By Jesper Ejsing
sketching this cover for Paizo´s Pathfinder series I got the urge to do a
multiple figure fight scene. Not a very easy thing to pull of. i knew it would take  a lot of planning and composition so to make
everything easier I tilted the horizon line. I helps distort everything so that
no one notice perspective mistakes or nothing and it adds drama and action; win
win if you ask me.
I had a
previous sketch of the female barbarian that i had to abandon on an earlier cover,
but i knew I was going to use it now, so I kind of build everything around that
ass…I mean pose.
To be honest
I think explaining composition is very hard. I know there is a thing called the
Golden section and there is all kinds of rules as to where to place things of
interest. I never learned any of that but you kind of know them anyway, from
being human and having looked at  a lot
of images. So I go about this feeding on gut feeling. What this feeling is
telling me is that there must be unified lines. Or framing. Notice in the
sketch that I actually have a whole figure reaching ( pointing ) towards the centre
of interest. And the figures around her nicely circles her in acting as a
framing for the main figure. When sketching these many figures I do not decide
that I want to follow these line from the beginning. they are not pre-described
in my head, but I take really good care of using them when they surface. It is
more about recognizing the right flow/direction or rhythm to the lines when the
haphazardly emerge, than actually doing it textbook like. almost as finding shapes
and figures in a cloud.
Next up I
tried to see what could be eliminated to make the image seem more clearly
readable. I decided to remove the charging front giant to make room for the
second archer and also to clear some room for the Axe Swinger. When I sketched the
giant having his hand cut off I couldn´t get it right. he seemed like he was falling
in the wrong direction. He faced out of the composition and continues a moving
downwards and out of the picture. it felt wrong, so I changed his pose to be
more of a cup shape framing the barbarian from the bottom and up circling her
Most of
these steps was created with pencils on paper. but as soon as I had all the
figures sketched i layered them together in Photoshop and stared shuffling them
around to avoid tangents and unclear cropping. In the old days this stage was
done from multiple photocopies placed as a jigsaw puzzle on top of a background
pushing and pulling around zooming the figures in and out printing them out a
lot of times before the placement was right. Doing it digitally is a lot
easier. And since I already had all the sketches placed together I might as
well color them right away.
half way image with greytones showing
I grey toned
everything like I am used to do in acrylic and started painting on top of the
grey tone with overlay layers and colorize. then I just paint into everything
until it is done.
I chose a
very simple and limited palette to not take away the focus from the figures and
the readabilities.

What I
really like in this picture is that there is so much going on, small actions
within the big scene.