-By Jesper Ejsing
This is a cover for a Dungeons and Dragon book. I was asked to portrait an evil undead wizard named Magroth and his golem in his laboratory. It was important that he was not rotten or too zombie like.
I submitted 2 sketches. One with Magroth holding a chopped off head, arm all bloody and raising the head up to get a better and curious look at it. Behind him, framing him is the golem still grasping the headless body. I really liked the way the wizard looked elongated in limbs and almost too thin for life.
The sketch was rejected because it was too violent.
The other sketch was much more straight forward. Magroth just looking menacing at the spectator holding a glowing skull and his staff. The golem in a much less important role as just a piece of furniture in the background.
I still wanted him to be impossibly thin and twisted in the body as if it was bend too far.
As a true professional artist I take the most care in finding the right model when I need a reference shoot. In this painting I needed a photo ref for hands and cloth, wrinkles and facial expressions. I searched the world wide web and weeks into the hunt, on sites of Model agencies, I stumbled upon the right guy. He is just the embodiment of true power, an intimidating figure of manhood. Sinister evil and godlike beauty all come together in this hunk of male flesh....”yes! It is myself”. I almost always end up posing myself. I know what the pose need and unless the figure needed is supposed to have huge breast, I do it myself ( hell I even pose for big breasted ladies myself also ).
In the end I only used the hand from the photo. But it was nice to have anyway. It was a great fun doing all the details of the stuff in the background. I think the dagger used as a bookmarker in the Tome of Magic says something about the man. I used that detail again in a later painting too.
I kept the palette simple and almost only in themes of cobalt and purple. His white hair I used as a compositional element draping the body.
There is a couple of female fairies in cages in the background: they were originally naked but, even with the private parts hiding in shadows, I was asked to cover them up somehow. I resisted the temptation to hide something personal on the bookshelf behind the undead wizard.