Rage of Bahamut


As with other digital Card Battle Games, Rage of Bahamut features characters that "level up" both in terms of gameplay and visually, as you progress.

Treebender, 12x16" oils on canvas Sold

Treebender, 12x16" oils on canvas

"Treebender" is an example of the leveled-up version. It's the progression of the dragon discussed last week, although as mentioned that dragon appears different in-game as well due to the digital finish and the post-hoc background added in. And, to further confuse the matter, "Treebender" does not appear in-full within the game, which uses a vertical crop. Probably a little more than a third of the image on the sides is cropped off.

To give you a further idea of how fluid things are in my studio, the canvas on which this was painted has its own story. For a couple of years, it's lived on my shelves with just a sky painted on it. I used a portion of it (and not even the part which is visible here anymore, to avoid copyright issues) in another illustration. At one point, I had worked up a digital study for an illustration I intended to do based on a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne (!) of all people. It wasn't a client-piece, but simply something I wanted to paint. For various reasons that I shan't get into here (as this story is convoluted enough, already), I was not able to proceed with that painting, but the sky canvas remained. Finally, in putting together this piece, I was able to bring it out and use it for something. Whew.

Naskeag Dragon

(R:) Naskeag Dragon, oils on watercolor board $600

(R:) Naskeag Dragon, oils on watercolor board

For awhile, this dragon existed painted on just a gray field background. I had painted it in monochrome for use as a digitally composited illustration done for Rage of Bahamut, and then left it sitting around. I scanned the painting in, digitally colored and tweaked it, and put it together with a digital background and it served its purpose, but the painting served no greater use after that.

While on vacation last summer in Maine, we stayed in a barn loft very close to Naskeag Point, close to Brooklin, home to E.B. White of Charlotte's Web fame. We didn't know either of those points of fact going in, it was simply a nice vacation rental at a good rate.

As we explored and found ourselves down at Naskeag Point having lunch, I shot a number of photos as I usually do whenever we're anywhere interesting. Most of them go into my reference file. One of them got pulled out pretty quickly thereafter. I knocked a few back to black and white digitally, and played with them as backgrounds for this dragon, liking the idea of her living in this sort of seaside environment.

So it was that I sat and painted the background in over a couple of afternoons, while taking a break from a much larger painting I was working on. I haven't done a ton of monochromatic painting, although I spend a lot of time digitally doing grayscale studies for what will be color paintings. I do like a lot of the monochrome paintings done in the early 20c by illustrators who worked before color reproduction was really available to them in print.

Usually I and many other illustrators will suggest working background-to-foreground, and it's a useful rule to follow for a number of reasons. But as with most rules in painting, they are meant to chart out the most reliable paths rather than be Commandments. The rule doesn't mean that it can never happen that a painting be done subject-first and then all the background be placed around it. So, take that into account if you ever want to completely repaint an environment: it can be done.

As for author E.B. White, well we took a stroll through the Brooklin cemetery one afternoon (as a romantic artist celebrating his anniversary is wont to do) and if you're passing through, you too can stop by and pay your respects to him and his wife: