Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Darktentacles - Process

I have for you today the thrid of the process posts for the recent work that I produced for the Halls of Undermountain. Today we wrap things up with the Darktentacles!

Thumbnails started things off as always. This time around there was not a lot to draw from immediately for reference, the big balls of tentacles usually come out of my head and that is were these manifested from. The Darktentacles was described as possibly lifting itself out of the water with a few if its tentacles. The tentacle are black and studded with eyes. There is not visible head, it is simply a mass of horrific tentacle goodness.  I can do that! The goal of the thumbnails was to come up with a pleasing mass that showed movement and allowed for a good reveal of the creature. I was on the fence on all of these and did not have a preferred choice, I would leave that up to production. In the end, "B" was the lucky winner...
 Darktentacles - Thumbnails
© 2012 Wizards of the Coast

There was one request, they wanted to see an element added to show the scale of the Darktentacles. Cave fish were suggested and I worked up a couple quick comps showing some options for some cave fish joining the party. This time around, "C" was the winner...

  Darktentacles - Revised Thumbnail
© 2012 Wizards of the Coast

Now it was time for the drawing. This was again one of those situations were once I was well into the drawing I pause and thinks, 'man, that is a lot of tentacles and eyes I now have to paint...' This is said mostly in jest, I do not mind working of complex forms with lots of detail, it just takes time and I need to approach the piece in such a way that I do not focus on all that detail too soon. I need to deal with the over all form first and make sure all the ground work is there before I go nuts with all the fine details. I left the background purposefully vague and empty. I planned on making sure there was cave interior back there but that was all going to come together in the painting stage once I see how the creature was coming together. The drawing was completed, turned in, and approved...

 Darktentacles - Drawing
© 2012 Wizards of the Coast

Now it is time to for the bulk hard work, the painting. Nothing has changed from my usual progression. Manipulated drawing, under painting, main paint level, adjustment and fix layers. You can see more detailed break downs of all this HERE, HERE, and HERE.

I mentioned earlier that I didn't shoot any reference for this piece since it was a ball of tentacles, I did of course use a lot of gathered images for reference in the painting stage. Cave interiors, animals with slimy dark skin, rock and water images were all used to make sure my decisions were all influenced by the world around us. Even when something is completely alien to the world, just a little real world added in will make it that much more believable. This piece did go very quickly and just like magic the images appeared before my unbelieving eyes...

 Darktentacles - Painting progression
© 2012 Wizards of the Coast

This piece has several elements that have appeared in other pieces that I have created in the last couple of years... dark cave, water, dark creature. I have been working to better envision these elements together... the black creature in the black water in the black cave... just use the paint bucket to cover the canvas in black and turn it in. I kid of course. The challenge for me has been to create a scene that on paper is completely black and to give it light and color while still making sure it feels like it is in a deep dark place. This is probably one of my better attempts at it. It gets to the point where if I think too much about it I will make it worse, so I just let myself go, have some fun and make sure the image as a whole is working...

© 2012 Wizards of the Coast

This is the last of my pieces from the Halls of Undermountain adventure book. I still have two more recent D&D pieces that I have process information to share with you in the coming weeks.

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:


  1. Yaaaay! Tentacles. You are the master of all things squidderly. I love the color scheme and the lighting. The blue overhead really makes it pop.

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  3. Seeing that there exists no miniature for the Darktentacles, I built one myself. Your artwork was the guideline for it.

    1. THAT IS AMAZING! So awesome, thanks so much for sharing this will me! I am honored that you took the time to build a mini of one of my monsters.

      I hope you don't mind, but I will want to share this on the blog later in the week so that everyone has a chance to see it!

    2. I'm very glad you like it! Honored, even. You may be surprised that someone made a miniature of one of your monsters, I am surprised my miniature lives up to your artwork. :)

      You may share the picture on your blog of course. But if you want, I will mail you some more photos and a litte description of how the miniature came to be. I would send you an email until the end of the week in that case.

      Either way, you made my day.

    3. PLEASE, by all means send me more photos and descriptions... as well as a your website or other information you would like associated with your work. You can email it to me here: