Friday, February 16, 2018

BLOG-a-versary!

On February 17th, in 2009, which is tomorrow, I began this blog. If my math is correct, that is 9 years ago and somehow I have kept this thing afloat this whole time. If you can believe it, this post is my 1418th post on the blog. Apparently, I can yammer on and on about things for a lot of years.

Much has happened in the last 9 years, some good, some bad, and some in between. The one thing for sure is that it has been an adventure. 9 years ago I could in no way envision where I would find myself today, for good and bad. Of course in the scheme of things, I find myself exactly where I need to be!

I am not sure how many folks are still out there regularly following my blog. I see the traffic spike and wane, up and down. People come and people go. It is the way of things. Here I remain, yammering on and one... That said, for the next year or so, it is going to be more and more difficult to keep this blog going with any regularity since I will be focusing on large complex drawings for The Grand Bazaar of Ethra VanDalia. There will be times when I will be very much in the weeds with drawing and writing. I will do my best to keep things going here, one way or another. Fear nought if there is a gap or three along the way over the next year. Things will even out in the end.

I guess I will return to where I began, 9 years ago I started things with a panda drawing for Dear Wife, so here is a new panda drawing I did this week for Dear Wife...

Boot panda, for all your boot panda needs...

That is all for another exciting week on the blog, see you back here on Monday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Eye of the Beholder Kickstarter NOW LIVE!

Back in October of 2016 I shared with you a teaser trailer for a project I am thrilled to be a part of, EYE OF THE BEHOLDER: The Art of Dungeons and Dragons Documentary. Time has passed, the film is done, and the Kickstarter to get the film across the finish lines is now LIVE!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cavegirlproductions/eye-of-the-beholder-the-art-of-dungeons-and-dragon?ref=user_menu

It is a true honor and privilege to be a part of this project. If you are interested in Dungeons & Dragons and art then this is the project for you. I can not speak highly enough about the work of Brian Stillman, Kelley Slagle, and Seth C. Polansky. I supported their documentary about the history of Star Wars toys, Plastic Galaxy,  and that film personally touched me. I can not wait to finally watch Eye of the Beholder because I have no doubt that it will be any less amazing than Plastic Galaxy. I STRONGLY urge you to take a moment to go check out the Eye of the Beholder Kickstarter and hopefully contribute at some level.

That is all for another exciting Wednesday on the blog, see you back here on Friday! Until then...
 
For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com

Friday, February 9, 2018

Looking Back: Orc Berserker - Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures

Today I am looking back at a miniature design produced for the Dungeons & Dragons miniature game over ten years ago that I have neither shared nor was it ever actually made. The assignment was to design an Orc Berserker for the miniatures game. Ten plus years on, of course, we can see that the miniature was never made. Here is a look at the never produced Orc Berserker...

Orc Berserker
9 x 12 - Pencil on paper (multiple sheets)
© 2007 Wizards of the Coast LLC

As with the previous Orc miniatures I have recently shared this design was created at the same time I created the unfortunate Orc Raider. While I enjoyed and liked all of these Orc designs, for whatever reason I liked the Orc Raider the least. So it would be natural that it would be the one produced. Of course to have any of my designs made into miniatures is amazing, I just wish it had been better received by the gamers. Here is a look at the full turnaround of the Orc Berserker...
Orc Berserker Turnaround
9 x 12 - Pencil on paper (multiple sheets)
© 2007 Wizards of the Coast LLC

As with all on my Orcs there were a lot of revisions as I did not get the Orcish look down the first time around. As mentioned on Wednesday I was not doing the smart things and submitting thumbnails and sketches I was just blundering in with fully finished drawings when submitting my ideas. I would then need to edit the drawing digitally and draw new elements that would be comped in. I certainly got really fast when it came to drawing and editing my drawings. That is a useful skill set. Here is a look at the various stages that the Orc Berserker went through before being approved...
Orc Berserker variants
9 x 12 - Pencil on paper (multiple sheets)
© 2007 Wizards of the Coast LLC


While I am satisfied with the vast majority of my illustration assignments and do not fret how they have or have not aged, I do wish often I could go back and have a chance to redo many of my miniature designs. Not that they are bad, but because I had so much fun doing them and I miss the fun of miniature designs. Not too mention that I would most likely do a much better job if I revisiting them. I have shared plenty of miniature redesigns and makeup concepts that I have reworked as personal practice over the years. Of course I am a HUGE proponent of moving on and not dwelling in the past and over working pieces... so I guess all those designs will stand as they are and I will look ahead to new opportunities.

That is all for another exciting week on the blog, see you back here on Monday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Thumbnail Conundrum

Everyone has their own way of working, their own workflow, methods, tools, etc, that said there are some universals. Take thumbnails for instance. For hundreds of years artists have used thumbnails to quickly work out ideas for their drawings and paintings. Thumbnails are great, you can quickly and easily see if something it viable or if it needs changing. You can try many different options with little time loss to determine the best path forward. Because of their size, thumbnails are great to determine if an image will have impact even at a small size. Thumbnails are so important... and I kinda really don't like them and I feel like I am really bad at them.

RARE thumbnails for 6 of the first 7 environmental pieces for The Grand Bazaar of Ethra VanDalia.
What do all those scribbles mean? This mess will eventually be something... hopefully.

To be honest I have an issue with drawing things more than once... I hate it. I like to start something, do it once, take it to completion, and move to the next thing. This is what wrecked my childhood aspirations of being a sequential artist. It is also a bit of an issue when it comes to some of my concept work, when it gets to the tight refining part of working and reworking a design to completion I can get a little burned out and my attention wanes. Same can be said for thumbnails. I want to be drawing the main drawing, not working and reworking thumbnails to get it perfect. This can be a problem for an artist. This has been an issue for me. Sometimes things were not as well planned out, sometimes things could have been a little better with some extra planning.

Reference, thumbnail, and line work for the Eau-de-nil Elder

As I have said earlier, everyone has their own workflows and methods and I have worked a long time to create a workflow that addresses my issue with simultaneously needing and hating thumbnails. From the beginning, I like to think about what I want to do. I spend a lot of time and energy working out ideas in my head. I have never really worked my ideas out on paper, even before I realized I did not really like the process. Granted, you can do just so much in your head before you actually need to start making stuff in the real world, but it gets me pretty far and has not steered me too wrong so far. To help with this, I have employed the help of the camera to act out characters, monsters, scenes, etc. to get into the moment and space of the planned art. I physically perform the intended piece of art to further get my head around what I am making AND to get needed reference. Many happy accidents happen along the way and with the help of Dear Wife behind the camera we can quickly and easily determine what is working and not working with poses, actions, foreshortening, etc. I do this with action figures too in my Star Wars work. I build out scenes and dioramas with figures to flesh out the composition rather than sketching out ideas.

Thumbnail and line work for the Virulent Artificer

When there is no real world analog, or I have something concrete in my mind I do go straight into the sketch phase. I guess it can still be called a thumbnail, but I am working digitally at 300 dpi and at the intended final dimensions. That said, I do usually shrink the image down somewhat so I am seeing the whole thing all at once and so I can quickly move across the canvas. I work digitally because of the freedom and speed it offers. I can flip, stretch, delete, duplicate, resize, etc. with no effort at all, making the process of working out a thumbnail sketch a very fast and organic processes. When I try doing this traditionally it is a slow frustrating process, because I never get it right the first time around and the least of my problems generally is that I began the sketch too large on the paper. This is an issue that is easily remedied when working digitally. My thumbnail sketches are loose and have only the barest of details which leaves a lot of the fun work to be had in the final drawing.

Reference, thumbnail, and line work for the Concussion Rifle

I have mentioned it here before on the blog that when I started working in the gaming industry I was actually so embarrassed by my sketches and thumbnails that I would turn finished drawings in when concepting miniatures. I also kind of did not know I was allowed to just send in thumbnails. No one pointed it out to me... so I just kept sending in fully realized drawings that would then need editing and revising. Eventually, I learned the error of my ways and started sending in thumbnails and concepts for assignments, but it was a tough transitions. Still to this day I do not make thumbnails in the traditional sense... in my opinion. I make rough sketches. They are more planned out than a thumbnail and you will be able to see a direct connection between rough sketch and the final drawing.

 Thumbnails, thumbnail 2, and line work for the Warriors of the Poison Dusk

This all circles back the the first image on this post... actual tiny pencil sketches of planned pieces of art, a thumbnail if you will. As much as I don't like them, they have their place and their usefulness. After some frustrating starts and stops and a lot of wasted time I decided to work out my ideas on paper in thumbnails to get the large sweeping environmental pieces moving forward. And you know what? It worked. I can address perspective and form extremely quickly and I am not worrying about details and the little stuff. They are doing just what they were always intended to do and be. Silly me... I am still taking the thumbnail and working up a more refined rough sketch that will then be used for the final line work. That part of the process is still there and each step gains more detail and refinement. My methods and workflow are still there... I am just going about it better, with those darn thumbnails.

That is all for another exciting Wednesday on the blog, see you back here on Friday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com

Monday, February 5, 2018

Remebering William O'Connor

I should not be writing this. These are things that should not be happening now, and when they eventually have to happen it should be after a long long life. Here we are anyway, left to grieve and left to worry about all those left behind. Last week we lost William O'Connor, a husband, a father, a gracious friend, and a powerhouse of an artist. I am still trying to get my head around all this and not doing a very good job of it. The details have not been released to my knowledge, but what has been shared was that it was sudden and unexpected. I am left wondering what stole Bill from us, but does it really matter? Will it change anything? Or is it just voyeuristic curiosity? I am just trying to focus on my memories of Bill and how his art inspired me to be a better artist and a better designer. Remembering who he was and how he impacted all of our lives seems like the only thing I can do to counter the grief and confusion by his sudden death. 

Tiefling concept for Dungeons & Dragons by William O'Connor
©Wizards of the Coast

I first became familiar with Bill's beautiful work and distinct style when I was working on 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons. At the time I did not know it was 4th Edition, I was just working on monster and armor designs for upcoming D&D projects. I would get loads and loads of gorgeous concept work to use and to help shape my own work. I was instantly in love with the work I was being given, I did not know who Bill was, but I certainly wanted to meet him. There was so much action, character, and detail in the work. I really felt out classed and I needed to up my game if this was the work they needed me to create for D&D. For a long time in the early days of my D&D career I strived to be like Bill. He has done some truly epic work, huge involved pieces that encompass entire battlefields or cities. I chose not to share that today, instead the work I am sharing today are some of the concept pieces I was give when working on 4th Edition. These are some of Bill's pieces that most profoundly effected me.


Dragonborn concept for Dungeons & Dragons by William O'Connor
©Wizards of the Coast

I finally got to meet Bill at Illuxcon in 2009. He was instantly gracious and eager with advice and more than happy to talk about his work, my work, anyone's work. I loved hearing about how he created randomized lists of elements that he would roll dice and let fate and chance pick what a character would be or the details he would have to include. He would get the various results and then think about how a character would realistically include all the various elements. It is something he still was doing till his death. He was still posting the results on his BLOG and he made one of his list available ONLINE. At IX he told a group of us about one character on a large battle scene cover he had done. The figure was small but still extremely detailed. Apparently his dice rolls resulted in flowers or gardening and so the fighter had flowers on him as well as a large pair of scissors. Bill imagined that this character came from a family or background of florists, and the scissors were second nature to them and as a last ditch move, when all else failed there were those scissors to use as a final weapon. Bill was so exited when he told us that story. It was infectious.

Dragonborn concept for Dungeons & Dragons by William O'Connor
©Wizards of the Coast

I think everyone has at least one or two truly amazing Bill stories. One of my favorites was at Illuxcon when it was still in Altoona. It was late one night and folks were having parties in various hotel rooms. Some of the details are lost to me, but someone had brought a board game to IX that Bill had done the cover art for. It was a big battle scene and a really great piece. The intentions were to get the board game box signed by Bill. The game was still in the plastic and everything. Well, one thing led to another and Bill signed the cover... he signed the ENTIRE cover. Apparently Bill tore back the plastic and signed his name huge across the front cover of the game box. It was amazing... and not exactly what the owner of the game was expecting. But that was Bill and it was great. And now he is gone.

*UPDATE*

I received permission to share a never released piece of Bill's work.  Back in 2007 Bill created the box art for the Serrated Dawn set of the WotC miniature game, Dreamblade. Serrated Dawn was never released and all of the art associated with it was shelved. As you my know, I designed a lot of miniatures for that game. One of the pieces that Bill did for the box art was based on one of my designs, the Dragon Ambassador, which is how I know about it and have a copy of the art. As far as I know this has never been shared publicly which is why I wanted to get permission before sharing it. I always loved this piece and was glad to just know of its existence even though it was never used. Now you can know about it too!

 
Royal Dragon (Dragon Ambassador) by William O’Connor for the never released set of Dreamblade, Serrated Dawn

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com

Friday, February 2, 2018

Dino Run 2 - Pixeljam Kickstarter

The good folks at Pixeljam are at it again! Pixeljam is currently running a Kickstarter to fund the production of Dino Run 2, the sequel to the smash hit Dino Run. I have spoken about Pixeljam here on the blog before, and I can not speak highly enough about them and their work. I have known Miles and Rich since college and they do great work and make fun games. I STRONGLY urge you to take the time to head over and check out their Kickstarter and hopefully support it. If you like super fun games, dinosaurs, or super fun game about dinosaurs... then Dino Run 2 is the game for you!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/pixeljam/the-dino-run-2-exploratory-campaign?ref=342vfh

Over on the Dino Run 2 Kickstarter you will see all kinds of great sample art, VIDEOS(!), and more. They have a lot planned out and there are many ways for you to get involved with making this campaign a reality.

Dino Run 2 art courtesy of the Dino Run 2 Kickstarter

Did I mention that there were game play snippets that you can watch? Pixeljam has a lot in store and I can't wait to see how the final game turns out! I can't say it enough, please go check out the Dino Run 2 Kickstarter and see with your own eyes what they have planned! RAWR!

Dino Run 2 art courtesy of the Dino Run 2 Kickstarter

That is all for another exciting week on the blog, see you back here on Monday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Shifting Shadow - Commander 2017 - Prints NOW AVAILABLE!

I have updated my store with Shifting Shadow prints! Follow the link below to get your very own signed and numbered prints from Commander 2017. I know these are a little late in getting on the store... but better late than never! As always, these prints are limited to a print run of only 50 copies.

Shifting Shadow
 
If you are interested in artist proofs of this card, those are available over on my store as well!

That's all for another exciting Wednesday on the blog, see you back here on Friday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com