I’ve done a handful of goblin pieces for Warcraft recently. Her’s the second one that I can show you; a maniacal whirling dervish of a goblin rogue called Zakis Trickstab.
Yeah, he’s a rogue with two blades and his name is Trickstab. Subtlety in naming isn’t really part of the Warcraft credo and I think that’s exactly how they like it. There’s a clarity in these names that parallel abilities and I think it fits the whole vibe of World of Warcraft. If you have any doubt, take a look at my last piece, a goblin shaman who uses lightning attacks and just happens to have the last name Shockvat!
Anyway, let’s take a look at Trickstab’s art description;
Action: Show a male Goblin Rogue jumping over a rock with his daggers drawn, ready to stab an off-frame enemy.
Setting: Lost Isles
Flavor: Rushing to attack
Sounds like fun, huh? The only wrinkle is jumping with two daggers drawn. Oh, and the daggers are more like swords, it’s just in Warcraft the actual swords tend to be on the large side too! Anyway, when a figure is making a leaping attack wielding one weapon, you can take a solid guess at how the body is going to be posed and how it’ll be tensed to deliver a blow. When you’ve got two weapons it becomes a question of how to use both of them effectively in one strike – and make that clear in a still image.
There’s the option of pulling both arms up and arch the figure back so that it appears that the rogue is going to slam both daggers downward in a vicious stabbing arc. The problem with that move while jumping is that the figure is kind of leading with his belly which doesn’t look too good and seems like an ideal way to get disemboweled. Also, the over-sized shoulder armor that is a hallmark of Warcraft actually makes it nearly impossible to raise your arms straight up. If you did, you’d crush your head between your two giant shoulder pads (that’s if the ever-prevalent shoulder spikes didn’t impale your noggin first). Probably not a move for anyone who’s survived even one battle in Azeroth.
So, I have to come up with a pose which suggests the rogue will turn his upper body as he hits his target, first slicing with one blade and following through with the second in one smooth pivoting motion. After a lot of tortuously twisted torso sketches, I came up with this;
No, I don’t usually draw my figures decapitated, honest! Indeed most of the rougher poses that preceded this one featured goblins with their heads securely attached to their necks. The reason for the head removal here is because I wanted to be able to see the body clearly and goblin heads are not only larger in relation to their bodies than humans, they also have gigantic ears ideal for obscuring important anatomical information. Also, this worked out even better than planned, as it gave me the opportunity to mirror-flip the head and see if it worked better, which it did! And so, here’s my first sketch of Trickstab;
The figure’s dynamism is ramped up to eleven! With the very bulky armor, communicating a dynamic pose can require fudging some of the anatomy (so much for decapitating that goblin!) and this comes at the cost of believability. Much to my amusement, the sketch was rejected for being “too dynamic” and I was asked to tone it down a bit. This is probably just as well as that goblin looks like he’s dislocated at least one shoulder.
But I gotta tell you, having something rejected for being too dynamic is a first for me. The fact that it was a Warcraft piece just makes it funnier!
Anyway, I tilted the figure more which not only leaned the goblin deeper into his jump, but gave me a little more vertical space for the newly repositioned left arm. This new location was tricky because while I agreed the arm needed to be more believable, pulling the arm to a more logical position leaves potential for too much visual clutter near the figure’s head. In the end I had to accept that the colors would have to help give a clean read on the head as the hand needed to fall behind the goblin’s ear. Finally, with the left arm moved I could push the goblin to the left giving more space to show his leading blade.
The extra flying rocks were added to help show the goblin had kicked off from the rock and that it wasn’t some far-off boulder.
This image was accepted, so it was time to attack it with digital color and I decided to try out a new method of laying down my base colors quickly.