Monday, September 29, 2014

Sagu Archer

The second of four pieces I contributed to the Khans of Tarkir expansion set to Magic: the Gathering is Sagu Archer. Of the images I created, this was easily the most straightforward assignment of the lot.

As usual, I start with the art order:
ART ID: 156520    title: [Naga Ambush Archer]
Setting: KHANAR
Clan: Sultai
Color: Green creature
Location: Sultai jungle area
Action: Show a male naga perched up in one of the trees of the steamy jungle. He has his bow out, and he already has an arrow nocked and drawn, aiming upward at some unseen thing in the sky.
Focus: The naga archer
Mood: Lurking, waiting for his moment to snipe something out of the air.
For the uninitiated, a naga in this context is one of a race of snake people. Designs for these snake people were found in the style guide and I went to work. After a bunch of thumbnail sketches, I settled on the gag of the naga archer being wrapped around a branch to stabilize itself as it aims up through the canopy at a target. This also gave me a pretty dynamic and angular pose.

The result of my efforts was this sketch:

©Wizards of the Coast

The fine folks at Wizards seemed to like this sketch as is and gave me the go ahead to commence with the finished painting. Here is that painting:

©Wizards of the Coast

The painting is the usual oil on paper on hardboard and measures 14 inches wide by 11 inches tall.

As I painted, I found that I had to knock back the coils of the naga's tail to keep focus where it belonged. There was something about the repetitive highlights along the coils that seemed to pull the eye away from where I wanted to go. So, I ended up glazing that area back to keep the face and arms more important in the overall visual hierarchy. The downside is that the fun gag of the coils became harder to see. The upside is that the focus became clearer. It's a shame that I couldn't find a way to highlight bother equally well, but at the end of the day it seemed best to cut off the arm to save the patient.

Outside of that, things went smoothly. There were no major rehashes, problem, or any controversy to speak of. There was an assignment, I created an image that I hope did a decent job of fulfilling that assignment, and then it got approved. Simple as that. I wish they all went as smoothly.

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