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GP San Antonio Playmat – Spirits of War

Spirits of War
Spirits of War

Next month I’ll be one of the guest artists for GP San Antonio from November 28-30th.

Steve Port contacted me and wanted to know if I would be interested in creating an original playmat illustration for the GP. They wanted something that was specific to the city of San Antonio, so of course the Alamo and the Riverwalk were the first to come to mind.

The illustration needed to look like it could fit within the world of Magic, but it couldn’t look too much like Magic. The Riverwalk is a little too modern, so I didn’t know if I could make it fit very well within the world of Magic. I ended up going with the Alamo idea, but I still wasn’t sure what I was going to do with the Alamo.

At first I considered painting a battle scene, but I thought it would be a little too complicated. Players will be playing Magic on top of these playmats, which means there are going to be a lot of cards and tokens cluttering the surface. If I painted something that was complicated and then added all of the elements from the game on top, I thought it would just be too chaotic and it might distract the players from the game. I wanted something a little more simple, but not too boring.

The Sketch

Original sketch
Original sketch

My first sketch had the warriors standing in front of the Alamo, but they were all living. WotC had to approve my sketch, and their feedback was that my painting didn’t feel fantastical enough to fit within the world of Magic. They also suggested that I make the designs of the warriors similar to the designs in Khans of Tarkir.

I decided to turn all of the background warriors into spirits. Hopefully that would give the illustration a more fantastical feel. I had also planned on making the main warrior’s sword glow, but I thought it would blend in too much with the background warriors.

Video Tutorial

At this point I thought it would be cool to record my painting process and create a new tutorial. Since I hadn’t recorded the process of the original sketch, I repainted it specifically for the tutorial.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to record the entire process. Some parts during the middle of the process weren’t filmed because it would have taken up too much space and the video would have been extremely long. I usually spend 2-3 days on a Magic painting, so this painting took me probably more than a week to paint. Even after skipping parts of the process, my video was still 6 hours long. I was able to cut that down to a 4.5 hour demo and the video file is around 9 GB.

Selling a 9 GB file through my own store might end up exceeding my bandwidth, so I decided to offer the tutorial through Gumroad. Yes, I have finally joined the Gumroad frenzy. Be sure to check out my other videos on Gumroad as well!

5 Replies to “GP San Antonio Playmat – Spirits of War”
  1. Very nice, making the other warriors spirits is a good call and using the alamo like you did feels just right, I really like how you handled the lighting here, nice mood.

  2. awesome! I was wondering when/if you were going make a gumroad tut. hope there will be more.
    when are you going to show some of the shadow of mordor work? I saw Daryl Mandryk & James Paicks and it looked awesome. cant wait to see yours!

  3. awesome daarken, I will definitely gonna buy this one … you are part of my history as an artist, your tutorials on enliighten helped me a lot when I started to paint, and I’m pretty excited to see what comes with this, keep doing it man, I will support you whenever I can.

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