Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Armed to the Teeth - Process - Star Wars: Between the Shadows

Today I have for you another process post for a "recent" Star Wars piece. This time around is the piece, Armed to the Teeth, from Star Wars: Between the Shadows! I first shared these pieces in February, so here is how the final Armed to the Teeth turned out...

Armed to the Teeth
Star Wars: Between the Shadows
10.3 x 8.6 - Digital
© 2015 Lucasfilm, Ltd. TM Lucasfilm, Ltd. Under license to Fantasy Flight Games

This piece sounded like it was going to be a lot of fun from the moment I received the assignment. Who doesn't like a four armed blaster wielding Besalisk that came here to chew bubble gum and tear the place up... and he is all out of bubble gum. I was playing around with some ideas of how I wanted to work this piece up so I got to work of some thumbnails...

Armed to the Teeth - Thumbnails
© 2015 Lucasfilm, Ltd. TM Lucasfilm, Ltd. Under license to Fantasy Flight Games

I have mentioned it before but I do not often post examples, but I like to physically work out my compositions in a reference photo shoot at the beginning of an assignment. I will do the same with miniatures, toys, action figures, etc. I like to play with real object in a three dimensional space. I am also working with my wife to get the best images I can. She is always behind the camera when I am the subject and she gives me directions to get the best shots and posses. We trouble shoot, improvise, and discover happy accidents along the way that lead to unexpected and often more successful solutions. I use to work up my ideas on paper and then do the photo shot and it often limited my options or turned out to be impossible to replicate physically. By starting from a photo shot I begin with an idea in my head, a feeling, a mood and we act out the illustration. I can then take all the photos and mix and match to work up ideas that work best for the assignment. All too often I end up with something much better by playing with the photo assets to create my images. My wife is always getting me to adjust my posses so that they read better on camera and better illustrate the action or movement I am aiming for. I could not do it without her. Here is the photo reference that went into the winning thumbnail...

 RAWR! The use of reference makes things better.
Photos by Achsa Nute 

No that I had a selected thumbnail, option "B", it was time for the final drawing. At the time I think I liked all the thumbnails more or less equally and had even been leaning more toward options "A" or "C". Looking back now it is more then obvious that "B" is the best choice. Thanks, Zoe! Here is how the final drawing turned out...

Armed to the Teeth
Between the Shadows - SWLCG
12 x 9 - Pencil on paper
Original for sale over on my web store!
© 2015 Lucasfilm, Ltd. TM Lucasfilm, Ltd. Under license to Fantasy Flight Games

The drawing was approved and it was time for the painting. The only issue going into this piece was that we (the AD and I) knew that the chrome of the card would be over his top right hand and gun. The rest of the image was otherwise working so well we decided to move ahead and make a great image even though the finished product would be just a little bit less great... but it still is great and this is still one of my favorite SW card piece. Besalisk are just too much fun! That said... you can have yourself a Besalisk painting in just twelve easy steps... or not...

Armed to the Teeth - Process steps
© 2015 Lucasfilm, Ltd. TM Lucasfilm, Ltd. Under license to Fantasy Flight Games

I do need to get around to talking about what that reacquiring sign / text is in the background of so many of my Star Wars paintings. ...but it will have to wait for another day. This was a really straight forward painting. I had great reference thanks to my wife to work from and the subject matter is super fun. The hardest part was working up a better building facade in the background and to do the text. Something I have been working to improve, and I have definitely had to since switching to traditional paint, is to make sure my backgrounds and architecture are looked down before going into paint. They can sink a painting if they are sloppy and out of perspective. Here is a handy dandy animated progression of the painting coming together. It should give you a better idea of the steps that went into making this piece...

Armed to the Teeth - Animated process progression
© 2015 Lucasfilm, Ltd. TM Lucasfilm, Ltd. Under license to Fantasy Flight Games

I shared with once before in regards to a Rodian I painted, but it was always meant to be shared a part of this process post. WAY back in 2004 / 2005 when I was trying to get in the doors of Wizards of the Coast I was very eager to work on Dungeons & Dragons and Star Wars. Here is a piece done for my portfolio and submitted to WotC in the hopes of getting some Star Wars work. That work never came with WotC, for obvious reasons... just look at it... The work did eventually come from FFG after many years of growth and hard work Let us gaze upon the sad little Rodian...

  "Portfolio" piece sent to Wizards of the Coast from very early 2005

While the issues of this piece are many there are a couple of okay bits, but the okay bits certainly do not make up for the rest of it. Real quick: Sloppy background, awkward weird drapery, anatomy issues, anatomy symmetry issues, local color issues, black shadows everywhere, simplistic blaster effect, not a dynamic pose, no narrative, using reference for some parts and not for other that makes really awkward juxtapositions of rendering quality, etc. Anyway... the long and short of it being inexperience. Jump ahead nine years after a bit of work and experience...

2005 vs 2014
"Portfolio" Star Wars work and licensed Star Wars assignment
...or in other word, the difference of nine years and MANY MANY hours of work and experience

You can't have piece like Armed to the Teeth without a ton of sad Rodians. You need to make fifty sad Rodians for every Armed to the Teeth you hope to make. Just the way it is.

Once again here is the final painting for Armed to the Teeth as well as the final production card that appears in the game...

Armed to the Teeth
Star Wars: Between the Shadows
10.3 x 8.6 - Digital
© 2015 Lucasfilm, Ltd. TM Lucasfilm, Ltd. Under license to Fantasy Flight Games

Armed to the Teeth 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:

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