Exit Within: the Gallegos Blog

The musings of a fantasy illustrator. Artwork, art-talk, and randomness.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Talk and Slide Show: Nov. 8, 2014 Bergen County, NJ

The Science Fiction Association of Bergen County has invited me to come out and give a presentation at their November 8 general meeting. A small but dedicated group, they regularly invite various genre professionals to speak at their meetings. I'll probably give a slideshow and talk regarding my work and be generally available to mix it up. I've also been asked to bring a few paintings with me so folks can see them, which I'm happy to do.

If you happen to be within commute of Upper Saddle River, NJ, this would be a nice opportunity to get to know you in a relaxed environment (vs., you know a convention with tens of thousands of people milling about).

(L:) "Uba Mask" whiteback sketch, 2.5x3.5" pencil
 credit to: lucretia-stock and Alegion-stock

The meeting is open to all and who knows, you might find the SFABC to be a hidden gem in your area. The official start of the meeting is at 8pm, but people arrive as early as 6pm for pre-meeting discussions and videos. The meeting will be held at the Bergen Highlands United Methodist Church of Upper Saddle River, directions here.

I won't be there in a table / selling capacity really, but yes I'd be happy to sign things for you if you show up! Since I'm bringing paintings, if you're going I'm happy to take requests if there's anything you'd like to see.

Monday, August 04, 2014

IlluXCon: Sept 20-21st, Allentown Art Museum, PA

Well, here it comes again, and I managed to post notice one week earlier than last year! I am once again honored to be a part of this wonderful juried show, probably my favorite of the year. Spectrum Live is similar, but IlluXCon is just super-intimate, and the fact that it's closer to where I live helps :-)

This is its second year at the Allentown Art Museum; a legit museum venue and close to major airports. I'll be a part of the Weekend Salon again on Saturday and Sunday (although you'll find me ogling other artists on Friday in the Main Show which is a few days longer and starts earlier).

I won't have a giant 4x6 foot painting taking up my entire wall, which is nice in one way but is going to be a come-down after last year! My display this year will be a standard mix of various recent original illustrations many of which you'll have seen on my site in the past year. See you there!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Magic Missile

"Magic Missile!" How many times have I said or heard said those two words, as a pack of gnolls or bugbears descended upon a party of adventurers deep within some abandoned temple, ambushed in a dark forest, or in any other number of places. Perhaps it was as a way to take out a Gelatinous Cube without the risk of losing your hard-earned weapon. Magic Missile is one of the spells everyone who comes within orbit of a Dungeons & Dragons game learns about.

D&D is now on its 5th edition. Back when I played, it was the Basic rules sets (boxed sets) for the group I ran, and AD&D with the group I was in at my high school (just pre-2nd edition). 2nd edition appeared just as I was getting out of the game. I picked up the Player's Handbook but my regular D&D playing days were essentially over. The game has come into competition with so many other avenues of entertainment, including its younger cousin Magic: the Gathering, that it's struggled in recent years. I know, all things being equal, I have preferred just diving into a video game to kill evil monsters, gain experience points and level up. Millions played World of Warcraft as a visual and virtual substitute for D&D (whether they intended to or not). The problem has mostly been committing time among multiple people to play. Most of my gaming is done late at night, at unpredictable hours typically, after a long day of work usually. But for those who can make the effort to get together to play, I still highly recommend it.

But the game chugs on, and seeks to establish itself anew. Having recently re-released the classic "Red Box," which is what I started out with, perhaps they were inspired by the visually understandable aspect of such a set to a beginner, because they just launched the "Starter Set" of the new edition--a box set featuring quick and basic rules, dice, character sheets, and an adventure to get going. A very low investment, and the rules of which they've even made a free download via PDF to help get the word out to the curious--certainly these are good starts. I wish the game well--I'd love to see it continue on for many years.

In the Starter Set appears my painting for, "Magic Missile." This may get printed in the Player's Handbook, too, which I thought it was for, but I'm happy to have it here as well. It's got a creative crop around the top of the fallen trunk and figure, but here's the full painting:

"Magic Missile," 16x20" Oils and acrylic on masonite
(detail view / purchase info)

I was really happy with the print quality of this book. This was not the case with 4E, where I always found my art printed without punch--colors dulled and just muddy, unfortunately.

Visualizing Magic Missile ended up being a very interesting exercise. I mean, if you've played D&D, how have you imagined this spell? The magic "darts" can be split up to target different creatures, and though the darts never get more powerful, eventually you can cast a slew of them at once. My early thumbnails and concepts included missiles that fired off in arcs and loops. I don't know if I ever really visualized them this way before, but having to sit and think about it, that was my impression. I also saw them as very bright and maybe warm colored, trailing to maybe a cooler color, but essentially hot white.

After a number of back-and-forths with R&D via my art director, it ends up that they had a pretty specific idea for the magic missile, and that was straight, and more dart-tipped. Check. I opted not to show what the elf wizard is firing at, to keep this more about the spell explicitly. In any case, there it is--may it color your depiction of this spell as you toss the 4-sided dice.

Update: Thanks to Gypsy_Cowboy on Reddit, I was made aware of this discussion regarding earlier portrayals of Magic Missile.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Paintings in Limbo

Yep, a bit slow around here lately. As I approach the tenth anniversary of Exit Within, I had intended that I would switch up my publishing schedule to bi-weekly. But it looks like life may have moved me into that place already.

As I continue to work on projects which I can't show yet, I am reminded of the many projects that have come and gone over the years that I've never been able to show. These would be paintings in limbo. Sometimes, projects get cancelled mid-stream. Sometimes they are indefinitely delayed. Other times, the product is published but the art is not included for a myriad of reasons (and sometimes, that art may reappear later). Often, publishers get First Publication rights, which means just that--if they haven't published it, I can't. Sometimes they get around to letting me show the work under stipulations that I not discuss what it was used for. Sometimes they go bankrupt and the contacts and rights go into a second legal limbo. I might be able to regain the ability to show the work, but by the time it's clear that it's time to try, I've moved on in my art and wouldn't much care to show it off anymore anyway.

Here, then, are a few of the pieces that come to mind which are stuck in one form or another of publishing limbo:
  • Since 1994 I think there have been... at least 12 pieces done for Magic: the Gathering that went into limbo. I asked and was allowed to show two of them over the years without really saying they were for Magic.
  • Of the above, 4.5 of them were alternate versions of cards that released. Early in my career I would sometimes do the approved sketch and then mid-stream come up with another idea and so just paint that too, then submit them both for publication, letting them choose. Card art was smaller and faster in those days. One I know was killed because the art sucked--it was published having been reassigned to another artist who, interestingly, got a different/better description than I got, apparently.
  • The .5 piece is the "Ascendant" half of "Rune-Tail, Kitsune Ascendant," which was killed when mid-assignment, the Art Director liked the rune-in-the-sky interpretation of one illustrator doing another of those flip-cards, and asked the rest of the artists to swap out their Ascendant side to match that theme.
  • One of them is an alternate version of "Tempting Licid" which was actually more of the Art Director's fault than anything. I understood the AD to have approved the sketch, and painted it. As I neared completion I was told that it had not in fact been approved, and I ended up having to start again....Wizards has implemented much tighter and explicit controls around this since those days.
  • In 1995 I painted the cover to an old WotC-published magazine called, "The Duelist." There is an alternate unpublished cover to that. I turned in the original and the Art Director was fine with it but not loving it as much as I'd hoped, so I immediately painted another cover and they much preferred that and ran it instead. I preferred the second attempt better, too. Note that I always did this sort of thing on my own dime, in the interest of trying to satisfy my client, without being asked. If I'd been better as a younger illustrator, of course it would have been completely unnecessary.
  •  A couple of early pieces for Vampire: the Eternal Struggle card game were painted but the cards killed in production. This was my first professional gig. A couple of later pieces had alternate versions produced in the same manner as above...I was not particularly confident as a young illustrator.
  • At least one illustration commissioned for Netrunner was similarly killed in production.
  • Over the years a couple of Dungeons & Dragons spot illustrations were moved from one book to appear in another. A couple, as far as I know, were never published.
  • A couple of early World of Warcraft cards were cut. Let's just say it took a bit for a lot of artists to get the hang of Blizzard's very peculiar style. There was a lot of art cut out of that first set, across the board.
  • Some illustrations for an educational graded-reader.
  • One licensed Star Wars-related painting.
  • Multiple illustrations for 2 mobile games, one of which had production killed before release, the other of which may have been published but the foreign client is no longer responding to emails about it to confirm.
I'm sure I missed a couple. It would be tempting for me to do the math on how many months of work have never seen the light of day over the course of 20 years. Maybe half a year? In the early days, that art was being churned out very quickly, but it's gotten much slower (and better) over time, so recent losses are more painful on this front. It's also nice to know that whereas earlier in my career there were more limbo pieces due to quality issues--me deciding I needed to produce alternates because I was unsure of what I was doing, or a couple of cases of just making bad art, it mostly has become just a matter of art succumbing to the vagaries of publishing.

Although, in doing a bit of research on this, I did find out that at least one piece was finally shown so I can talk about it, so perhaps I'll do that next!