This past November, the Dungeons & Dragons supplement, Tasha's Cauldron of Everything, was released, and with it my Elemental Essence Shard illustration. I am happy to share the process and steps that went into making this piece with you today. When I created this piece in 2020, I was having difficulty making art and finding the motivation to be creative. I took this assignment so that I had an external deadline and obligation to create. When I took the assignment, there were going to be many more monsters in the book than there ended up in the final publication. This left me with a trio of magical shards that were linked to different planes in the Realms. This was a very challenging painting for me. Not technically, but mentally and physically to find the will and motivation to make it. In the end, it was completed and was very well received by the production team. It all worked out in the end, and it ended up helping me to make my own art again. To start things off, here is the final painting for Elemental Essence Shard.
If you are expecting me to mention a photoshoot and reference in regards to this piece, well, you are out of luck this time. This is one of the few assignments or projects that I pulled entirely out of my head from start to finish. While I am a huge advocate of using reference and preparing for projects, in the fullness of time, you do build up a skillset, and you can create things on your own. I have looked at plenty of hard surface objects, how light hits and reflects off of them and have created plenty of magical versions of such objects. The assignment was to create three shards representing three different planes, and I am more than ready to pull that from my head. There was plenty of direction in the assignment regarding what they wanted to see and what the shards needed to embody. It was only a matter of sitting down and making something that looked and felt interesting and appropriate to D&D. I worked up three compositions with the shards I designed. I didn't feel the need to create different shard designs until after these were potentially rejected. I was confident with them and felt the deciding factor here was the arrangement and the final render. Here are the thumbnails I submitted.
Option 'A' was selected without changes. They liked them all but went with 'A' since there was plenty of space around each one, and this allowed the production team to use the shards seperately and allowed for the deletion of one or more if it was deemed necessary. As you can see from the final, none of this ended up being done, and the shards were used as it. An overlapping composition may have been interesting, but having them all separated did allow for a quicker and more straightforward painting. With the thumbnail approved, it was time to create the line art.
The line art was approved without comment, and I was given the go-ahead for the final painting. As I have mentioned recently, I am taking my line art drawings to a final drawing state. This allows me to have more fun drawing, a way to work out what I will be doing with the final painting, and a more pleasing finished product. The line art is still used for painting, but the finished drawing is for myself and collectors. Here is the final drawing for the shards.
With all the drawings squared away, it was time to paint. Since the shards were separate objects, I handled them in the painting this way as well. I painted them left to right and treated each of them as standalone pieces. It went extremely quickly, as long as I was in my chair working, but like I said, at the time in 2020 that I was working on this, getting in my chair to work was very difficult. Here is a look at the Elemental Essence Shard painting taking shape.
The final painting was very well received, and there were no edits or changes required. I was threatened that because I did such a good job with this assignment, I am likely to see more objects and non-monster work in my future. We will see what comes of this. So far, I have only received one object in the assignments I have taken on since working on this piece.
Lastly, here again, is the final painting for Elemental Essence Shard. It will forever be a transitional piece and the client work I most associate with 2020.
That's all for another exciting Wendesday on the blog. See you back here on Friday! Until then...