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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Fantasy Character Workshop #004

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 #004 
"Gladiator of the Frost Dragon"

Race: Half-Elf
Gender: Male
Class: Gladiator
Armor: Chainmail
Weapon: Rapier(Frost)/Mace
Missile:  Blowgun
Motiff: Dragon
Equipment: Rope, Coffer, Award, Flute

This was a direct study of the generated character.  Sometimes you need to keep it simple and tell the story using the details you're given.  In this case, with a dragon motif and a frostbrand rapier I thought of a large frost dragon skull helmet, but then I realized, that would hide his racial identity.  So I went in the opposite direction and shaved him bald and painted a white dragon on his face.  much scarier.  Fighting two handed would make him quick so the chainmail became a gladiatorial tunic that would allow for free movement.  The award for his victories is attached to his shoulder.

Note: This sketch was a test for my brand new Wacom tablet.  Taking some time to get all the new buttons and preferences just the way I like them.  Usually, I turn off about half of the functions.

Enjoy

WOC








Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Fantasy Character Workshop #003

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 #003

Race: Human
Gender: Female
Class:Wizard
Armor:None
Weapon: Flail
Magic: Acid
Familiar: Owl
Missile:  Crossbow
Motiff: Lightning
Equipment: Rug, Spork, Bottle, Coffer

This character design was a fun challenge.  Initially focused on the flail and the owl, I finally realized that the off-hand addition of the rug, would make for an exciting addition for a wizard as an enchanted flying carpet.  Balancing on a flying carpet gave the figure a twisting, surfing effect, while the cape and the addition of a scarf added movement and speed to the design.  The lightning motif was incorporated into the carpet, the cape and the spell casting.

Enjoy

WOC


















all text and images are ©William O'Connor Studios

Friday, November 18, 2016

Fantasy Character Workshop #002

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 #002

Race: Dragonoid
Class: Fighter
Gender: M
Armor: Scalemail
Handedness: Single Weapon/Shield
Weapons: mace/shield
Missile: crossbow
Equipment: bracelet, sewing kit, food, paintbrush
Motiff: feathers

A fun challenge to do a dragon-man!  I like these guys because I love dragons, and I helped design the Dragonborn race in D&D 4th edition.  Usually depicted as brutish characters I kept with this steryotype making his costume seem cobbled together out of pieces and bits.  The scale armor helps  enhance the dragon aesthetic, but that was sheer luck of the generator.  I made the shield have a sharp, spiked silhouette that also should help enforce the dragon-esque look.  The details of the small sewing kit with scissors and the paintbrush on his belt are just fun- maybe he's an artist!, while the feather motif lent to a tribal necklace of feathers and bird skull.  All in all, an useful character that can bash skulls and mend socks.

Enjoy.

WOC















Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Fantasy Character Workshop #001

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


______________________________________________________________

Fantasy Character Workshop #001

Race: Human
Class: Fighter
Gender: M
Armor: Ringmail
Handedness: Dual Handed
Weapons: Rapier/ Sickle
Missile: Sling
Equipment: Reliquary, Spurs, Compass, Torch
Motiff: Wolf

As a two handed weapon wielding character, and wearing ringmail, the design of this character needs to be fairly fleet looking.  Flowing hair and cloak will help in this aesthetic.  While a slick design might be a good first thought the inclusion of the wolf motif, the sickle and the compass details made me think that this character would be more ranger-like.  The sling was tucked into his belt, the compass strapped to his wrist and the spurs, brought this Mongul-esque character into focus.



































Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Joan of Arc: Part 4 Finish






The Maid of Orleans
2016
24"x48"
oil on wood panel


The completion of my painting Joan of Arc was delayed by a series of personal misfortunes.  I broke my foot this past spring and was confined to crutches for two months, followed by a case of pneumonia which landed me in the hospital for a week.  After what seemed an intolerable convalescence I was finally able to get back to work on the painting in June.  The first week in August I had completed the painting and was able to bring it to Gen Con in Indianapolis where it received glowing reviews from friends and fans.  At the end of August the painting was displayed again at The Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington where it had acquired a distinctive frame. 
This month I was finally able to get the painting professionally photographed in order to document and share the painting to its best effect.

The final details of this painting were possibly the most important and rewarding stage of the work.  Compositionally designed to be graphic, the finishing details are what brought the piece to life.  Each form of the image was individually detailed with painstaking brushwork to create a patchwork quilt of textiles, metal, leather, chainmail and gold brocade.  In this respect the painting achieved the Gothic impression that I was striving for, stitched together like a tapestry.

I hope you enjoy the details work as much as I enjoyed working on them.  During the week of October 20-23, 2016 I will be attending Illuxcon in Reading, PA.  I hope you get the chance to come see the work I in person.

Enjoy

WOC



 

 Maid of Orleans- Detail






Sunday, February 28, 2016

Joan of Arc: Part 3 Color

William O'Connor



As promised I am still working on my very large St. Joan painting when I find the time.  Above is the most recent phase up to this date in the process.

This phase is my underpainting stage.  Below you can see the process of laying on the paint.  I begin with a tonal painting of acrylic.  I chose acrylic because of the sheer square footage of surface and the drying time and fumes that would be created by this stage in oil.  Once I am satisfied with the forms I're created of positive and negative shapes I can begin separating some of the objects into colors. At this point I switch into oil.  The difficulty is to know when to switch, because once you start with oil you can't go back to acrylic.  This process is fairly quick, scrubbing in shapes and forms of color.  I'm not concerned about detail.  This is still the same technique that I was taught as a student.  My teacher used the analogy of a sculptor and a block of stone.  Work the whole painting at the same time, bring it into focus slowly. That old adage of the sculpture being locked inside the marble and its up to the sculptor to remove the unnecessary parts.  This is more additive than marble carving, but the theory is the same.  I can picture what it will look like, I just have to put all the brush strokes in the right places in the right order.

Enjoy

WOC





































Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review


by William O'Connor



!!Spoilers!!

I hardly ever review movies because although I have a lot of opinions and consider myself an ardent cinephile, I am not a film critic.  Star Wars: The Force Awakens is an exception for several reasons. One.  The mythology is so ingrained in my imagination that I feel extremely invested in the story.  Two.  I work in the Sci-Fi industry and have worked extensively on Star Wars projects for Lucas Films and its license holders in the past.   There are three ways to review this movie.  First as a movie, secondly as a Star Wars movie, and thirdly as act one in a three act play.

First as a movie.  There are always three criteria I use to measure a film. Writing, Acting and Cinematography.  Objectively, the writing of the screenplay (by JJ. Abrams and Kasdan) was darker and grittier for Force Awakens.  Immediately Mr. Abrams establishes the tone that this movie is a human drama, with the death of a stormtrooper that bleeds and dies.  This is not a video game of nameless, lifeless CGI droids being cut down, but real people with real emotions. The dialogue and action was very dense and the scenes and characters raced along at a frenetic pace, which may require me to watch it a second time just to catch things I missed. This aesthetic is quite common among contemporary super hero movies and particularly Mr. Abrams' films, which I find a little disorienting, but forces your attention.  There were a few scenes, such as the monster hallway chase scene aboard Han Solo's Freighter, that had hallmarks of Cabin in the Woods and Aliens, that just seemed silly and unnecessary. Abrams has the Post-Modern habit of inserting pop and historical cultural references into his films much like Quinten Tarrentino, both as homage and as a self deprecating awareness.  "I know, that you know that I know that I'm borrowing this idea." he seems to be saying.  Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Sirkis) was obviously inspired by The Wizard of Oz,  the Temple of Maz Katana looked like the bath house from Miyazaki's Spirited Away,  the Starkiller base carved out of a planet's interior had the reminder of many a Bond Villain lair, the shot of the tie fighters coming out of the sun was a direct homage to Apocalypse Now,  Han Solo being run through by his own son was a tribute to King Arthur and Rey being stranded on a craggy island with her father* is a lift from Shakespeare's The Tempest. (even my 9 year old daughter caught that one). There's more, but I'd have to watch it again to catch them all.  It was obvious that Abrams' key as writer and director was to make Force Awakens seem as familiar as possible.

Although the plot arc heavily mirrored the original 1977 New Hope, the script pays homage to Episode IV while giving the story a fresh face, staying within the strict Campbellian Monomyth guidelines of Hero's Calling,  Spirit Guide, Finding the Magic Sword and Departure on the Quest.  The added sense of humor that was thrown in was a much welcome change from the earnest drudgery of the prequels.

Secondly, the acting.  The standout performance was by Daisy Ridley as Rey.  Beautiful without being too pretty, youthful without being girlish, strong without loosing her femininity, intense and funny, she, without a doubt, was the keystone to this film and held it up admirably on her young shoulders. The other performances were fine.  John Boyega as Finn was funny as the born again storm trooper turned resistance fighter (inspired by Robot Chicken's Gary the Stormtrooper?), as well as Oscar Isaac as Po Dameron the brash and cocky fighter pilot.  Adam Driver playing the emotionally tortured Kylo Ren was excellent, adding a deep sense of gravitas to the role.  Performances by Harrison Ford and Carrie Fischer were fairly lifeless and forgettable.  Fisher in particular, whose extreme plastic surgery seemed to make it impossible to perform facial expressions or move her lips was more robotic than the droids.

Thirdly, the Cinematography.  By this I mean all the art production including editing, costumes, makeup, special effects and music as well as camera work.  This film looked a great deal different than previous Star Wars films.  The first difference I noticed was, no screen wipes, which for me is a hallmark of the Star Wars aesthetic, but thankfully no lens flares either.  The set designs were more natural than earlier productions as well.  Where in all the other films the characters go to exotic locations  in Force Awakens the environments were fairly recognizable.  A desert in Tunisia with sweeping pans of Lawrence of Arabia, A forest in Montana, A glacier in Iceland, and even a World Heritage ruins in Ireland.  All the locations were recognizable as places on Earth, not a Galaxy Far, Far Away, unlike Pandora of Avatar for example.  This again harkens back to Abrams' apparent desire to ground the movie in the familiar.  This added a much needed shot of realism compared to the CGI video game environments of the prequels, but didn't make the galaxy seem particularly diverse or alien.  Costumes and makeup were excellent, as well as the design of ships and hardware.  Everything was in keeping with the Star Wars classic aesthetic so that the viewer could easily follow good guys and bad guys, again the formula of the familiar.  The only artistic misstep was in the places where CGI was used too heavily.  Supreme Leader Snoke looked like a cross between Gollum and Voldemort, Maz Katana looked like a smurf  and the CGI roly-poly D&D Beholders on the space freighter were glaring CGI inserts that didn't seem necessary and broke the realism of the rest of the film.  The spiraling camera angles of the dogfights were hugely enjoyable having everyone in the audience sway and squeal as if on a roller coaster. Finally, the impressive score by Williams was much enjoyed and added to the familiar and beloved flavor of Star Wars.

Overall Score: B
Overall ranking as a Star Wars Movie: 4th, (1:Empire; 2:New Hope 3:Jedi)


Predictions for Acts Two and Three

As with all Campbellian myths, this story needs to have a predictable arc in the future.  Student trains with the master, learns new skills and wisdom, descends into the dark other-world, does battle with the dragon using the magic sword, sacrifice of flesh, death and resurrection and or redemption followed by the return of the hero.   How those details play themselves out will be the interesting part.  That doesn't bother me.  That's how hero stories progress.  Just as my knowing that Macbeth and Hamlet will die in the end doesn't stop my enjoyment of watching the tragedies over and over.  This is just Act one of a Three Act play.


Enjoy!

WOC