by Howard Lyon

I was recently commissioned by Mark Winters to paint Nissa, a Planeswalker in the Magic: the Gathering Universe.  It was a great commission opportunity (thank you Mark!) and I wanted to really invest some time and effort into the process.

I started by doing a series of small digital sketches. I used these to establish the values and larger shapes in the scene.  I had just returned from Italy and Bernini’s angels on the bridge to the Castel St. Angelo were really on my mind.

Once the sketches were approved, I moved on to the photography. My wife is always a good sport and I dressed her up in some fabric and dish towels!

The background for this one was fairly complex so I built a model of it in Blender, a free 3D program that I have found very useful for complex geometric elements.

Next step, finished drawing. I like to do these on grey paper to serve as the mid-tone and then work in charcoal and white chalk. I’ll also use some white gouache in places to really hit the highlights.

I made a copy of the drawing, transferred it to a 16″x20″ panel and started the final painting:


I painted from front to back so I could work the edges from one layer to the next. Here are a couple details from the painting:

And the final piece.

I regularly share in progress shots of various paintings, drawing and studies on my Instagram account if you are interested.

Thanks for giving this a read!