This illustration, called Imperial Aerosaur, was one of my favorites from the last magic set called Ixalan. The task was to do a flying dinosaurs carrying a female fighter into battle.
I really enjoy doing flying characters. It allows me to pump it for dynamics since I have no weight point of the figure to take into consideration. No connection point to the ground and first of all: no perspective grid or anything. The thumb sketches look very close to each other. One is screaming one is more diving. They chose the screaming one.
What I aim at in a thumb or sketch like this one is to have everything come at you. The whole figure is seen as if in a tube and the more overlap I can get into it the better.
When i was about to clarify the sketch i took out a plastic figure I had of a T-Rex and held the head up under a desk lamp in order to get the foreshortening right in the jaws and eye sockets. When I add the values. I try to look for areas where I can have cast shadow. The big wing going up in the air is casting a shadow all over the ridge of the body and down onto the other wing. The whole head is almost in shadow too, allowing me a better contrast to the rim light; thus creating a focal point in the facial area.
The thing i like the most in this painting is how the sky was created.
I masked out the whole figure with frisket film and washed down the whole background in a light tone of thin bluish/ turquoise. I let the top left, where I wanted a cloud, fade into a bit of grey and let it dry. I then mixed a flat blue for the sky and with a big flat brush cut into the washed tone to chisel out the shape of the clouds. In practicality i did not paint paint any clouds. I just flat painted everything around them. It took no more than 15 minutes, but time is not an issue, just saying it is fast. What I like about fast Technics like this is that they make everything look effortless and elegant. And the background doesn’t take away attention form the main figure.
I peeled off the masking film and washed the Dino in Raw umber. Next up was just blocking in the blues and the reds and orange of the head and then started to paint light on top. If you look closely at the body of the dinosaur you can see how little is actually opaque painted strokes and how much is actually just the grey tone with the first wash of Umber. For the light falling into the mouth and the teeth I used a reference of a crocodile and the T-Rex figure I held in under a lamp. I ended up painting away the frilled feathers on his right side of the face because I thought they made him look comical or too much like a chicken.
Great example of how a really cool piece of art can come about very quickly.