Thursday, February 23, 2012


"Windflight" 18x24" Oils on Masonite

The assignment had been to depict a female elf riding the winds, and raining arrows on foes below. This sort of description is often a little troublesome, as it presents two groups of objects at opposite ends of a spectrum: above and below.

The temptation is to stand the viewer with one or the other group and aim the "camera" towards the other. So, my first sketches had the viewer among the enemies, looking up at the elf firing down. Viewed from below, the sketches looked a bit like she might be leaping down on the group. If she was in fact to be leaping down, I probably would have gone this route.

Another option would be to have the viewer in the air, looking down with the elf at the enemies below. Given the scale and time allowed for this illustration, that view was not going to be feasible, since it would probably include too many enemies for the time alotted. If I went from above and showed the full figure, it might also be hard to pull her forward in space and get her to feel aloft. If I cropped the figure, you might think she was leaning off a balcony or tree or something.

A third option is to pull back the camera enough to get them both in, and this is the way I sought to do it in the end.

But to show the scene sideways, I had to create an image tall enough for separation of the two groups. Ideally, this piece would've been even taller, and I would have had even more space between the two groups, but this was enough I felt, and satisfied the size requirements of the client. I had to have her clearly above the line of enemies, and needed to pose her in a way that made her seem like she was not leaping down. She was to be riding the wind. This is tricky to indicate, wind being invisible.

 "Windflight sketch" 11.5x18" Charcoal on paper

My solution here was to have leaves carried along on the wind flow. It would allow me to indicate the direction of the flow, would help to sell the floating aspect, add in a dose of magic to the scene, and also bring in nature elements that are usually tied to the archetypical elf.

From the beginning, my sketches kept indicating a really dark sky. Apocalypse dark. I've never to my knowledge painted a sky quite this dark--black in a few areas. It did allow me the opportunity to create a spotlight effect, however, as if a beam of light had cracked through. It helped to focus the composition by plunging many of the enemies in shadow, creating a ring of focus around the center area, where one foe has been knocked back by her prior arrow.

Despite the fact that she's mostly horizontal, the rest of the composition is made up of diagonals, many of which are constructed to lead the eye around. Essentially, the movement is composed around a diamond in the middle of the canvas. See if you can find it. The hope is that it keeps the eye bouncing around the four points in a clockwise direction. An action scene where your eye doesn't move starts to feel pretty static.

As a side note, I've begun upgrading the size of the images throughout my website, and removing the zoom-and-pan option, which ran in Flash and so was unusable on iOS devices (of which there are so many out there!). So, if you want to see more, head on over and check it out.

Monday, February 20, 2012

D&D Heroes of the Elemental Chaos

Even as the 4th edition of Dungeons & Dragons is in its final season, nevertheless releases continue apace. Out this week, the book Player's Choice: Heroes of the Elemental Chaos releases. This book features a few of my illustrations, some of which will be making it onto my site in the next few weeks, as the art floodgates start to open a little. In the meantime, if you play and are weighing a new supplement to grab, and happen to enjoy my work, there's your best bet!

Friday, February 17, 2012

The ArtOrder: Switching Tracks

I'm very pleased to announce that I've joined Jon Schindehette's website The ArtOrder as a guest contributor! Jon's site has been a go-to for fantasy illustrators across the industry, with a heavy focus on developing talent through challenges which often feature some of the industry's biggest names as jurors. In-between, there is simply a wealth of information there regarding this crazy industry.

Being Senior Creative Director for Dungeons & Dragons, Jon has become swamped with the work underway in developing the upcoming Fifth Edition (along with his usual duties), so he put out a call for some help to take some of the load off his blogging efforts, which are considerable. No lazy once-a-week posts like yours truly, with him!

I thought about it a bit, jotted down a few ideas, didn't quite have twelve (he was hoping for a year's worth), got busy instead and figured he'd found his people. Then out of the blue Jon contacted me regarding another issue entirely, and I mentioned that I'd considered giving it a shot, and gave him some of my topic proposals. He enjoyed them and offered me a spot.

After changing my diaper--Art Order gets a ton of readers, after all--I set to work on hammering out the full schedule of topics. Some of them I'd intended on writing about here, but have now expanded them into longer articles. I've also favored an interview format for most of them, because I didn't really want the articles to be about me and my experiences, necessarily.

So, for the foreseeable future, I'll be writing one monthly blog post for the purpose of posting it over at The ArtOrder. When I do, I'll be sure to link you up so you don't miss any. So it won't interrupt things here, except that that week will require one extra click. The rest of the month it'll be the usual nonsense here at Exit Within.

I greatly look forward to seeing you guys over there, and thank Jon for the opportunity!

The first article was a preview really, and sort of introduced the series and my goals for it. You can find that here.

The first actual topic is called, "Switching Tracks." I hope you enjoy it.

So that partially explains the paltry entries here recently, as I've been doing a lot of the front-end work on that series. Hopefully now the content can flow more regularly. Plus, there's new art to begin showing, which I'll begin with next week. Until then, enjoy the articles and I'll see you next week!

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Magic: the Gathering, Dark Ascension

The second of the Innistrad block is out, titled "Dark Ascension." This set features one card of mine, Alpha Brawl. There'll be more on this art in coming weeks, but for now I just wanted to let you know this set was available, that I have some art in it, and that you can also grab white-backed artist proofs of it now!