Friday, October 13, 2017
MTGinktober bustles into Day 13, "Teeming," starring Dwynen, Gilt-Leaf Daen and an algen-load of elves in deep shadow! This coincidentally makes our second Johannes Voss-themed piece this year--I've been consciously trying not to default to casting all his stars, but his stuff is just that great!
Indeed, "Teeming" was a really tricky theme. I even had to look up the word to see if I could conjure some inspiration from the formal definition. I didn't want to do something with insects, and again, trying to think outside of the box a little, I began thinking of a slightly more poetic sense of the word. So, my thoughts turned to a forest teeming with something...not bugs, but what about like creepy crawly vines and writhing leaves? Is there a nature-mage who might be good for that? Nissa! But I already drew her last year...could we just repeat character? Nissa seemed like a great choice.
Well, regardless I had a vision of a "power" shot of a nature-themed character commanding the surrounding natural elements so that those things were felt overwhelming to camera. At some point, this image synced up with the Vossfather's depiction of Dwynen, which I (re?)discovered actually had a promo version by Steven Belledin, too (the SB version was great for a clearer view of the bow, crown, and outfit, whereas the JV version was my emotional inspiration), which took me to the concept of a forest teeming with creepy elves watching everything below.
As daunting as the impending crowd scene might feel for having to give them both attitudinal power yet non-foreground-upstaging restraint, most pressing on my mind was that I couldn't wait to draw that sheer arrogance and disgust on Dwynen's face. Tinfoilingly, Wizards of the Coast just had to give the arch-xenophobic character commission to the German guy, huh? Jokes, people, jokes! Gosh!
Fun Facts: To save time, I lamentably had to pull punches and just silhouette the background elves a bit clunkily. Ideally, I would have liked give at least the closer ones visible detail, with the further back ones shrouded completely. I settled for having their eyes pop with negative space.
One of my favorite parts of a drawing is handling the hands, and I started this piece with a radically different hand gesture. I originally had Dwynen arrogantly twirling the arrow, but that didn't seem to be working with the space I had on the right, so I decided to just have her holding it in an intimidating fashion--so in the same way a tough-guy swordsman might put his weapon to his throat to spook his prey, I wanted to try something similar, with her pressing the arrowhead to her own throat, which would call for a different gesture. So just in case I wanted to go back, I save-stated with a photo of my original hand gesture, snapped another reference of me holding a pencil-like brush thing I use to dust away eraser crud, and redrew the hand.
This original hand pose photo (see the last image of today's post) is also an excellent peek into where these drawings all start--you noodle around with a rough pose, toss in a general idea of a background, and then you go in and lay on the details--I don't jump straight to what you see in the final. This is something I didn't realize when I was starting out, and this Inktober has especially taught me the importance of following the process so you don't panic or lose too much time on dead-end details. I find the hardest part of a drawing is getting the pose and gestures down, but after that, adding details--plastering on the character's distinctive features and costuming--are kinda the easy/enjoyable part (sometimes getting the perspective of special costumes gets frustrating of course, but that's not usually the bulk of the difficulty of an drawing). So that photo represents the first phase being completed (minus the reworked hand), wherein I sigh in relief because it means we've got everything generally down, and it's now time to give the piece its personality--the detail work.
Easter Eggs: As is tradition for all Johannes Voss fan art, we include the "German B" swooshy ß thing in the piece--once on Dwynen's satchel and once in the viney trim on her left arm. There's also a Ghibli kodama, a reference to the Algen's love of teh animu. I don't know if it'd be better to have a mix of elves and kodama populating the background or just the one Waldo-ish kodama just hanging out.
Anyway, this was a real joy to do, I hope I didn't mess up too much on this homage to one of the best pieces from Origins and an instant Algenclassic, that of a curiously bulky 3/4?! elf with a bizarrely wacky name, which, I should note, they screwed up in Japanese...