This piece for Dragon Magazine #426 was a challenge! The art description called for the character to be "strongly backlit, but we can still pick out the details of his angular elf features, sheathed sword, leather armor". I may have made the whole thing more difficult by going with yellow backlighting, which is about as strong as it gets. However, it was an interesting challenge. In the first version I completed, the character was darker, more of a silhouette with some features visible. Art director Kate Irwin really helped me find a balance between that silhouette and the backlighting that worked to bring out the character but still met the original goals for the piece.
I've included a detail image so you can see some of work that went into this illustration a little better.
Last year, I painted some cards for Cryptozoic Entertainment's new game Hex: Shards of Fate. I've already posted my favorite of the pieces I created for the game. You can see it here: http://www.jimnelsonart.blogspot.com/2013/09/rocket-ranger.html
For several reasons, I needed to keep my approach a little simpler and less detailed on these cards but Hopefully, I was still able to capture a little magic. The dwarves in the game lean toward the cartoony side (which I liked) and toward gray in color. Consequently, I used muted colors and punctuated them with stronger hues where possible. The images went through some color revisions at the end so the large fellow in green is actually wearing a muted red in the final art. I've posted two versions of one of the cards below so you can see how purples and greens were also shifted to red for the final art.
It's a fun challenge to try and simplify what you're doing while still coming up with something that is (hopefully) an effective image!
This is another monstrosity I created for The Shadowhunter's Codex by Cassandra Clare and Joshua Lewis! This drawing (and the two I posted on Halloween) was done in india ink on bristol using a crowquil pen.
I was privileged to join a number of extremely talented artists who created work for the newly-released Shadowhunter's Codex, an illustrated guide to the world of author Cassandra Clare's series, The Mortal Instruments. I illustrated a number of demons, monstrous beings, magical objects, etc. for the book and I had a blast working with the book's co-author, Joshua Lewis. Over the next few days, I'll share some of my work from the book here. Since it's Halloween today, it seems appropriate to kick things off with a couple of demonic entities, Abaddon and a creature I whipped up from one of the darker corners of my own imagination. I'm not yet sure what it's called in the book but as I worked on it, I just thought of it as a "mouth demon", a voracious entity that will eat any living thing (but naturally prefers people).
I've included the preliminary sketches as well. Happy Halloween!
The book is available online and at bookstores nationwide. Please check it out!
This summer, I had the pleasure of working on the new set of cards for Mars Attacks! I'm a big fan of the wild, lurid art on the original Mars Attacks trading cards released in the 1950s so this was an exciting project for me. The work in the set is all painted using traditional materials so these illustrations are painted in acrylics. However, the deadline was a bit tight so to save time, I did a bit of digital re-touching and modification in the images above just to pull the final art together.
Stylistically, I tried to paint like myself while also capturing some of the style of the original Mars Attacks art so hopefully, that comes through. The great Earl Norem, who also did some work on the set and who has done some excellent Mars Attacks paintings over the years, was an inspiration as well.
The new set is called Mars Attacks: Invasion and it should be available this month!
I drew this little dragon for the 3rd day of "Inktober". I need to switch bristols. I tried a new one but it bleeds too much and it's holding back my line. Nevertheless, I hope you'll like this drawing. The character was fun to create.
Artist Jake Parker and some of his friends have started a tradition known as "Inktober" in which artists are encouraged to celebrate the wonderful medium of ink by doing an ink drawing every day. I like the idea and I love ink so I'm participating. Here are my first two Inktober drawings.
Both drawings were done with a crowquill pen and india ink on bristol board. The originals are for sale. Please contact me if you're interested.
This piece was painted in Photoshop for Paizo Publishing's recently released Quests & Campaigns book for the game Pathfinder. Vertical formats always present unique and interesting challenges, especially when dealing with large differences in scale (like that between a human character and a large, flying dragon). I had a good time with this one!
Here's a Warcraft painting from the Caverns of Time Set. It appeared on a card titled Razor Hill Lout but when I painted it, it was just "Orc Rogue" (the titles on game cards often change or added later in the process). I actually prefer the drawing of this one so I've included it above. I felt the character lost a little something in the transition from drawing to painting, which will happen sometimes. Nevertheless, I'm happy with the final art.
This is one of several dwarves I painted for Cryptozoic Entertainment's upcoming game, Hex. I can't show most of them yet but this was probably my favorite of the bunch and the image has been posted on the Hex site so I can share it with you now.
The version with the green components was the first take and I was asked to change the greens to bright reds. I think it works both ways but I'm partial to the green version.
I apologize for allowing this blog to slip into relative silence this summer. Hopefully, some of you have been checking out my robot blog on Tumblr at http://robotspot.tumblr.com. I have plenty of artwork to post to this blog now so this should be a busy place over the next few weeks. Some of that artwork is from the recently released World of Warcraft card set, Reign of Fire. Sadly, Blizzard Entertainment have announced that this will be the last set created for the game so I post this with bittersweet feelings. I've been working on the Warcraft card game for years and it's been both a challenge and a pleasure. The game has stretched my color sensibilities and offered many new challenges and I'm grateful that I've had the opportunity to contribute to it and collaborate with fine art directors like Jeremy Cranford, Ben Thompson, Doug Alexander and David Baron. Many thanks to all!
Here are 3 digital paintings created for Reign of Fire: Elwynn Huntsman, Circlet of Nobility and Permafrost. I tried something a little different on Elwynn Huntsman. The human characters in the Warcraft online game have very unique proportions and I wanted to paint something in my style that really looked like a human straight from the game. I don't know if I pulled it off but I had fun trying and the forested area the hunter is cautiously exploring was a blast to paint.
This poster image was painted for Bosch Tools and was presented as a gift to a long-time employee who is a big fan of Bruce Lee movies. It's based on the iconic poster art for the legendary '70s film, Enter the Dragon. However, Lee has been replaced by the aforementioned employee and most of the other aspects of the poster have been replaced by animals and tools related to the Bosch line. This was a blast and a challenge to create and I tried to stay true to the design and style of the original poster while bringing something of myself to the mix.
Back in March of this year, I began designing robots in Adobe Illustrator, just for fun. It was a nice change of pace and I wanted to see where it would lead me. My goal is to create 100 different designs. I have over 20 already and you can see them on the The Robot Spot, a page I've created to showcase them: The designs are a bit of a departure for me, although they reflect a side of my art that's always been there, lurking in the background. Nevertheless, they get their own page because they're so different from most of the art I post here. I hope some of you will follow my progress and enjoy the robot designs! I plan to do some robot paintings as well so eventually, there will be some crossover between The Robot Spot and this blog. In other robot news, I'm the Artist of the Week on the awesome Robot Envy blog, a site well worth following if you dig robots. I'm honored to be a part of it. please check it out. There's a lot of cool art there.
This illustration is from the recently released Pathfinder book, Ultimate Campaign and the art description was titled "Letter of Introduction". That's what this Samurai character (who is one of a number of iconic Pathfinder characters) is holding up with his right hand.
I painted this one in grayscale first and then went back in and added the colors. With so many details involved, it was easier to just think in terms of value and worry about color once all of the groundwork had been laid.
I'm including the initial digital sketch as well. Enjoy!
Here's another painting I did for the Orca Bear Studios game, Keepers of Grimoire. It depicts an elfin character named Tae. He's a frontiersman of sorts so I felt that a cold mountain setting would make an appropriate backdrop for this scene. I tried to stay loose and painterly with the background and even though the background colors are primarily cool, I began with a very warm ochre color as a base for the entire painting and let it show through in places. It adds interest to the picture and helps unify it as well. I also think it helps give a digital painting like this a slightly more natural feel.
For more info about Keepers of Grimoire, please visit http://www.keepersofgrimoire.com/.
These two pieces are from the recently released Caverns of Time set for the World of Warcraft TCG. The first is a charging Tauren warrior named Vorn and the second is (if I remember correctly) a necromancer named Salraam the Fleshcrafter, accompanied by some of those goofy-looking (but fun to paint!) Warcraft ghouls.
This painting was created for the World of Warcraft card set, Caverns of Time. I've included the preliminary drawing. The title character, Archimonde, is apparently a big baddy in the game and because he's literally big, this piece was a blast to put together. Any kid who grew up watching giant monster movies can understand why.
The painting went through some changes. If you compare it to the sketch, you'll see that Archimonde's head changed. The flames and the shower of flaming debris were all initially painted in warm oranges and yellows but were eventually changed to what you see above. In the end, I think that worked out well and improved the piece.
In March, I was contacted by the nice people at Orca Bear Studios, LLC and asked to work on some art for their developing trading card game, Keepers of Grimoire. It's a fantasy world with some unique twists of it's own and I had a great time working on it. I'll post some of the work I did over the next week or two. To begin, here's a dragon who is actually composed primarily of water (aren't we all?), which is streaming off his extremities as as he flies and a female character named Karina, who's sporting some stylish "steampunk" gauntlets.
Here are two more illustrations I did for the recently released World of Warcraft card set, Betrayal of the Guardians. The first is titled Magma Blast and, as you can see, involves a character magically projecting a huge blast of molten lava from his hands. Initially, I painted the lava as a much more directional blast but eventually opted for the more swirling approach seen here. It seemed more in the spirit of a spell being cast.
Here's my favorite of the pictures I created for the latest World of Warcraft TCG release, Betrayal of the Guardians. This one went through a fair amount of development so I may post the process later, just to show how a picture like this grows and changes over the course of it's creation. The lighting was the key to this piece and it contains my favorite kind of lighting: strong light from a primary source. A little secondary light was added for color and that's another "trick" I'm fond of using but light from a strong, single source almost always lends a sense of drama to a scene, even in a one figure composition like this. I hope you like the picture.
I'll be posting more work from Betrayal of the Guardians soon! In fact, this blog will be pretty active over the next fewweeks so please check back. Thanks, as always, for taking the time to look.
As an artist, I sometimes wander pretty far afield from the fantasy subject matter I'm most know for drawing and painting. Here's an example: two designs I created for a Disney-themed t-shirt competition at Threadless.com. The designs are up for voting through March 25th and I've provided links below so if you like them, please take a moment to vote for them. I'd sincerely appreciate it.
Regarding the designs: I've always liked the early, B&W Mickey Mouse design best so I re-created an iconic Mickey pose in Adobe illustrator and since he's Disney's star character, I placed him among the stars as a constellation. It's a subtle image in terms of color scheme but I think it would make an attractive shirt.
The other image is bold and that's because it's Donald Duck and he's angry. Most of my favorite Donald moments have come when he loses his temper in cartoons and comics so when I chose to create a painting of him for a friend years ago, I made him angry. This design is based on that painting, although it's been re-worked and placed on a black background to give it added "pop" (the original painting was on a deep red background).
I hope you like these departures from the usual creatures and characters that populate this blog.
Here are 2 character portraits I created for Dungeon #210. The second one depicts a half-orc (hence the enlarged canines). I tried to push the lighting in these 2 pieces more than I usually do and I was pleased with the results.
Pen and ink was my "first love" as an artist and I return to it when I can. I like using it various ways, from bold brushwork to simple contour drawings or a combination of techniques. However, I've always admired artists who use the medium to do value drawings. I've dabbled in that in the past but I decided to try seeing what I could do with it if I applied myself to the task more often. To get started, I drew the picture of Stonehenge above. It's about 9" wide and the drawing was executed in india ink and crowquill pen on bristol. It wasn't the best bristol and was a little more absorbent than I'd prefer but it worked. The lines bled ever-so-slightly on the soft surface.
As I was working on the drawing, I also improvised a little study of standing stones to help me out. On both drawings, I limited myself to using a crowquill pen but in the future, I may try using tech pens and some brush in combination with the dip pen.
I don't consider this effort wholly successful but I'm happy with the results and I learned some things along the way. Hopefully, I can apply them to the next drawing and make it better.
This is a painting I did last summer for Dragon magazine #416. As you can probably guess, Mordakhesh is the rakshasa character standing over the slain dragon. In D&D, the hands of rakshasa characters are reversed on the arms, which is tricky to draw. It's very counter-intuitive to draw something backwards like that. It just feels wrong!
I had a lot of overlapping and darker elements to deal with in this picture so I chose to paint it in gray before applying color, which was built up slowly, in "glazes" on digital layers. I was very pleased with the results so I hope you enjoy them.