This here is my very first cover for Dungeons and Dragons. The book is: Monster Manual 2.
I still remember christmas 1984 when a friend of mine invited me to play this game he just got for christmas, and I killed my first Rust-monster. Back then, the illustrations inside the book and on the cover, was the only visual reprecentation of the world and the stories that emerged from our minds...and they were magical. I decided that, when I got grown up I would do illustrations like these. I would be Larry Elmore, Keith Parkinson and jeff Easly.
Well I guess I just grew up right now then.
This cover was quite a challenge. it is one thing to make a monster look cool, but it is a great deal more difficult when the anatomy is weird like with the Demogorgon. He has 2 baboon-heads, feet and legs of a lizard and split tentacles from the elbow and down. And a reptile tail.
When doing the thumb I constantly entangled the tentacles. There is a lot going on there. So I focused on getting the shapes of the arms look tight and interesting and the rest followed from there. In the thumb I submitted I did not even concentrate on the background or much else but the figure. As long as I had that in place the rest would just have to not cover him up to much or even draw much attention.
I got one correction...one that I had not seen coming. The art-director was afraid that it looked like one of the tentacles was caressing his crouch! Jesus! I am from Denmark, Land of Naughty; I should have seen that. I shifted the arms a little and we where back on track.
Then I roughly transfered the thumb to the board. I do this by increasing the size of the thumb from 5 cm to 50cm on a copy-machine. Then smear the back of the copy with grafhite and transfer it by drawing on top of the line on the side that has the lines. Then I draw the final version directly on the board. This way I still keep the drawing proces fresh and spontainously, instead of transfering a neat and fully detailed drawing. I find that it looses a lot of life if I transfer to much. I ink the the whole thing with a pen and add greytones in acrylic. this here version is the final pencil sketch.
After the greytones I take another copy and do a color rough. This is very important to me. The color rough does 2 things. It lets me be bold and testy. When I am satisfied with a color rough I cheat myself not to be nervous when laying colors on the final painting. I have the color rough to prove that everything works. The second thing is that when doing the color rough I already mixed the colors that I am going to use.
The final painting is 50x40 cm on watercolor board. The orange from the color rough has been toned down a little in Photoshop. I kind of like the rough, and wished I had followed it more accurate.