Sunday, February 12, 2017


A drawing I did last night. Used my favorite new technical pencils and Mono eraser.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Box Art for Quartermaster General: 1914

This past year, I've had the good fortune to continue working with indie board game designer Ian Brody. His most recent work, produced in collaboration with PSC Games, is Quartermaster General:1914. Based on WW1, it's a fast-paced and reasonably simple game that offers tremendous replayability. As with other games in the QG line, it offers the spirit of a huge campaign packed into about 90 minutes of play time.

I was the art director and production manager for this title, responsible not just for the game's illustrations, but all aspects of the graphic design, layout, and file preparation. It was a big job, but really satisfying to watch my artwork and designs end up printed and sold worldwide.

Anyway, here's the final artwork for the box, minus the logo (yeah, it goes in that huge empty space at the top.)
Final cover art.
The basic idea was to engage the viewer in the action, so we see soldiers charging straight for us. I was asked to include a British Mark II tank, and some aeroplanes, so there they are. The original image had the Germans in pickelhuber helmets with the iconic top spike, but was asked to change them for the later "coal scuttle" style helmet. Apparently the Germans phased out the pickelhubers very early in the war, because they were clear targets for snipers.  I personally thought the top spike was too iconic to pass up (nothing says WWI more clearly!) but I defer to the judgement of my clients!

Here's a detail of some courageous doughboys charging the German position.

Detail of Brits charging
And finally, just for laughs, a really poor reference shot of yours truly, posing in my backyard with a toy musket. I'm also wearing a ridiculous cardboard circle on my head, which I figured would help me place how the doughboy helmet rests on a soldier's head. Marginally helpful, but very painful to wear!

Photo reference. The things we do for art...

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Wild Elven Druid Commission Process

I've really been neglecting my blog lately, so I'm trying to make up for it with a few posts of work from last year.

Here's something I did for a client who wanted a full-length portrait of his Wild Elven Druid character, Kaaovale. She's young and cheerful, with a shamanic style. My process was pretty straightforward on this one, so I thought I'd quickly share.

I started as I usually do with a rough black & white. I build this up with a few highlights to establish form and structure.

Beginning sketch

Base layer for greyscale render.

 Next, I start laying in some basic colors, using some Soft Light layers and some Overlay layers. I used a very light blue to strengthen the highlights, and a pink and a tan for the skin base. I also add boots and belt. At this point, I'm using about a dozen layers: the base sketch layer, which has been tightened up a bit more, and layers for skin, highlights, and the boots and belt.
Adding some color notes.

Next I start adding more clothing and gear details. After a consult with the client, he reminds me that she's a druid, so no metal! I've added some pattern to her tunic, some leather armor, tooth earrings, and the super-cool feathered skull headdress.

Starting to gear up.
Next, I really go nuts with the clothing and gear, adding pieces on separate layers. I mostly work these up in isolation, so I can toggle them on and off as needed. For example, her bark lames (thigh armor) can be toggled off so I can detail her hairy skirt. I'll often have a layer for the part, and another layer for the shadow it casts, and then group them together to keep things orderly. 

More gear! More details!
Finally, I start on some top layers that I use to paint over the entire piece as a whole. This goes a long way toward unifying the piece. I add things like highlights and more hair detail. I also do some color adjustments, usually a Saturation layer to make colors pop.

Because I work totally backwards, I also add the background at this stage. To do this, I create a mask of the character shape, then apply it to the background layers, which is pretty simple because up until now, my background was an even neutral tone, so it's easy to select, create the mask from the selection, then tweak the edges as needed. 

That mask also comes in handy for adding some more dramatic light on the figure. I create a new layer, apply the mask, invert it (so that I'm painting only on the figure now) and hit her with a big soft brush, applying a wash of golden light set to Overlay and low opacity.
Finished piece.


Friday, February 3, 2017

Victory or Death Game Art

Here are a few pictures I did for the boardgame Victory or Death: The Peloponnesian War. Most of this stuff is about a year old.

Cover art, sans logo. The gold plate at the bottom was just easier to include as part of the image, so it's baked in to the final.

Artwork for the Event card. In the game, Event cards cover a lot of possibilities, so coming up with something generic was difficult. But it being a game about ancient Greece, a fleet of triremes arriving at a city seemed a good bet. Are they invading? Bringing news? Limping home after a defeat?

Art for the Sea Battle card. My initial concept was to show a few triremes in a long shot, but that lacked impact. SoI decided to move closer in to the action, just as two triremes are about to engage. Ship combat in ancient times was mainly a ram and board affair, with very little missile fire.

Artwork for the Status card. Again, this card art needed to cover many possibilities. I figured the best way to do this one was to show the interior of a city, enjoying the fruits of its status.
As with most historical games, this one required a tremendous amount of research. (Grognards get sniffy if you depict something that's inaccurate or anachronistic!) I consulted a lot of online resources, of course, as well as a few Osprey Men-At-Arms books. 

For those who are unaware of the Men-At-Arms series, they are stunningly useful books that cover a mind-boggling range of eras. They're meticulously researched and go into great detail about how things are put together based on the historical records and ancient illustrations. Then they provide clean, modern illustrations of how the warriors would have looked.