Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Trobriand's Machinations - Process

Today I have for you another look at my process that went into creating a recent D&D piece. This time around we are looking at the Scaladars for the Trobriand's Machinations article in Dungeon magazine #201.

As mentioned last week I figured I better go ahead and share my remaining process posts before August rolls around when I will be able to share my updated process for working up the under painting. You can always find more detailed explanation of my process on the blog HERE, HERE, and HERE.

As always when working on an illustration with a new creature I have to design I will do several roughs of the creature and several thumbnails of my composition for the illustration. With this Scaladar piece I had to design two new creatures and put them both in a narrow vertical composition. Luckily for me one of them is flying which makes composing them a lot easier. Since space was always a concern I had the composition in mind during the design process for these two mechanical scorpions...

Scaladars - Designs
© 2012 Wizards of the Coast

Scaladars - Thumbnails
© 2012 Wizards of the Coast

When these were all said and done I was leaning toward thumbnail "A" which had Shadowclaw Scaladar "A" and Winged Scaladar "B" in it. When feedback came back to me they concurred with my thoughts on thumbnail "A" but wanted the more naturalistic cavern interior for the background that is in "B".  I could totally get behind that decision, with pencil in hand I moved onto the more fleshed out drawing...

Scaladars - Drawing
© 2012 Wizards of the Coast

This piece depicts two new Scaladars, which are large scorpion like constructs created by a mad wizard (all the best stuff is created by mad wizards). One of the new Scaladar was a straight forward flying variety the second, the Shadowclaw, was infused with powers of the Shadowfell and had claws made of shadow like substance. Those shadow claws were my biggest concern with the entire piece. Dark cave + Scaladar made of black metal + claws made of shadows = my brain hurting to make sure it all reads and is clear. I sometimes feel I illustrate a lot of black creatures in black environments... while trying not to make either black. I got to work on the painting and hoped that it did not get out of control on me...

Scaladars - process
© 2012 Wizards of the Coast

And in eight easy steps it is all done... not really... This one took a bit of work and as easy as the Doom Hulk was this one was tough. As I feared those shadow claws gave me fits, but in the end I got them to work out. I had a good track record of late with final paintings until I got to this piece, I actually had to tweak it a tad after turning it in as per some notes from my art director. They were quick for the most part and really pulled the piece together. You can see what I changed in the final tweak in the last step of the above image. A lot of rim lighting going on with multiple light sources... I wonder if I am doing too much of this lately... who knows, but it is sure fun!

Here is the final piece in all its glory and your players now have some new lower level mechanical terrors to deal with...

© 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. To quote your "all the best stuff is created by mad wizards" you must be a mad wizard of creature design

  2. Thank you, but I am a far way from making the best stuffy yet. But I appreciate it! :)