Welcome back to this continuation of last weeks article. Last week we covered how to select a card that is best suited for a full art alter, and detailed the steps leading up to this point on our Alloy Myr. This week, I'd like to cover some of the possibilities that come with full art cards and we'll obviously finish the Alloy Myrtoday.
At this point, you have the sky and ground finished, and the branch on which the Myr sets is blocked in and ready to be colored. Before we do that, I'd like you to take a look at your card. The composition of this card as it is right now is a touch unbalanced. There is a lot of foreground space that is empty in the bottom half of the card. There are a couple of ways to deal with this, we could add more to the foreground to help balance the subject (the myr) or we could add a lot more detail to the ground and use that to satisfy the balance issues. These are typical issues that must be dealt with in order to paint full art cards successfully. It is important to note that while the average person does not know much about composition and balance as it pertains to art, they will still know when the balance and composition are off. This sentiment is commonly heard in the following phrases: “Something's missing!” or “I dunno, it just seems off...”.
Are we gonna paint today or what?!?
For my composition and ultimately today’s tutorial, I chose to add another branch to the foreground. I did so by using Mars Black to block in the shape of the branch. I borrowed the shape of the branch from the one above, and only differentiated them slightly. Make things easy on yourself, the design is already there, so use it. I dry-brushed a mixture of Unbleached Titanium, a touch of Cadmium Yellow, and a gray that I made from Titanium White and Mars Black. Also, create a dark gray to use for shadows under each “plate” on the branch.
Okay, so we've solved the balance problem, there is now a foreground object using the lower space. While many people would stop here, I generally insist upon taking it one step further. It is my belief that when you extended the art of a card you are telling the viewer that there is more to this art, more story to be told here. So far the only story we've told is that the myr is high off the ground. Perhaps you did not get this far in your brainstorming, I didn't, so take this time to brainstorm ideas on how best to tell “the rest of the story” (thank you Paul Harvey). If you are not in a position to do so (Reading at work? Shame on you!) then you can follow along with mine. I warn you, my brain and I ramble quite a bit.
Step into my head
“I mentioned in the first part of this article that I thought our subject had some bird-like qualities. So let's follow that thought line. Perhaps we could add a dead mouse into it's mouth, dripping blood down to the branches below. Birds tend to fly around in flocks, why not ass a couple smaller myr on the lower branch, maybe one comically trying to fly. We could add another creature trying to climb up to the myr with less than pleasant intentions. Maybe this myr is guarding something, perhaps a nest? I like the nest idea, how would that look? Well the nest would be made of metal (everything on Mirrodin is), maybe it made a nest out of wires as if they were grass. It has hands and some intelligence, it would probably build more of a bowl than a nest out of scrap metal. What color are the eggs? This particular myr is capable of producing any of the five colors on mana, maybe one if each? That's a big nest, or small eggs, probably just two eggs. Also, the eggs should be egg colored, otherwise we might as well paint bunny ears on the myr. How do we know what kind of myr will come out of them? We'll add some wires, perhaps they are being infused with a certain color from the start, as part of the incubation. Good idea, go for it!”
To avoid insanity, please step out of my mind and exit to your left...
So there you have it, that was the though process (roughly) on how I finished the card. I would be very interested to see what you guys brainstormed up. There is a whole wide world of possibilities out there, especially if you don't follow the “bird” theory. Send in your work and it will get posted here.
Also, seeing my twitter following triple over the last few weeks (almost to 12!) has told me that the time may be right for another contest. The last one went so well for me in particular how could I not try again? Stay tuned and keep painting!
-The Painters' Servant