Painting “As Darkness Rises”

As Darkness Rises

Also known as “Diyun”, this was my first cover for Dungeon magazine. It’s also, in a way, my first piece working with Art Director Extraordinaire Jon Schindehette (we were working on a few pieces at the same time). Jon was a pleasure to work with, and not only because he gave me such a fantastically enjoyable piece to work on.

Sketch for As Darkness RisesSketch for As Darkness RisesSketch for As Darkness Rises

To the right you’ll find the three sketches I sent him. I always do full-color, painted sketches for clients. I know a lot of artists who will either do line drawings or grayscale sketches… but that has, quite simply, never worked for me. I find I can do things at least as quickly in full color as otherwise, and I also have yet to find a client who complains when they see my sketches. Depending on the situation, I’ll tend to send them either two or three variations to choose from. Jon really liked all of them and said he would have been happy with any of them, but ultimately chose the first sketch. I was excited about that, because that was my personal favorite of the sketches. That’s always a good experience, because too often the general wisdom is that “of the sketches you send your client, the one you like the least will get picked.

At least this time, that wasn’t the case. So I took the first sketch and started to take it to completion. My first step whenever I start on a final painting is to upscale my original sketch. I work at a bare minimum twice the final result. Since this was a 10×10″ @ 300dpi final image, I just scaled it up to 600dpi (or 6000×6000 pixels). Working bigger than you need to comes with all sorts of benefits, namely that almost everything looks better when you scale it down. It also is a bit easier to paint small details when you’ve got that much extra resolution to work in.

I sent in the final and Jon approved it right away—success! I had a great time working on this, and am all-too-happily still working with Jon (as well as some other, more secret D&D work).

Copyright 2011 Wizards of the Coast

I'm Noah Bradley. I'm a concept artist, illustrator, painter, teacher, writer, and speaker. If you'd like to talk, please get in touch.