Recently, I spent a little time talking about my illustration for Magic Missile, which was used in the new Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Starter Set. I wondered if it would also appear in the then-pending Player's Handbook, as it was originally commissioned for that.
Well, the Player's Handbook is out, and yep, there is
. It's still got some design-y edge cropping but more of it shows than in the Starter Set.
Painted at the same time, however was this other little character piece, illustrating the Guild Artisan sample character background archetype. He was assigned as an update to the classic character, "Regis," but as they didn't identify him that way, I suppose I won't go around calling him that. Unless they mention it elsewhere. The last couple of editions have had slight reworkings of various races, and getting keyed into them sometimes takes a little work. For Halflings, there are sub-races within them, for instance. This meant a couple of back-and-forths on the character design:
My original pencil sketch, which is shown at left, had a lot worth keeping but required tweaks. For starters, the character needed to be a good bit rounder. Jollier, I suppose. I did some digital tweaking on the original, overdrawing on vellum, changing the hand (which I wasn't happy with) and the outfit a bit. You'll note some proportional changes as well: the feet got smaller. The head got bigger and more kid-like...except for the mutton-chops. A kid with mutton-chops. They wanted his outfit to feel a bit more piecemeal, like he had traveled some, so I modeled his shirt and vest off of some middle-eastern outfits. And then there were two heads, giving them two options. They picked option B.
The grim-faced character is a bit of an overdone fantasy thing. Every once in awhile it can be nice to do something a bit more fun, but you really have to go for it. If you half-ass a big expression, it doesn't read. So they can be tricky. It's like acting, I guess. You have to commit.
It's hard to say if I hit the right note--I haven't spent a lot of time doing jolly characters. I let my wife be the judge of it, and she quite enjoyed it. The character made her happy, so I considered my job done.
These sorts of spot illustrations usually get lifted and put over textured backgrounds or whatever, so I figured a vague background would be best here. An indication of stone, some color.
There are a couple of animal details he has on his equipment, because I guess he digs animals. Which is part of why he's so happy, because animals do that to you.