Wednesday, January 26, 2011

New Work: Rally the Forces

©Wizards of the Coast

Rally the Forces, oil on illustration board, 10"x8".

I was pretty reluctant to show this piece, but I've already spent plenty of time embarrassing myself in previous posts, so why stop now?

This is another piece on illustration board, and it's a piece I also felt should be small (for some reason), though in retrospect it so clearly should have been MUCH larger.  It's a battle scene for the love of Pete!  What was I thinking?!

Still, it is what it is and I will address it so.  Admittedly, this piece has some major issues.  Mostly some noticeably bad drawing here and there.  Part of the reason for this is that I likely didn't shoot quite enough reference.  Another reason is that the piece was too darned small.  Even my smallest brush was incapable of getting certain things across because it was just too big for the job.  So, there are some shortcomings that might otherwise not have been there if I'd just scaled it up.  At least that's what I keep telling myself, anyway.  I'd like to say that the job was too much for me, but I think this may be a case where I didn't completely rise to the occasion and the result was something that only managed to get 80% of the way there...if that.

At the same time, this is still nowhere near my worst Magic painting.  That honor still goes to Maelstrom Nexus.  While fans may feel differently, I can assure everyone reading this that that piece failed on almost every level and was flawed from the ground up by my inability to come up with a good visual concept in the first place.  But that's just my opinion.

On the bright side, I think the piece reduced well.  Plus, the art director seemed pleased enough, and Wizards of the Coast ended up using the piece in several promotional bits including this video (link here).  So it can't be all bad, right?

Side note: this piece was also done with Liquin.  I remember getting pretty frustrated by its tendency to gum up — particularly while working on the figure in the foreground, right who is looking at the viewer.  There are only two other Magic paintings that were done using Liquin aside from this piece that I have yet to show.  I'll toss one of these your way tomorrow.  The other was not published with the most recent Magic set despite being commissioned for it.  Whether or not it will be a part of the next set is unknown to me.  Outside of that there was a book cover that I painted around the same time using Liquin, which I will tell the tale of in the near future, but I need to let some dust settle first.


  1. Regardless of your endless self-criticism, which is very entertaining since I can hear your voice saying everything, I'm stoked you are showing some new work here. The process/philosophy/advice entries are great, but I almost forget that you are a pretty badass illustrator as well.

    Great stuff, can't wait to see more.

  2. Glad you like it. A lot of the self-criticism is based on knowing what I have been up to since that blows pieces like this out of the water. Plus, I have a difficult time disassociating process from result. If I had a horrible time working on something, it will forever color that piece. Such is life, I guess.


  3. I don't know Steve, I think "Maelstrom Nexus" is pretty successful. You achieved what a lot of digital guys could do with a few filters, with OILS. That's quite the accomplishment. And this piece does reduce pretty good.

    My fun Liquin story: At last year's IMC, after slaving away on the drawing, I coated the painting with a wash of Liquin (kind of like Donato does with his mix of turps and cobalt dryer) before starting to paint into it. And it gummed up and it was pure hell working into it and ended up killing a whole day of painting waiting for it to dry. Later that night I was talking to Greg and told him about my mishap. His response was "why didn't you just wipe it off [dumbass]". So that was a good lesson about thinning the Liquin down with Gamsol. Works like a charm from that day forward.

    Good luck with Snowmaggedon Part 3 (or is it Part 4).

  4. Maelstrom Nexus actually had substantial digital work done to it in an failed attempt at fixing it. I can assure you that it falls short enough in person that no one will ever see it, and it currently resides in the "to be deleted" pile.

    Fun story, by the way. My tastes and preferences are cyclical enough that I may go back to Liquin at some point, though I hope never to be that idiotic. I've never bothered to put a layer down as you describe for some of the very reasons you describe.



I welcome all comments, questions, and discussion so long as you keep it civil.