For this post I'm selectively throwing back all the way to like 9 months ago with some Theros illustrations. Sure, Prognostic Sphinx and Kiora's Follower are my favorites from the Greek-themed set but I've decided to share some other Theros pieces on the merits of specific portions or aspects of the paintings that I find particularly successful.
This painting, while maybe a bit innocuous and forgettable at first glance, has some really savvy painting that I wish I could consistently conjure much more often. The lower left hand corner shows a hydra head confronting a spear-wielding warrior in the background. In order to push that back in space, I muted the shadows while keeping the highlights warm and sunlit. And the sky warming and then fading into the jagged mountain line helps set the atmosphere even more. The rest of the image works well for what it had to show but that corner right there I'm particularly proud of.
Another overlooked favorite from the Theros block is this hydra token. And it is yet another good example of subtle and muted color choices to play up atmosphere and depth. I think when I first painted this piece, I thought I used a bit too much Payne's Gray which is kind of my replacement for black on my palette. It's close to that dark but has a cooler tone and seems to mix better with other paints. Anyway, I used Payne's Gray a lot in this piece to keep the colors muted and misty feeling. The result seemed to make the overall image a little too gray for my liking. But since then, I have had time to look at it with fresher eyes and now I rather like this painting a lot. I think the grayed tones help and not hinder the image - and the painterly textures of the foliage turned out nicely, too.
Ah yes, the Gluttonous Cyclops. Working with a kind of fish-eye perspective, I never could establish how exactly I wanted the background to look. Never-the-less, it is the cyclops that sells this piece so I had to really get that purplish-brownish-blackish African skin tone just right as well as how and where to highlight the skin. In this instance, there was some trial and error but overall, I'm pretty proud of how the skin colors and textures came out. I also like the smashed little shepherd's house in the background!
Finally, Fleetfeather Sandals. Part of the sweeping art direction for this setting was that, as opposed to Innistrad which was swathed in murky darkness and creepy, obscuring fogs, Theros was to be brightly bathed in Mediterranean sunshine. Colors were to be bright, skies nearly devoid of clouds, shadows to be sharp-edged as they are when cast by the sun. That said, no other Theros painting of mine shows that better than this piece and I'm pretty pleased by that. Again, at first glance this is a pair of legs from the knees down and some shoes with owl wings. Seems simple enough. But I really focused my energy on establishing that sunny lighting and playing up the natural colors that come from brilliant sunshine. Yellow grasses, the red in the rocks, the blue of the sky, the reddish-brown of the tanned legs in shadow, the purple of the shaded areas. Also, I used a palette knife to get a good texture on the foreground rock.