Sunday, December 21, 2014

Zom-B-Q in Hades


I hesitate to even begin where my illustrative career has taken me over this last year?  There's been about as many wig bubbles cold flippin' outah me lid, that I need a lid tapper to come and tap up some of those holes to keep em all up in there!!  I've been teaching Character Design with some fabulously creative Portlandians at the PNCA again this year, and the brilliantly dedicated team of creative directors at Wizards of the Coast.  Both Magic and D&D have given me some absolutely wonderful opportunities, including this painting for the 5E Dungeon Master's Guide.  I brought the painting to class to show students professional practice, and the importance of AD/Illustrator relationships, but after going through the history
©2013 Wizards of the Coast

of the painting, there was still a tiny regret which can visit all professional artists in one way or another.  The fact that; the image and content that you have set in your mind to paint, won't necessarily be the image and content you end up painting.  Simple, selfish, stupid, but rather hard to shake.  I think from being a student myself, throughout my 30's it became less a hinderance, but it's always been a bitter pill?  Emotionally, it's expectation that does it.  The Buddhists & Taoists tell us we should quell expectation of both past and future, by emptying our minds, remaining in the present, concerning ourselves with what Master Yoda explains, "where you are, what you are doing!"

Now this would be easy, were it not for my delinquent 20-something buddy Expectation.  He comes into town from Burning Man unannounced, drinks all my good Scotch Ale, looks at my sketchbook and says to me, "DUDE! This one, is the ONE, this [idea/sketch/composition/specific or complex aesthetic] is AWESOME!  You should do that!!  You gotta %@king do that!!  You should be so proud of that, and get attached to it like it was your child, man.. or your favorite shirt you refuse to throw away.. or an adorable little kitten, or something..!!"  My normal reply being, "You're a completely reckless @!ck-weed, you owe me money and years of my life, but YOU ARE SO RIGHT!" ..and so the stubborn anchor of disappointment takes foot.. =)

©2013 Wizards of the Coast
I love the fact that most of the ADs I've worked with at Wizards have given me a fairly long leash when it comes to ideation and briefs, as was the case with this piece as well.  It's really a luxury I've not seen in other markets, who really don't have half as many specifics to contend with, so I'm wildly grateful.  At the beginning of this project, the brief was just that open, a Lich using a crystal ball, and since I worked on concepting a couple Lich characters, I pitched two thumbnails with those characters, and the 2nd Edition illos of Michael Kaluta and Wayne Reynolds in mind; One human male Lich in a lab with gilded Frankensteinish, bubbling tubed canisters surrounding his crystal ballishness, and one being a Tiefling female in Hades using the crystal ball, (as you do) surrounded by a horde of black robed Witchy Hags who were holding squirming worm larvae.  Oh yes, the sweet smell of baking larvae in Hades!

Now it's at this point, while I was waiting for approval, that my buddy Expectation lost his blinkered mind about the sheer and utter grossness of the gooey cool hued larvae, contrasted by both the dark robes, and all those reds and oranges from the pits of Hades!?! "DUDE, they gotta dig it !!!.. It's the most evil and disgusting image that's ever crawled up the sides of your skull!!"  I fully agreed, and even worked up a couple color schemes so the hot gamut of all those reds would print correctly.  Well, they did end up picking the Tiefling female in Hades, but as is sometimes the case, a revision was called at the 11th hour.   I was bitten by my old buddy again, wanting that horde of witches so badly, any revision seemed silly, but there was something that sated my buddy Expectation's rattling, as what was going to replace the witches were bloody Zombies !!  So, my inner 15 year old, who is over joyed to still be working on this kind of imagery no matter the revisions, gave Expectation a couple concessionary pats on the back, booted his deadbeat arse out the door, and I stepped to painting zombies.. =)

After living through this process with me (and liking the zombies a bit better I think) my brilliant Partner deemed this one, Zom-B-Q in Hades.  I'll toast a couple buns for ayebody, grab a copy of the brand new 5E Dungeon Master's Guide, and enjoy!

©2013 Wizards of the Coast

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