Tuesday, July 26, 2011

New Warcraft Art: Twilight of the Dragons

Just released the past weekend for the San Diego Comic Con is the new set for the World of Warcraft trading card game. I was fortunate to be able to do a couple cards for this project early in the year, which I can now show...

"Mr Goldmine's Wild Ride" shows a Worgen and Goblin racing down the tracks in a minecart.

Also, last night we recorded a new Drawn Today podcast (to be posted soon on the site and through our facebook page) on the topic of using 3-d reference. We discussed the merits, drawbacks and differences of using real-world and digital 3-D models as reference for illustration. As described in the podcast, I often use 3-D software for magical effects, which I will illustrate with my second card:

"Power Word: Barrier" depicts a female gnome shielding her companions from a fiery blast with a magic bubble.
This card needed to show a transparent effect surrounding a group of characters. I decided to create the effect in 3-D software to give me correct perspective and the ability to visualize distant buildings if needed.

The first step in creating the illustration is to generate many thumbnail sketches to explore different layouts and communicative possibilities. Its important not to get caught up in drawing the scene, but the let the task of generating ideas and variety unfold quickly and without being precious of the aesthetic results.

Once I have a pile of these scribbles, I select the best one to pursue. For this image, I was unsure what idea was the strongest, so I refined 3 of the thumbs to send to the art director to let him decide.

We settled on the idea showing a blast coming at the characters. This seemed the best route and was graphically simple and readable at a small size. The next step was to draw the characters out in detail. Since they have such fantastical proportions and are covered in armor, I only used photo reference for the hands.

I begin the illustration by painting the scene in local, realistic color. The plan is to use the layered transparent bubble to blend properly into the scene to give me the final effect.

The next step is to create the bubble in a 3-D program. I set a virtual camera up in 3-D space to match the perspective of my drawing.

I make the bubble have a transparency that increases towards the center, and "wrap" the curved lines and sparkles around the bubble as a texture.

Below is the final composite of the bubble effect over the scene with the blast painted in on top. At the end of the day, the use of 3-D in this illustration was fairly minimal and maybe unnecessary. That being said, the computer bubble effect with the correct transparency fall-off does its job by affecting the scene in realistic ways that painting freehand could not give. (Notice the Worgens raised hand and how the bubble shifts the color in that area.) I was unsure at the start if I wanted buildings in the background, so creating the effect as a 3-D scene gave me the proper perspective to the arcs and transparency fall-off as well as the ability to visualize buildings if needed.