I play Magic the gathering. I play a lot of Magic. I do not think there has been a day the last five years where I have not had a deck in my hands trying to tune it to perfection. I lay plans and strategies while bike riding to my studio. All in all, lots of Magic on my mind.
In the format I am playing called Commander, a legendary creature is really important. Its the General for your deck and the character the whole strategy evolves around. So every time I get an art assignment for a legendary card my excitement shoots through the roof. This specific card is AMAZINGLY good. And I couldn’t be more happy to finally build a deck around my own card art that can actually kick some ass at the table. Let me introduce you to Obeka, Crude Chronologist.
When giving the assignment I knew something was up and that the card might be potentially good. The description called for a female Ogre Wizard punching time…uhhhhhh what?
Smashing time or punching a whole in time, something like that. I imagine that ogre wizards have a less subtle way of using magic than waving a wand. So they use forceful gestures.
I started sketching to see if I could find a striking pose, so to speak, that would make it a dynamic painting. I start with thumbs until I feel I hit something I can use. Then most of the time I just refine the thumb and that’s it. I will not start fine sketching until the idea is approved. As you can see in my thumb 1- 6 I was trying to nail the throwing a punch pose and the attitude of an ogre wizard. And I did not quite like any of them. My problem was that they were either focused too much on the actual punching gesture or too little. In my mind I was very deliberate around painting cool portraits. Since it’s a legendary character we need to see her in full figure with an emotional connection.
A cool character portrait so to speak, but the more I was angling at the punching pose the less I was able to make her look cool. # 2 I think is the one that might be showing the time punch the best, but the character the least. # 3 and 4 I think they were great poses with the face clear, but they seemed masculine. I liked # 1 a lot. My son came up with the idea that she should have an hourglass around the neck as a kind of medallion to represent time. And in order for me to make her look wizardry I gave her a dragon familiar. # 5 had something too because it would give me the best opportunity to show her face and make us connect to the character. And the foreshortening of the fist and arm i quite liked too. I tried to compile the features I liked into a sketch and ended up with 2 choices. My art director Andrew Valas asked me to go with the one with the foreshortening fist but to lose the dragon familiar. My next step is to fine sketch the character. I gave her Mohawk and facial runes and turned the familiar into a cape made out of dragon wings. That way I had almost the same silhouette as if the dragon was still perched on her shoulders. I still had no idea how to solve the shards of time being shattered by her punch but I started on the painting anyways. I figured I would solve it as I went along.
I wanted the painting to be colorful and chose red for her hair to get a good contrast to her green skin. Instead of painting all her skin green I like to make a color difference like this sand color on her chin and cheeks and palms. It resembles most animal colorations and just seems more natural than a simple color tone all over. It adds interest and I think especially in the clenched fist it makes the reading of the fingers and hand better. I went with full daylight and lots of warm bounce light.
My way of solving the “time” visual, I chose a bunch of shards as if she was shattering reality. I had this cool idea that I was going to paint in different faces of her as a kid as an old Ogre woman and I even contemplated painting in a huge egg to show the time reversed for the dragon cape. But, when I had finished all the of the image around the shards, I realized that it would be a completely messy and unreadable image if i did that: Already it had a very colorful outlook and there was no way one would be able to clearly see and even less understand if I painted a 3 year old ogre kid in one shard and an old ogre in another. The idea was fine but reality something else. So, I had to do something more simple, something that would stay within the palette and that would keep the image readable. So I copied a bunch of elements from around the image into the shards in photoshop. I printed the shards out and glued them unto the painting adding some more strokes of acrylics on top,
I am not sure I solved the “time” punching well enough. To me it kind of looks like she is smashing a mirror. But with the character portrait I did all right – and that was the main thing for me. If I ever get a chance to paint this girl again I will give her Time Magic a bigger scene.