Sunday, January 31, 2016

Please be advised that I no longer use this blog. To keep up-to-date on all the new stuff that's going on in my studio, please visit any of these links:
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Thank you for your support, and I'll see you over on these other sites!

Ryan Pancoast

Thursday, September 29, 2011

PreRelease leftovers

Here are some leftover artist proof sketches from the Innistrad prerelease. Many thanks goes to the Mana Core for hosting the event and the players for stopping by my table. They were giving away my promo card for entering the event, and I was a little surprised how few people wanted a free signature on their card! So ultimately, I had some time to sketch.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

...And the rest of Innistrad

Here are my final three cards in the Innistrad set. I don't have too many things to say about these particular pieces and I don't have the full-size art yet. But while I wait for the originals to come back from Wizards, I'll share some thoughts.
Unruly Mob was my final Zorn palette (cadmium red, yellow ochre, black, white) Magic card. You can't really see him too well, but the guy with the axe is one of my favorite human characters that I have painted for Magic. I don't even know why. I just think he's cool.

In Innistrad, for every standard piece commissioned to me, there were one or two pieces where the character was breaking into or out of something. Breaking out of a window, breaking into a cottage, or in the case of Claustrophobia, out of a coffin.

I painted this one upside-down for most of the process. I was trying to figure out why it didn't look right and finally realized that I had painted his cuffs falling toward the lid of the coffin. I repainted that area to fix gravity.

For Unburial Rites, the "breaking out" theme continues with a corpse trying to break out of a crypt. There was a time last year when I wished my characters could just stay where they were.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mythic Rare

The world of Magic: The Gathering can be a random place. Artists generally have no clue whether their art will be used on a very powerful card or a relatively weak one. Army of the Damned is the first mythic rare card I have illustrated, meaning it's the most rare and generally the most powerful kind of card. A total surprise to me.

The assignment was to illustrate the inside wall of a cottage barricaded against a horde of zombies. The importance of the card clearly had to do with the many, many zombies, but the hardest part for me was to make a cottage wall compelling. Architecture, even a rundown cottage, is difficult for me to paint. Add in tons of arms and hands and the assignment becomes a big undertaking.

I don't have a larger image of the painting because I mailed it in before I could photograph it. Honestly though, I enjoy the art more on the card than I did in person.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mayor/Alpha sketches

Below are the sketches I submitted for Mayor of Avabruck and Howlpack Alpha. You can see that in the sketches for the mayor, I was going for a more peaceful, relaxed, intimate scene. The assignment required that I include the mayor studying a map in front of a big window (or with the window somewhere in the room behind him). The trick would be to get the lighting right. I had a general idea, but I ended up taking very, very complete photo reference.
The success of the piece hinged on the detail and subtlety of the lighting, something that in hindsight I could have done better. At the time, I was also still trying out the Zorn palette (cadmium red, yellow ochre, black and white), which didn't make the job any easier. However, I did have fun designing the mayor. To this day I still dig his outfit, regardless of what others think. I think its Gothic-derivative, but not colonial. Plus, he has a cool collar to ward off vampires (even though he should have been worried about werewolves, apparently).

I did a ton of thumbnails for Howlpack Alpha, but only came up with one idea that seemed to work for me. The werewolf needed to be jumping through the window, glass shattering around him and if possible, to include a full moon. This is the only way I figured out how to do that:
The sketches were approved, but the art director told me to keep the anatomy of the werewolf in line with the other werewolves of the Innistrad world. I reworked the sketch and submitted this:
This was approved but the art director requested that I make his fur mottled. This is very, very hard to do with paints. Mottled fur is meant to hide a creature's form in the wild; just like camouflage. The painter's motive, however, is to create form. So not only do you have to figure out where the light and shadow are falling, but you also have to change that pattern if you are painting a spot of dark fur. It's hard to see on the final but I was happy with what I achieved.

Now, the broken window. The trick with glass is that it's transparent from certain angles and translucent or opaque from others. Since the light is coming from below, any edge of glass that points in that direction would produce a highlight. But if the face of the glass is pointed at the viewer, you can see through it. What if the face of glass points toward the light? How does the moon affect the glass? For each shard of glass, I had to answer those questions.

Again, the lighting effects could have been more subtle and the whole piece could have been moodier. However, I'm really happy with the broken glass. It took a lot of planning and was an absolute pain in the rear, but if I ever have to do broken glass again ( please God, no), I will be referring back to Howlpack Alpha.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Innistrad Prerelease

It's that time of the year again: the new expansion set of Magic: The Gathering is coming out. Called Innistrad, it's the game's take on Gothic horror. The Mana Core will be hosting a Prerelease event in Providence, RI, and I will be there signing cards.

Coincidentally, I illustrated the promo card that will be given out at the event. It's a double-sided card in which the Mayor of Avabruck (below) turns into Howlpack Alpha (bottom). This is breaking the mold in the world of Magic, so it will be interesting to see how players deal with the new cards.

There are many things I did right with these illustrations. But, as always, there are things that I definitely could have improved upon. Maybe I'll cover those things in a future art-related post.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Homer usually lives with my fiancee, but because her apartment is on the first floor and might flood during Hurricane Irene, he's staying with me for the remainder of the weekend. Needless to say, I'm not getting a whole lot of painting done. I'm trying to make sure he can't get into anything he shouldn't. Plus, he's miserable, so I'm trying not to ignore him completely.