New Work With AEG: Process

Shortly before Origins Game Fair I was asked if I would provide any work for an upcoming game that AEG is planning on launching sometime later this year. I came as a recommendation to the art director at the company, and after a few emails back and forth, we came to an agreement and I was given three pieces of art to design. 

Thumb nails roughly to size of the final art of a field of flowers

Thumb nails roughly to size of the final art of a field of flowers

I was given descriptors of the art I was to create from the art director. The first was a field or meadow of flowers blooming. This card has something to do with a restoration process that takes part in the games. I tried to express a range of ideas of this description for the art director, and he chose to go with number four. 

Thumb nails roughly to size of the final art of a magical seed

Thumb nails roughly to size of the final art of a magical seed

The next card was of a magical seed, either in hand or some other vessel. Once again I tried to offer a range of this idea. I liked both number two and number four personally, but the art director chose number three. 

Thumb nails of a majestic stag roughly to size of the final art

Thumb nails of a majestic stag roughly to size of the final art

The last image was of a majestic stag, who is the guardian of a sacred grove. The art director chose to go with number three. 

With the decisions made, I gathered some reference material to help me flesh out the final drawings. I used the thumbnails blown up to a more workable size to help me with the layout, and the reference images to help me with things that were a bit wonky. 

The art director left me to my own devices in terms of colors, which I found largely satisfying. It did take me a bit of tweaking on the final pencils, which were also sent in for approval and possible revisions before I got to painting. I don't often paint plants or animals, so I started in on the piece that I thought was going to be the most difficult. 

The flowers. 

This is what the final drawing of the flowers looked like as I taped it down for paint. 

This is what the final drawing of the flowers looked like as I taped it down for paint. 

For all three of the pieces I transferred them to a sheet of Arches hotrpress watercolor paper at 140lbs. I then dry mount them to a piece of Masonite board with black painters' tape. Since these were all pretty small pieces, and I was still in the process of painting my Lini piece, I taped all three pieces down to the same board to work on. 

Phone picture of my desk setup with all three images taped down on the same board....and my messy, messy pallet

Phone picture of my desk setup with all three images taped down on the same board....and my messy, messy pallet

Please excuse the phone pictures. Our beloved camera met it's fate while scuba diving in Australia with my husband, and we have yet to replace it.
But this ought to get the point across. I did have to prop the  board up higher via an unopened sketchbook because my neck was cramping from looking down so much.  

Slowly building up stuff here, and starting on the piece I felt I would struggle the most with.

Slowly building up stuff here, and starting on the piece I felt I would struggle the most with.

Final pencil for the seed

Final pencil for the seed

Process on the seed piece, again, with the phone camera

Process on the seed piece, again, with the phone camera

final pencil for the stag

final pencil for the stag

Initial wash on the stag piece

Initial wash on the stag piece

Normally when I am working on multiple pieces I will work a bit on one, and rotate to the next, ect. But since the pallets here were so different I didn't want to mix in too many colors on my pallet (hah, as if!) where the colors on the paintings would get muddy. So I only worked on these one at a time. 

The stag was a little bit different because I used blue over the entire image early on rather than, for lack of a better phrase, a more paint by number approach. I also used a clean, damp brush to lift out areas of pigment where I did not want the blue wash to be prominent. I did not do this on the other images. While I do use some white ink in my work, I try to mostly leave the white of the paper to show through. 

Process of building things up. Also I like to shoot my hand in with the piece for scale.

Process of building things up. Also I like to shoot my hand in with the piece for scale.

The process on all three is largely the same, and I admit that I am not really great at documenting this because I get very focused while working that I often completely forget to document things. Also in regard to the napkin under my hand, it helps me to stop my flesh from rubbing against the surface and transmitting oil to it. Or rubbing pigment off the surface. 

Since watercolors don't allow you to paint light over dark areas, I often work dark to light. I also look at my values using the black and white setting on my phone to make sure that the values are working together well. In the image above I am painting in some areas of value and leaving alone the areas that I want to remain lighter. 

The last wip shot

The last wip shot

Once I feel like I have a good idea for my values I start to lay in color. 
Most of the time I feel like I have a very solid understanding of what colors I am using in a piece, and I have worked with watercolors enough to understand the relationship to working with these colors in layers over one another. When I am not feeling confident, or a client requests color studies I will tinker around with them. 

And the finished pieces....

flowers_katgbirmelin2015
seed_katgbirmelin2015
stag_katgbirmelin2015

These are only slightly tinkered with in photoshop to make sure the scanned art looks as close to the originals as possible. For the glow in the magic seed picture I used FW acrylic ink light green. I find that this is much more vibrant than regular watercolor. 

I am not sure what game this is for, or when it is due to release. I will keep you posted on that front. Now onto other projects.