Friday, May 29, 2020

Ankheg Miniature

I have been waiting for this one for so long. I figured it was only a matter of time. Given enough sets of miniatures, the good folks at Wizards of the Coast would see fit to produce a miniature based on my design of the Ankheg for 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons. Well, it finally happened, and to make it even better, the miniature is based on my painting of the Ankheg that I created of the 5th Edition Monster Manual. The Ankheg is a special monster for me and my work on Dungeons & Dragons. It was the first monster that I painted for the second 4th Edition Monster Manual, I was asked to redesign it for 5th Edition, and finally, I painted it for the 5E Monster Manual. And now, after all that time, a miniature has been made of my version of this iconic monster. Here is my painting of the Ankheg.

Ankheg
5th Edition Monster Manual
11 x 14 - Digital
Art Director - Daniel Gelon
© 2014 Wizards of the Coast LLC

This is still one of my favorite pieces that I have painted for D&D. For me, it just hits all the right notes. A giant monster that is an insect, it's kind of crazy and weird, there is some nice action with the piece, and it is an isolated figure. I love a good isolated figure piece, and it is what I have loved about D&D Monsters Manuals since I was a child. That bold image of a monster on the page with nothing to stand in the way of your imagination building the world the monster lives in. Here is how the miniature of the Ankheg turned out.

Ankheg Miniature

I am so happy with how this miniature turned out. Not only were they faithful to my painting, but it is a large miniature. As much as I love miniatures, I love large minis the best. After so many years of hoping, it is really satisfying to finally see this monster made real in plastic.

That is all for another exciting week on the blog, see you back here on Monday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Fool Me Once - Imperial Assault - Process

Way back in 2017, there was an Ahsoka Tano Ally Pack released for Imperial Assualt, and in it was one of my paintings, Fool Me Once. Fool Me Once was actually painted in 2015 for an Imperial Assault miniature expansion that was eventually canceled. Hard to believe that it has been five years since I painted this, and it took two years for the art to be used. As with most of the art that I have done for FFG and Star Wars it always gets used, and often reused, used again, and then repurposed for good measure. When this project came my way, I was so excited. Not only was I finally getting to do the main art for an expansion, but I was also creating the packing art, and designing a Star Wars miniature. One of the few things that I have never been able to achieve in my career as an artist has been to design a Star Wars action figure. I got close a couple of times, but it never worked out. With this assignment, I thought I had finally done it. In the end, it didn't happen, but I designed it, so that kind of counts. Maybe a little. This would have been a fantastic Outer Rim Smuggler, but at the end of the day, it became Fool Me Once. Here is how the final painting for Fool Me Once turned out.

Fool Me Once
Star Wars Imperial Assault - Ahsoka Tano Ally Pack
14 x 11 - Acrylic and pencil on board
Art Director - Deb Freytag
Original - Currently not available, contact me if interested.
© 2017 Lucasfilm, Ltd. TM Lucasfilm, Ltd. Under license to Fantasy Flight Games

As with nearly all of my paintings, I began the process with a photoshoot. I dressed up and posed for the Trandoshan guards and the Shistavanen (wolfman) smuggler hero. The painting needed to depict the hero sneaking through starport customs with illicit goods. In this case, it is the packaging for the Slave One X-Wing miniature that contained my Wookiee Gunner card. I also set up my Star Wars action figures in a little diorama to work out compositions lighting. With all the reference collected, I began working on thumbnails. In the end, I submitted three options for this piece.

Fool Me Once -Thumbnails
© 2017 Lucasfilm, Ltd. TM Lucasfilm, Ltd. Under license to Fantasy Flight Games

Looking back at these now, I am a little shocked that they went with the option 'C.' Options 'A' and 'B,' to my eyes now, are way more dynamic and interesting. Five years on, I would have really liked to have painted option 'A,' that one is really cool with the slight dutch angle. Oh well, what is in the past is out of reach. They chose 'C,' and I painted 'C.' Now that I had an approved thumbnail, it was time to get started on the final drawing.

Fool Me Once - Drawing
Star Wars Imperial Assault - Ahsoka Tano Ally Pack
17 x 14 - Pencil on paper
Art Director - Deb Freytag
Original - SOLD
© 2017 Lucasfilm, Ltd. TM Lucasfilm, Ltd. Under license to Fantasy Flight Games

There were a couple of small edits that were requested with the drawing that I addressed on the paper and not digitally. You can see those edits in the animated process below. At the same time, i was working on the final drawing for the painting I was working on the miniature design for the Outer Rim Smuggler. They did not require a full turnaround of the design, but they needed me to extend the figure past the borders of the painting. This was all simple enough, and it gave me a chance to do another drawing and to finally design a Star Wars figure. We can now see how well that turned out. Here is the final miniature design for what would have been the Outer Rim Smuggler.

Outer  Rim Smuggler - Miniature design
Star Wars Imperial Assault
11 x 14 - Pencil on paper
Art Director - Deb Freytag
Original - SOLD
© 2017 Lucasfilm, Ltd. TM Lucasfilm, Ltd. Under license to Fantasy Flight Games

With all the pieces in place, it was time to work on the final painting. This time around, I have included everything that went into the painting from the thumbnail to the final painting so that you can see how vital my thumbnails are to my process and the final painting. I work it all out from the beginning, and each additional step adds detail and refines the overall image.

Now is an excellent time to talk about the graffiti in the final painting. This painting made it in just before Lucas Film put its foot down about artists writing things in the Star Wars written language of Aurebesh. Apparently, some artists were sneaking words into their paintings that were not relevant to the work or the world-building. With all of my Aurebesh in my work, I have been world-building and adding a little something extra to the piece. Not that you can ever read any of it at the size the art is printed. In the end, I was asked to blur the text out just a little and not to obliterate it since it only reads, "Yavin 4 was an inside job", "Down with the Empire," and "Hunt or be hunted." I will talk more on another day in regards to all the Aurebesh in my Star Wars paintings and the story I was telling with assignments. A story that FFG and Lucas Film were never aware of.

All that said, here is the animated process of the painting coming together from the thumbnails all the way to the completed painting.

Fool Me Once - Process steps
© 2017 Lucasfilm, Ltd. TM Lucasfilm, Ltd. Under license to Fantasy Flight Games

Once the painting was finalized and approved, I needed to make the art that would have been used as the packing art for the Outer Rim Smuggler. With all of the miniature packaging, there is a painted figure of what the miniature looks like. This hero shot usually comes from the main art for the miniature pack, which is also the art that the mini is based on. Everything is consistent, and things can be reused. I digitally cut out the smuggler and did some digital clean up of the art. To match the other sets, I smoothed out the painted texture because nearly all of the packing art is digital and very smooth and polished. It was all a quick turnaround for the cleanup and did not take away from the original image. Here is what would have been the packing art for the Outer Rim Smuggler. 

Outer  Rim Smuggler - Packaging figure
Star Wars Imperial Assault
6 x 9.3 - Digital finish over Acrylic and pencil on board
Art Director - Deb Freytag
© 2017 Lucasfilm, Ltd. TM Lucasfilm, Ltd. Under license to Fantasy Flight Games

So much work for what ended up being a tiny little card in another miniature's expansion pack. This is the way of things, and so much happens long after the art is done and has little to nothing to do with all the work and time put into the assignment. Things change, and at the end of the day, it was decided that this miniature set was not getting a release. Thankfully the art was used eventually. Here again, is the final art for Fool Me Once.

Fool Me Once
14 x 11 - Acrylic and pencil on board
Original - Currently not available, contact me if interested.
© 2017 Lucasfilm, Ltd. TM Lucasfilm, Ltd. Under license to Fantasy Flight Games

Here is how the art was eventually used. Another heavy crop and tiny print size. Thankfully the art was reused for the Star Wars LCG expansion of Desperate Circumstances, where is was printed larger and more of it was used. It took a while, but most of the art saw the light of day. That is a lot more than I can say about some of my work. But that is a conversation for another day.

Fool Me Once in handy dandy card form

Clever Distraction in handy dandy card form
 
That' 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

Friday, May 22, 2020

The Grand Bazaar of Ethra VanDalia Update - Enamel Pins

Earlier in the week, I received some exciting news from the good folks at ArtOrder. The production team working to make the enamel pins for the Kickstarter campaign sent photos of the pins off the production line. I can not be happier with what I am seeing. They have turned out beautifully, and I am so excited. As far as I am told, I should have samples in hand in a little over a week, which is also very exciting. After all the writing, drawing, editing, correcting, fixing, designing, campaigning, and everything else I have been doing for these many years that I have worked to make the Grand Bazaar a reality, strangely, feels like it is real. There are tangible artifacts from the Grand Bazaar now in the world - no turning back now.

The Crest of Ethra VanDalia

The symbol of the Construct Guild

Be sure to keep an eye out, for as we get closer to July, I am sure there will be more to share, and it will be here on the blog as soon as I can share it.

That is all for another exciting week on the blog, see you back here next week! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Egg Token - MtG - Commander 2019: Process

At the very end of 2018, I produced one card for the Magic the Gathering set, Commander 2019. The card was the Egg Token set in the realm of Ixalan. I never worked on Ixalan, but I guess this now counts. This was my first token and something a little different from what I usually do. It is always fun to have the opportunity to work on Magic the Gathering and to see my work printed on cards all around the world. My schedule sometimes does not allow me to work on the game, but when it does, I enjoy the adventure. Here is the final painting for the Egg Token.

Egg Token
Magic the Gathering - Commander 2019
12 x 8.7- Digital 
Art Director - Taylor Ingvarsson
 © 2019 Wizards of the Coast

There was plenty of reference to look to for what Ixalan needs to look like, though this is a rather intimate view of that world. I looked at some different animal eggs and got to work on some thumbnails. The assignment was to depict a dinosaur egg that had a slight glow to it, sitting in a nest surrounded by the thick jungles of Ixalan. It seemed straight forward enough. Here are the thumbnails I produced for the Egg.

Egg Token - Thumbnails
Digital
 © 2019 Wizards of the Coast

As it would out, I was sent the incorrect templates for the current token layout. This meant that all of my thumbnails were wrong and needed to be scrapped. That said, production liked where option "A" was headed and asked that I use it in combination with the correct template and see what happens. There were some things going on in the other thumbnails that I really preferred, but that is how things go sometimes. Never send in a thumbnail that you do not what to end up using. Here is the updated thumbnail that I submitted. 

Egg Token - Updated thumbnail
Digital
 © 2019 Wizards of the Coast

This updated thumbnail was approved and approved, and I was given the go-ahead to do my favorite step, the drawing. Due to my work on the Grand Bazaar of Ethra VanDalia, I was unable to allow the time to create the line drawing as well as the value study. Never enough time in the day sometimes and something has to give. Now that I am not doing the value study for these cards, I realize how useful they are. Here is the final version of the drawing.

Egg Token Drawing
Magic the Gathering - Commander 2019
11 x 14 - Pencil on Paper
Original - SOLD
 © 2019 Wizards of the Coast

Please note that the plant in the lower-left corner is merely a plant. It is nothing noteworthy at all. When this card was released, there were some people insistent that this plant was, in fact, a black lotus. It is clearly not, and I am not nearly that clever when it comes to hiding Easter Eggs in my Magic work. I have hidden plenty in my Star Wars work, and I am extremely well versed with D&D, and I think I do plenty of world-building there, but with Magic, I don't try to play around. Also, this particular bit of foliage is blue in the final and not black. I needed something other than more green and something cool in color for the corner. No matter what you think you see, it is just a plant. I have spoken.

As far as the drawing goes, I was asked to make sure that the egg was not so busy with its pattern and to do something more striaghtforward so that it stands out against all the plants and nest. Here is an animated process of the painting coming together.

Egg Token - Animated process
  © 2019 Wizards of the Coast

This process includes both the original version of the cards as well as the revised final version. When I submitted the card, I had given the egg a bit more glow than production had wanted as well as removing the tiny skull. As I was working on this piece, I felt the skull was not working. It was an odd little piece of clutter. Yes, it is there for scale, but it just seemed, to me at least, that it was not working. So I added a new layer and painted over it. This is one of the good things about working digitally, that skull was still there to bring back to the forefront. Also, adjusting the glow, at the end of the day, was not a herculean effort either. There was a little painting needed, but the layer setup allowed me to get in there and worry over the affected areas directly. Here is a comparison of the original and final versions of the Egg Token.

Egg Token - Original and final comparison
  © 2019 Wizards of the Coast

To be honest, I still feel this piece is just a little off. I can't put my finger on it, but I feel like I could make it better. That is sometimes the way it is with a painting. Here again, is the final version of the Egg Token in all its eggy glory and well as the final production card that completely obscures the supposed black lotus. WHICH IT IS NOT.

Egg Token
  © 2019 Wizards of the Coast

Egg Token in handy dandy card form

That is all for another exciting Wednesday on the blog, see you back here on Firday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com

Monday, May 18, 2020

Recent Artist Proof Drawings, Sketches, and More

Today I have for you a selection of recent artist proofs that I added sketches to as well as another sketchbook drawing. I have seen a recent increase in interest in artist proofs, which is nice. The big sale on my sketchbooks that include a free drawing in the books is keeping me busy as well. If you are interested in getting any of these for yourself, just follow the links to my store

This is a special order of a D&D Lizardman and the Gray Wanderer from The Grand Bazaar of Ethra VanDalia. If you are interesting is something like this that is more involved, please contact me beforehand for availability and pricing.

A couple of Portents and angry lizards.

Yet another salivating angry monster.

This is my favorite of another batch of sketchbooks that recently went into the mail.

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

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com

Friday, May 15, 2020

The Sketchbook Sale Continues and Sketches!

My big sale on all remaining sketchbooks continues and I wanted to share some of the FREE drawings that I have been putting into the books that have already sold. Here is a collected view of some of the drawings, with larger images of them and more further down the page.

You too can get a FREE drawing just like the above drawings when you buy any of my sketchbooks!

As a reminder, all of my sketchbooks have all been marked down to a mere $10, AND they each come with a FREE original pencil drawing! That's right, for only $10 you can get a sketchbook with a free original drawing. I have three volumes of my sketchbook remaining to choose from.

The HUGE SALE on all my sketchbooks continues!

As mentioned above, here are larger views of some of the free drawings that have been going out in the mail this past weekend. Not only do you get a sketchbook filled with a ton of my monster drawings, each sketchbook comes with a FREE original drawing. And once the books are gone, they are GONE. Supplies are limited, so you better act now before they are gone forever.

Monsters and more monsters! Get yours today!

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

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Ghoul - Dungeons & Dragons Essentials Kit: Process

Last year I had the super fun opportunity to paint a female Dwarf Ghoul for the Dungeons & Dragons Essentials Kit. While on the surface, this might seem like a piece that would be perfectly tailored for me, but it is a bit different than I usually do. I tend not to enter into the realm of core D&D races with my work, but since she was an undead monster, it all worked okay in the end. And as it turns out, I make for reasonably good female Dwarf Ghoul reference.

Today I have for you the process and steps that went into painting the Ghoul. It was a straightforward assignment, which is always appreciated. I had myself for the reference, and the rest was just getting it done. Starting things off, here is a look at the final painting of the Ghoul.

 
Ghoul
Dungeons & Dragons Essentials Kit
11 x 14 - Digital
Art Director - Kate Irwin
© 2019 Wizards of the Coast LLC
 
I started this assignment with a good ole photoshop of me acting out all my favorite Ghoul poses and actions. I will not be sharing those images with you because they are not fit to share. I worked out the physicality of the compositions and poses I wanted and established some lighting reference. Here are the three thumbnails that I submitted.

Ghoul - Thumbnails
© 2019 Wizards of the Coast LLC
 
 You sometimes get close, but not all the way there. They liked option 'B,' but felt it was not grounded enough and looked like it was floating or hopping and not lunging. This was easy enough to resolve with some more photo reference and working out what looked best. What looks best is sometimes in conflict with what is accurate to the reference. You need to know when and how to push and pull the reference to get it to be what it needs to be for the painting. Here is the updated thumbnail that I resubmitted after addressing all of the production notes.

Ghoul - Updated thumbnail
© 2019 Wizards of the Coast LLC
 
 The thumbnail was approved, and it was time to work up the final drawing. As I have mentioned most likely dozens of times before, the drawing step of my process is my favorite, and it is the step that takes the least amount of time. This is one of the reasons my work on the Grand  Bazaar is pencil work and drawing. Here is how the final drawing for the Ghoul turned out.
 
Ghoul
Dungeons & Dragons Essentials Kit
11 x 14 - Pencil on paper
Art Director - Kate Irwin
© 2019 Wizards of the Coast LLC
 
Now it was time to paint! As I said, this assignment was straightforward and came together very quickly and easily. No road bumps, no issues, merely painting a Ghoul. Having good reference images for anatomy, foreshortening, and lighting make things so much easier and saves so much time during the painting step. Here is the painting coming together for your viewing pleasure.

Ghoul - Painting process
© 2019 Wizards of the Coast LLC
 
And without much fanfare and no issues, the paint was approved and sent off to production. They can't all be this easy, but when they are, it is appreciated. Here again, is the final painting for the Ghoul in all its undead glory.

Ghoul
© 2019 Wizards of the Coast LLC
 
That's 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

Monday, May 11, 2020

The First Portfolio Leave Behind - circa 2004

I have something a little different for you today. While recently cleaning and organizing the home office, we came upon a relic from the past, well, actually a stack of them. Way back in 2004, while we were still out in Los Angeles, I was trying to expand my career options and was attending events like the San Diego Comic Con to talk with art directors and having interviews with other effects shops in the attempts to find additional freelance work and full-time opportunities. While I had somewhat steady work at the time with the effects shop I moved out there to work with, it was always a feast of famine, and the lean times were hard. Don't get my wrong, I was working on massive shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly - not to mention movies and other TV shows. But work was unpredictable, and at the end of the day, it was a hostile work environment, and I was not artistically fulfilled and was looking elsewhere.

To that end, I had a portfolio that contained samples of work. After my review, I would offer a leave behind folder that contained my contact information, resume, and a selection of what I considered the best of my work at the time. Looking back at this now, I would think I would cringe or be embarrassed, but neither has happened. I see in this a beginning. A starting point. And, after sixteen years of hard work, at the end is a career of making monsters for some of the biggest games in the world and a book that I wrote and filled with monsters set in a world that I created.

We all start somewhere. Some of us are ahead of others, and there are those ahead of us. There is luck, happy chances, hard work, sacrifice, and living that will happen, and in the end, we all end up somewhere else from where we began. I like having this object because it is a concrete moment in time for where I was and who I was as an artist. Sure, I would have loved to have been more skilled than I was at that time. I am sure I would have had many more opportunities. But at the end of the day, I was not ready as a person and as an artist. I had not put in my time and hard work. That said, I was about to kick everything into overdrive. A year from when I was handing these out, I was working for Wizards of the Coast, creating miniature turnarounds for Dreamblade. In that year, we left Los Angeles, I started working a steady day job as a designer, and I stopped worrying about trying to appease others and started focusing on my own work. It all changed in June of 2005, but it began in June of 2004 with this leave behind.

 Brown, black, and a little orange... now that screams hire me for my design sense.

Inside you will find my business card, resume, and a selection of my work.

 Page one of the art samples. I think they speak for themselves. The bottom left was the one that Carlos Huantes groaned the loudest over when he reviewed my portfolio.

 Page two of the art samples. Top right was a movie poster I was working on for the producer/agent and the scriptwriter. I never got paid, and nothing came of this horror western. The bottom design is still one of the favorite things that I did for Buffy/Angel. Production nitpicked the design until it was ruined and then clapped themselves on the back about what I good job they did. I still have the original design, and I am still happy with it.

 Page one of the resume. Nothing like trying to make a little seem like a WHOLE lot. In the beginning, you will do that. Need to make it look like there is more going on than there really is.

 Page two of the resume. This is an accurate and uninflated list of the things I had worked on at this time in my life. While this information is still on my current resume, I sometimes think about removing or heavily condensing it. That day may come eventually.

As I have said above, this is a moment in time for me now. This is not an embarrassment or something to be ashamed of, this is who I was at that time. I think it is crucial to remember things like this. It shows that we do not know where we will end up or when it will happen. Do not lose faith in yourself. We never stop working and pushing ourselves, and you never know where you will find yourself.

That is all for another exciting Monday on the blog, see you back here on Wednesday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com