Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Fretwork Colony - Kaladesh - PROCESS

Today I have for you an overdue post about the process and steps that went into a Magic the Gathering piece of mine that I first shared with you way back in September of 2016, the Fretwork Colony. This was a challenging one and took a bit of work to figure out and make work in the end. To start things off, here is how the final art for Fretwork Colony out...

Fretwork Colony
Magic the Gathering - Kaladesh
14 x 10.2- Digital
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast

Thumbnails of course start things off. This piece needed to show two very different things. One being a swarm of very small insect monsters that I got to design and the second being their effect on very large structures like buildings. For some this might be second nature, but for me, it takes some time and thought on how best to construct a scene that is both large and small. Much like when a monster is actually made up of lots of smaller elements to make a greater whole, I need to put my thinking cap on and plan it all out well ahead of time. Thankfully, the more you do the easier it gets. Funny how that is. After weighing my options I decided to go in the direction of having two element, a foreground closeup an a background effect, composition rather than trying to show all of the action on one continuous plane. Here are how the thumbnails turned out...

Fretwork Colony - Thumbnails
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast

Option "D" was the winner this time around and looking back at them now it seems to have the best balance of elements, some nice overlap, and reads the best left to right. Sometimes looking back at these thumbnails I am curious about what could have been with other options, but this time I think it was best that "D" was the winner. Now that I had an approved thumbnail it was time to get the finalized drawing worked up. Here is how the final drawing turned out...

Fretwork Colony - Drawing
Kaladesh
17 x 14 - Pencil on paper
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast

There is sometimes a weird limbo I find myself in when it comes to working on the drawing and thinking ahead to the painting. How much detail should I put in? What is too much? What is a waste of time and will be lost to the painting process? Do I REALLY need to draw every single little bug monsters or will it all come together when I am painting? In the end I draw it all and hope for the best. I want to have a nice drawing at the end of things and over the years I have learned that the drawing is as important to the painting as everything else, if not more. Also, here is the tonal study for this piece...

Fretwork Colony - Toned drawing
Kaladesh
14 x 11 - Pencil on paper
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast

The drawing was approved without comment and it was time to get started on the painting. Layer separation and easy readability was very important on this one and there was a lot of adjusting and futzing that went on while I worked on this one. In just 18 easy steps, you too can have a digital painting... or not...

Fretwork Colony - Process progression
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast

While the step by step might now show it, there was a lot of adjusting that went on during the creation of this piece. Making sure the background felt like it was in the distance AND still readable was very important. The viewer needed to see the bugs destroying the building, but it also need to be back other there and not pulling too much from the foreground and the details. I also needed to make sure the insects in the foreground were clear, interesting, and read well. You can see how their chroma and details changed as I worked on this piece. Making sure they popped off the metal roof they are on was important. Here is an animated progression of this piece coming together so that you can better see each step layering to create the final painting...

Fretwork Colony - Animated process progression
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast

Of the three pieces that I did for Kaladesh this was my least favorite. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against this piece and I think it was successful. I prefer the other two pieces more when it comes down to it. The other two are more in my wheelhouse regarding subject matter and over all feel. This one challenged me, which is a good thing, and so the process was a little more involved and so skews my view of the piece. They all can't be your favorites and that does not make them bad or that there is anything wrong with them.

Again, here is the finished Fretwork Colony painting and the final production card...

Fretwork Colony
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast

Fretwork Colony in handy dandy card form.

That is all for another exciting Wednesday on the blog, see you back here on Friday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com

Monday, November 20, 2017

Clever Distraction - The Return of Fool Me Once

Last month I shared with you a newly released painting of mine for the Star Wars Imperial Assault Game, Fool Me Once. This painting was originally produced for a project that had been canceled, so it was in limbo waiting for the a project. It found a home in the Ahsoka Tano Ally Pack, which is pretty cool. It also turned out, a month later, to have found a home in the newest expansion to the Star Wars LCG, Desperate Circumstances. This time around it is called Clever Distraction and you get to see a lot more of the art...

Clever Distraction
Star Wars LCG - Desperate Circumstances

It is nice to see so much more of the art this time around. The original usage of this art would have presented even more of it, but since that project is now gone, it is nice to as much as we do now. Seeing any more of the art is an improvement of it usage in the Ahsoka Tano Ally Pack. Imperial Assault sometimes does not have a lot of room for the art, so when that happens it is nice to see the art resurface where it can spread its elbows a bit. Here is the art on the Fool Me Once card...

Fool Me Once
Star Wars Imperial Assault - Ahsoka Tano Ally Pack

At the time this piece meant a lot to me and was going to be the realization of a life long dream, sadly the project was canceled. At least the art was eventually used so it was not a total bust. Here again is the final art that was used for Clever Distraction and Fool Me Once...

Fool Me Once / Clever Distraction
Star Wars Imperial Assault - Ahsoka Tano Ally Pack / Star Wars LCG - Desperate Circumstances
14 x 11 - Acrylic and pencil on board
Art Director - Deb Freytag
Original - Available soon
© 2017 Lucasfilm, Ltd. TM Lucasfilm, Ltd. Under license to Fantasy Flight Games

That is all for another exiting Monday on the blog, see you back here on Wednesday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com

Friday, November 17, 2017

Good Bye Deviant Art or: From Russia With Stolen Art

In 2009 I started my Deviant Art account and in 2017 I have ended it. Well, when the 30 day "are you really sure you want to deactivate you account" period ends my account will be no more. Why am I doing this? Because of the toxic theft ridden environment that I have endured for far too long. Here is the straw that broke the camels back...

One of FAR too many...

This was the response I received after this person contacted me to use my art in their indy game and I told them that client work was not available, but some of my personal work is and I would be more that happy to discuss licensing fees and to set up a contract. This is put one of SO many of these that I have received lately. While most are on Deviant Art, some are not. The interactions I have on DA are not always so blatant, but the subtext is EXTREMELY clear:

"Hi I like your art, I want to use it. (Actually I have already stolen it, but I am being nice!)"

"Okay, you can't use client work, but you can pay me to use my work."

"Uh, sorry, I have no money. (So I am TOTALLY gonna steal some more of your art)"

"Sorry to hear that, well when you have a budget, I am more that happy to talk, just don't steal my work."

"Sure thing! Will do! I love your work! Would never steal it! (I am TOTALLY gonna steal every last bit of art you have on Deviant Art!)"

Over and over and over again. Finally have had enough. Not too mention I have not been able to find ANY proof that I am getting any kind of return from my Deviant Art account or that it is helping me achieve my goals in anyway. All it seems to be is a time sink and a stress creator. So, after more than 8 years I am packing it in, closing up shop, and getting the hell out of Deviant Art Town. It is not worth my time and it is definitely not worth this stress. Also, if you are wondering about this person or any legal actions I can take... I have to have proof that they have actually stolen work and are using it without my permission, which I don't have, and thier account on DA is blank save for their alias, FuriFull, and that they claim to be n Russia. Not a lot to go on and no recourse to be found. Oh well. Also, I will NEVER watermark my work. If I have to mar the image to keep it safe when showing people I will stop making art. This is why we can not have nice things.

That is all for another exciting week on the blog, see you back here on Monday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Narnam Cobra - Kaladesh - PROCESS

Today I have for you an overdue post about the process and steps that went into a Magic the Gathering piece of mine that I first shared with you way back in September of 2016, the Narnam Cobra. This is by far my favorite piece from the Kaladesh block and I am still really happy with how it turned out. To start things off, here is how the final art for Narnam Cobra turned out...

Narnam Cobra
Magic the Gathering - Kaladesh
14 x 10.2- Digital
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast

As always, thumbnails got things started. For this piece I needed to design a mechanical cobra based on the art direction of other mechanical animals in the style guide. I really like the idea of this and got to work designing the cobra and working out an environment that best suited it. There was mention that this piece had a connection to green and I think there was some mention to it being deadly, so I wanted to try to touch on both those things in this piece. The green aspect would come later, but I was imagining the cobra entering a home or building ready to dispatch a target it was sent after. Coiled and ready to strike I was imaging the cobra back lit with some nice frontal glow. Here are how the thumbnails turned out...

Narnam Cobra - Thumbnails
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast

Option "D" was the winner, but there was concern that the columns were just too real world like and I was asked to rework them to make them more Kaladesh. This was an easy enough request and I was happy to make it. Here is how the updated thumbnail turned out...

Narnam Cobra - Revised thumbnail
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast

The updated thumbnail was approved and I was given the go ahead to work up a finalized drawing. This piece had a ton of pattern and detail in it and making sure it all worked, looked good, and obeyed perspective took some time. In the end I was really happy with how the drawing turned out. Here is how the final drawing turned out...

Narnam Cobra - Drawing
Kaladesh
17 x 14 - Pencil on paper
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast

For myself, I worked up a tonal study of the piece as well. Figuring out if the plan in my head is going to actually work out the way I want it to. Here is the tonal study for this piece...

Narnam Cobra - Toned drawing
Kaladesh
14 x 11 - Pencil on paper
Original - SOLD
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast

Now that I had an approved final drawing it was time to get started on the painting. There were no further comments or requests from production so it was just a matter of getting started. In just 18 easy steps, you too can have a digital painting... or not...

Narnam Cobra - Process progression
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast

This piece was a breeze to work on. It just took time and a bit of pushing and pulling to make sure all the different planes read and worked well. I wanted a really bright back light with a dark middle ground and an eerie glow lighting the foreground. I think I got it all to work. There was the shine and reflection of the gold and the glow of the aether in the cobra to worry about, but I think I controlled it all. There was a lot here to keep wrangled in, but at the end of the day it just takes time and a slow even pace to get it done. Maintaining the low contrast muted background and pushing the columns backwards ended up being some of the hardest aspects to this piece. Here is an animated progression of this piece coming together so that you can better see each step layering to create the final painting...

Narnam Cobra - Animated process progression
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast

As mentioned above, this is still my favorite of the Kaladesh block and still one of my favorite Magic pieces to date. I think it reads well on the card and in the art and creates a nice mood. For me it reminds me of the kind of things that drew me to Magic in the first place. It might seem like a regular card, but for me it was a big challenge to make it special for myself, and hopefully the players.

Again, here is the finished Narnam Cobra painting and the final production card...

Narnam Cobra
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast

Narnam Cobra in handy dandy card form.

That is all for another exciting Wednesday on the blog, see you back here on Friday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Other Kind of Promoting

While I don't often talk about my day job here on the blog I also don't hide the fact that I have one either. This blog has always been about my journey as a working artist in the gaming and entertainment industries. That said, most of this journey has happened along side and because of the day job. In the last few years my role at the day job has been changing and evolving and for most of this year has been moving to an ultimate goal, my promotion into a new position.

I am happy to report that I am now, officially, an Instructional Designer! This is something I have been working towards for a while now and very glad that all the paperwork and steps have finally been completed with the university. While I will have some of the responsibilities of a production artist, I am now designing, building, and maintaining style guides, working more directly with the writing team to make sure the content meets the needs of the art team, overseeing development of new assets like activities, animations, and videos, and working with other teams to make sure their projects are working as best they can from the art, design, and layout standpoint. A little bit of art directer, a little bit of designer, and a little bit artist all rolled into one position.

I won't bore you with the details, but this is very good for me, very good for my monster art, and will hopefully lead to a better quality of life in general. This promotion is one of the things that has allowed me to focus on my work on The Grand Bazaar of Ethra VanDalia this last year. While I don't talk about the day job, it is always there and is intertwined with the monster work.

That is all for another exciting Monday on the blog, see you back here on Wednesday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Salivating Gremlins - Kaladesh - PROCESS

Today I have for you an overdue post about the process and steps that went into a Magic the Gathering piece of mine that I first shared with you way back in September of 2016, the Salivating Gremlins. This was a really fun piece and I was so happy to have a chance to work on some of the Gremlins for the Kaladesh expansion of Magic. To start things off, here is how the final art for Salivating Gremlins turned out...

Salivating Gremlins
Magic the Gathering - Kaladesh
14 x 10.2- Digital
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast

Starting things off as always are the exciting and fun thumbnails. The focus of this piece was a group of Gremlins finishing up a meal of some hapless piece of tech. Since the gremlins were already designed it was all about arranging them in an interesting composition and making them look cool. I really wanted to do something interesting with the lightning on this one so I was really focusing on the arrangement of the three bodies, the background and foreground light elements and hopefully telling a little bit of a narrative. That narrative being the viewer who has just opened a door has come upon the gremlins and their meal and one of the gremlins is looking up suddenly to face the viewer. Maybe that came through, maybe it didn't, but that was what I was going for with this piece. Here are how the thumbnails turned out...

Salivating Gremlins - Thumbnails
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast

Option "C" was the winner here. It does read the best with the whole light spilling in and highlighting the startled gremlin. There was one note from production to remove the multi-pointed stars from the background elements and make them more inline with other shapes that were in the style guide. I was happy to comply and sent in a revised thumbnail...

Salivating Gremlins - Revised thumbnail
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast

The thumbnail was approved and I was give the go ahead to work up a finalized drawing. This was super fun to work on, so I was happy to spend some time working on some nice gremlin figures. Here is how the final drawing turned out...

Salivating Gremlins - Drawing
Kaladesh
17 x 14 - Pencil on paper
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast

For myself, I worked up a tonal study of the piece as well. Figuring out if the plan in my head is going to actually work out the way I want it to. Here is the tonal study for this piece...

Salivating Gremlins - Toned drawing
Kaladesh
14 x 11 - Pencil on paper
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast

The drawing was approved with a caveat to make sure the half eaten piece of tech is nice and fancy and has a lot of detail and ornate, but eaten, details. An easy request any day of the week. With an approved drawing, tonal study, and a single note from production, I was ready to get started on the final painting of the Salivating Gremlins. Here is a break down of the painting coming together. Each step reflects a different layer in the painting's file. You can see how the layers add up to make the final image. In just 18 easy steps, you too can have a digital painting... or not...

Salivating Gremlins - Process progression
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast

This piece came together fairly quickly and easily. There were a couple tweaks requested by production at the end to enhance the blue glow and to widen the gremlins eyes to make it look less intelligent and more like an animal. All really straight forward requests that I was happy to do. Here is an animated progression of this piece coming together so that you can better see each step layering to create the final painting...

Salivating Gremlins - Animated process progression
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast

I still like this piece a lot. I was really happy with how a couple of my cards for Kaladesh turned out, they just clicked while I was working on them. This is of course really great when it happens, but it is not necessarily going to happen every time. When it does, it can really make the painting go that uch faster and easier.

Fun fact, this piece was originally titled Clutch of Gremlins. It is very common for the names of cards to change throughout production, but since there was no mention of the gremlins salivating in the original art order, that was my addition, I would like to think I influenced the final name for this piece. This might be a common occurrence, but this was the first time my art influenced the name, and I think that is pretty neat.

Again, here is the finished Salivating Gremlins painting and the final production card...

Salivating Gremlins

Salivating Gremlins in handy dandy card form.

That is all for another exciting Wednesday on the blog, see you back here on Friday (maybe its a holiday)! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com

Monday, November 6, 2017

Lammergeier Transport - The Grand Bazaar of Ethra VanDalia

I have for you a new piece from The Grand Bazaar of Ethra VanDalia! Today's monster is the mighty Lammergeier Transport. Not every section of the Grand Bazaar can be reached on foot. For those areas high in the sky and out of reach for the earthbound beings they will need special assistance, plus proper paper work, appropriate passes, a small bribe, and the right passwords. The Lammergeier Transport can help with one of those things and it might even get some of your merchandise there and back again. If you are a savvy merchant with a eye on the sky, then you will need to emlpoy a Lammergeier Transport.

If you would like read the thoughts of Reginald Blatherskite, Anointed Seer of the Impure Husk, regarding this monster then head on over the The Grand Bazaar of Ethra VanDaila blog!

Lammergeier Transport
11 x 14 - Pencil on paper
Original - Currently not available 

© 2017 Christopher Burdett

Lammergeier Transport - Drawing 11 x 14 - Pencil on paper © 2017 Christopher Burdett

Here are all the other completed monster for The Grand Bazaar of Ethra VanDalia: Aberrant Stilter, Belled Kreep, Corrupted Knight, Dight-Kin, Eau-de-nil Elder, Ethra VanDalia, Footman, Gray Wanderer, Gullet, Humgruffin Mother, Irritated Girasol, Judicator, Kiplorbic Animal Dealer, Myopic Riflemen, Nimsbane Curse Victim, Ophiomornous Bureaucrat, Petrous Blacksmith, Quincaillerie, Saint Marque, Smokestack, Thrice, Uncanny Scribe, Virulent Artificer, Xandrell Tree, and Zombic Spore.
 
As an added bonus I have for you some images of the line work and rendering process of this piece so that you can get a better idea of it taking shape...

Lammergeier Transport - Process © 2017 Christopher Burdett 

That is all for another exciting Monday on the blog, see you back here on Wednesday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com