Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wookiee Navigator - Process

On Monday I shared with you the recently released Wookiee Navigator from the core set of the new Star Wars: The Card Game. As promised, I have for you today a look at the process that went into the Wookiee AND what the piece almost ended looking like. Cutting to the chase, here is the ORIGINAL version of the Wookiee Navigator... or at least the version I first submitted upon completing the piece...

ORIGINAL Wookiee Navigator
© 2012 Fantasy Flight Games

From the beginning of the assignment this piece was referred to as the NOT Chewbacca card. It was important for it to be a Wookiee depicted in a similar roll as Chewbacca, but it needed to no be the one Wookiee everyone is familiar with. I tried very hard to make sure the body mass and proportions I gave to my Wookiee were different to the proportions and body mass of Peter Mayhew in the Chewbacca suit. With the addition of the braids and the over all color shift towards the Wookiees that appeared in Episode III I thought I was golden... not so much. I am getting ahead of myself, as always, this piece started with thumbnails...

Wookiee Navigator - thumbnails
© 2012 Fantasy Flight Games

The assignment was very straight forward, depict a NOT Chewbacca Wookiee in a gunner chair similar to what you saw in Star Wars: A New Hope when Luke and Han were firing at Tie fighters. I have plenty of good reference of those scenes so I was feeling good about what I needed to depict. I worked up four variations on a Wookiee in a gunner chair and turned them in. You might be able to see that in some of the thumbnails there are the bandoliers and shoulder pads worn by Wookiees in Episode III. I added these elements to help distance this Wookiee from Chewbacca. In the end, production felt they had the opposite effect and they were removed once I moved forward on the final drawing...

Wookiee Navigator - drawing
© 2012 Fantasy Flight Games

Everything was moving right along and there were no sings of problems thus far. The drawing was approved and all I had to do was paint it. By now you know that this is where it all went wrong. I thought I proceeded in a safe and NOT Chewbacca direction. Here is a process progression of the piece and it includes the changing of the Wookiee's coloration...

Wookiee Navigator process progression
© 2012 Fantasy Flight Games

Thanks goes out to Zoe Robinson for helping me make sense of the revision requests from production. I didn't see it coming so there was a little bit of an adjustment phase to get my head around what I needed to do to make it right. It took a little nudge to get me to go as far as they wanted, but I got there and in the end the piece was finally accepted and approved. Here is a side by side comparison of the two pieces so you can see what changed...

Wookiee Navigator - comparison
© 2012 Fantasy Flight Games

One last look at how the final card came out and appears in the the game...

Wookiee Navigator
© 2012 Fantasy Flight Games

As mentioned on Monday, this was my first Star Wars assignment... not just with Fantasy Flight Games, but anywhere. I REALLY wanted to do a good job and I really wanted to make sure I got a lot more SW assignments. There were some very surreal moments when I would stop and realize that this was a strange manifestation of decades of wishing, dreaming, and work. After all the movies, comics, toys, and merchandising it all came together in a Wookiee painting that was very much "just another job". Then there was the stress of the massive revision which made it a very atypical work experience. Your wishes and dreams never really work out the way you expect... but they do come true on occasion, and for that I can be very grateful.

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

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  1. Hi Chris!

    I know this blog is more than 6 years old, but I wanna comment it nevertheless :)
    First, let me say that both Wookiees - final brown and black - are magnificent! And second - that is actually why I wanted to comment - FFG actually used both Wookiees for the cards - brown one for navigator in Card Game and black one as gunner in X-Wing :)

    1. The brown original version was never used. FFG did not accept it until I made the changes. They never had a print quality version of the file. The black final version was used as the Navigator and the Gunner. They used the gunner a lot and I own all the ships that the card came with.