WIP Challenge - Playing Card Designs: 4 of Clubs

Over at CGSociety, Kirt Stanke hosted a small challenge in the Works in Progress forums asking artists to pick a card from a standard 54 playing card deck. This challenge started back in April and I joined in during May thinking that I will have time since the summer is starting up. That was a huge mistake as the many collaborative projects that I joined in on continued over the summer and it took up the majority of my time. Thankfully the deadline was extended so I was finally able to finish my painting up. However, it was somewhat strange/weird/awkward that I got absolutely no feedback on my work as I posted my progress. I don't know if I'll win anything but if I miraculously win first place, the award is a free CGWorkshop and I know the one that I will immediately go for is Justin Holt's Mari 2.0 workshop. May 19th I wanted to do something along the lines of fantasy but also didn't want to do any of the face cards as I felt that the subject would be a bit too constraining. Thus I went and looked up the history and evolution of playing cards. Hearts were the clergy, spades the nobility, diamonds the merchants, and clubs the serfs. Then I recalled that playing cards were also sometimes used for fortune telling and so I went to look up the different meanings for each card. A lot of the meanings were about love and success which I don't feel like doing at this time but I stumbled upon the four of clubs which represents lies, betrayal, and changes for the worse. Four is also considered an unlucky number in many Asian cultures as the word for four sounds similar to the word for death, although I'm not sure how much of this I will incorporate.

Here is a quick sketch of my subject. I have an evil spirit sort of thing leading my character to his death. I'm wasn't quite sure what I want as an environment, other than a cliff/end of world thing that drops into black, and so the only thing that I could come up with so far is a graveyard. Then a few sketches trying to flesh out what my characters will look like. I decided to go with a young brother and sister. For their outfits I'm looking at something simple as they are serfs. [gallery ids="1119,1118"]

May 22nd Re-found my composition with the correct dimensions of the artwork area for the card. Blocked in some base colors and cleaned up/defined my sketch. Then I stepped back to look for reference. 4clubs_v1

June 22nd After painting some more and looking at my previous drawing, I wasn't really liking the composition. It felt too far away and removed from the action. Here is a second sketch that I am trying out. I was thinking that I wanted to add more form to my evil spirit thing instead of just having a formless blob. Since I have an angler fish protrusion thing I started to look at the head/face shapes of those fish couples with how snakes open their mouths. I'm not quite sold on how it looks currently as it feels very standard monster to me and I feel that human mouths on non-human objects are creepier. 4clubs_v2 July 27th Blocking in some color and adding in some base details. I really wanted that reaching pose so unfortunately that means my human character needs to move to the side and I can't seem to fit in the girl. I tried to do a receding frontal pose but I couldn't get it to look correct and an upward stretch pose makes the character smaller than I like. 4clubs_v3 July 28th Adjusted my composition with some simple gradient overlays so that the elements fit together better. Blocking in my human character. I wanted him to further convey the story so instead of going for the standard cute design that I had previously sketched in, I wanted him to look like he was stepping towards death. Gaunt facial features and I tried giving him a skeleton hand but I'm not sure if it works out well, especially as it is occluded by the glow. 4clubs_v3.5

August 27th I ended up struggling a lot with how my human character looked, partially because he has ventured so far off from what I had initially design and also I usually don't do gaunt, worn down, male characters. 4clubs_v5 August 30th 4clubs_v6 August 31st The final deadline for the challenge so some last things to finish up during final looks. Placed it on the card and did some embellishments on the edges for integration rather than just a flat rectangle. The painting looked even darker than usual due to being against white so I did some more color adjustments, created a slight blurred layer over and masked out areas to make sure my focal point is in the right place, and then because I forgot to fix the gradient banding previously before flattening I had to go in and smooth them out manually. I was originally thinking about painting something in the background so there's more interest there, particularly as there is a large negative space between the two figures but I couldn't come up with anything worth painting. The horizon line will already be down low and the background is already so dark with the focal point being in the front that nothing that I draw back there could be seen well. Also, I have always hated painting trees and foliage. 4clubs_v7