I work a lot with fantasy art and most of my commissions are for Dnd character art.
I’ve painted a lot of characters, and today I’m going to show you some of the magic behind character art.
For dnd character art specifically, I like to start out with the character’s backstory. So if you’re painting a commission for someone, just ask them for their character story and if you’re painting for yourself come up with your own story.
All of mycharacters have a story. I like to connect with the character, get to know them. Just make them a real person. What’s their personality like? What do they like to wear? All of this will help me clearly picture the character in my mind and will also help me know what their facial expression is like and their body posture as well.
For example, this is Nala. Nala belongs to my fellow artist and youtuber ObscureBeauty art. Nala is an Eladrin elf. Eladrin elves change their physical appearance with the seasons. Nala here is in summer. Eladrin elves in summer turn completely gold and they are more likely to tur nviolent or enraged. Adding to that, she has been exiled from her home, Feyworld, which, as you can imagine, has made her more vengeful. So, we have to make her look intimidating.
Having a description, only makes fantasyart so much easier, rather than just starting out from a visual idea.
Secondly use references. I cannot stress this enough. I have mentioned the importance of using references in my last post, which you can read here.
When it comes to using references, take your time, scroll through pinterest, just get inspired. In this case, I started out with references on how I imagine Eladrin elves look like. Then I scrolled through thousands of pictures until I found the perfect pose for our Elf.
When it comes to portraits, since we’re only working from the chest up, you have to find different ways of making your posture and your character look expressive. For Nala, I looked for references of people with a sort of upturned nose kind of posture, because she does have a superior minded type of attitude. Then play with the original features. Make your character connect with the viewer.
Another great way of adding interest to your dnd character art, is by adding magical props.
A magical prop can be a cool looking cane, or an ancient looking sword, or even a magical amulet around their neck. In this case, since Nala is a warlock, and has a fiery personality, I thought having her conjuring up a fireball would be suitable, and she does look quite pleased with herself.
An important aspect to keep in mind, on how to paint fantasy art, is mood. The mood of a painting is determined by theme, setting and lighting. The theme is an idea behind your painting. Our scene here is pretty much centered around Nala’s confidence and violence, although it is done in a very subtle way. The setting is the place or surrounding around your character. To invoke a dark feeling and imbue the character with darkness I decided to go with a dark background, and although Nala is a dangerous creature, she still likes to be feminine, so I thought it would be a good idea to surround her with plants. Now both the mood and the setting will help us to find the lighting. Most of our light will be coming from our fireball which will be lighting up her face. This will help to stress the theme of Nala’s fiery confidence and violence, and will bring all the attention and focus to her face.
The background will be a lot darker, which brings us to our last aspect to keep in mind, which is contrast.
To make a painting more appealing, it is important to have contrast, and contrast can come in many ways: contrasting shapes: like the contrast between the curling flames and the smooth and straight hair of the character; contrasting colours: like the contrast between the blues and purples of the backgroundand and the reds and yellows of the character; contrasting values: like the contrast between the bright character and the dark background; contrasting ideas: like i mentioned earlier the, contrast between the character’s violent nature and the elegant and fragile nature of plants.
And i could go on and on and on about this subject, but you get the picture.
I promise you, if you follow these guidelines, your painting experience will not only be much easier. but also more enjoyable and your results will speak for themselves.
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