I have for you today the process and steps that went into my Shimmerwing Chimera painting that was for the Magic the Gathering set, Theros Beyond Death. Of the three pieces created for this set, this is above and beyond my favorite. When I began working on Magic the Gathering in 2012, it was on the original Theros set. It was a fantastic first set to work on and will remain near and dear to me. When I studied the first style guide for Theros, I was immediately drawn to the Chimera, but I never received one as an assignment. When Theros Beyond Death came around, and I was asked to work on it, I crossed my fingers that maybe this time would mean I would be designing and painting a Chimera. I was thrilled to find my first assignment was a Chimera, and it was an inchanted Chimera, which meant it had the starfield in the shadows effect. Here is how the final painting for the Shimmerwing Chimera turned out.
© 2020 Wizards of the Coast
This assignment called for a Chimera that was a mix of a hawk and an eel. It needed to have the head, wings, and legs of the hawk with the elongate body of the eel. The description also stated that there could be an element of a third animal to make the whole more interesting. I instantly thought of crab claws, and I knew without a doubt that this monster would have them. I gathered many references related to hawks, bird wings, bird legs, and eels and got to work on thumbnails.
I immediately was having difficulty with the hawk legs. They were required, but on a design level, they were awkward, and I felt like they were not needed. I did what I could and made them work as best I could. I thought that they worked best in option C, but overall I was not feeling them. I really liked the crab claws. I was feeling good about that choice. Here are the thumbnails that I submitted.
It turned out that
This new thumbnail was approved without further updates, and I was given the go-ahead to create the finalized drawing. I was working on this piece at the same time I was pushing to complete my book, and that meant I only had time to produce the line drawing and not the time for the tonal study. This meant that the line drawing would be doing a lot of heavy lifting and that the value of the entire piece was going to be worked out as I began the painting. Not the most ideal situation, but I made the best of things. Here is the final drawing for the Shimmerwing Chimera.
© 2020 Wizards of the Coast
The drawing was approved, and it was time to paint! This felt like it would be a
I got this painting to a point I thought it was done and showed it to my in-house art director, Dear Wife. She was immediately on me to make the rock formations in the background larger to better fill the space. It made a world of difference and really helped the piece. We both agreed that it was now done, and I submitted it. Production had additional things they wanted me to update. First, they missed the openings in the rock formations that appeared in the thumbnails and drawing for this piece. The gaps were more in keeping with the Theros world, and they are visually more interesting. Second, they wanted the crab claws larger and more noticeable. There was concern that the right claw in front of the body was getting lost and would be all but gone when printed on the card. Third, to help with the claw issue and to add more interest, I was asked to throw some blue into the starfield. These were all easy and straightforward updates to make, and in the end, they made the painting better overall. Once again, this shows the importance of Art Directors and having an excellent objective eye. Here
That's all for another exciting