Sunday, December 3, 2017

Hearthstone: Crystal Lion

Painting this crystal lion for the new Hearthstone set, Kobolds and Catacombs proved very challenging. Thankfully, art director Jeremy Cranford offered some valuable suggestions (particularly about the glow around the lion) that helped me bring the piece home. I'm always grateful for his input.

I've included my preliminary sketch below and because I think this particular image works best when cropped into the oval shape it appears in on the Hearthstone card, I've also included a cropped version.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Hearthstone: Drywhisker Armorer

This fellow was painted for the new Hearthstone set, Kobolds & Catacombs. I had tremendous fun with this picture and it was a bit of a slow build as I worked toward getting the colors and lighting just how I wanted them. It's a bit different than some of my other work for the game, with a little more emphasis on the surrounding environment than usual. However, the focus remains on the character, as it should. I've included my preliminary sketch below and I may share some process images in the coming days. Thanks for looking!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Gnawer of Rocks: The Mangittatuarjuk

Here's a "splash page" from the comics/picture book I illustrated, The Gnawer of Rocks. On this page, the ogress (called "Mangittatuarjuk" in the Inuit language) reveals herself for the first time.

The scene takes place in a dimly lit cave so this picture may look a bit dark against the white background of this blog page. Please click on it to see it larger and against a darker background.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Hearthstone: Jasper Spellstone

Here's a series of paintings I did for the upcoming Hearthstone expansion, Kobolds & Catacombs. The idea is the amulet holding the spellstone opens and becomes more magically powerful in each stage.

For those who like to see some of the process, I'm also including an alternate version (in gray) of the sequence. As you can see, in the end we went in another direction but I like this concept, in which the stone is revealed by having the casing that surrounds it fold down and outward.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Gnawer of Rocks

Here's another spread from the upcoming book, Gnawer of Rocks, written by Louise Flaherty and published by Inhabit Media. As I've mentioned previously, the book is a hybrid of comics and picture books. The story is told sequentially, in panels, like a comic book but the format is that of a picture book. I hope it's an interesting combination for readers. The story, which is based on an eerie Inuit folk tale, is definitely interesting and I enjoyed illustrating it.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Gnawer of Rocks Spread

Here's another spread from Gnawer of Rocks. The book releases next week and at that point, I'll be able to share quite a bit more artwork from it. I've included my preliminary drawing for the spread in this post as well.

I hope you'll check out the book and please "stay tuned" here because I'll share more from it soon.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Gnawer of Rocks: The Cave

This is an early spread from the book Gnawer of Rocks, which will be released next week. The book is a hybrid: part comics, part picture book. It's based on an Inuit myth about an ogress that haunts the north and eats unsuspecting children. In this scene, two girls have come across the cave of the ogress, known as the Mangittatuarjuk.

I'll be posting more panels, spreads and sketches from the book over the next few weeks so please "stay tuned".

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Robots, Rockets and Space Vixens Show

I will have robot prints and drawings hanging in the Robots, Rockets and Space Vixens show at ArtSpace in Elgin, Illinois. The show opens tomorrow night (Sept. 15th, 2017) and runs until the end of the month. If you're in the Elgin or Chicagoland area, please check it out!

The address is 51 S. Spring St., Elgin, IL 60120.

To see my robot designs, visit The Robot Spot!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Hearthstone: Unchained Magic

Here's one more painting from my work on Hearthstone: Knights of the Frozen Throne. This one was tricky and it went through a bit more development than usual so perhaps I'll post some process images later. Meanwhile, this is the end result: an undead dragon (known as a frost wyrm in the game)!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Hearthstone: Needy Hunter

I confess: I love painting gnomes and little people. It's among my favorite things to do so creating this illustration for Hearthstone: Knights of the Frozen Throne was a real treat.  The title changed from the original art description to the final work, as it often does on collectible card assignments. The original title for this one was "Underpowered Rogue" and, as you can see, this angry little fellow isn't armed with much. He might make up for that with enthusiasm...

I've included my preliminary sketch below.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Hearthstone: Vryghoul

This is my painting for Vryghoul, a card in the new Hearthstone expansion, Knights of the Frozen Throne. I've included my preliminary sketch with the painting. I had a blast painting this zombie-like character and I'm grateful for art director Jeremy Cranford's very helpful suggestions.

Meaningless aside that might interest someone: I often listen to audiobooks as I work and I was listening to Stephen King's Different Seasons while painting this picture. The book and subject matter went together well.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Hearthstone: Corpse Raiser

Here's another new Hearthstone illustration, painted for the Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion.

I've included step-by-step process images below, beginning with my preliminary drawing.

Steps 1 and 2:
Sometimes the process for creating an image is pretty straightforward but there are times when a painting goes through a considerable transformation from start to finish. That was the case with this one. As usual, I began with a drawing, pictured below. I knew I would be dealing with complex lighting on this piece so my next step was to focus on value and I began building the picture in gray tones. Since I was painting a necromancer casting a corpse-raising spell, I wanted the piece to be dark and moody.

Step 3: After establishing some of the value structure, I began applying color on layers (I should mention that all of this work was painted digitally, in Photoshop).

Step 4: The drawing was superimposed over the painting and I started working out some more details, separating forms, etc.

Step 5: More details were added. Forms were refined and I continued pushing value and contrast.

Step 6: The figure was more or less completed and the values established. However, my initial plan of creating a dark, moody piece with a focus on the necromantic spell had gone a bit awry. The picture was too dark for it's intended purpose (card images are small and usually need more contrast) and I was gently reminded by art director Jeremy Cranford that this image wasn't for a spell card so there should be more focus on the character than the spell. That sound advice led to...

Step 7: In which, working on layers (including some Screen and Lighten layers), I seriously re-worked the values and adjusted the lighting to make it a brighter scene. The hands bursting up in the background had become a compositional distraction so landscape elements were painted over them. I was asked to add some spell energy coming from the necromancer's hands so that changed the lighting too. I tried to subtly work more color into the piece and push the focus upward, to the character's face and hands. This stage led to the final art, which you can see at the top of this post.

It was quite a journey, more involved than usual, but I was happy with the final results and, as always, when painting, I learned a few things along the way.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Hearthstone: Cobalt Scalebane

This is my illustration for the card Cobalt Scalebane, part of the new Hearthstone expansion, Knights of the Frozen Throne. I've included the drawing as well.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Gnawer of Rocks

I've been waiting to show this for a while. It's the cover to a book I spent most of last year illustrating, titled Gnawer of Rocks. The book will be released in October and is published by Inhabit Media (you can pre-order it on Amazon now, just follow the link above). I see it as sort of a hybrid between a picture book and a graphic novel. The story is told sequentially, in panels and splash pages, but is painted and presented in a format similar to the picture book I illustrated for Inhabit Media a couple of years ago, On the Shoulder of a Giant. Like that book, this one is based on an Inuit myth, although this story is considerably darker. It concerns some children who wander into the lair of an ogress.

This was a challenging project for me but a rewarding experience and I'm hopeful that it will go over well. The story Louise Flaherty, who co-founded Inhabit Media, wrote the book. I found the story fascinating!

I'll be posting more from this project soon but for now, I hope you enjoy the cover art.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Hide and Seek process

Here's a glimpse into my process on the painting I posted yesterday:

I began with a line drawing, which can be seen in my previous post. Working in Photoshop, with the line drawing visible in an alpha channel (set to 50% black), I began establishing values in gray, using a soft round brush. Sometimes working out the basic lighting without color is easier because I can just focus on considerations like form and lighting. At this stage, I don't push the contrast as much because some of that work will be done in color.

Next, I began "glazing" color over the grayscale painting, applying it on layers. I used a combination of Color layers and Overlay layers at this stage. The latter can help brighten and enrich colors.

In the next stage, still using only one or two basic brushes, I begin pushing the lighting and contrast a bit more, adjusting the color scheme and adding a few additional details. I stayed with a pretty broad approach, trying to focus on the whole without getting too immersed in details. Getting the image to read well was most important at that stage.

Finally, I added detail and texture, using a combination of basic soft and hard round brushes that come with Photoshop and a few custom brushes I've designed or picked up from other artists. Edges were softened or further defined, forms were further developed and the details were gradually added. I did most of this work on one or two layers at most, flattening the image often as I worked. I find working this way rather than building the images on dozens of layers is closer to the experience of painting with real materials and, more importantly, it forces me to be decisive.

That said, layers can certainly be used to advantage. The colored smoke from the hookah was the final touch and that was painted in a single, light tone on a separate layer. I then selected the painted smoke on that layer and applied the color on a separate, Color layer. Once I was happy with it, that too was flattened down onto the final art.

Thanks for reading. I hope this post provided a bit of useful insight.

Monday, July 17, 2017

HEX: Hide and Seek

I recently painted this piece depicting a member of the rabbit-like shin'hare race riding a "shroomkin" for the game HEX: Shards of Fate. It was great fun to design the various elements, from the shin'hare character and his samurai armor to the mushroom mount, hookah, etc. There's a lot of color in this one and it took some time to figure out just how I wanted to handle the lighting and color scheme so perhaps I'll share some of the process for this piece tomorrow.

The preliminary drawing is included below.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Dwarf Golem

I painted this Dwarf Golem for a project years ago but I don't think it was ever published. I came across the image today while organizing some files and decided it was time to share it. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Hearthstone: Tar Lurker

This is the third of 3 tar creatures I painted for Hearthstone: Journey to Un'Goro. The great thing about designing a creature made of tar, slime, etc. is that you can really play with the shapes and forms to create an interesting silhouette and (hopefully) a cool monster.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Hearthstone: Stegodon

This is a companion piece to the picture I posted yesterday, Spikeridged Steed. It was also painted for the Journey to Un'Goro set. As you can see from the accompanying sketch, my initial idea was to have the dinosaur laughing at his fallen rider.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Hearthstone: Spikeridged Steed

Here's another recently revealed image from the upcoming Hearthstone set, Journey to Un'Goro: Spikeridged Steed! I had the opportunity to paint one of the new Tortollan creatures as the rider in this illustration. Both he and his chunky yellow steed were a blast to paint.

I've included my preliminary sketch as well. Both images were drawn and painted in Photoshop.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Tar Creeper

This is another (smaller) tar creature painted for the latest Hearthstone expansion, Journey to Un’Goro. It's a companion piece to the larger tar elemental I recently posted.

I've included a preliminary sketch. As you can see, the pose was modified a little in the final art.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Hearthstone: Tar Creature

I painted this creature made of tar and bone for the latest Hearthstone expansion, Journey to Un'Goro. I'm not sure what the final card will be titled but now that the image has been revealed on Hearthstone's site, I can share the painting with you.

I've included my sketch for the painting as well. Both the sketch and the final art were created in Adobe Photoshop.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

More Inked Characters

Here are a few new characters I've recently drawn in pen and ink. In case anybody is curious, my method for these is very straightforward. I just start sketching on Strathmore 500 bristol (vellum surface) and once I've arrived at a character design I like,  I ink it using Micron pens. It's a very relaxing process.

Thursday, February 23, 2017