Last year I started working for Fantasy Flight Games, a big and well known publisher for board, roleplay, and card games. They have the publishing rights to some really sweet IPs (intellectual properties), e.g. Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
I read both at the age of twelve and together with the Darkover books from Marion Zimmer Bradley and all the fairy tales my grandmother told me when I was a little child it was the beginning of my love for fantastic stories and visuals. I loved the cover artworks and the inner visuals that came from reading the books and imagining the story were even more capturing.
Here come Dwalin, entering the door to Bilbos house, and the golden cup, part of Smaug’s treasure:
You can see some other cards of that set on the February Announcement of FFG’s blog. There is also a picture from the actual card. I love the design <3:
Since I love step-by-steps when reading other artists blogs, I did some of the cards. First is Dwalin, because the step-by-step is simple to explain and shows the workflow I had back then:
- Back then I did my rough thumbnails directly in colors to capture the mood and to think about some nice warm and cold contrasts. I did not define the anatomy or the design at this stage.
- After the sketch has been approved by the art director, I shot some reference photos (in this case of my girlfriend in a cape, entering the door to my work space) and did a tight sketch on top of the rough colors.
- I opened also the thumbnail file to have a reference for the colors and layed down some more precise colors under the tight line drawing.
- Rendering, rendering, rendering untill there is no outline left.
Since I really love colors, for long time, this was my preferred work flow. Nowadays I changed it due to time efficiency: First I lay down a rough greyscale sketch. After approvement I work on it until I have an almost finished greyscale painting, all values should be fixed at that stage. And then I go in with some color, soft light, multiply and screen layers. The last steps consists of directly applying “color” to the image, to get a nice finish on the textures. To be honest: I think the new workflow needs a deeper understanding of how colors behave on different textures and materials then my old approach. It is less fun, but far more time efficient.
The step-by-step of the golden cup is more interesting on a “how a picture can change due art direction” point of view. The first image was more like a refined sketch of my first visual notes after reading the description. I noticed that Bilbo is too much in the center of the image and changed it (step 2). But then the art director wanted me to paint only the cup, not the whole scene. So i did sketch 3 – there are different kind of cups and I thought I could paint it bigger if I paint one without a long base. Unfortunatly this kind of shape might be not too good to read as a cup and the art director wanted me to paint a more classical cup. Sketch 4 got acceptet and after some rendering the image was done (5).
Hopefully I will be able to show the other four cards I did for Lord of the Rings and for The Hobbit, soon. I have to wait until they will get published.