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.


  1. Omg, how can I have been missing this blog from my opening pages!!?

    Not anymore it won't! Awesome work mr Pancoast.

  2. This is my favorite Human/Werewolf art from the set so far. Just picked up a playset to fill out my deck. Keep up the good work.