Bard the Bowman
I have a couple of new paintings I did for The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth by Kabam.
Like with the other paintings I did for Kabam (more here, and here), these were painted on a transparent background so that they could be dropped directly into the game. This time they requested full figures, so no sketchy legs!
I was actually working on these paintings while I was sitting in the hospital waiting for my wife to give birth to our son. We were in the hospital for 4 days, so I had plenty of time to work on my freelance. Good thing I have a Wacom Companion!
It’s pretty hard to believe that I’ve been doing paintings for The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth for more than two years now. I think so far I’ve created a total of 38 paintings, not counting a few head changes. I ended up painting two different heads for Legolas and Elrond.
Master of Laketown
The Master of Laketown was fun to paint, but it was hard. There aren’t very many high resolution images online of his outfit, so I couldn’t go into as much detail as I could with the other characters. With the other characters I actually received high resolution production images from the film, which was great. This time I didn’t receive any production images of Bard the Bowman or the Master of Laketown. Google was my friend.
It’s funny because after I turned in my painting, they said that the style of their game assets had changed and they needed something more loose and less detailed. I ended up going back through my old iterations (luckily I keep them all) and used some of my looser WIPs to create a less refined painting.
These are the more detailed versions because I like them better. I think they match my other paintings better than the loose versions, which makes sense because they are all part of the same game.
Ok I lied, these are actually a hybrid of the more detailed version and the less detailed version. I liked some parts of the looser version and some parts of the more refined version, so I just masked out certain areas. Sometimes you can add too much detail. I think I got carried away in some areas.
Vastriel is a new character Kabam wanted me to create for the game. Creating a new character for an IP like The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings is incredibly daunting. It is a great opportunity to expand the universe, but you might end up upsetting the fans. It is even harder when creating a female character, especially in a fantasy genre.
The designs in The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings are definitely more historical than fantastical, so I didn’t want to go into too much high fantasy. Of course there is always the problem of female armor too. You won’t see any mail bikinis in The Hobbit, so you won’t see any on Vastriel either. I also didn’t want to take the route of boob armor.
I painted Vastriel back when I was working on the first paintings I did for The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth, so she is probably about two years old now. I posted the avatar I painted of her a long time ago, but I never posted the full painting. Her legs aren’t painted because you will never see her legs in the game.
Here is the description I was given.
Vastriel is a Rivendell loremaster who has armed herself with artifacts. Long red hair, pieces of armor over an elvish gown or robes, attractive, appears about 30. Sword and shield. She’s driven, almost obsessed — with finding artifacts, protecting her people, and killing Orcs.
She needed to be armored enough to look like she could take out some Orcs, but not so big and bulky that she lost her femininity. Of course she also needed a book since she is a loremaster! I didn’t want to add too many artifacts and knickknacks to her belt since that might get too much into high fantasy, but I thought one book would probably be ok.
Stealing the Arkenstone
This was the last painting I did for The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth. Maybe they will hire me to do some more paintings in the future, but as of right now, this was my last painting.
When they asked me to paint Bilbo stealing the Arkenstone, I think my eyes glazed over. All I could think about was “how in the world am I going to paint all of those coins?” I didn’t think about how I was going to paint Bilbo or Smaug or the environment, no, only those cursed coins.
I think I ended up trying several methods. A coin brush didn’t really work and photo textures didn’t really work, so I ended up just painting them all by hand. They are all really loose, so it wasn’t like I was spending hours and hours painting each coin. I think trying to decide how refined to paint the coins was also a problem. How big was this painting going to be seen? Would I need to render the coins out or just hint at them?
This actually isn’t the version that was released. After I had painted this version, they had asked me to remove the Arkenstone and make Bilbo bigger. I’m not sure why they wanted me to take out the Arkenstone, but I think the painting works much better with it. Not only does it help guide your eye, but it is also an important storytelling element.
Well, it has been a great two years. Hopefully this won’t be the last you’ll see of me when it comes to Middle-earth.