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!


  1. looks awesome
    love the pose it really is a good way of solving this problem

  2. Thank you, Dave. I'm honestly not sure how else I would have solved it, although there's always a way! My instinct for the subject matter would be to have a view from below looking up the tower toward the dragon circling above but that simply wasn't going to put the focus of the card in the right place. It would have been a very different picture.

    1. i believe it would have been a lot easier making the tower the main part of the picture(if only this would have been what they were asking) basically because it's been circled by the dragon and not the other way around. the tower gets the focus by the nature of things
      that's why it think your solution is great and fit their request so well