Daedalus’ Duel
Daedalus’ Duel

More Dungeons & Dragons! This image is related to the Norwyn render as they were both drawn from the same campaign, and it all ties into each other. Daedalus (the elf holding the hand axe) versus Sterling (the Dwarf). I had just recently written a supplement to my character’s backstory which involved a duel between the two characters mentioned above. While writing it, I had the cinematic image of the hero’s weapon in the foreground (the hero basically being completely out of frame) with the villain in the background, brandishing his weapon menacingly. I loved the idea of a battle of axes (Daedalus actually wields two small axes), and it was the only way I could justify doing the stereotype thing of giving a dwarf an axe.

Honestly, I expected this little boredom doodle to turn out like crap. I took on the drawing mainly because I needed a break from writing and from the headshot drawings I had been working on. Not to mention the story left a neat visual impression in my mind. Anyway, back to the point: why did I expect this boredom doodle to turn out like crap? One, I very seldom draw (much less integrate) foreground and background. Two, I damn near never draw perspective (correctly). Three, I suck at inventing things on the spot mid-drawing. And four, I probably wouldn’t take a second crack at developing/rendering the image. And truthfully, I didn’t care for the image until I had gotten pretty deep into the project.

It’s a good thing the sketch grew on me, because I would have abandoned the shading otherwise. Good God, did it take forever. Sterling’s armor, the background, and a few other elements needed a worn and well-used look, and I felt it would benefit from more sporadic visible line strokes. And hopefully, the rougher shading would infuse the image with some sense of spontaneity and extra energy. I did a lot of experimentation with the sketch, trying different things to get the textures I wanted (different directions, more pressure, etc). The dwarf turned out the best in that regards; the doors, the wall, the floor were more “eh.” But, keeping in mind there was no prep work for this sketch, it’s not bad for a boredom doodle.

Daedalus’ hand and his axe, by contrast, I wanted to have a smoother, less rugged, quality. And check out the blade of the hand axe! There’s a reflection of a fireplace! I’m most happy with the foreground—the contrasting patches of light and darkness on the axe, the reflection, and on his hand/cloak (and the reflection). I saved the foreground for last since they would inevitably control the flow and rhythm of the image. It was critical that the shading not get distorted too much. The background I could afford to get distorted/softened via smearing of the graphite while I work on the rest of the image. Distance has a tendency to distort and soften things. That and any artist whose done heavy shading of his renders has had at least one sketch screwed up by smeared graphite ... I’ve had many, and am slowly learning how to avoid it.

Final thoughts—done entirely with a mechanical pencil. Yes, I am that stupid. I really needed my woodless 4B here (an 8B would’ve been nicer). Looking at it after the fact, it needs to be darker; however, while putting layer after layer after layer of mechanical pencil shading down my mind said, “make it stop! It’s dark enough! Please don’t make me shade anymore!” But, minor complaints. For a drawing that I wrote off as crap before I even started, it rocks.