Today, I am happy to share the process and steps for one of my contributions to the Dungeons & Dragons supplement, Mordenkainen Presents Monsters of the Multiverse. This third contribution is the Molydeus. The demon Molydeus is an established monster, but I was asked to give it a new pass and update it. Here is the final painting for the Molydeus.
While this is an established monster, and I was asked to update it, there was plenty of direction from production and a lot to work with. It was described as:
"A 12-foot-tall bipedal demon wielding a demonic weapon. The creature has two heads atop a humanoid-shaped body. The first is a furry, gray wolf head where a human’s head would normally be. The other is a long green demonic serpent that sprouts from its back that arcs over its shoulder. The serpent’s mouth is open in a menacing hiss, revealing long fangs that drip with black ichor. The skin of the demon’s body is deep red, its muscles marred with scars that form the symbol of the Abyss. Its fingers and toes are tipped with wicked black talons, and its legs are “reverse-jointed” like a canine’s.
In one hand it holds a wicked-looking glaive. The bladed head of the weapon is forged from a black metal to resemble the faces of screaming tortured souls, their eyes burning with yellow light."
While I have never battled this demon or used it against my players, I am still familiar with its appearance. It has been around for a while, and it was an honor to bring it into 5th edition. The snake head on the back is the giveaway. While I didn't have the room to do so, I would have loved to have deformed the anatomy a lot to make the source and growth of the snake part more horrifying and grotesque. But this is not my monster to do with as I please. I still had to check specific boxes and please production. Here are the thumbnails that I submitted.
At the time I was liking 'C,' but I liked 'B' as well. As a lone figure, it can be hard to describe the scale, and I still feel 'A' makes it look like a small creature. 'C' may present the tallest of the depiction, but as you can already see, 'B' was the winner. But we were not there yet. I was asked to have more fun with the armor. I was told that the armor was more decorative than practical, it is a demon after all, and I could put some crazy skulls on there, or whatever - as long as it was cool and I was having fun. I made the requested modifications and submitted a revised thumbnail.
I was getting closer. I can not recall now, but the note to add more fur around the neck may have been forgotten when I was asked to expand the armor. Anyway, I was now asked to give the wolf head a bit more fur. Here is the updated revised thumbnail.
And after three attempts, the thumbnail was approved. It was now time to move closer to the painting. I always do a final traditional drawing for every project to work out the details and to give myself a tangible product from the assignment. Here are the two stages of the Molydeus drawing, the mid-stage line art and the final rendered drawing.
With an approved drawing, it was time to start painting. Much of the colorwork on this one is dictated by the previous incarnations. Grey wolf head, green snake, and a red flesh body. There is still plenty to do with this, but it gives me a box to work within - which can be nice when other assignments are entirely open-ended. Here is the painting of the Molydeus taking shape.
This was definitely one of those 'sit in the chair and get it done' pieces. I was not reinventing the wheel; I was not reaching to create something new and unexpected. I was painting a cool wolf demon with a snake head on its back. At this point in my career, these things can paint themselves. I simply need to be in the chair doing the work, and it finds a way to completion. I understand that this is not really advice or instruction for you to be a better painter, but it is the reality of things. If I had read this ten years ago, I would be less than pleased, but it happens over time. I am at a point I am not actively thinking about everything I am doing on a piece. What I am doing is constantly reacting to what is happening and am engaged in a back and forth dance with the painting. In college, I had a professor talk about this dance, and I thought he was crazy. Jump ahead over two decades, and I am talking about a dance I do with my paintings. I make informed decisions and then respond to what I did. Back and forth, back and forth, and eventually, the painting is done. It is a little like magic. For years I struggled to learn how to do this stuff, then I worked very hard for many years doing it, and now I am working hard, but I am working less towards a painting that *is* finished and more toward a painting that *feels* finished. Like I said, magic. Not sure how it works, it just does and it can take decades to get there. Here again, is the final painting for the Molydeus.
That's all for another exciting Wednesday on the blog. See you back here on Friday! Until then...