A Work in Progress: Paul’s latest artwork

So I have been planning this piece for about 4 years… at least. I finally felt ready for it, finally felt like my talent had reached a point where I could attempt this and do it well. I have decided to document the development of this piece, and do a “daily digest,” where I take a photo at the end of a long day of working on the piece. This allows me to show its development to you, but it also allows me to get feedback from you, suggestions, critiques. I also think this is a really cool approach to sharing my art with people. Not just as a single piece, but as a growing and evolving work of art. This first post is all the sketches that I have done over the years, working up to this piece. I hope you enjoy.

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This image dates back almost 4 years ago. After drawing Modern Magic in 2001 and hearing about the ending of Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards for years, I had built up the ending to that movie in my mind. Every time people told me about it, the ending grew and evolved into this epic, world shattering event. After seeing the movie, it wasn’t what I expected. This work of art is to express what has been growing in my head since 2002.

I knew I wanted the wizard high atop a tower, one hand flaring with magic, the other holding a gun, pointed almost at the viewer, but not quite. If it were pointed right at you, then it would be too foreshortened, and difficult to discern. I always envisioned the gun drawn, and a flash of purple lightning streaking through the night sky behind him.

In this first sketch, the wizard looks very pleasant, his beard more like a fluffy Santa Claus than a man locked in epic combat with his evil brother. Also, his hat is way too small.

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Same idea, but a little better feel to it. His ear is on the outside of his hat. If that is true, that is the worst wizard hat ever created. This was a development piece, taking that first sketch, playing around with it, but not evolving it much.

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This is where the piece starts to feel “right.” Much more gritty, and dark, the wizard’s face is much more concerned and concentrated, his beard more unkempt, and his clothes more ragged from the battle. I also thought about giving him a staff, and after doing this piece thought about having him doubled over in pain from the fight, using the staff to brace himself as he drew the gun. The only thing that carried over from the second sketch is the movement of the beard flowing up and out. The shadow cast from the hat over the face is something that was important moving forward.

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This sketch was completed while visiting New York in the fall ’07. I decided that this piece needed to comment on the balance between magic and technology. The right hand, flaring with magic, illuminates the right half of his face. The left hand, holding the gun, is in dark shadow. The teeth are barred, blood trickling down his lower lip. I also decided to use the “Morpheus” glasses, the ones that are just lenses with a simple nose bridge. The white eyes and the lenses would stand out in stark contrast to the dark shadows and skin. As with most of my recent works of art, this piece demonstrates my focus on balance, light and shadow, magic and technology, good and evil.

His hat is also way too high up on his head. This seems to be a problem with this piece. I must put the hat on his head, not above it.

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After deciding on the face shadows in the previous sketch, I now wanted to get the overall pose down. Having him drop to one knee is a nice touch, but the tip of the gun wasn’t “in your face” enough. So I decided to take a bunch of reference photos in this pose, but from a higher point of view, and to pull it in tighter.

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So I pulled it in tighter, and got everything pretty much where I wanted it.

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Now that I had the set-up decided, it was time to do a value sketch to see how shadows and highlights would play within the piece. The main light source would be from his right hand, completely engulfed in magic, however, I decided to add another source, from the evil wizard, who up to this moment, has not existed in any of the images. But he would soon.

The good wizard’s hand is a blue source of light, the evil’s red.

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The evil brother. While my original design for this image did not have the brother visible, more and more it just seemed appropriate to put him in a reflection on the front of the gun. His basic look is inspired by Black Wolf from Wizards. I liked his look for the most part, sans the bones sticking out of his arms. Since you are looking down into the gun pointed up at him, the reflection is from down below. He is a little shocked to see that while he is brother is weak and bloodied, he has one last trick up his sleeve.

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A color value sketch of the brother to test myself with using colored pencils. While the final drawing will be primarily pastel, small details, such as the evil brother will be done with colored pencils. It is the easiest way to get the tight details that I will need with his small form.

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This is it, this is the one. I took this image and projected it onto the canvas, and so begins the final drawing. Started 4-5 years after the initial conception. Damn, I work slow.

Anyway, keep checking back as I post the first 3-4 days worth of images soon on this piece. Oh, and ideas on a title are always welcome. I am thinking something along the lines of “Level 10 Spell,” “Wizard’s Final Lesson,” etc.

One thought on “A Work in Progress: Paul’s latest artwork

  1. This is really really good, I wish I was as talented as you are, please keep up the good work! Many Kudos!

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