New Magic stuff!
I almost forgot about this guy since I painted him a year ago. I always enjoyed painting Phyrexian stuff, so I was pretty excited about this guy. Phyrexian aesthetics tend to suit me well since I like painting weird flesh metal stuff, sprinkled with a dab of oil and smoke.
I wasn’t very happy with my old Phyrexian paintings, so this was a chance to redeem myself. Here is the description I received.
“Show us a massive Phyrexian construct (40 feet tall) lumbering through the oil-slicked land. Tubes and pipes writhe from under its feet. The giant machine’s construction has hints of the silhouette of Elesh Norn – the Phyrexian praetor. Some of it is plated with cracked white porcelain intermixed with plates of black darksteel covering its hull. At its head is a grinding maw, looking something like a lamprey crossed with a drilling machine. Its body has the Phyrexian organic-machinery look, maybe it has smokestack vents along its arms/legs issuing forth vile pollution.”
I put together a short little process shot of the painting, although it feels a little like the famous “how to draw an owl” meme. Sometimes my final changes quite a bit from my sketch, but with this painting I stuck pretty close to the original sketch.
The first image is the black and white sketch that I submitted to my art director for approval. After receiving approval, I started to add the base colors using overlay layers and some opaque painting.
The major change I made along the way was his face and chest. Originally I had him dripping some toxic slime from his face hole, but then I remembered that I was supposed to make his maw look like a lamprey crossed with a drilling machine. It pays to pay attention to your brief!
It seems crazy to think that it has already been six years since my original Sarkhan Vol painting came out in Shards of Alara. My painting style has definitely changed over the years, so much so that I always hate looking at my older paintings.
I wish I could go back in time and shake myself and yell “stop being lazy!” I’m sure in six more years I’ll say the same thing about this painting. There are already several things about it that really bug me, but what are you gonna do?
The next painting I want to talk about is Tyrant’s Choice. Some people had a problem with this painting because they said a cell couldn’t hold water since it would just leak through the bars. There are several explanations for this, and this was done deliberately.
Maybe there is glass between the bars, maybe it is magic (whenever something can’t be explained, it must be magic!), or maybe the area beyond the foreground bars is also flooded, but you can’t really tell since that is where the viewer is and it would make it too hard to see and understand what is going on if I made everything look like it was underwater.
Sure those explanations could work, although the magic explanation is stretching it a bit, but the main reason I did this was because of artistic license. If you took the foreground bars out of the scene, it would completely change the drama of the shot. I knew I wanted the bars in there, regardless of the logic.
I also intentionally placed the bars so that they are almost creating tangents with the figure, same with the bars behind his head. Tangents cause unease. This guy is fighting for his life, so I wanted that added tension. I wanted it to feel claustrophobic; I wanted it to feel like the world was closing in around him.
Sometimes tangents can be a good thing in a painting…sometimes. Tangents are sort of like the dodge and burn tool. As long as you know how to use them correctly, they can make your painting look better.