Flickr Images

Lava Giant

This image was created for Wizards of the Coast collector gaming cards. The assignment was to create castle guards killing a giant lava creature. Even in death, the creature can be very dangerous as its blood is made of molten lava.

The first problem I encountered in having a group of smaller castle guards lancing a giant creature is the sympathy factor. The original design for the lava creature made the creature look sort of like a slow, dim-witted creature. That's fine for a stand alone design, but in my preliminary sketches for this illustration it appeared as though this dim creature was being picked on by the guards. So, I altered the original design of the creature, and sketched up several compositional variations that made the creature look menacing, quick and imposing ... like he's just about to take out a few guys on his way out. Jeremy Cranford, one of the art directors, agreed with the changes and allowed me to complete this image.

This was one of the first digital paintings I did, and "The Great Paul Lasaine" was kind enough to show me some Photoshop tools that would create a glowing lava effect. Thanks Paul!

I'll be posting some of the other images I've done for Wizards of the Coast, and perhaps a little bit of the thinking that went along with the assignment.



Mark McDonnell said...

Beautiful work. Nice control of lighting and tone within color. You should teach a layout/vis. dev. class (he says smiling.)

I'm in!


Marcelo Vignali said...

Thanks Mark!


Patrick said...

Fantastic stuff! Very very inspiring for sure! Wow, I wish I would have gotten word about your figure drawing class while you were in Utah.. Where did you live when you were there? I am in Pleasant Grove myself, Utah is a tough place to make a living as an illustrator for sure! Keep up the amazing work!!!

David Colman said...

great image Moe!!! I love the reflected light and subtle variations in the shadows ...really helps the depth and push that lava creature into the bg

glad you finally got a blog

Marcelo Vignali said...


Thanks for the compliments. I lived in St. George and taught at Dixie. They have a really talented art instructor there named Del Parson. If you want to take some painting classes, you can't miss with this guy.


Marcelo Vignali said...


Thanks again for you kind words. Yeah, I wanted to make the heat a big part of the illustration, and not have the detail compete with the foreground elements. It's easier when you work big, but Wizards reduces these images down to a couple inches, it has to have a clear and immediate read. So, I try to use ever trick I know to keep the images clear and yet not too simplistic.

If I can keep my details well organized in layers, then I can get away with painting semi-complicated images that will translate well when reduced.