Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Lathnu Sailback - Aether Revolt - PROCESS

Today I have for you an overdue post about the process and steps that went into a Magic the Gathering piece of mine that I first shared with you way back in January of 2017, the Lathnu Sailback. I fought this particular painting tooth and nail through the entire process. To start things off, here is how the final art for Lathnu Sailback out...

Lathnu Sailback
Magic the Gathering - Aether Revolt
14 x 10.2- Digital
© 2017 Wizards of the Coast

Unlike a lot of my work, I had a real struggle on my hands with this one... which is funny since it is a giant lizard monster painting. The thumbnails and drawing were pretty straight forward, but after that it was a lot of work, revisions and frustration to get this one over the finish line. The focus of this piece was a large lizard monster with a sailback. The sail needed to be red and the body dark gray. That was about it. I just had to make it cool and get it done, which turned out to be a bit harder than expected. I got to work on the thumbnails and I was happy with how they tuned out...2

Lathnu Sailback - Thumbnails
© 2017 Wizards of the Coast

While "C" was the winning thumbnails, I am still drawn to options "B" and "D". I wonder how one of these versions would have turned out. It was important to draw attention to the sail and in a lot of these I was trying to back light it so there was a glow and cast color. As with all my work, I have planned out the lighting from the beginning. With a selected thumbnail it was time to get started on the drawing...

Lathnu Sailback - Drawing
Magic the Gathering - Aether Revolt
17 x 14 - Pencil on paper
© 2017 Wizards of the Coast

The drawing was approved without comment and I was all set to move forward with my process. I was still feeling really good about the assignment and everything seemed to be in order. I was looking at a lot of reference, making sure all my ducks were in a row. Progressing as planned. Here is a look at a time lapse I filmed of me working on the drawing. You can view it here or follow the link along to YouTube...



With the drawing approved I worked up a tonal study to get my value down... or at least what I think they will be at this point. Things can change, but I do the best I can in the moment. Still, everything is moving a long as it should.

Lathnu Sailback - Toned Drawing
Magic the Gathering - Aether Revolt
14 x 11 -Pencil on paper
© 2017 Wizards of the Coast

Okay, here we come to the actual painting process when things go a little funny and I have to fight with the painting through most of the process. If you follow my blog and my process post you should immediately see the there are a lot more steps depicted here than normal. At some point in the process of painting it became clear to me the anatomy of the lizard was just not working for me. It seemed fine through the drawing stages, but now it just was not clicking. Also, the lighting set up that I was envisioning was not working well either. While I had a direct light source on the creature it was a dark gray creature and a lot of it was in shadow. Getting the sail glow and cast light was also proving to be a bit more tricky. ...even with reference. Here is a look at the process progression for this piece...

Lathnu Sailback - Process progression
© 2017 Wizards of the Coast

It might be a little hard to tell from these step by step images, but the leg and head anatomy change a lot and there is a lot of push and pull with the lighting. A lot more of all of these things compared to my usual painting. Things always change, that is a given, but they typically don't go through this much editing through out this much of the painting. In a normal painting of mine, the major changes either come at the beginning when I realize there is a error I show how missed in the drawing, or at the very end when I am making the last edits to make sure everything is looking its best.

Quickly made maquette for lighting reference

The above image is a quickly made maquette that I bashed together one evening while painting to make sure I was on the right track. I dropped everything while I was working and ran to the store to get some clay and some transparent plastic sheeting. I put it all together and worked out the lighting ... and I was happy to see that i was on the right track. It did allow me to update the lighting in the painting to get it to look a bit more believable. Here is the animated process for this painting that better illustrates all the steps and changes this piece went through. You should all be able to see at which point I made the maquette and updated the lighting.

Lathnu Sailback - Animated process progression
© 2017 Wizards of the Coast

I know a lot of artists who constantly change and update their painting while working on them, especially those that paint digitally. That has never been my style. So the amount of editing in this one really threw me off and had me reeling through most of the painting. With so many changes it shook my resolve and made me question my abilities on this one. Not the best place to be when working on client work. In fact, I turned in an initial final for this piece that was not accepted and I had to make additional edits too. Here is a look at the original version of the Lathnu Sailback...

Lathnu Sailback - Version 1
Magic the Gathering - Aether Revolt
14 x 10.2- Digital
© 2017 Wizards of the Coast

The bones and saliva needed to go to make it more Kaladesh, but I was also asked to rework and better address the rim and edge lighting. I had been looking at reference and was sure I had done a good job, but in the end I needed to update it. Here again is the approved version of the Lathnu Sailback and the final production card...

Lathnu Sailback
© 2017 Wizards of the Coast

Lathnu Sailback 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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