This guy is Garruk, one of the mane characters in the Magic the Gathering universe. It is always an honor to do one of the Planewalkers.
The difficulty with planewalker-art is that it has to function in two different aspects: One is a wide format illustration and one is as a taller full illustration. I thought that if I hid his legs in green vegetation it would create a simpler and easier to read area for the text box in the bottom. And; I was able to give the sense of depth and plane in the way the vegetation was overlapping the figure and each other. I tried to get as much foreshotning into the pose as possible. The axe-arm pulled back and the fist turned towards you.
With my sketch I decided to work with a silhouette based illustration with him and his wolf pet being dark against a light background. This way i could get the most use out of a heavy rim light.
My color comp idea was two different ones. First the cold green and yellow one, which was the one I had in my mind from the get go. the warm yellow one I created mostly just to be sure of where not to go. I needed to see what a more fall like settingcoul ddo and if it could work, but decided against it. The first one just seemed more like a Green card. But one thing that struck me that worked very well in my color test, was the very magenta-like skin color. i needed to make sur ethat the most of the figure was reading as “cold” to work best against a warm backlight.
In the end I couldn’t resist the urge to make a little bit of orange bounce light on his face. After I finished the metal in the helmet with a great deal of warm color reflecting from the side, the face needed some too or it looked out of place. I find in painting metal that the difference in temperature often gives the best result. I changed the wolfs pose from looking like it was in a low pose to one that was more running besides him.
When looking at it now a year after I painted it, there is one tiny area that I am really happy with. Its the leather belt around his waist: The flat brown warm base color and then just a hint of grey to establish a bent plane in the leather! That change in temperature captures the right amount of shiny-ness in the leather and creates a believable 3d effect.