This illustration is a magic card illustration and is the first one I did for the set called Ixalan. The world is a bright sunny world with colourful dinosaurs, vampires and pirates. I was asked to do a black girl pirate ornate with ship carvings in wood and manoeuvring a Leonardo Da Vinci-like glider.
I had the idea for the angle that you were standing on a ship looking up, and seeing her majestically glide on the wind amongst the seagulls, like a big bird amongst the small ones. In my head it was a somewhat symmetrical pose arms treated out and a poised stare into the distance. I made a thumb sketch and send it off for approval. looking at it now I am almost embarrassed at how little information it has and how extremely poor it is at showing my idea. When I send it off it was super clear in my head, so I might have read a lot more into the sketch than anyone else was capable off. Never the less, I was trusted to continue and I started the real sketching. But as so many times before, when there is a day or a week between the thumb and the real sketch, I get different ideas.
In this case I looked at the stiff Jesus on the cross pose and thought” this is everything you are trying to avoid”. I always push for better dynamics, forshortnings and Images that seems like they are a snapshot, a moment of movement caught in the fantasy camera lens. So I tried to push the pose. I changed the body posture so that we were looking in on her coming out towards us rather than flat looking up. The hands are bigger and the legs disappear out behind her. This was a more mid motion and more exciting pose and it appealed more to me. But to be sure I send it off to the artdirector and showed the changes. They liked it but would like me to change the seagulls to small dinosaurs.
So I transferred the whole sketch to a watercolour board, drew in the dinos, inked the outline, added some greytones in black acrylic and was ready to paint.
I was very focused on this painting not becoming too dark. i wanted to make it look like a real sunny day with tons of bounce light. So I more or less builded the colours up using a very strong, almost white direct light and everything else being local colours in shadows. It took me way longer than usual having to decide all the colours for shadows. Everything have a local color but slightly cooler lit than the areas caught by direct light. I chose the skin for the wings of the dinosaurs to be the same as the canvas for the thopter wings in order to show how familiar and at home she was up in the sky with the flying creatures.
I am really happy how this painting turned out. I paint around 50 paintings a year and I am only really happy with about 3 to 5. Usually because something I am aiming at succeeds, and I create something I was not capable at before. This painting is one of the five from last year.