I recently started playing D&D 5e on Camp D&D Online after backing it on Kickstarter. I tend to play magic users pretty much any chance I get, so for a change of pace I thought I’d play a melee character. For point of reference, some 35 years ago was the last melee character I played was a dwarf fighter with big dreams of becoming a paladin. It should be noted that this was in the days of 2e where such things were not, per canon, allowed. And as you might guess it with a bunch of teenagers, the DM refused so I just roll-played as if my dwarf would some day catch the notice of a human paladin who would induct me into the eternal order of protectorates. It never happened. Dwarf prejudice was a real thing, kids.

Before you worry about me, I also created a dragon-born sorcerer by the name of Unnis Kilyax, for whom I will illustrate later this week. But for whatever reason, I started with my first fighter in decades creating a warforged warrior who woke from a scrap pile of their brethren without memory of its past. Stone exudes a child-like innocence that sits uncomfortably with the fact that they are an elite, two weapon wielding mercenary which its named Sword and Axe. Warforged, if you don’t know, are decidedly simple and direct in all things including the naming things.

When I started sketching Stone, I thought I might go with a more straight-forward rendering using line-art and cell-shading. However, I really did not like the line quality, and I started to tweak I ended reworking the entire piece to be a more painterly rendering. Once I got done and let it sit for a few hours, opting to change some subtle shading around the mouth along with details on the face that I think help keep the eyes on the face.

Given that Stone is a walking automaton with a body that is effectively a full-body suit of armor, it did not make sense to have them wear a helmet. Interestingly enough, I hate the hood as an element from the perspective of character design, but I never figured out a better approach. I struggled how to convey that Stone was a fighter in a portrait, thus why I added a sword-like symbol over the forehead as a compromise. Admittedly, there is an error of mystery with the rather organic elements of the hood with what is otherwise an entirely metallic and mechanical humanoid.

where next?

This originated as a few quick lines that more got down the impression I was seeking, albeit it missed some of the anatomical accuracy I had hoped for.  Nevertheless, I’m pleased with the final image as I feel it conveys convincingly a rider and its dragon looking to see where to go next.  Ironically enough, the rider took the greater part of my time to get right to my satisfaction, especially in terms of getting the saturation levels right.  If you watch the video below, note that I added the rider only after the dragon which was already near its final, colored state.

where next, color study
where next, color study
Where Next? (2016)
Where Next? (2016)

never more

A few weeks back I did a picture of what supposed to be a crow holding a ring.  Regardless to say, it ended up more like a sugar fueled nightmare of Toucan Sam gone over to Edgar Allen Poe.  It was bad.  Very, very bad.  Consequently, I thought it best to go back to reality and do a few quick studies of crows to reset my understanding of crows.  To wit, I said: never more. Never more.

crow study i
crow study i
crow study ii

in the forest

This was inspired by a joke with a colleague.  We were talking about making estimates, and I quipped that we engineers assume everything is just a sphere of 1 meter in diameter as an estimate for just about anything.  Which is not too far from the truth.  So when we got talking to about drawing a horse – trust me, there was a natural progression from engineering estimates to drawing horses – I threw down a circle as my horse and cried “Done!”  When they remained incredulous that a circle was indeed a horse, I quickly took that circle and added a few more likes into a form that I actually through worth fleshing out a bit more.

Admittedly, I am not super happy with the end results.  But when is an artist ever happy with what they produce?  Don’t bother replying, the answer is “never.”  But as I appreciate that others have liked it, I thought it worth sharing both the process and end-results.

In The Forest (2016)