-By Jesper Ejsing
About a year ago I painted six theme covers for Wizards of the Coast. This cover is ‘The Rogue Profession”. Once again I was going to do a night scene. A Persian-like princes showing a tarot card of “Death” and a Hafling wielding 2 daggers. The background should be a haunted farm house.
I remember the haflings to be a race of scared little guys mostly I got that impression from reading Dragon Lance when I was a kid. So my first thumb had a very anxious hafling clinging the female figure. I really liked the female figure in this thumb. She is extremely self secure and strong, but the hafling looks like an underdog or a child. They were supposed to be equals.
So in my second attempt I turned them around like they were more back to back ( you cannot show the backside of a figure on a cover, so more like back to back-ish ). I really liked the silhouette of the house, so that one is the same in both thumbs. I am almost embarrassed now, to see my second thumb. I didn’t even crisscross out all of the sky as black. I simply stopped as soon as I was able to see where this was going and when I knew what to turn into a real sketch.
So I sketched the figures out on separate papers. For the girl I used a H&M magazine for the facial features. The hand was my own, holding up a magic card in front of the mirror I got at my table and the cleavage once again came from my dependable selection of Playboys Lingerie magazines. The hair was the most difficult thing: I wanted it to drape well and believable pulling myself away from the stylized flat black hair I sometimes do, so for that I looked in a lot of clothing catalogues until I found the right hairdo.
Reference of the hafling was singled down to my own hands in the mirror again wielding a letter knife. I always stand up and position myself in the pose of the character I am drawing to get a feel for the pose. With the hafling it felt okay, but when I look at it now, I think the angle of him is too high. It seems like he is seen from above where as the girl is seen a bit from below. Mistakes like that happens when you do not draw out the whole figure and place the feet in the same perspective-grid. I usually feel it out instead of going all technical. Most of the times I am right. Sometimes…not.
When the transfer and the grey tones are done I make a colour rough from a printed out scan. My idea with this colour theme was that it was going to be the green cover in the series. Since it is night I chose all cool reds like magenta and pink for dress and skin tones and went for a greenish yellow for bracelets and gold. My colour rough did not have the strong white moon rim light that the final have. It was a choice I made during the painting process because I thought it all became too dark and moody.
2 things I really like about this painting is the movement of the clouds sucking you into the painting and pointing towards the figures, and the shadow side of the tower.