Here is my newest illustration for Magic the Gathering, the only card I have in the set called Rivals of Ixalan.
The description asked for a bluecoat pirate sliding or swinging down the side of the Golden City aiming at us with a deadly harpoon attached to his arm in place of his hand.
I knew I wanted to draw something dynamic. I sketched a pirate sliding down the side of the building, controlling the slide with one hand, like you would in a sleigh down the hill.
My art director Dawn Murrin said it might look more controlled if he had a rope in his hand. We did not want it to be misinterptrated as falling. So when I transferred the sketch to the board I changed the hand to a rope grip. In drawing the rope I found a shape that enhances the foreshortening of the arm and the long end swinging behind him drags the eye up towards the figure.
So much of the pose is about random swinging limbs but still with a sense of control in the pirate. The leg kicking out with the muscles tight is to show that he is purposely swinging and in no kind of panic. I think the trick to do the right kind of randomness or hectic shapes like the coat billowing behind him, is to imagine it all being within a tube pointing the same way as the figure. The rope circling around his arm follows the tube shape most clearly.
Also I changed the face a bit from the sketch making him a bit more playful than grumpy. Also, even if we are in a magical world, I still have the understanding that Pirates have bad teeth.
The sunrays I had to add in Photoshop with a colour dodge layer.