Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Warriors of the Poison Dusk - PROCESS

On the blog today I feature the process and steps that went into a recent piece I created for Dungeon Magazine, Warriors of the Poison Dusk. The steps and precess for this piece are very similar to the steps for the Sea Demon Shrine (Part 1 & Part 2). Since there were so many more figures then I usually tackle at one time I had to spend more time working out the composition early on. Did I say early on? In many ways this piece got it's start about 15 years ago, back in my heady days of 2nd Edition AD&D with a Lizardman named, Targus...

Targus the Lizardman is VERY VERY GREEN, because he is a lizard.
It is nice to see that I have grown and developed over the last 15 years, but what kind of freaks me out is seeing things in this drawing that I still do. Still not sure what is going on with the anatomy from the shoulders up... all kinds of wrong.
© 1996 Christopher Burdett (not that anyone else would claim this epic piece)

I have been into monsters my whole life and the lizard verity of D&D have obviously had my attention for many years. It was a real blast to be able to create this piece and I made sure I gave it all the time and attention it needed. The art brief for Warriors of the Poison Dusk called for a Black Scale Lizardfolk and a Troglodyte surrounded by many Kobolds so the layout stage was key for this piece. This started with really loose small thumbnail sketches so that I could get my mind around a couple of compositions and so that I had a game plan going into taking photo reference.

Rough thumbnails
© 2010 Wizards of the Coast

I had my wife take photos of me posing as each and every monster, sometimes doing several variations of each pose so that I had some verity to work with. I held props so that the physicality was there with the weapons and so that I had something to interact with. I now have a ton of really silly, but very useful photo reference of me being lizard monsters. None of these will ever see the light of day... so don't even bother asking. After I had all the photos I began working out more developed compositions based on my thumbnails. I played around with each until I was happy and then created a more developed, but still loose layout comp that I would submit for feedback and review.

Rough comp 01
Very flat and straight on but shows off most if not all of the creature's bodies. A little on the nose for me but you sometimes don't know what the AD might respond to.
© 2010 Wizards of the Coast

Rough comp 02
Better. I liked the idea of the Lizardfolk shouting commands to attack and move forward while the Troglodyte and first line of Kobolds are poised to attack.
© 2010 Wizards of the Coast

Rough comp 03
By far my favorite. Really trying to work on a triangular composition with the figures and bow. I liked the idea of the strong size comparison with the small Kobold, medium Troglodyte and large Lizardfolk. Had my fingers crossed that this one would get picked and made sure to express my feelings about this to the AD as well.
© 2010 Wizards of the Coast

The third composition was selected and I was given some feedback and points to be aware of as I moved forward with a final drawing. One of the major issues I needed to be aware of was that fact I was creating several tangents with the creatures elbows breaking the edges of the image. I made sure to keep this in mind as I worked on the final drawing...

Final drawing
© 2010 Wizards of the Coast

With the drawing approved it was time for the painting. I spent some time once again looking at reference. I gathered images of black scaled and pale scaled reptiles to get a good feel for how light and color will affect these creature. I also looked at many cave interiors for possible color palettes and ideas. Once comfortable with my reference I got down to painting...

Layer Progression
© 2010 Wizards of the Coast

Layer breakdown
© 2010 Wizards of the Coast

When it came to the actual painting the steps and methods did not vary much from the process I shared with you on the Sea Demon Shrine (Part 1 & Part 2). I start with the drawing, followed by the under painting, then the painting and lastly rounds of revisions and corrections. This piece was a little dark early on and I had to lighten the whole thing up several times... the problem of black reptiles in a black cave. After much time and revisiting the piece I called in finished and turned it in for review, it was approved and appeared in Dungeon Magazine #185.

Warriors of the Poison Dusk
© 2010 Wizards of the Coast

If you have any further questions regarding any of this let me know and I will see if I clarify any of my ramblings. The main point of this process discussion is to show that about 40% of my time and effort on this piece went into it before I began painting. The remaining 60% of effort was made MUCH easier by working very hard on planning and preparation.

That is all for today! I will see you back here on Friday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact
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  1. It's great to see your process and the layer breakdown, and the final image is amazing.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Very cool stuff, thanks for the post!

  3. It's awesome to see another artist share their process so thoroughly. Also as a fellow monster lover you may enjoy this blog

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Hey Christopher! This is Psypher101 form DeviantArt.

    Your blog is very helpful and insightful. I'm glad to say that my process is very similar to yours. Thanks for sharing.