Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wroot the Goblin - Process

I have for you today the first of the process posts for the recent work that I produced for the Halls of Undermountain. Starting things off is Wroot the Goblin!

This piece actually has is a really personal piece for me, and not just because of the silly reference photo you will find below. I followed the art order completely and for all purposes this goblin will forever be known as Wroot, for me and a handful of others, this is in fact Splug. Splug appears in the very first adventure module for 4th edition, Keep on the Shadowfell, and is a little NPC that could be played at the Dungeon Master's prerogative. Splug became fast friends with my players and he has joined in the adventure since and even now is still a faithful follower and a source for comedy. I had an image of what Splug looked like in my mind and when I read the art order for Wroot, I knew that I had an opportunity to make a painting of Splug, and I was very excited about getting started on this piece in particular.

Starting things off I did my roughs to get a feel for the character, gear and other props. The clear winner for me, and with my art director (though she liked them all) was option 'C'. I just needed to come back with some leg options, she felt ending him at a clean line of his clothing might make it feel as if he was a disembodied undead creature. A couple more updated roughs with legs and 'C' was the winner again...

 Wroot the Goblin - Thumbnails
© 2012 Wizards of the Coast

Wroot the Goblin - Updated thumbnails
© 2012 Wizards of the Coast

Once the thumbnail was approved I moved forward on the final drawing. I have said it a million times here on the blog and I will say it once more, the drawing is most likely the favorite part of the process for me and I really have to hold myself back to not get carried away and spend too much time on it. It is also the point of the process I suddenly look down at the drawing and think to myself, "Great, I now have to paint ALL those wrinkle, scales, horns, tentacles, etc... boy am I glad I showed no restraint in putting in as many as I could."
 Wroot the Goblin - Drawing
© 2012 Wizards of the Coast

This step is a little out of place, but I didn't want it to be the first image on the post! Before I start any piece I shoot reference. I make some very loose personal thumbnails to keep my thoughts together or at least talk through all my options with my wife who does all my camera work for me. I then the photos of all ideas, her ideas, and lots of happy accident to then more inform and direct the subsequent steps in the process. Sometimes I nail the idea I had perfectly with a photo we take, sometimes a much better direction is discovered once I see the photos. But in the end, physically getting into the mid set of the subject matter, with the props, the pose, the silly faces just really gets me more invested and involved with the piece and helps me get my head around what I am about to take on. This is the reference for the pose that was selected, it is actually a combination of two different photos taking the best elements to make the desired pose and prop combination...

Silly silly photo of me as yet another monster.
Points of interest: the red bag hanging off the backpack is my dice bag I use to play D&D; the two metal water bottles in front have been in SO many photo shots and subsequently have made in into the gear that a lot of my monsters carry; my first couple attempts of getting all this gear together and work as a backpack failed, so my wife had to tie everything onto the backpack and me as I stood there to get the shots we wanted to get. RAWR!

Back to the Goblin... Now that there was an approved drawing it was time to get painting. I continue to use the same basic process I have been using to paint for the last several years, you can find other more detailed explanation of this on the blog (like HERE, HERE, and HERE). Basically, I start with my manipulated drawing as the first layer, then a multiply under painting layer, then a standard layer where I do all my actual opaque painting, and finally there are a handful of layers used to make fixes, adjust areas, and do universal adjustments to lighting, contrast, or brightness. The bulk of the work is done with a layer 3, but without the time I put into the drawing and under painting layer the image would not exist. I have found as I continue using and refining this process that the more time I put into the drawing and the under painting the easier, quicker and less I have to do with the actual painting layer. Imagine that, a good foundation and planning makes the following steps easier...

 Wroot the Goblin - Painting progression
© 2012 Wizards of the Coast

And then, suddenly, like make there is a finished painting. Well, after many hours of work and many planned out steps and processes there is a finished painting. I continue to use the reference trough the entire process just to make sure I don't miss any subtle real world element that will add that little bit of extra reality...

Wroot the Goblin
© 2012 Wizards of the Coast

 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:


  1. I always love your process pics! For some reason I picture Wroot/Splug here doing a clanging salute by whacking his ladel against his pot helmet. Like a tip of the hat. Just a goofy little touch I imagine as part of his personality.

  2. Hail Splug! Hail Splug! It's great to see him in print.

  3. Hi Chris this is Glenn.. I really love your artwork. I actually download some of your characters in Devianart..I love your characters and your concept by the way I am more into 3d. checkout some of my stuffs at my blog if you have time. Here is my account
    Again your work really great!
    -Glenn Borremeo

    1. What do you mean you downloaded some of my work off Deviantart? I thought I had that feature turned off.