Tuesday, November 21, 2023

TMNT RPG Illustration

The TMNT RPG is being Kickstarted for a reprint/remastering! To quote the campaign: "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other StrangenessThe best-selling role-playing game is back, in beautiful full color with new art by TMNT creators Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, and more!" I am thrilled that I got to be one of those 'and more's to create a new full page color piece for the book.

The Kickstarter is fully funded (and hitting stretch goals), but it ends Nov 28th, so there's still time to back it and get in on this reprinting of the TMNT RPG: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/palladiumbooks/teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-and-other-strangeness

I played the hell out this RPG in middle school and high school. D&D was banned in my house, so this was the first RPG I ever played. I loved the mutation character creation process, and my friends and I used this RPG to flesh out characters and ideas for Cats Trio

The folks over at Palladium wanted an illustration that was more than just TMNT fan-art, something that spoke to the RPG itself, random mutant animals or characters and settings from the canned adventures in the books. I had always loved these three separate illustrations by Eastman & Laird from the original book, so I opted to make them into a party patrolling some derelict space.

I redrew each character in my own way, adding gear and clothes from the RPG as well as from the original illustrations. These were done in pencil on copy paper and then assembled digitally. I found 3D reference for the opossum's gun, the porcupine's goggles (still visible in this layout), the weasel's compound bow, and the setting of a rusted out train. 

Over printouts of those models I penciled my own versions, adding my own details and scratches and dings. To help me see everything's individual forms, I did a quick color blocking before sending it off to Palladium & Paramount for approvals.

The Layout was approved to move forward on. I printed out the above layout onto copy paper and taped it to the back of a sheet of 14" x 17" Strathmore bristol so I could ink the piece on a light pad. I use a Huion A3 lightpad, which is fairly big, but this whole piece wouldn't fit on it all at once.

I used Copic Multiliner SP pens (the 0.5 & 0.7 nibs mainly) to ink the piece. I think I spent most of the time on the train, because I knew the concentration of lines to depict the rust and wear would set a darker value for the 'background' and I could then ink the characters afterwards making sure I didn't add too much texture to their forms so they could still be seeing against the train.

When the inks were finished I scanned them and started the coloring process by placing in flat base colors for every form. Some of these colors were already loosely established in the layout stage, but here I needed to start dialing in on the value ranges for everything.

I struggled with the color for the rusty train, and instead of sitting on this step for a night, I went straight in after this flats image was saved to figure out a painted color blend of grays, purples, and oranges that would make the train look less like a cardboard cutout.

For the train, I relied on several layers that I used the paintbrush tool (rather than the dodge and burn I rely on for most all of my rendering) and I painted a shadow layer (set to multiply) to help block in all those geometric shadow transitions. The characters were rendered using my normal method of a stock textured brush and the dodge and burn tools.

Below you can see the final art again, and I want to remind you to visit and consider backing the Kickstarter:  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/palladiumbooks/teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-and-other-strangeness

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