Sep 292011
 

Occasionally I create a piece for Magic that practically vanishes.

Sometimes the piece is put into the graveyard. This is a repository for art that no longer has a home due to its card either radically changing – and requiring new art – or the card being scrapped entirely. I have one piece that may never see the light of day as it was a very setting-specific creature for Kamigawa and Magic may never return to Kamigawa as it wasn’t a popular block.

The other occasion when a Magic piece doesn’t reach its broadest audience is when it’s an image for a token, especially when it’s a token made solely for the digital version of the game.

This entry is about the latter.

I was assigned the horror token card for the Ravnica set. The card that actually generated the horror tokens was painted by someone else and it didn’t actually show any horrors so I was free to design my own creature. The art description amounted to not much more than “It’s a horror and it lives in Ravnica”.

So given that, I went for a disturbing, distorted creature, y’know, like you do. I wanted to creep myself out if I could.

Horror token sketch.

And I painted it in an unsettling mix of reds and purples that while suggestive of those few minutes right after sunset actually have more in common with the colors of raw meat.

Horror token final painting.

Now with 80% more tendrils!

The creature flying overhead is a callback to the card that generated the horror tokens in-game.

And, yes, I sleep just fine at night, thanks.

Jun 242011
 

Today I have a really weird piece for the comic book fans among you. But first a little backstory;

From 1985 to 1997 London was home to the United Kingdom Comic Art Convention. The UK didn’t have many comic cons and this one, while far smaller than many American shows, was eagerly anticipated every year by UK comic fans as an unprecedented opportunity to talk to the major comic companies and to rub shoulders with British and American creators, though in the case of the creators, you usually had to track them down in the on-site bar. No, really.

These were amazing cons. I got to meet Alan Moore, Steve Bissette and John Totleben during the height of their work on Swamp Thing and was at the talk where Moore first revealed his idea for a little upcoming comic called Watchmen. I got to chat to Brian Bolland, whose linework I’d long worshiped on such strips as Judge Dredd. Anyway, I could goob for days but let’s get to the point of this tale…

Like most comic cons, there was an accompanying con-booklet bursting with new images from fresh and established talent. One year I decided to give it a try because I’d gotten a mad idea that didn’t want to shut up and leave my brain.

Tidbit #1; By now you’ve probably heard of Neil Gaiman. At that time, he was mostly known for his comic book Sandman which features Dream, the personification and master of dreams and his six siblings collectively known as The Endless. The most popular and enduring of these personifications is Death, who appears as a cute gothy girl with an unusually sunny disposition given her rather harsh vocation.

Tidbit #2; 2000AD has been the most popular comic in the UK for decades. And no character is more popular than Judge Dredd, the toughest cop in the harsh Mega-City of the future. From a rich rogues gallery that’s been developed over 34 years, no enemy deserves the rank of nemesis more than Judge Death, a member of the Dark Judges, a dark mirror to Dredd from a dimension where it was decreed that all crime was committed by the living and so their perverse logic made life a crime.

See where I’m going with this?
Stare into the face of…

May 252011
 

…This time it’s personal!

Like most anyone with an internet presence I will occasionally search my own name to see what comes up. Tucked in between the pages (and pages!) of card lists there’s the occasional mention in a forum (and it’s 50/50 on whether the mention is complimentary) and once in a blue moon I find something really surprising.

This would be one of those latter occasions because I found a picture I know is my handiwork, but have no recollection of ever painting. The shock was sufficient that when I first saw it my immediate reaction was “WTF?” rather than “oh hey, haven’t seen that in forever”.

Madness!

That’s the Lhurgoyf, carrying a Rocket Launcher (from Antiquities) which seems to be powered by the Souls of the Damned (Ice Age) while rampaging across a fields of skulls from Spoils of War (also Ice Age). There also appears to be a Nevinyrral’s Disk in the background, and ole Lhurgy is wearing armor, but I have no idea which card that’s referencing. Maybe WTF was the correct response after all.

Yeah, I got nothing. I suspect the image was painted for a Duelist article and I guess it was painted during a VERY busy time which is why I don’t remember it. Possibly as long ago as 1995.

Gotta tell you it’s a weird feeling being (re)introduced to one of your own paintings.

I wonder where the original painting is? If it’s in my studio, it’s really well hidden.

Feb 032011
 

So, which version of the Lhurgoyf was I happier with; Ice Age or 8th? Well, Ice Age gets the nostalgia vote but 8th is a better painting – as I’d hope given that over half a decade separates them – but unfortunately some of that didn’t translated as well to final print size as I would have liked. If I’m looking at the two originals then I prefer the newest. If I’m looking at the printed versions then I like them equally; this probably means I didn’t take reduction into account enough when doing the new piece. Also the new piece was painted about twice the size of the old version so these things can be more difficult to get right the greater the reduction to final print size.

Maybe with more time I’d have given the new Lhurgoyf a little bolder texture, hard to say. The only unfortunate thing about the actual printed card is that it dropped out a few of the mid tones (a printing issue I would spot again throughout Mirrodin and especially on Tanglewalker). The printing made the image more heavily contrasted which has the benefit of increasing the dynamism but at the expense of the subtler qualities that make the creature’s skin look more realistic.
So what would I do now?

From the Vault: Lhurgoyf 8th Ed (2003) Pt. 4

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Jan 112011
 

The current sketch’s readability issue was really just related to where the head was, so I moved the head up to the upper left of the image. This kept the center of the figure uncluttered, gave the head a prominent location in the image and filled a growing area of dead space in the upper left of the picture. Win/Win! It fixed a whole host of issues and as a bonus, also gave the Lhurgoyf a more defiant, aggressive look. Probably a good thing as WotC wanted an image that exemplified the power of a pumped-up Lhurgoyf.
The final sketch awaits.

Jan 062011
 

The rejection of the first sketch came as a blow, especially given how long I’d spent trying to nail down a composition I was happy with.

The people responsible for signing off on Magic art (chiefly the art director and at least one member of story and R&D) felt that the Lhurgoyf was too thin and lacked the power that was associated with this fearsome creature. I pointed out that the new Lhurgoyf was actually a little more muscular than his predecessor, but this fell on deaf ears. They wanted me to make him bigger and tougher. I had to scrap the foreshortening notion as that was going to be counterproductive to making the figure look larger.
Okay, so what the hell do I do now?

Dec 302010
 

The original Lhurgoyf from Ice Age.

Remember this guy? Ice Age’s Lhurgoyf was one of my first encounters with having a card that generated a LOT of excitement upon its release. Sure, ‘The Abyss’ is still the most expensive card I’ve drawn but at the time of Legends launch, a lot of cards were jostling for the limelight. But at the Ice Age release event that I attended, the buzz was all about the Lhurgoyf.

Ice Age's Lhurgoyf card.

So, when I was offered the chance to do a new image of Lhurgy for 8th edition, I jumped at the chance…
This way for Lhurgoyf sketches.

From the Vault: The Family Sengir (1996)

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Oct 212010
 

I’m a little too busy to tackle the Baron repaint right now, so I thought I’d share with you one of the few additional Baron images I painted over a decade ago. This one was published in the Duelist and I’d thought it accompanied an article for the launch of Homelands. However, the year on the art says 1996 so I guess the article may have been a story review to help fill in the blanks for people. I’ll have to see if I can dig up that issue. Lord knows where I stored my Duelists…

So, presenting the Family Sengir –

The Baron and his inner circle.

This is the only time I’ve ever painted the Baron accompanied by ‘Granny’ and Irini. Also I got to include his adviser, the Sengir Autocrat (originally painted by David A. Cherry), and his henchman, Veldrane of Sengir (originally painted by Susan Van Camp).

Oct 122010
 

October 1995 saw the release of the Homelands expansion for Magic the Gathering. While the set was unpopular with players, it remains one of my favorites because I was given the opportunity to bring to unlife Magic’s First Family of vampires – the Sengir family, and most importantly, their patriarch Baron Sengir.

Baron Sengir (1995)

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