Monday, January 15, 2018
Here's a portrait study I did of that rootin' tootin' Texan, TJ "IvyLeaguePunk" Smith '10, complete with an ivy-laced background and little mini 'zas!
This started as a study to test out a new pencil brush I downloaded (man, what an excellent brush it turned out to be! It's like KNKL's chalk brush, only just a little more concentrated!), but cookie-mousedly, I felt compelled to continue working on it, and today we finally gave the piece its final few moments in the oven after its stint on the back burner--it looks like I did the initial lines early last month.
I've told pretty much all the TJ stories I know from college by now--Yale, like Harry Potter, has different "houses" (or "colleges," if you are of the civilized sort), and his (Morse? Stiles? Is there a difference? [There is not.]) was on the total opposite side of campus from mine (JE)--though I generally didn't "hang out" anyway--so we didn't interact too, too much, thus I mainly knew him through shows he'd do here and there, including off campus at a venue called "The Space," which I believe is still there, but renamed and re-skinned from its former nostalgia-ridden, arcade-y vibe. Anyway, it was always fun listening to his band, The Sandy Gill Affair, play, meanwhile I'd invariably be sketching as invisibly as possible in the audience somewhere. So many wonderful memories of listening to Yale bands and disappearing into a sketchbook. I'm pretty sure I was going deep on my official My Chemical Romance sketchbook in those days! That thing rocked.
Oh! Here's some TJrivia: he did a cover of Taking Back Sunday's "Timberwolves at New Jersey" once, that was pretty neat. Taking Back Sunday holds a special place in my heart because Louder Now was the last album I bought just before Yale, so that summer and especially that auspicious, mysterious flight--my first flight ever--is always associated with that album, and consequently so is that early, blissfully chaotic period of starting life anew at Yale. So it was really cool not only to find that someone at rap-centric Yale had heard of TBS, but even further, that they would be moved to perform their stuff! Does that count as a TJ story? I'm being told it does. Nice.
Anyway, it's been neat seeing TJ plug away at his projects these days. Lately he's focusing on streaming, which is admittedly hard to catch live (and to be perfectly honest, I loathe Twitch for how lag-prone I've found it to be way too often), so I'll have to go the binge route on YouTube, assuming that's still in the works (I gather there've been some issues with YT and creatives, so who knows). He also wrapped playing a crusty cap'n type on this limited series podcast called The Dark Ones, which was pretty cool and he was one of the strongest players, to boot. I'm eager to check out more of his stuff down the road. Down the rodeo? Cowboys, Texas, etc.
Monday, January 1, 2018
Ok, here's our first art of 2018! It is a riff on our New Years' ZLM piece from last year, so it's Z and Nyao in the same costumes as that one J.C. Leyendecker painting I always associate with New Years'. To make this more thematic, I drew Z on New Years' Eve, and Nyao on New Years' Day. The props and stuff were inspired by a bunch of vintage New Years' photos I spotted online.
I enjoy really dressing these guys up in formal duds on occasion, likely stemming from "The New Year," by Death Cab for Cutie, which has that classic line, "So everybody put your best suit or dress on / Let's make believe that we are wealthy for just this once," because it was always like getting to go on a shopping spree with no concern for budget. Giving these guys nice costumes is like giving my friends a little gift I could never give them in real life. I guess it also owes to my love of how fashionable JP comics can get, I'm thinking of Obata Takeshi for instance, whose Hikaru from Hikaru no Go played a role in Z's design, actually. He looks quite dashing in a tuxedo, I must admit.
Anyway, we might as well check in on our resolutions from last year--
Goal 1: Draw more digital pieces.
Quantifiable: 1 digital drawing a week.
Just skimming my Instagram, I am confident I was able to do well over 52 paintings! Easy! Can't believe I was nervous about this one.
Goal 2: Draw at least 3 comics and some SLSs
Quantifiable: Coverage Draft, Splinter, and Songs About Chie, + 12 Sick Little Suicides.
The closest I got was 11 or 12 SLSes, depending on how you count--I did some Magic stuff that intersected a bit, and I ended up not posting a few cuz they didn't feel good enough, but then again, what's the point if I don't post them? Note, I'm writing this on 1/4/18, when I have some gaps in the archives, so I'll likely backposting these at some point. As for the comics, this was quite a dismal failure. I've started drawing Splinter and Coverage Draft, but the latter is on pause to focus on Splinter, which is stalled on page 4 of 13. This is unacceptable. I got caught up focusing on illustrations that felt more pressing and relevant, as well as the daily sites' posting schedule, which didn't leave energy for the comics. The solution seems quite obviously to forget about illustration for a while, but I feel such pressure to make pieces daily and keep present and to bolster the portfolio with illustrations, which I suspect must be more important.
Goal 3: Draw more fan art.
Quantifiable: 1 fan art a month.
This was pretty easy. I forgot about Inktober, which kinda makes this quantity child's play, but treating that as simply one mega-image for the month, I'm pretty sure we've been able to do at least 12 fan arts. The finer print about being more face-shovey about my stuff has been harder, but that definitely has to be a continuous goal going forward.
Goal 4: Study more.
Quantifiable: 30min+ every day.
I've been able to keep up the pace more or less coming up on post number 365, though I can't remember why the numbering is off. I actually believe I should be pulling back on this since I need to be making more finished, portfolioable stuff...I've tried compromising by just sketching in pen on paper, or with no eraser if digital...I dunno...it's easy to get carried away and bogged down.
So, we went 3 for 4. The most important goal, to make crucial comics, was the one we missed. 3/4 isn't good enough here.
Goals this year are basically more of the same, since we were able to accomplish most of these without being overwhelmed--
Goal 1: Draw similar amounts of digital pieces and make one portfolio piece a month.
Quantifiable: 1 nice digital drawing a week, 1 portfolioable piece a month.
Method: Just paint. We should strive for experimentation and growth, though...avoid relying on water and falling into similar well-trodden gimmicks. More importantly, regardless of how many digitals we do, we need to make a "nice" one every week, one that we can look at as a real, completed thought. On top of that, we have to develop one painting every month that could be a portfolio candidate.
Goal 2: Draw at least 3 comics and 12 SLSs and some ZLM stuff for the 10th anniversary
Quantifiable: Coverage Draft, Splinter, and Songs About Chie, + 12 Sick Little Suicides +1 or more ZLMs.
Method: Draw Splinter. Work on one panel at a time. We have all these comics written and thumbnailed, you just need to draw them out. So just go and do it. At a rate of one panel a day, it'll take a while, but hopefully it'll be the bare minimum that drives us to complete more than that laughable quota. You did four a day in college, come on, more on Herald day...As for SLS, actually hop on stuff and just do it, regardless of finished quality, just like a YDN brief. As for ZLM, if you have to redraw your favorite comics, do it. Or draw some of the newer scripts. Or something, even just a nice character profile treatment or splash or something. We have to mark the 10 year anniversary. Do it for Z and N!
Goal 3: Draw similar amounts of fan art.
Quantifiable: 1 fan art a month.
Method: Pick stuff I can deal with and draw it. Also, hype it--actually throw it in front of the relevant parties, don't rely on people grapevining it to them. Mimic all those dumb, faux-self-deprecating people you see online, whatever you have to do to stomach forcing people to look at your garbooj.
Goal 4: Study Similarly.
Quantifiable: 30min+ every day.
Method: Same as always, just sketch/study daily off of resources we find online. But crucially, don't get carried away to the detriment of actual work. Study, but don't procrastinate or cower in fear from what we must do.
So those are our goals, we've got to do better. This has to be the year. We must do better. Treat it like life or death.
Friday, December 29, 2017
Nothing has felt good enough to post here, so we're perpetually playing catch-up, but let's just close the year with this low-pressure zero.
I wanted to draw him sleep deprived and in a hybrid of hard, ink lines and soft, painted eyes.
Nothing's really worked out this year, even the good stuff was temporary and as fleeting as I had thought it would be.
But there's the hope things'll get better somehow at some point.
I feel like I'm ultimately an optimist, but I have to sledge through an ocean of pessimism to get there, yet that's all I can really do.
Friday, November 24, 2017
Wednesday, November 1, 2017
Ok, we wrapped MTGintkober, but I got a request from Tibaut on Tumblr for a creature I never got around to, namely Sygg, River Guide, so here he be at long last!
My hope with this year's MTGinktober run was to hit as many of the obscurer Magic characters as I could, since the main guys always get all the attention, but I was positive I'd miss some characters near and dear to some people's hearts. Thus I made the offer early on to consider anyone's pet cards, to see if I could work them into a future illustration, and even flat-out do "bonus tracks" after Inktober ended to clear out any characters people were really hoping to see.
I don't believe Sygg was ever a candidate for a piece this year--the closest he could have gotten was maybe Deep or Underwater, but as indicated in those process posts, I had other concepts in mind for those prompts. But I got the request near the end of the run, so the cleanest solution was just to dedicate a special-edition-type post just for him.
Fun Facts: This is the first "traditional" merfolk I've ever drawn. Kiora is technically a merfolk, but she's of the convenient plot-construction school of design, meaning she's got legs rather than the usual, fishified finish to her anatomy. I also drew this in the sketchbook that only contains one Inktober 2017 piece, Ship, since I had rediscovered that the paper of this sketchbook randomly splotches ink, making it too risky to use for full-fledged Inktobers. But since this was a special edition, there was less pressure to avoid cleaning up random errors in Photoshop, and besides, I had a bunch of just-cleared pages just going to waste!
Easter Eggs: The background of this piece was based on Sygg's Lorwyn art, though we lowered the camera to get that half-submerged look.
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
MTGinktober covers up for Day 31, "Mask," starring Sakashima the Imposter, hobbling along in his new position as Kamigawa's chief regional Happy Mask Salesman!
I wanted to draw Nissa for this one, actually. I had this concept of doing an homage to that famous scene in Ghost in the Shell where the cyborg's head/face splits open--I wanted to draw that but with a Magic character. Drawing Nissa as the star was my cold calculation on how to make it more appealing (and slightly more disturbing). The hook was that this was more of a robotic mask. That was my leading idea until I convinced myself that was the easy way out--it's a female character, a Planeswalker, one of the most popular of the main Magic cast, a reference to a popular movie...this whole "selling out" thing has really been eating at me. This would have felt really hollow. I should have done it.
The only other idea seriously competing with this one was my absolute first idea, a reference to Skeletal Grimace, where Nissa was pulling off the skin of her face to reveal a cackling skeleton. That felt just a little too disturbing, such that it might turn people off, so I favored the GITS idea. I had also considered another Kaya and Koth piece with them reenacting the famous The Dark Knight Returns shot of a hulking Batman and lithe Robin jumping in unison and wearing similar masks, but I wasn't sold on the concept, considering I already teamed them last year, so it's like, what the only black characters can only exist together? That felt cheap and dumb, but I don't know if I was overthinking it. I've done repeat teams this year (and imagine I"ll do so again eventually), but they were thematically linked. The only link here would be that they were black, and that felt exploitative.
So anyway, my back-up plan all throughout these waffling debates was doing a take on Sakashima with a bunch of homages in the masks as our final send-off to this year in Inktober. Even better, fusing him with the Happy Mask Salesman from The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. So, since I couldn't convince myself that any of the above mentioned ideas were the way to go, we settled on this admittedly unimpressive concept. This was an underwhelming finale, for sure. I knew it would be: it's a not-necessarily attractive character, it's a dude, and it's perilously close to the original art's composition, so it represented multiple levels of mediocrity. I knew the previous Liliana piece would do well, but felt that good old, self-sabotaging urge pressuring me not to employ Nissa again because it just felt too easy and I felt cheap enough this year.
Fun Facts: During research, I rediscovered that there are actually two official interpretations of Sakashima out there. Just like with Stuffy Doll, Udon Crew also made a go at this creature for Magic Online, so I ended up using the original's body and the avatar's face since it was considerably clearer to read than the card version.
Easter Eggs: So we already know it's overall an homage to the Happy Mask Salesman, whose face has become the mask Sakashima holds in his hand, which the shapeshifter created right after he murdered the maskmonger to get this gig. The mask in the back at top, facing away from camera is Zero. Appropriately enough for this coerced piece, right next to Z is the infamous Dragon Mask of legend--they say Magic was forced to use this art under pressure from the art director. To the right is Uba Mask and to Uba's right, just peeking out from behind the backpack is Vicky Vasquez, who is overlapped by Illusionary Mask. Further left is the Happy Mask Salesman's Mario mask of course, followed by Ivory Mask, which seems to have Cho-Manno's fountain in it, I discovered. On the bottom of the Imposter's pack is Mortivore and the old Phyrexian mask, which is most often seen as a logo or costume detail among Phyrexia-aligned creatures and most famously on display as the Apocalypse expansion symbol. Between those two is Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker. And rounding out the collection at the bottom of Sakashima's sleeve, replacing his student's mask, is the mask of The Blue Spirit from Avatar. I noticed Sakashima's masks all have little seals on their foreheads with cryptic characters on them, which seemed like an important detail, so I used each one to spell out my name in Japanese as well as piecemeal convey the date information.
Monday, October 30, 2017
MTGinktober discovers itself at Day 30, "Found," starring Liliana, the Last Hope rediscovering her long-lost pushpin pal, Stuffy Doll!
Liliana was only five so she was understandably upset that everyone was paying attention to this freshly four-year-old interloper instead of her, just because it was his birthday--she would alternate between screaming, holding her breath, and knocking over the decorations that had been so carefully prepared by the grownups. But this was the first year Josu was really able to understand why everyone was showering him with attention on this particular day. He loved his sister very much and saw how angry she was about something today and that made him sad.
He decided to make her a doll that she could always be angry at--that would make her happy! While the grownups chatted and leisurely cleaned up after Liliana's latest riot, Josu raided the grownups' cloakroom to shred some sleeves and skim some stuffing from the clothing he found stored there. His tiny, little fingers could only fashion a crude little poppet out of these makeshift materials, but he made sure to decorate it with the especially colorful paints that one of the grownups had left in his coat while their owner, the dark visitor in extravagant robes, who was supposed to be cheerily painting faces at this very moment, was instead busy helping clean up toppled decor and grumbling with his peers the way grownups always mutter amongst themselves after a loud confrontation with a child.
That grave-voiced grownup, who seemed to float when he walked, wore rich robes that matched the coat currently being pilfered, and Josu noticed they both smelled of some bitter, smoky scent. They called him the Fancy Man. He had been just about ready to begin painting the excited, queued children's faces when Liliana's most recent eruption occurred. The afternoon party ground to a halt and the Fancy Man loudly declared while pointing a furious, accusatory finger, that this little girl's continuous, rude behavior has ruined the fun for everyone. No face paints! Thank you, most kindly!
At the end of that bitter finger's aim, Liliana instantly become the center of the multiverse as all the other kids turned to scowl at her in unison. Most of the kids were Liliana's age, so they knew how magical the Fancy Man's face-painting was, and had been waiting all year for his visit and their one chance to become their favorite legends, even if it was just pretend.
Liliana's normally pale skin was burning red, and she stormed off to her room in tears, "It isn't fair!"
By nightfall, after the party had died down and all the visitors and parents departed, Josu was told once again to stay away from his sister so that she could remain alone and undisturbed to think about how she chose to behave today. "Yes, ma'am."
With his forehead kissed and himself now alone, neatly tucked in bed and assured the coast was clear, he dashed off to grab his bag before sneaking out the window to climb up to Liliana's room one level up. She always left her window cracked at night so she could watch the moon rise and guide her to sleep, so Josu could easily hear soft sobs and gentle stomach growls well before he popped his head in to greet his sister. "Hi, Liliana!"
Liliana almost betrayed her excitement to have a visitor for the first time in what seemed like forever in a child's perception of time, but she turned away into her blankets in forced disgust, "HMM!" At this age, Josu could only recognize simply that his sister was angry. But she was always angry. He hopped onto her bed from the window and swung his pack to rest between them.
In an instinctive, hushed voice they always used to keep the particularly spank-prone grownups from knowing they were awake past their bedtime, Liliana hissed, "Go awa--"RRRrrrrr. Her stomach couldn't keep up the act.
"I brought you this," Josu whispered, unpacking a few chunks of cake and a couple sweetknacks he had wrapped up earlier. "Do you want to share?"
Liliana wolfed down the entire assortment. "Yeth."
"That's ok, I had some earlier in the party. Did you like the party?"
Liliana squinted her eyes, munching all the while, trying to calculate what this brat was up to.
"Me, too!" He chirped. "There was balloons and sweetknack and the Fancy Man was doing tricks! Remember?"
Still munching. More squinting.
"And everyone said, 'Happy Birthday, Josu!"--you know, like all at the same time?--and it was amazing! It made me feel so happy and good! And the food, too! It made me feel so, so happy, like super happy, though! So I think you should feel happy and good also, so I think it should be your happy birthday, too! So I got you food and I made you this! Boom!" Josu pulled from his bag the crude, little doll he had made, placed it between himself and his sister, and beamed with a smile, "Happy birthday, Liliana!"
The silly, little doll with its fancy, fancy colors disappeared the rest of the room as Liliana found herself transfixed by its button gaze. Her name echoed in her ears as the figurine gradually enveloped the entirety of her vision. By now it was almost as if the doll itself were chanting her name. It was whispering her name, wasn't it?
"Liliana!" Josu snapped her out of the reverie. "So isn't that great? Whenever you get mad, you can be mad at this doll! I tried punching him and yelling at him and he doesn't care and it's totally cool! Try it!"
A smile broke upon Liliana as she considered the possibilities. Every violent, angry thought she housed could focus in on this dumb, little doll and it was ok. You can't get in trouble for hating a doll. In one motion, wiping from her mouth some of the remnants--saliva and all--of her frantically devoured dinner, she wound her hand back just over her opposite shoulder and then backhanded the doll's stupid face with all her might! "Ha!" she blurted out, but instantly covered her mouth with both hands to stop the laughter from escaping any further. Josu did the same, sharing in the delight of torturing their helpless, mutual acquaintance. Stifling nighttime laughter, especially with a co-conspirator, always made laughing that much more challenging to suppress.
Josu gasped, "Liliana!" And pointed to her hand. She discovered she had a small cut where she had hit the doll. She must have nicked it on one of the doll's stray corners where different materials met at a sharp angle. But she just smiled and continued endeavoring to muffle her laughter in the growing moonlight.
"Hey, Josu, I think he's hungry, too! Omm nom-nom-nom nomm!" She rubbed the drops of blood along with tiny crumbs of cake from hand into the doll's mouth. The moon was full and near its peak through her window. "Happy birthday, Stuffy!"
"Oh, me, too! We have to say it together, just like at the party!" Josu slammed his hand into the doll until a small cut emerged, and then he rubbed his blood into the doll's mouth just like his big sister did. "Mmmm! So yummy! Thank you, Josu!" he squeaked. Liliana couldn't be smiling wider. "Ok, ready?" Josu giddily whispered to her.
Liliana excitedly grabbed Josu's hands, creating a ring around the doll sitting lifeless between them, and their arms bounced in sync as they counted, "1...2..3..."
The full moon shone through the very top of the window, gleaming upon the doll's dead eyes and its fancy, glowing paint.
"Happy birthday, Stuffy!"
Fun Facts: The story in strictly this illustration is that Liliana's going through her old attic and memories, and encounters her old plushie pal. For my depiction of Stuffy Doll, I borrowed the skull-like pins from his debut card in Time Spiral, but mostly modeled him after his Magic Online incarnation.
Easter Eggs: Junk is the old slang for Abzan's color scheme (GWB), though the reference started as "jank" in the pencils, a nod to the underpowered or inefficient cards that I tend to enjoy. To sell that this is Liliana exploring her old attic, you can see a tennis racket in the pencils of this piece, but I audibled into a Staff of Nin, a busted rare that Planeswalker-like, single-staffedly took me to one of my very first 3-0 Drafts in Japan. Since the attic is a place to store old, useless stuff, I included a box called "Hopes" in reference to her card name, but also for more poetic reasons. The other thing in Liliana's toybox is a Mirari, wonder how that got in there, pretty lucky, if you ask me. The attic is actually a slice of Triskaidekaphobia, and features 13 plants of wood and 13 knots in the wood. And get this, I just noticed, if you add the digits of TriskaDeezies's multiverse ID (409891) you get 31...which is 13 backwaaaaards!!
MTGinktober comes together for Day 29, "United," starring Elspeth, Sun's Champion and Ajani, Mentor of Heroes, who together affirmatively declare their Drafting strategy: "No Wyvern, no Kithkins!"
As I've noted before, there are a couple "wish list" concepts I want to draw that I keep in mind and wait for the perfect prompt to come along so I can implement it. The number one thing I wanted to draw this year was a spoof of The Professional, or is it called Leon?, a movie everyone loves but which I've never actually seen (I don't see very many movies). So when "United" came up, I thought of drawing something showcasing like a team dynamic, which got me to my old movie spoof idea, but the eternal question: who to cast...are there any partners in Magic with drastic size differences and with a father-daughter sort of relationship? Who knows, but I went with Ajani and Elspeth. It was double delicious that this Ajani has the actual word "mentor" in his card name, and as far as I gather, they were in a somewhat teacher-learner relationship with familial undertones.
I was absolutely torn on how to spoof the movie. Thinking back to our movie parody last year, the Vess siblings and Garruk goofing on My Neighbor Totoro, I felt obligated to do a famous, iconic scene rather than just modern-clad our heroes in an original pose. So my base options were to do a movie poster send-up if such an iconic image exists, or do a more iconic scene from the movie. It came down to doing either the iconic shot of them walking down the street with the potted plant versus the famous scene of them training a gun on something off camera. I went with the latter, and am pretty sure I punted that decision tree, since, upon reflection while writing this, I can only but deem the street scene "iconic" while the gun scene is merely "famous."
Fun Facts: This piece presented all kinds of decisions on how to reconcile two vastly disparate source materials. Do you dress them strictly as the movie characters and risk overpowering their Magicness? Do you dress them as Magic characters and risk muddying the reference? Do you keep a key, but anachronistic prop like the gun or settle for a more relevant proxy? I met the costuming somewhat halfway by including both sources, and gave Magic the go-ahead on the weapon, swapping out the gun for Godsend, the very weapon Elspeth uses in the Theros story. I had to craft the spear considerably stubbier to fit on my reduced size page, even in landscape mode (I ran out of pages on my bigger-sized sketchbooks as of Day 25 "Ship!").
Easter Eggs: I decided to keep them basically dressed in their respective Magic duds, but kept only minimal nods to their cinematic counterparts. Ajani has Leon's beanie and iconic glasses, Elspeth has Mathilda's knit cap. I obviously modeled her face after Natalie Portman's, but we kinda relied on the sheer size difference between them to echo the movie's age difference, but it's supposed to be at least ballpark current in-game ages. Though I guess, isn't the point that Natalie Portman's chacter desses a little older than her age might suggest? Either way, I would presume either character would be wearing the same armor as adult Elspeth anyway. The background is pretty much what you see in that famous still from the movie, though I added the date, 1029 and 2017, as well as 1337 as numbers on the directory placard.
Friday, October 27, 2017
MTGinktober descends upon Day 28, "Fall," starring Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief; Domri Rade; and Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts all of whom be posing and zhushing and blue-steeling up tha joint!
Ok, this piece came about just because I wanted to dress Magic characters in fall fashions, which is easily among my top four kinds of seasonal fashions. We've crossplayed a character before, when we had Nahiri dressed as Toph from Avatar, but this time our mission was clear--this time, we're modern-cladding them.
Fun Facts: I scoured my bookmarks' fall fashion tag for, my gosh, dozens and dozens of outfits, and my reference document, which I prepare as research for each piece, was overflowing with costume ideas, last count was 37 candidate costumes. Sadly, only three could make the cut, and deez were dem. Super, super hard to trim down the options to just these, and it felt much like struggling to cut that 24th or 61st card, times 34...!
Easter Eggs: I carved my signature into the pumpkin, how about that! Also, Drana has a black mana accessory on her hair, Domri has the Gruul symbol on his beanie, and Teysa has an Orzhova brand sweater under her fabulously fuzzy jacket.
This one was quite a treat to do, and I hope to do this trick again some time with some of the other outfits we had to cut. I definitely see Domri and Teysa as little fashionistas...wonder who else we can deck out...
MTGinktober ascends to Day 27, "Climb," starring Stoneforge Mystic and Goblin Guide, two not quite legendary adventurers who should know better but definitely don't!
We all know Goblin Guide is terrible at guiding, much like most of his goblinial compatriots are famously bad at their jobs, but what if the fabled Stoneforge Mystic--who was so adept she got banned (and probably would have otherwise been reprinted along with the Gobfather in a Modern Masters set)--what if she was in fact awful at her job too? Inept, yet confident females is one of my favorite tropes--earnest females in authority positions that mean well, but are ultimately just as clumsy and clownish as legendary goofs like Chris Farley and Will Ferrell--I'm thinking of comedy monsters like Lucille Ball, Cheri Oteri, Melissa McCarthy, Amy Poehler. What appeals to me is the fearlessness of looking dumb, while still playing it totally straight, like the audience is the one who is out of the loop. Team Rocket's dynamic played a role in these characterizations, too, where Jessie and James (and Meowth) are kinda equal partners, but Jessie is kinda regarded as the unofficial leader and although they kinda take her as the smarter one, they're all just as dumb as each other. I love that energy of try-hards who just barely make it by. So that masterful stupidity is what I strive for in pieces like this. That's why Toni has a deadly serious expression, yet everything about the piece reeks of a plan falling apart.
Between Goblin Guide and Stoneforge Mystic, Stoneforge is the "brains" of the bunch who plans their missions and calls the shots, and Goblin Guide is sorta the maps/navigation expert and the muscle. But in reality, they're both just as stupid and only get buy on sheer luck, so things always seem to work out for them despite their best, bungled efforts. While they think they have earth-manipulation powers, their real magic is controlling luck, but they are too dumb to realize it! This shot is Toni issuing an order to explore, completely unaware they're all tangled up in their own ropework. Goblin Guide is trying to look like he knows what he's doing so he's pointing to his forehead and shading a direction he things they should go--he's trying to mirror Toni's pose, but has the gestures on the wrong hands.
Fun Facts: The concept I had was to have a disorienting image that looks slightly off until you realize that you're looking at it upside down! So I wanted to play with gravity here, and in one of my original concept sketches, I even had the idea of putting characters walking on the ground, which would look like they were neatly floating in the sky. I was thinking of how ho-hum the goblins in Mogg Flunkies look on patrol duty, so I wanted to capture that energy but with a potentially all-Algen artwork if we had fellow climbers Chasm Guide expertly jetting around "below" our inept heroes. I really didn't want to include Munda, Ambush Leader, though...just a little too burly for me. Anyway, I scrapped the idea of guest stars for clarity and time, though you can spot their roughs in one of my thumbnail concepts.
Easter Eggs: I merged all three current versions of Goblin guide here. The general curled up pose and floppy ears and fingers come from the OG Zendikar printing; the pants and climbing gear come from the Modern Masters version; and the bags, scrolls, and rope bracers come from the GP promo version. Stoneforge merges her two current versions (also a Zendikar and GP Promo joint, oddly enough) so basically the top half of the stylization comes from Algenpflegerito's way and the bottom half comes from the original. The background is Florian de Gesincourt's mountainous Island from Khans of Tarkir. Again, as is tradition with Algen art, I included the "swooshy, German B" ß thing, which is planted on the (blank!) map.
MTGinktober peeps into Day 26, "Squeak," starring Saheeli Rai, Brazen Scourge, and a Thopter token, all sharing quite a quiet moment, though not quite sharing the same idea!
The concept for this piece hit me quite suddenly after reading the prompt, so much so that I had to sketch it down immediately, which you can see in the thumbnail sketch, this post's bottom-most image. The idea was to have a Gremlin riding on Saheeli's head Pikachu-style, and they would both be reaching out to a damaged Thopter. I had the image of Saheeli sticking out her tongue out of concentration while repairing the token with her mecha-magic. I like how instantly goofy a stuck-out tongue makes a face.
But since the Gremlin is on her head matching her outreached pose, I thought it'd be funny to mimic her expression, too. So out plopped his tongue and it had the unintended effect of detailing his motivation, which I hadn't planned--rather than just match her posing, his motive became obvious: he wanted to eat the injured Thopter, meanwhile Saheeli wanted to repair it! Sweet, sweet synergy.
Fun Facts: This is our second visit to Kaladesh, but last time we only had the patchwork world-design of Origins to work from. This time around, with Kaladesh block in the books, I was able to assemble more references for the background, and relied heavily on Ceremonious Rejection's windy roads and numerous dark arches.
Easter Eggs: I didn't use Adam Paquette's Thopter design entirely, as I wanted to make it look like he had sad patterns where his eyes might be, using strategic swirl placement as well as defeated, sloped shoulders and wings.
This was meant to be a quiet little piece, but it ended up being pretty popular on the daily sites, so go figure!