Amazing artists I discovered this week #10

It's Sunday, please say hello to Wayne Reynolds

When I was at high school I enjoyed my time as a geek. I played Dungeons and Dragons and besides it is a fantastic game to play I loved the illustrations in the books. The Dungeons and Dragons books are not designed and illustrated by one artist. Many worked on these books and mostly produced insane high quality artwork. Still, one artist got our attention the most and still is special to me.
We all know fantasy artwork with qualities of classical painters. This artist is different. He added something extra to his work what inspires me and still is refreshing to see.
Of course I am talking about Wayne Reynolds.

Seasons Greetings
By: Wayne Reynolds

Bit of background

"I was born in Leeds, UK, and attended art college in Dewsbury and Middlesbrough, leaving with a HND Distinction. After a spell alternating freelance commissions with work for a sign painting company, I settled for a few years as a concept artist in the computer games industry. However, the lure of freelance art proved too strong, and I returned to work as an independent illustrator in 1998. I still reside in Leeds, UK, and travel to attend conventions in the USA and Europe as often as my work schedule permits"

As I already told you all, I got in touch with his artwork through Dungeons and Dragons. Don't think he is only doing artwork for them! When you never played D&D you probably know his work from Magic the Gathering, Pathfinder RPG, Warhammer, World of Warcraft and many more of these type of games.

By: Wayne Reynolds
Publishing copyright; Wizards of the Coast
Art Director; Dawn Murin


Why is he different form all those other artists?

In my opinion he breaks with the old school fantasy artwork. His style is way more dynamic and less based on making a beautiful image on it's own. When you look at mr. Reynolds art you can find a lot more storytelling in the way he uses composition, the poses of characters and all the objects you can find everywhere.

First, let us take a look to composition.

Composition, this still is something I think is hard in an illustration. When you do this wrong you have a drawing that is just not that great. When you do this perfect, you can get your drawing to a "WOW" level. Well, mr. Reynolds hits that spot on.
As you can see on the image below he is not just starting a drawing. He makes beautiful thumbnails to figure out how the characters are working in this certain space. Where are you going to put the characters and where does the light come from? how does perspective works in the benefit of this situation? What do you need to show for the best impact? These and many more questions are wandering the mind while making sketches like this.
As you can see all the elements are already there, You have two main characters and people who disagree with them and want to catch them. The chandelier is in place and we know where it all happens.
But the thing he does in a different way is putting all the lines, clothing, movement of characters in the benefit of this composition. As you can see on he fourth thumbnail the two characters are coming down and are just at the moment before they hit the ground. The characters on the right with their spears are pointing towards the spot where the main characters came from. The lines are also adding more speed in this drawing. Now the two main characters are falling from above even faster. But to add even more to this composition we have some noble ones who were unpleasantly surprised by these two figures who stole something and scared them. They are moving away from the falling characters. This is a prediction of the impact. Now we have both falling and the prediction of impact and therefore a whole story based on action.
Ultimate Intrigure Compositional Thumbnails.
By: Wayne Reynolds

Lines, lines, lines and dynamic imagery

Now we can take a look at the lines he uses. This is something that is very interesting to me.
Of course I like the well drawn realistic figures and all the beautiful paintings. But they are all soft and everything is dancing in the most poetic way. Let's forget about all the round, harmonic, poetry of lines and shapes. We are working with some rough and cool illustrative mastery today!
As you can see in the finished piece below, the shapes are all very pointy. I like the fact that you can cut your fingers on the edges. They are dangerous! So make the heat of battle not only dangerous but also the way it is drawn.

The clothing of the characters is well thought. 'Good' soldiers and noblemen are decorated with more round shapes and soft clothing (still very bright hard lines) and the main characters are darker and evil. Thieves you don't want to encounter! Impossible to miss is their clothing. There is so much detail and every little object they are wearing is like a razor-blade.
This brings me to another thing that has to be mentioned about the mastery of shapes of mr. Reynolds. Contrast between main figures and the rest of the scene. The two characters who come from above are the most important, the main subject of this story. You as a fan should be looking at them first then everything in the background to get the story complete. His use of hard lines and shapes is very important in this. I never noticed this before so I learned something today too. I should be playing more with hard and round shapes more.

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Ultimate Intrigue
Cover art by: Wayne Reynolds

Environment.Something I like to see in the environment of this drawing is the environment. The place where it happens looks equally dynamic as the figures in it. These are all choices. You can see 'mistakes' in perspective. Some of the walls are tilted forward and the balcony in the back is not horizontal but all these choices are adding to the story.
Yesterday I saw a poster where mistakes were made that were really disturbing. There was no need to make those mistakes. I know I am not perfect in anatomy and perspective but this was noticed by the untrained eye on Facebook. That must be painful for the artist.. This is something else from what we see over here. We work in a free space and shapes need to add to the composition. If you placed everything in a way it should you probably are going to lose a lot of the dynamics. In this case you have to be good at lying. I don't mean this in a negative way. Maybe it is more nice to say you need to convince your audience of your drawing. When everything is convincing enough you accept the drawing as true. Besides that this drawing is an illustration, not something Rembrandt or DaVinci painted. I am glad to see there is playfulness in artwork like this. I think that is the reason mr. Reynolds work got my attention more then the other artists.

Rainbows!!! Nah, just colors.

Let's take a look at the image below.
I need to say something I really admire about this work. In this age you probably think this is all digital work. We are a modern society, we don't do traditional work anymore. Quick and nice images only made for the machines of the printshop. This is wrong. The painting below is not made in photoshop, corel painter or whatever you can use to create digital art.  “11.75 x 16“ / 29.7cm x 40cm. Acrylic on board. Yes, he knows what he is doing with traditional media too! Now color is not my speciality at all although I know how to handle it and create a good image. But these type of paintings do give me itchy hands. I should pitch up traditional media to learn more about color, surfaces and how light works. 
What I really like in the artwork we are talking about today is the use of Bright colors. You don't see these types of bright colors in this spectrum of the illustration world. Probably you can name a lot of illustrators who use bright colors in graffiti based artwork. Now try to name one who dares to use really bright colors but who's artwork doesn't look like candy wrappers! No muddy oil paint colors but really bright acrylics for this one.

The use of bright colors is also a way to put more contrast in the drawing and make your eye travel more. The red dragon is drawing a lot of attention because it is the biggest objection the painting. The second place you look at is the lady with a blue robe, and behind her a blonde lady with a very bright light in one of her hands. Not to forget but to name together with the blonde lady a blonde knight in the same white and yellow clothes. These two together form one color tone. This is in contrast with the nails and horns of the dragon. Red and blue is a good formula of contrast. to add a third point to look at he added a monk with a orange suit who is also kicking in the same direction as the spear and the glowing hand is pointing to. But this monk would be just another third character who just popped out of nothing in this scene. The skills of the master is to be found in the other hand of the blonde lady. A yellow and orange colored fire who guides your eye towards the orange suit.
To add a more "chaos of this battle" we have Bard figure who is about to hit the dragon with his instrument and a squirrel behind the big red monster.
The light of the blonde wizard lady gives the entire group on the centre of the spiral positioned dragon cool color tones and everything outside this circle is warm. Hot as a dragon time creature should be!
"The Gamers – Dorkness Rising" Blu-ray poster
By Wayne Reynolds
Publishing copyright; Dead Gentlemen Productions

I think I should focus more on the use of bright colors and use them to guide the eye too. I am not drawing extremely realistic scenes. So I can be more playful with composition, color and lines. I am the one who tells you where everything should be! It is my reality and I have to convince you of the fact that that reality is more awesome than the reality we know. Wayne Reynolds convinced me his reality is more awesome then any other reality. Did he convince you?

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