Sharpen your card art skills

Fan­tasy card art is all about eye-catching com­po­si­tions and en­gag­ing char­ac­ter de­signs. Laura Sava re­veals how she achieves this ev­ery time

ImagineFX - - Workshops -

Fan­tasy card art is all about eye-catching com­po­si­tions and en­gag­ing char­ac­ter de­signs – Laura Sava shows you how it’s done.

Even though I started dab­bling into fan­tasy art as a teen, for a long time I never thought of it as any more than a hobby. The first de­ci­sive step on the illustration path was get­ting a Wa­com tablet, and switch­ing to dig­i­tal even­tu­ally proved to be a game changer for me, be­cause it solved both the is­sue of speed and the high cost of art ma­te­ri­als.

I at­tended an art school, but found that the em­pha­sis was placed on con­tem­po­rary trends, so I had to learn most of what I know about fig­u­ra­tive paint­ing on my own. How­ever, a for­mal art ed­u­ca­tion gave me a bet­ter per­spec­tive on tech­ni­cal mat­ters and per­haps cre­ated a frame­work for an ef­fi­cient learn­ing ap­proach. So the tips in this work­shop are an as­sorted col­lec­tion of the­o­ret­i­cal prin­ci­ples I picked up in school, per­sonal ob­ser­va­tions and ad­vices I found on­line.

I’m cur­rently il­lus­trat­ing cards for Ap­pli­bot’s Leg­end of the Cryp­tids, a fan­tasy game for smart­phones, so I’m go­ing to use im­ages I cre­ated for the com­pany to show how I ap­ply this in­for­ma­tion in prac­tice and, hope­fully, pro­vide some use­ful insight for those who are in­ter­ested in pro­duc­ing sim­i­lar work.

1 De­cid­ing on the com­po­si­tion

There are ba­si­cally two types of com­po­si­tion: dy­namic and static. The first is char­ac­terised by di­ag­o­nal lines that add move­ment, while the sec­ond fea­tures strong ver­ti­cals and hor­i­zon­tals that ei­ther help to cre­ate a calm at­mos­phere if hor­i­zon­tals pre­dom­i­nate or sug­gest harsh­ness if the ver­ti­cals are em­pha­sised. I pre­fer static com­po­si­tions, but they can be a bit dull for fan­tasy themes. As a com­pro­mise, I use softer di­ag­o­nal shapes as ac­cents in the fore­ground. For ex­am­ple, plac­ing ob­jects such as flow­ing fab­ric here and there helps to break up the monotony and de­vel­ops a pleas­ing con­trast with the back­ground.

2 When to use sym­me­try

There’s a time and a place to use bi­lat­er­ally sym­met­ri­cal lay­outs. In­deed, I’d go so far as to say that this type of com­po­si­tion should be used spar­ingly, but it’s cer­tainly ef­fec­tive in ap­pro­pri­ate con­texts. Its vis­ual im­pact is high be­cause all lines con­verge and the eye is drawn to­wards the cen­tre, so il­lus­trated sub­ject mat­ter such as book cov­ers or film posters can ben­e­fit from it. Sym­met­ri­cal poses can make a char­ac­ter look re­gal, pow­er­ful or heroic. They usu­ally work es­pe­cially well with char­ac­ters who have wings and mytho­log­i­cal beings in gen­eral, be­cause they re­mind the viewer of iconic rep­re­sen­ta­tions.

3 Ap­ply the S-curve PRIN­CI­PLE

This goes back to an­cient Greek art and is con­sid­ered ideal for de­pict­ing the hu­man fig­ure. The body should be po­si­tioned in a way that de­scribes an S-shaped line, so that the shoul­ders and the hips are an­gled dif­fer­ently. The most ba­sic pose that uses this prin­ci­ple is con­trap­posto, where the fig­ure rests all its weight on one leg. In illustration, this for­mula can be taken even fur­ther, and curves and pro­por­tions can be ex­ag­ger­ated or stylised ac­cord­ing to your own paint­ing method.

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