Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Fablehaven Book 3 of 5: Grip of the Shadow Plague

Here is book number 3 in the Fablehaven series.

Seth encounters the demon Graulus. I thought it would be fun to have Seth's hair blown back by Graulus's roar.

Hugo as the main focal point taking out dark centaurs easily.

The Shadowman lurks behind the kids.

Dark creatures vs. light creatures battle scene. This was the selected sketch, though the final art was streamlined down to just the kids on the back of the centaur plus a of couple dark satyrs. 

Poor Hugo, he gets denied again. The final art:

Friday, January 24, 2014

Fablehaven Book 2 of 5: Rise of the Evening Star

The second Fablehaven book is called Rise of the Evening Star. Here are the four ideas I initially sent to the client. Action seemed to be the key component they were looking for with this series of books. I tried to give them 4 completely different directions.

Here is the finished illustration. Looking at my sketch you will notice that Kendra is not there. In the book she is not in the scene at all. But for the sake of marketing, there she is.  In the story, Kendra is angry that she is not allowed to accompany her brother on a trip out to the swamps of Fablehaven. She protests that the adult's sexist nature is the reason. At least she gets her way on the cover! 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Fablehaven Book 1 of 5

Last year I was asked to illustrate new covers for the popular young adult series called Fablehaven. The story centers around a young girl and her brother as they adventure in a hidden refuge for mystical and legendary creatures.  Here is one of the first sketches I came up with for the project. The two siblings take a ride on the shoulders of a golem made of earth and stone. You'll see in the second iteration of the sketch that I switched the positions of the boy and the girl. Girls seem to be ok with reading a book with a boy featured on the cover, but boys don't seem to be too keen with reading a book with a girl as the focus. So even though Kendra is the star in the book, her brother Seth had to be the star of the cover.  I also backed things out a bit so we can see that Hugo the golem is in motion.

The client was most interested in the Hugo sketch as well as the following sketch that was ultimately selected. It depicts Seth climbing up to negotiate with the preserve's devious cliff troll, Nero.

Here is the final artwork:

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Oloro, Ageless Ascetic

Oloro is an ancient giant who has discovered the secret to eternal life. Oloro has not moved off of his throne in ages. It keeps him alive. I thought I'd share this Commander 2013 card's progress from start to finish. Check out the video link at the bottom.

Video Link:

Here is a link to the rest of the start to finish videos I have put together:
More Videos


Mike, you asked about the sketch to the client. Here it is below. Conceptually it is right in line with the final. The art director was concerned about the fact that the open legs were too prominent in the composition. This particular piece had to have a really quick turnaround so I was glad he flagged me on it early on.  I made a change to the pose to deemphasize the area and then went to the final art.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Dragon's Maze: Ral Zarek

Magic the Gathering's DRAGON'S MAZE challenged me to shed my phobia of drawing and painting cityscapes. It would be the key art for the set which raised the stakes even more. I did't want to take the easy way out on this important piece of art. So I dove in recklessly and attempted a bird's eye view of Ral's beloved city in almost every thumbnail. The idea was that the city is so dense that it feels like a labyrinth. I decided to use bridges and walkways to emphasize the maze-like feel. In my original sketch to the magic team, Ral is perched on top of a building adornment looking back at the viewer before he jumps off into the depths of the city.

The camera angle on Ral ended up being too extreme for all of the different ways the artwork would be applied to advertising and packaging. If he was separated from the background it would look awkward and out of place. I was asked to keep the background but change the perspective on Ral. In order to put Ral in a more traditional point of view it meant that I would have to lessen the high angle on city as well. It is not instantly obvious when you look at the final art, but if you look closely it is noticeable.

My revised scribble:

Here is the final art:

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Sunhome Guildmage

Sunhome Guildmage is a magic card to be released with "Gatecrash." Here is a start to finish video of the artwork. If I remember correctly I had 2 photoshoots to do that day and one of the characters had a mustache. So why not shave off my beard and leave a nice cop 'stache right?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord

Here is a painting created entirely in photoshop for Magic the Gathering's Return to Ravnica set.

Here is my original digital sketch. The approach I took with this piece began with a few thumbnails using light grey scribbling strokes. I spent some time experimenting with the different thumbnails by mirroring the images and laying them on top of themselves and each other at varying opacities hoping to see something in the tangle of lines. Once I started to see something in the mess, I blew it up to a higher resolution and used a thiner black brush on top of the low contrast thumbnail to bring forms out of the scribbles.

The resulting sketch was Jarad riding on top of an insect-like creature as if it is mobile throne. Unfortunately he was too relaxed looking. It just didn't fit the intended personality. He also need to be emaciated looking instead of the muscle bound Jarad I had here.

I captured the emaciated body type with this next sketch but I thought the pose was too close to the one Svetlin Velinov had already done for the character.

Here is the final direction. Time to paint.

The final artwork: