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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Mysteries of the Moonsea


William O'Connor
 



Recently I was asked in an interview which of my hundreds of D&D illustrations I was the most proud of.  In my reflection, I contemplated that I began working for D&D in 1994 and have made art for  Editions 2, 3, 3.5, 4 and 5.  Hundreds of illustrations, book covers, mini designs, concept designs, card art, and board games. To try to narrow it down to just one piece is difficult.  

I could've chosen my first or the one that earned me the most awards, or has the most likes on social media, but I decided my favorite was the cover for the 3rd Edition  Forgotten Realms adventure  The Mysteries of the Moonsea (2005).  This painting stands out in my memory for several reasons.  The design of these Forgotten Realms covers were unique in that they were long narrow horizontal compositions that needed to wrap around the book spine.  I had seen a couple already done by other illustrators and was eager to try my hand at it.  Working in such an unusual format was a huge challenge, and I love challenges.   I had designed and drawn and had approved the sketch by the art director in late 2004 with every intention of painting it traditionally in oil.  I calculated that the painting would need to be  about 48" wide to accommodate the detail I had planned, and I was trying to plan my attack and set up my studio and easel to handle a canvas that large.  

In January 2005 I purchased a new iMac upgrade to a powerful flatscreen model and it changed my life.  Within a couple of weeks I had a stylus and was quickly learning to paint in Photoshop and soon was delivering digital paintings to my clients.  I had never done a painting this big however, and I had never delivered a digital bookcover to D&D before.  I remember I talked with Todd Lockwood and my Art Director asking for some advice, and I settled that I would paint Moonsea as a digital painting.  

The results for a first attempt at a large digital painting were better than I hoped, but of course I look back and I see all the things I would have done differently today.  This was a learning painting and I think that's what I love about it.  All my favorite painting are the ones where I learn from them.  I think that is the challenge of all art, to learn and grow as artists.  Being an artist is a process that evolves one painting at a time.  

Enjoy

WOC










Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Fantasy Character Workshop #010 Halfling Wizard


William O'Connor

Working as a fantasy illustrator for over twenty years I have created hundreds (maybe thousands) of fantasy characters. When I was a student I would draw the characters of all the players in my gaming group. later working for various games I would be commissioned to illustrate and design characters from stories. As an artist many of these commissions became derivative to the point of becoming boring (Dwarf Fighter with an Axe, Elf Ranger with a Bow, etc.) so I strove to change things up and make sure that I was always coming up with new combinations. I created my Random Character Generator. (attached below). This was based upon the appendixes that were listed in the back of the D&D Dungeon Master's Guide when I was a kid. I started using this generator routinely, and still employ it when creating characters and when teaching character design to students.

This series is intended to use my generator to create characters on a regular basis to share the process with you. I will try to be as faithful as possible to the attributes that are created, as the series is meant to challenge my skills, and make the characters as difficult as possible.

Enjoy
WOC


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Fantasy CharacterWorkshop #010 Halfling Wizard

Race: Halfling
Gender: Male
Class: Wizard
Armor: none
Weapon: Club
Missile:  Slingshot
Motiff: Eagle
Familiar: Eagle
Equipment:tankard, canteen, bell, jar

When we think of Halflings usually images of Bilbo and Frodo come to mind, but Halflings are not Hobbits. Halflings are cunning and agile adventurers with sharp minds making them ideal quest wizards.  Innately attuned to the natural world a Halfling wizard would very likely have a wild animal familiar like a hawk and the use of a common wooden cudgel would be quite effective in experienced hands.  Never judge a character by his size.

Enjoy

WOC

Check out the time lapse video as well:




Random Character Generator









©William O'Connor Studios.  All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

William O'Connor's Frankenstein


Several years ago I was approached to develop an illustrated edition of Mary Shelly's Frankenstein.  I was extremely enthusiastic since it was a favorite of mine and a literary classic.  For several months I read and researched the work and produced a folio of sketches, color comps and diagrams based on my interpretations of the novel.

My immediate take on the early 19th century gothic tale was how scary it was.  This was one of the first real psychological thrillers and works of science fiction.  Grave robbing, corpse mutilation, zombies, paedocide, serial murder, mental illness and drug use were all front and center in the plot.  Eventually however the project was canceled and I was left with a file full of concept art that never got finished or published.  I'm attaching a sampling here for the first time for you to see my take on this literary classic in all its dark and horrific detail.  Perhaps one day I'll get to finish it.

Enjoy!

WOC

"I will glut the maw of death until it be satiated with the blood of your remaining friends!"

Ingolstadt

"We perceived a low carriage, on a sled, and drawn by dogs, at the distance of half a mile, a being which had the shape of a man, but apparently of gigantic stature."

"...what I held in my arms had ceased to be the Elizabeth that I loved and cherished."

"The dissecting room and the slaughter house furnished many of my materials."

"As I still pursued my journey to the northward, the snows thickened and the cold increased in a degree almost too severe to support."

Add caption

"..I kept my workshop of filthy creation."









Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Python Dragon



Check out my YouTube video of a time lapse digital sketch of Python Dragon...

PYTHON DRAGON VIDEO

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deU3AGtGoPM&feature=share

Enjoy

WOC

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Fantasy Character Workshop #009

William O'Connor

Working as a fantasy illustrator for over twenty years I have created hundreds (maybe thousands) of fantasy characters. When I was a student I would draw the characters of all the players in my gaming group. later working for various games I would be commissioned to illustrate and design characters from stories. As an artist many of these commissions became derivative to the point of becoming boring (Dwarf Fighter with an Axe, Elf Ranger with a Bow, etc.) so I strove to change things up and make sure that I was always coming up with new combinations. I created my Random Character Generator. (attached below). This was based upon the appendixes that were listed in the back of the D&D Dungeon Master's Guide when I was a kid. I started using this generator routinely, and still employ it when creating characters and when teaching character design to students.

This series is intended to use my generator to create characters on a regular basis to share the process with you. I will try to be as faithful as possible to the attributes that are created, as the series is meant to challenge my skills, and make the characters as difficult as possible.

Enjoy
WOC


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Fantasy CharacterWorkshop #009 

Race: Human
Gender: Male
Class: Barbarian
Armor: Chainmail & Shield
Weapon: Spear & Longsword
Missile:  none
Motiff: Celtic
Equipment:

For this challenge I took a different approach than in the past.  I began with wanting to design a viking warrior with all the necessary kit of that iconic character.  Doing research for the historical accuracy of most of the weapons and armor, I decided to stray into the fantastical with the helmet giving this warrior impressive but fantastical horns.

Enjoy

WOC







Friday, February 3, 2017

Fantasy Character Workshop #007

William O'Connor

Working as a fantasy illustrator for over twenty years I have created hundreds (maybe thousands) of fantasy characters.  When I was a student I would draw the characters of all the players in my gaming group.  later working for various games I would be commissioned to illustrate and design characters from stories.  As an artist many of these commissions became derivative to the point of becoming boring (Dwarf Fighter with an Axe, Elf Ranger with a Bow, etc.)  so I strove to change things up and make sure that I was always coming up with new combinations.  I created my Random Character Generator. (attached below).  This was based upon the appendixes that were listed in the back of the D&D Dungeon Master's Guide when I was a kid.  I started using this generator routinely, and still employ it when creating characters and when teaching character design to students.

This series is intended to use my generator to create characters on a regular basis to share the process with you.  I will try to be as faithful as possible to the attributes that are created, as the series is meant to challenge my skills, and make the characters as difficult as possible.

Enjoy
WOC


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Fantasy CharacterWorkshop #007 

Race: Half-Elf
Gender: Male
Class: Barbarian
Armor: Platemail and Small Shield
Weapon: Pick
Missile:  Crossbow
Motiff: Wolf
Equipment: Hat, spurs, wand, journal

Another fun juxtaposition of elements I never would have come up with on my own.  The half elf is not a race that one commonly associates with barbarians, while plate mail and a pick is not the kit commonly used to arm this class either.  I was able to use the randomly generated motiff of the wolf as the unifying element both with the hide cape and small shield that would give the character a more tribal aesthetic, while the pick became more inspired by an American Indian war club rather than a European military pick.

Thanks.

WOC















Thursday, January 19, 2017

Fantasy Character Workshop #006

William O'Connor

Working as a fantasy illustrator for over twenty years I have created hundreds (maybe thousands) of fantasy characters.  When I was a student I would draw the characters of all the players in my gaming group.  later working for various games I would be commissioned to illustrate and design characters from stories.  As an artist many of these commissions became derivative to the point of becoming boring (Dwarf Fighter with an Axe, Elf Ranger with a Bow, etc.)  so I strove to change things up and make sure that I was always coming up with new combinations.  I created my Random Character Generator. (attached below).  This was based upon the appendixes that were listed in the back of the D&D Dungeon Master's Guide when I was a kid.  I started using this generator routinely, and still employ it when creating characters and when teaching character design to students.

This series is intended to use my generator to create characters on a regular basis to share the process with you.  I will try to be as faithful as possible to the attributes that are created, as the series is meant to challenge my skills, and make the characters as difficult as possible.

Enjoy
WOC

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Fantasy Character Workshop #006 

Race: Dragonnoid
Gender: Female
Class: Paladin
Armor: Splintmail/ Large Shield
Weapon: Rapier(Fire)
Missile:  xxx
Motiff: Pegasus
Equipment: idol,

After a bit of a break for the holidays and to meet some important deadlines, I've returned to my Fantasy Character Workshop.  This one was unusual and exemplifies what I enjoy about these challenges.  A dragonoid female character wielding a large shield and a rapier.  Usually these hulking figures are depicted as brutish warriors using weapons such as clubs and battle axes, so the thin blade of a rapier as well as the more graceful design of a female paladin was a refreshing mash-up.
I drew from the "steed" list for a coat of arms motif on the shield.

Enjoy

WOC