Exalted: Crash Test Funny

Want to get your mate round and go for a nice drive down the road in the Exalted role-playing game universe? Too bad, because Volka The Exalt here’s seen your chariot coming a mile off AND IS GOING SMASH IT TO BITS WITH ONE PUNCH:

Exalted Third Edition illustration progress

So this is going to be printed on one half of a page of the Exalted Third Edition book from The Onyx Path Publishing with a column of text going down the other half. I’m guessing the text will be about how Volka here (who is definitely female, believe it or not, I was going with the brief here) is able to do this kind of thing without breaking a sweat because of her special Exalt powers.

Exalted Third Edition illustration progress

Starting off in my sketchbook, I was trying to find a way of communicating everything that was going on while still making it dynamic. A really simple side-on view of Volka at one end and the chariot at the other with the punch in the middle. We didn’t have a landscape format to fit all of this in though… And anyway, it would be boring, like the side elevation of a plan. Some foreshortening was required! It ended up being quite a lot…

Exalted Third Edition illustration progress

So here’s the rough I came up with. The chariot and its contents had to be flying apart – which was handily in the brief – to separate them in three dimensional space because it stopped them overlapping each other when it came to the foreshortening…

Exalted Third Edition illustration progress

Volka’s a great character (androgynous and she’s got a great skintone, all of this came from the brief) so it looks like I got to define her look. Whoop!

Exalted Third Edition illustration progress

The final linework that went into the finished piece, drawn with an automatic pencil on bristol board on top a lightbox (I think).I didn’t get Volka’s mouth quite right, but that got fixed later.
I’m now gonna introduce a double-up wall of work-in-progress screengrabs; the long, thin images I’ve put up so far prompted a bit too much scrolling on your part, so this should be easier. You can thank me later.

Exalted Third Edition illustration progress

First up – on the left – are the colour flats, taking the fairly precise linework and knocking it down into shapes – the individual colour choices aren’t too important at all at this stage. Ignore the darker blue blob in the sky for now. Next – on the right – I dropped the hastily-daubed colour info from the colour rough straight on to the final to serve as a kind of under-painting.

Exalted Third Edition illustration progress

Exalted Third Edition illustration progress

A couple of quick progress grabs of Volka’s face coming together.

Exalted Third Edition illustration progress

Next, I worked in some dark shades to get the modelling of the forms now present in this final piece down. Then I worked on over the top with highlights, to model further. There was some proper painting with ‘local’ colours going on a little bit too.

Exalted Third Edition illustration progress

Working over with different colours and getting towards a kind of ‘detail’ level here. Volka’s leaf-mail armour took a while, but it was probably worth it.

Exalted Third Edition illustration progress

The pink glow is Volka’s ‘Anima Banner‘ – a light show shroud that she emanates when she’s using her special powers. I was starting to work into the environment more here and soften the elements further away from the viewer in the composition to give a greater illusion of depth. And how much chariot’s just been broken up. The guys in the chariot are supposed to have a kind of Mesotopamian feel to them, which was fun. In fact, the whole flipping’ piece was loads of fun!

Exalted Third Edition illustration progress

Final textures and tweaks. It was decided that Volka’s right leg should be moved further into the composition to make her look a bit more rooted in the scene and increase the depth, so I duly did that. Initially I thought the bonkers figure work suited Exalted, but the edit probably makes the image work a bit better…

Exalted Third Edition illustration progress

You can see here how my working ratio didn’t quite match the printed image ratio. Anyway, we’re done. Here’s some detail grabs, in case you’re keen:

Exalted Third Edition illustration progress

G’wan, Volka.

Next time: Ramparts ‘n’ Revenants!

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