Today, I am happy to share the process and steps that went into one of my four illustrations in the recently released Dungeons & Dragons supplement, Candlekeep Mysteries. For this installment, I am sharing my final contribution, Thunderwing the Sprite. Thunderwing the Sprite is having the worst day when players encounter her as she is having a pretty cry and not the ugly sob that I initially drew her. Here is the final painting for Thunderwing the Sprite.
This piece is a bit out of my wheelhouse and not the typical work I take on, but you do the best you can do when you get an assignment. Since this needed to be a human-like female creature, I knew I would be relying heavily on reference to make sure it turns out the best it can. Dear Wife stepped in to be the very best sad Sprite she could be and saved the day. The assignment called for Thunderwing to be sitting on a rock crying, so that is what I provided. I knew from the start that it was going to be problematic. Her wings are essential, and they take up a lot of space once seated. Since she was sad, it was evident that the wings needed to be down and not up. All of this resulted in a very horizontal composition when the art required to be verticle. Here are the thumbnails that I submitted for Thunderwing the Sprite.
As anticipated, these thumbnails were not working. While I liked them a lot, maybe more so than the finals, they didn't work for the art that would be in the book. I was asked to revisit them and have Thunderwing standing so that the composition allowed her wings to be down and for the overall piece to be vertical. My art director also suggested that I have Thunderwing interacting with her wings somehow, possibly wiping her eyes. I thought all of this sounded interesting, and Dear Wife once again stepped in and modeled her best very sad Sprite. Here are the revised thumbnails for Thunderwing the Sprite.
The second time is the charm and production selected option 'A' from the revised thumbnails. With a thumbnail chosen, it was time to work on the final drawing. Again, the reference was invaluable to make sure this turned out the way it needed to. While I can pull tentacle and tooth from my head all day long, I need
I mentioned pretty crying and ugly sobbing earlier. While the drawing was approved, I was asked to make sure Thunderwing remained somewhat pretty and was not absolutely breaking down. I was sent some additional reference images for pretty crying that I used as I moved into the final. I have been asked many things in my career, but this was the first monster that needed to appear to be pretty crying. While it was a first, it certainly wasn't the worst. Here is the process of the painting for Thunderwing the Sprite taking shape.
This painting took shape very quickly, and it was completed due to the reference that I had at my disposal. You will note that I adjusted the drawing going into the painting process so that it was locked in, and I was not searching for the correct facial features in the paint. I made sure that my reference had the proper lighting, fabric reference, and props so that the hands looked like they were holding wings. As I have said countless times here on the blog, reference is critical, reference is your friend, and reference must be used. This painting either would not exist, would have been poor quality, or would have taken me easily ten times the amount of time to complete if not for reference. Here again, is the final painting for Thunderwing the Sprite.
That's all for another exciting Wednesday on the blog. See you back here on Friday! Until then...