My approach to A MEMORY OF LIGHT was dictated by unfamiliarity with the series. Not having read The Wheel of Time books, I focused on the scene provided and the characters therein while also keeping in mind that this book was the culmination of many years of reading for devoted fans.
It seemed best to start with the focus of the painting: Rand himself.
My initial sketches explored the pose he might adopt as he entered the dark confines of the cave. I attached light sticks to a wooden bokken and descended a flight of stairs with the lights off, trying to get a feel for how he would be holding the sword to light his way into darkness. (Since early in my career, I’ve found a kinesthetic sense of the figure’s pose is helpful before attempting to recreate it in it’s variations.)
The general concept for this work was spelled out to me by my art director and contact at Blizzard, Jeremy Cranford. We had met the previous Fall at IlluxCon, and despite being in an annoying loud bar lounge we were able to outline the basic assignment and agree to move it forward.
Before starting, the smart thing to do would have been to examine the actual game to become familiar with the feel of it, but instead I just jumped into exploring dramatic dragon poses and having fun with that. Being told from the onset that the image would depict a raging dragon emerging from a giant ocean maelstrom, I felt I had enough to go on.