making a warm red serve as a background color once in a while.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


This illustration was created for Dungeon magazine #204 for an article about a creature called (you guessed it) a swordwing. The humanoid, insect-like swordwing collects trophies for it's nest but it tends to fixate on a particular type of trophy item, like skulls, books, swords, etc.

I wanted to nail down the lighting and structure in this picture before adding color so I did a full value study in gray and then gradually added color over that until the piece was completed. The color was added using various layer modes in Photoshop (color, overlay and soft light, to be specific). I actually think the piece is a bit moodier in black and white but I'm pleased with the color version as well.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Champion of Time Dragon

This is another painting for the World of Warcraft TCG set Battle of the Aspects. The "Champion of Time" dragon needed to be flying above and circling the tower in the lower left of the picture but he also needed to be the primary focus of the painting. I decided to use a heavily foreshortened pose to solve that problem and then set to work. You can see the initial sketch above. To give you some idea of the various stages a picture like this can go through, here's a step-by-step explanation of how the piece developed from there:

1.) I blocked in basic shapes and a few details. At this stage, I'm always trying to establish the color scheme and the base values rather than worrying too much about details (although the tower is already pretty far along).

2.) Having worked out the color scheme and the basics of the lighting, I plunged ahead with the details. Working on a  separate layer in Photoshop, I created the scale pattern on the dragon and added further details elsewhere. 

3.) The horns and wings were developed further, as were elements of the background.

4.) The neck looked too pinched and elements of the wings didn't match the Warcraft reference material so those areas were re-worked. I also moved the tail so it didn't overlap the top of the tower (something that should have been done from the start).

5.) I was going for a color scheme unified by the green-yellow light you see diffused throughout the image but the art director thought more contrast (in both value and color) would read better at print size. He was right so I adjusted the image in Photoshop using Levels. I simply set a white point in the bright area of sky at the very top of the picture. That shifted the colors significantly, a little too much for my tastes. I took that adjusted image and placed it on a layer over the original then changed the opacity of the new image to preserve a bit of that unifying green-yellow light I mentioned earlier. That yielded the final art.

6.) This is the what the image looked like after the aforementioned levels adjustment but before I placed it on a transparent layer over the original artwork.

If you read all of the above… thanks for your time and attention!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Goblin Priestess

This green-skinned cutie is from the latest World of Warcraft TCG release, Battle of the Aspects. She may also be my personal favorite of the WOW TCG illustrations I've created. I did a similar piece of a gnome priestess that you can find elsewhere on this blog under the name Holy Blaze. I was very happy that painting but I feel the gesture, facial expression, color scheme, etc. all came together better in this one.

I've included the preliminary drawing as well. Note the number of fingers on the goblin's hands. Warcraft goblins have a thumb and three fingers, not four so that had to be changed in the painting.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Ghost Kraken

The actual title of this piece is Grasp of Thalarkis and it was painted as the cover to Dungeon #203 (to illustrate an article with the same name as the picture). I'll let you figure out who Thalarkis but I don't think that will be difficult.

I've always wanted to do a cover to either Dungeon or Dragon magazine. The magazines are e-zines now but a cover is still a unique challenge, a chance to stretch out, work in a vertical format and (sometimes) do a more complex picture. However, when I received the art description for this one, I knew I was looking at a real challenge. I was to illustrate a wizard with a glowing wand and a frightened expression his face being dragged down toward a shipwreck by a Kraken. Okay, that sounded cool but difficult but throw in that the kraken is a ghost and it became truly difficult. I made it even more difficult by forgetting that little fact as I was composing the picture and visualizing the color scheme.

One of the difficulties in painting an underwater scene is that it can easily become too monochromatic. The Kraken in the Dungeons & Dragons world is a yellow-green color and after composing this piece, I forgot that the Kraken was supposed to be ghostly so as I was visualizing the color scheme, I was thinking I'd have that yellow to keep the image from becoming too monochromatic. I was also conveniently forgetting that the kraken would actually have to be at least partially transparent (since it was a ghost).

When working digitally, I usually jump right in and paint in color but the requirements of this piece led me to work it out in black and white first. I started by roughing in the values and beginning to refine shapes in gray, eventually working up a complete value study so that I could make sure the picture read well. From there, I gradually added color, slowly building it up on layers in Photoshop until the picture was completed. I rarely work this way on the computer (although I almost always do a value study first when working in acrylic) but it definitely has it's benefits and I've used the approach a few times since. It's nice to solve problems in gray before applying color although I find it less instinctive and more difficult to build color using this method. In the end, it's another useful 'tool" to have in the tool belt.

I was happy with the way the picture turned out and so were the kind folks at Wizards of the Coast so I hope you like it too. In addition to the final painting, I've attached my initial rough, the preliminary drawing, the first gray study and the final gray value painting.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


I have a couple of older works to share today, although I plan to post some new art this week.

The first piece is a watercolor created for the The Practical Guide to Fairies. The Grig watercolor I posted last month appeared in the same book. This picture depicts a small, underwater sandcastle, a place where small aquatic faerie folk dwell.

The second piece is a pencil drawing of a castle I did a few years ago for a Swedish company called Riotminds.

For those interested in such details: the watercolor was painted on Arches hot press watercolor paper and the pencil drawing was simply drawn with an ebony pencil on Strathmore drawing paper.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Goblin Brigand

This piece was painted several years ago for a Magic the Gathering project that never quite materialized. It's been waiting for a home ever since and was finally published as a goblin token this year. Consequently, I can actually show it! 

The scene was painted in acrylics on watercolor paper. I challenged myself to see if I could pull off a warm, golden yellow background and was happy with the results. Yellow can be a difficult color to work with because it's so warm and bright, it wants to come forward. That means it only works as a background color if you get the values (shades of light and dark) in a painting right. I'd like to think I did that in this illustration and I had a great time painting the various leather and stone textures too (not to mention the goblin himself).

Images on Magic the Gathering token cards are placed in a vertical oval (do a search for M13 Goblin Token and you'll see what I mean) so the only part of this painting you can really see in print is the goblin character itself. Fortunately, thanks to the miracle of modern blogging, you can see the entire piece here!

Spurious Sarcophagus

I'm back from an unforeseen break! My apologies for the disappearing act. Work and life demanded it. To make up for it, I'll be posting double the fun today. The first piece up is called Spurious Sarcophagus. It was painted for a World of Warcraft loot card. My understanding is that, in the game, the sarcophagus is full-size, large enough for someone to lie down in. However, for the card, I was asked to paint it more like a pendant. 

I love ancient egyptian art so painting an item that was clearly inspired by that tradition was right up my alley. I was very pleased with the way this turned out, especially the contrast between the sarcophagus and the background. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012


This lively little fellow is a fairy creature called a Grig. He was painted (in watercolor) for a book titled The Practical Guide to Fairies and as you can see, he has some insect-like characteristics. Grig is a real word, used to describe a lively person. However, it is also occasionally used to describe a cricket or grasshopper so it's not hard to see how those meanings translated into this character.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Back in business!

After almost a year away, my website, is up and running again. It's now formatted as a portfolio/gallery site and although it's not quite complete (I'll be adding biographical info and more galleries), it's loaded with artwork please have a look and browse the pretty (and a few not so pretty) pictures!

I've also added a portfolio at You can reach it directly using the link below or just head on over to the Play! site and look me up under "N".

As always, thank you for taking the time to look at my work.

Truga Jungle

The image above is a digital painting called Truga Jungle that I created for the Magic the Gathering variant game, Planechase. I painted this piece over a year ago but haven't been able to show it until now! If I recall correctly, the art description called for dense jungle in a valley flanked by steep obsidian cliffs. The jungle was to be composed of unusually large flowers and plants rather than trees. 

Planechase uses a long, horizontal format and the title and text of the card sit over portions of the painting. Consequently, it's necessary to compose the picture in a way that allows it be interesting on it's own but also leaves enough negative or "dead" space for the text. I've included and image of the final card above so you can see how the artwork was presented in print.

I've also included my preliminary sketch above. As you can see, the painting remains pretty true to the initial drawing, although I made a few changes on the left side of the composition.

Artwork © Wizards of the Coast.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Magical Ogre Idol

I'm working on several projects right now so today's entry will be brief. The color image above is a Magical Ogre Idol painted for a World of Warcraft card. As you can see, I took a few design cues from depictions of Buddha and Indian deities like Ganesh. I've attached a pair of preliminary sketches as well. I initially envisioned the idol on a stone pedestal or something, like an object indiana Jones might sneak in and steal.