Lyssa - A young female human wizard with black hair who always wears white trimmed in gold.
That was the description, and the only restrictions for yet another ArtOrder contest.
It was wide open, and the history of the project from Scott Taylor at Black Gate Magazine was a huge draw for me. I actually read Black Gate Magazine and had read all of the entries for Art Evolution.
If that wasn't enough motivation, one of the one of the judges, Jeff Easley, was one of the reasons I got into art (and D&D for that matter). I still like looking at his images. His stuff from Dragonlance is some of my favorite work by anyone.
Also judging the contest was Todd Lockwood. His work is everywhere. He is one of the most popular fantasy artists working. His work is great, and once again...you guessed it, I'm a big fan! It's another guy that I study to try and improve.
Ok, on to the project.
I normally try to give myself restrictions on each piece. Otherwise my brain starts going haywire and I can't make a decision. This usually ends in a nap. I had no time for naps though.
So if you look back at all of the great Lyssa's done for BGM, most of them were fantasy types. Wizard is a keyword that just brings fantasy to mind first. Not all of them were fantasy, but the majority were. That lead me to the first restriction I gave myself. No fantasy.
My 2nd restriction was the attitude of the image. I didn't want it to be a pin-up or have the concept art character development feel. I had a feeling alot of people would be going this direction. So no half naked, hot chics with a pretty face.
Now, whenever I think of a character in white, the first thing I think is clean and holy. A healer type. Not my Lyssa.
Look at some of the bad guys that have worn white. They seem that much more sinister. Stormshadow, Stormtroopers, Boss Hog, the "Man in White" from family guy, and obviously the White hat in Spy VS Spy.
So I reached out to the nerd collective (my friends) for different "wizards" in different games, books, movies, etc.. As soon as I heard the words Star Wars, I knew I had my Lyssa with the Nightsisters
The Nightsisters were a group of Dathomiri Witches (usually exiled from one of the other clans) whose magic was powered by the dark side of the Force. Not to mention they use a Light Whip instead of a Light Saber. How cool is that!?
I did some research, reading up from gaming manuals, watching Star Wars The Clone Wars, and reading excerpts from books. That was rough. I mean, reading and watching cartoons!? Just pure torture!
So on to the thumbnails. I got some opinions from the studio mates and cut them all down to three that I worked up a little more. The one looking down on Lyssa was too "serene" for me. The last two were in a tie until I held someone at gunpoint to make a choice. Just kidding. It was knife point. I can't afford a gun. Still kidding. I bought them a sandwich and begged. I'm pitiful.
Once it was decided, I shot some quick reference of one of the studio folk. I got out the tracing paper and started working up the drawing and her outfit.
When the drawing is pretty tight, I scan it in to Photoshop and start adding some values. (I obviously didn't notice her eyes were all jacked up)
I explained before how I add color. However I usually try to have a direction instead of just blindly adjusting colors. I look at "those that have gone before" (say that in James Earl Jones voice...Epic!) to see how they handled a similar painting with a similar mood. This one was dictated so much by the whip having to be red, and the clothes being some form of white. I just had to make the rest work.
After I have the color pretty close to what I want, it's on to Painter. I like using the brushes in Painter for the final mark making and blending and such. It just adds a touch that I like that makes it look a little less digital (hopefully). I also like using the paper libraries. I've been experimenting with those more and more.
Oh, and the light whip shapes were just vector shapes with some fx thrown on.
And now, how do I promote a Star Wars painting?
"Check out the Star Warsing Star Wars I just Star Warsd! Star Wars is so Star Wars, that I was just Star Warsing all over the Star Warsing, Star Wars. Star Wars!"
It's like filling out a Mad Lib with just the words Star Wars.......I'm an idiot.