Gravekeepers Game-Mat

In my last post we looked at a mat from a while ago that had started a trend towards rather vibrant atmospheric effects. Today we look at the second to last mat I have completed, which takes orange to its most extreme leves thus far.

I would like to point out its not really my fault, Necrovalley was already this orange, still I cant say I didn’t enjoy colouring it 🙂

This mat was another one of those which finds itself in the birthday category, a limbo where you need information on what the target likes while maintaing ninja like stealth, luckily while the parents who asked for the mat didn’t really know, the owner of our local gaming store (check out the MFM link on the side bar for more info) is pretty good at keeping track of all his customers preferred decks, personalities and names and was able to give me pointers as to what the eventual recipent would like.
Clearly we settled on Gravekeepers, an archetype in Yugioh that has its roots in the dark depths of the games past but with more recent good cards has managed to stay a relatively high level deck for some years. My first decision was not to bother drawing the majority of the original batch of cards, while they have some stylistic similaritys with the later ones few see play and they look a bit dated. This in mind I settled on keeping the character count down to the cards that see the most play and maybe some cameo appearances if there was room.
Somehow I also had to fit Necrovalley itself, a large stone tablet, a sphinx and most challengingly a dragon into the space. It didn’t take long for me to decide I should be using the land as a background, the pyramids in the distance would be handy for scale and I could sit the sphinx next to them, a rocky outcrop on the left side was perfect for a character to sit on and I figured commandant looked moody/cool enough to prop up the other side of the image. the rest was just filling in the spaces leaving enough room for as much of the background as possible.

Then there was the dragon.

Getting the angles right took quite a bit of trial and errot and I still think he;s possibly not foreshortened enough towards the back end, but on the other hand he could have ended up squished up and I really wanted him to cover part of the sun. Ideally it would also cast a shadow into the valley but at the angle and hight he is flying the shadow should be somewhere off the bottom edge of the mat, I could have fudged it but felt there was to much chance it would look ‘wrong’ and I was saving the huh moments for other characters.
Lighting was very important to me in this image, with the sun so very clearly visible there was no real excuses for odd lighting patterns. this is also why while the cards art features quite a bit of white the characters in this image have had those areas changed to shades of yellow and orange, all the dust in that desert isn’t going to give you pure white edge to your clothes, especially when your standing in a narrow rock formation. The last thing to be done on the mat was the light rays something that could have gone horibly wrong and ruined the image but ended up making the while thing work for me, not to mention being something I just would not have been able to do when I started out on this adventure.
While most of the characters maintain their looks from the cards, even if descendant looks like he’s trying to call down a lightning bolt, I did take some liberties with spy. There was just so little to work with and I wasn’t a fan of her face so I took what strong elements there were and built the rest of the body based on the sitting pose and the style of the other characters. She might even be a he in the original art but I felt it was ambiguous enough to just go with it.
Finally we have all the easter eggs something I seem to be adding more of to mats of late, while I wont spoil them all as the whole point is to keep coming back to the image and finding new things the most obvious is the millennium puzzle the spy is holding. Others inclide a number of animals and a famous sci-fi spaceship.

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