Today, I am happy to share the process and steps that went into one of my four illustrations in the recently released Dungeons & Dragons supplement, Candlekeep Mysteries. I decided to share the Orcus Figurine with you first. It was the first of the four paintings that I created, so it seemed fitting to share the process for it first. The Orcus Figurine was described as being a small figurine of the god of death, Orcus. It is carved from the petrified heart of an ogre (if I remember correctly) and is a ghastly grey color. That seems straightforward enough. Here is the final painting for the Orcus Figurine.
While I stress the importance of reference, sometimes it is a matter of sitting down and pulling from your skillsets and making it happen. I had plenty of Orcus reference to ensure that the figurine looks like Orcus, but other than that, I was drawing from my head and trying to make something cool. This piece could go in a lot of different directions, and so I wanted to cover my bases and submit a few more options that I typically do. To be honest, I was unsure of where this one was headed and assumed that there would be a second round of thumbnails as the art director and I zeroed in on the desired look. Here are the thumbnails that I submitted.
My assumptions were correct, and I was requested to give this one another pass. I was nearly there, but production wanted me to address some aspects of the design. They liked that it looked like Orcus, but they were concerned that it looked too much like Orcus and not enough like a little carved statue. To that end they wanted me to square off the anatomy more and simplify everything. The wand needed to be shifted to the shoulder so it was more structurally secure, if not, it would have likely snapped off long before the player encountered it. Production felt a base that was uncarved heart would help the look. Like what I did in the fourth thumbnail above, but more like a base and less like unfinished work. I was also asked to make sure that the horns looked like horns and were in no way hair. I took all of this into consideration and go to work on a new thumbnail.
This time I hit the nail on the head, and this new thumbnail was approved. I was asked to make sure there was plenty of wear and tear, hard edges, and smooth weathered edges throughout the design as I moved forward with the finalized drawing. I was also asked to make sure that there was plenty of heart detailing to play up that it is carved from a heart. I got to work on the line art and the final drawing for this piece. Here is the final drawing for the Orcus Figurine.
The drawing was approved, and it was time to paint. I often talk about some paintings going very smoothly and quickly, and this was a prime example of that. This statue is practically monochromatic and has a straightforward form. There were no problematic textures, lighting, or palettes to deal with. It is a grey-green figurine of Orcus with one light source; it does not get much easier than that. Here is a look at the Orcus Figurine taking shape.
You may notice that I adjusted the right hand late in the process. I felt the adjustment resulted in a more pleasing look and ensured that the two hands better matched. This is the kind of painting where I put on something I am familiar with to listen to and just zone out and let the painting take shape. This might sound weird, but after doing this work for as long as I have, sometimes the work takes care of itself. This does not happen all the time, but when it occurs, I take advantage of it. Here again, is the final painting for the Orcus Figurine.
That's all for another exciting Wednesday on the blog. See you back here on Friday! Until then...
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