Lost Caverns of Ixalan, the newest set for Magic the gathering, gave me the opportunity to paint an old favorite of mine: the Dreadmaw. This time bigger and better than ever before. The assignment asked for him howling on top of a ruined pyramid, with a hint of the sun shining down into the cavern system. In my first sketch I focused on the angle and had us looking way down from below. But I never showed it to Ovidio, my art director, because I thought the overall figure looked too ragged and almost goofy with the billowing feather mane. And I felt like too much of the image was taken up by his belly and …Hmn pelvic area. Those thoughts let me to a more traditional angle and I zoomed out for the next try.
The second try had all the bulkiness I was looking for and also the full “King Kong” vibe I had in mind to begin with. I used the lines in the cliff edges in the background to frame the big guy. The circular shapes in the edges function as a bulls eye and direct the eye towards the middle.
In my color test I focused on the face. I kept the background to 2 colors only. One greenish turquoise cold light from the mouth of the cave and then a grayish brown for everything not hit by light. The simplicity of the background would help draw the attention to the colorful face and mane. I played with a drop shadow on ⅔ of the body to simplify that shape too and yet again to gain a projected light effect on the face. After all the directlight was done I filled in orange in all the areas affected by bounce light. I like how the more colorful shadows give a more appealing and lighthearted look.