Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Coveted Peacock - Conspiracy 2: Take the Crown - PROCESS

Today I have for you the process and steps that went into painting the Coveted Peacock from the Conspiracy 2 expansion of Magic the Gathering. This piece had some serious ups and downs. It was my first and currently last attempt to traditionally paint an assignment for Magic the Gathering. A lot to bite off, but I was feeling good about it at the time. In the end the piece was traditionally painted with a bit of digital finishing to get it to where I knew it needed to be so that it would be approved. Here is how the final printed version of the Coveted Peacock turned out...

Coveted Peacock - Final
Magic the Gathering - Conspiracy 2: Take the Crown
14 x 11- Acrylic on board with digital edits and finish
PRINTS available over on my web store!
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast

While the above image is how the card was printed, the actual real world painting looks a little different. Here is what the real world Coveted Peacock looks like...

Coveted Peacock - Original
Magic the Gathering - Conspiracy 2: Take the Crown
14 x 11- Acrylic on board 
Original - SOLD
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast

While they are very close, there are some differences. While I have talked to people who either love the original or who love the final, I want to be clear that the decision to make the final digital changes was completely mine. I knew that I needed to tweak the image to specific ways to better meet the MtG esthetics. It is possible that WotC would have never asked for edits and would have accepted the original and they very well could have asked for revisions that would have resulted in what I turned in as a final. We will never know, but I do know the final was accepted without revisions. Hopefully I saved my art director additional work and potential headache by adjusting the image ahead of time.

The assignment called for a gigantic peacock like bird flying high over the city with blue magic trailing from its tail. Seems easy enough, right? We shall see. I looked a lot, and I mean A LOT of peacock reference for this one. Almost enough to never want to look at another peacock ever again. To get things started I worked up some thumbnails...

Coveted Peacock - Thumbnails
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast

There are some of these I REALLY liked and was strongly hoping that would get picked. Alas, those thumbnails were not selected, which is totally okay and totally normal. If I didn't want to end up working on one of these thumbnails as the final piece I would not have submitted it. Don't turn in anything you don't want to work on! As you can see "F" was the winner, which means it is now time to get started on the final drawing...

Coveted Peacock - Drawing
Magic the Gathering - Conspiracy 2: Take the Crown
17 x 14 - Pencil on paper
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast

The drawing was approved without issue and I began prepping the painting and was gearing up to work on the toned paper value study. When the drawing was approved my art director was on vacation and another AD signed off on it. When my AD came back from her trip she asked for the wingspan to be increased on the peacock. Thankfully, I had only mounted the image of the drawing to the board and had not started painting or drawing on the toned drawing. I was able to adjust the the wingspan and get it approved and then remount the drawing and start on the toned paper drawing. Here is how the toned paper value study turned out...

Coveted Peacock - Toned drawing
Magic the Gathering - Conspiracy 2: Take the Crown
14 x 11 - Pencil on paper
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast

With an approved drawing and some sort of idea for the value of the piece it was time to get started on the final painting. In reality it felt more like riding a roller coaster while trying to paint. While I was trying to feel like I was in control of this painting at time I felt like the painting was shoving me around to get my lunch money. I can confidently say that I learned a lot while working on this painting. Not all of it was an easy learn, but I definitely figured out a thing or two by the time I was done with this one. Here is the break down of the painting coming together in many steps, this should give you a good feeling for how the painting took shape.

Coveted Peacock - Process progression
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast

From the beginning I planned on doing the magic effects digitally. I just did not want to risk going in over the final piece and doing something weird and magical only to have it be wrong. I just did not expect to do so much other tweaks digitally too. But I wanted to make the painting the best it could be for the client and that means doing everything within my skill sets to achieve that. Those little birds ended up being much more of a headache then I anticipated. As you can see I painted, repainted, and eventually painted over them. I am much happier with the digital versions. I should have done more research and studies of them at the very beginning instead at the end. They were just so stiff and flat in the original, thankfully they are moving forward in space from the peacock now. In the above images it should be very clear when I switched to working on the piece digitally. If not, it is when the peacock suddenly disappears as I am deconstructing and rebuilding the entire image. While I generally get my work done well ahead of deadline, this one went almost the end as I worked, fought, and reworked it. Here is an animated progression of the peacock coming together. This should give you a much better feel for the piece taking shape and evolving...

Coveted Peacock - Animated process
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast

Here again is the how the final Coveted Peacock turned out as well as the final production card...

Coveted Peacock - Final
Magic the Gathering - Conspiracy 2: Take the Crown
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast

Coveted Peacock in handy dandy card form

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

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