Friday, July 15, 2011

Revisiting Reprints: Stampeding Rhino

Fortunately, this piece requires very little explanation from me.  There are no Magic codewords involved, no odd game rules to explain.  It's a picture of a rhino.  A stampeding rhino, in fact.  Well, that's not entirely accurate, is it?  I mean, it's not quite like any rhinoceros we have here in reality.  Being Magic, things need to be a little augmented, a little off.  So, what did I do and what was my approach?

Let's take a look at the sketch:

©Wizards of the Coast

The first thing you may notice is that this is a digital sketch.  Well, mostly digital sketch, anyway.  I started with the usual pencil on typing paper, got it to a certain point then scanned it in.  I felt the need to flesh it out a bit and needed to do that quickly — I had three other pieces to paint on top of this one, after all (this piece, Deathmark, Forest, and Duress were all commissioned at the same time).  So, I turned to the computer to help me clarify the sketch a bit.

The end result is quite crude but it's still more than enough to see where I was headed.  But where exactly was that?  Well, the key to this piece was its working title, "Plated Rhino."  Essentially I was being asked to toughen up and bolster an already formidable creature.  My solution was to bring in some elements of tortoise shells and add that to the mix.  This seemed to be a direction the folks at Wizards of the Coast liked and I was given the green light.

©Wizards of the Coast

The finished painting was a 11" x 8" oil painting on a piece of Strathmore illustration board measuring 13" x 10".  It was painted in the fall of 2008 and was initially printed in Magic 2010, which was released in summer of 2009, and has just been reprinted as part of Magic 2012.

Stampeding Rhino is a piece that I pretty much never get asked about.  Everyone takes it at face value and moves on.  I actually have no problem with this, but I do want to take the opportunity to talk a little about what went into the piece.

Never having been to the parts of Africa or Asia that have them, I have never seen a real, live rhinoceros except in a zoo.  Though I don't recall it, I likely saw one in the Philadelphia Zoo as a child, and I likely saw one again at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.  The problem is that I don't have any memory of seeing one, and even if I did I wouldn't have strong enough recall to draw from.  Even so, I would likely not have seen them running about let alone stampeding.  Truth be told, the only living rhino I recall seeing is the one at the Bronx Zoo, which was only six or seven years ago, and I regret to tell you that I didn't take copious notes.  So where did this guy come from?

Well, surely I went to the Museum of Natural History in New York and drew from the stuffed specimens there, right?  Nope.  Should have done, but didn't.  Then obviously I took a trip back to the Bronx Zoo to check the one there out, right?  Again, no.  Way to use the resources at my fingertips, right?  Yeah, I'll totally cop to failing a bit on that one.  So what resources did I use?

Books and the internet (but mostly the internet), of course!  Youtube to check out videos of rhinos running, Google Images and the National Geographic stock photography site for good, quality photos, and Eliot Goldfinger's Animal Anatomy For Artists, which has a really nice breakdown of rhino musculature.  After collecting enough reference, I went about picking and choosing qualities from the various rhinoceros species that I wanted to include in the Plated Rhino.  Add the bit of tortoise in there and voila: Plated Rhino (later to be renamed Stampeding Rhino)!

Unlike forest there is little in this piece that is inspired by my life.  There are elements I threw in there for fun, like the birds, but all in all, it was a simple journey from assignment, to sketch, to finish, and finally to card.

Except the journey didn't end there.  A year later, I found myself revisiting the rhino for the Magic 2011 set.  Only this time, he wasn't alone.

©Wizards of the Coast

With a few elements redesigned, the rhino returned in Overwhelming Stampede.

©Wizards of the Coast

This piece is 14" x 11" oil on hardboard and has thus far not been reprinted.

While I prefer the design of the Plated Rhino, 2.0 as seen here, I much prefer the Stampeding Rhino painting overall.  Perhaps its the lack of birds in this one, I don't know.  Either way, this remains the only time I've been asked to revisit something in the world of Magic, and likely will remain the sole example for a long time to come.

1 comment:

  1. I really dig both of these. The texture and lighting on the rhino makes feels so real.


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