Dark Paladin Fusion Dance Yugioh Custom Playmat

After forays into digital and tokens its time to get back to the main theme of this blog – discussing hand drawn mats that actually exist in the real world 1. Lets get things rolling again and start things off with the
first mat of the year the Dark Paladin Fusion dance mat.

1. That first sentence makes me wonder if I should be reviewing other peoples/official mats too, maybe that wouldn’t go down to well.
Part A. Brief 2.

Dark Paladin, Buster Blader, and Dark Magician with the Paladin as the major focus beyond that I’ve got free reign. Well this will be interesting.

2. And it was.
Part B. Sketch – Move It.
There are three pieces of card art for the Dark Paladin and as you would expect they all keep things relatively similar. This wouldn’t be an issue but for such an iconic fusion you would think at least one of them might try to be a little less wooden. This being the case I decided relatively early on that whatever pose I put him in he wasn’t going to be standing straight with maybe a slight turn to one side or the other.
This decision would of course come back to cause its own issues at various stages of sketching out the design. The most prominent one of these being theres a very good reason most artists draw Dark Magician variants facing slightly to the side. The reason being because the design of their hats causes them to inherently look wrong from certain angles, its almost like parts of them exist in some sort of higher dimension you can only comprehend from the side 3.
3.The crooked bit at the top and the way the hat is meant to be tilted forward is a real pain is what I’m saying, the USA Magician’s Force first edition version who’s head is just about front on is a very good example of what happens when part of the hat disappears into hyperspace.
Eventually we get to this sketch. I’ve decided on a pose where he’s exhibiting a burst of speed out of the page while looking up at the viewer. Admittedly this has both the hat issue and the issue of the pointy bit of his front armour obscuring his chest but theres still time to work on that a bit 4. You might be able to make out the outline of a hand reaching forward I discarded this line of sketching in the end for two reasons, firstly I had done something similar before but secondary and more importantly I wasn’t happy with the way the weapon was positioned and needed the arms in a different pose.
4. You cant mess with it too much though since then the proportions start to go a bit wonky.
Part C. The Old New Ways.
I don’t do mats this way these days, Line work first that is, I moved away from this way of working as my skills expanded. Sometimes its worth going back and trying old things though and doing it this way had absolutely nothing to do with me watching someone inking on youtube.
As it happens it was probably for the best that I did decide to do it this way partly to just force myself to mix things up and partly because the background I’ve decided to do doesn’t really need many lines, if I had done the colour first I might not have ended up with such sharp characters as everything blended together or I missed an important detail hidden under a dark patch of colour.
I continue the inking by adding in the big blocks of black that represent the shadow areas. Perhaps it wasn’t just that video on youtube, maybe doing that digital design is rubbing off on the real world after all.
If you’ve read any of my other posts your probably expecting me to mention spirals 5.
Well instead today I’m going to talk about vanishing points. You see while sketching the Paladin it got to the point where the pose I wanted was looking more and more like a star shape. Getting the proportions right became easier to repeat when I drew him inside this star so when I got to the point were I added the arms as they appear in the final piece it wasn’t that surprising find several vanishing points naturally forming.
5. There may or may not be spirals in this image we cannot divulge that information at this time.
The main one here isn’t even in the image. You have to find it by drawing lines from the swords and hat up and off the page. There’s also a second vanishing point at the knee placed there to make it look like the legs are further back which also influences the way the land slopes from the top corners down but I’m unsure if I should have tightened that relationship or not.
Part D. Lava Dance.

If your going to fuse together and fly towards the front of the image theres probably going to be a good reason and in true DrgonballZ tradition in this image it’s because whatever fight you’ve been having has torn up the environment. The fact that there are pillars of lava everywhere probably means you’ve summoned meteor or used some overly powerful beam attack to shatter the planets crust but I’ve done a lot of big rocky environments lately and Fire Lake was a thing in Yugioh at the time so this is the way I ended up going.

The fact that a red background nicely contrasts the greens of the Paladin make it seem almost like I planned it that way all along.
The background goes though some flux during this stage, it takes a bit of light colouring before the look of the lava areas and little bits of rock finally solidifies in my mind 6, because originally there was going to be a bit more solid ground, especially at the front of the scene.
One slight Issue with trying to colour the image after you have done the inking is that you can overwrite the shadows and smudge the lines. It can be helpful if you need to make changes but does mean you will have to go back over them again at some point which in this case helpfully is the next section.
6. Liquid rock pun.
Part E. Push The Colour.
The final stages mainly involve pushing up the brightness gradually, making the metallic areas look more shiny, adding back any black lines or shadows I may have lost earlier, and deciding on a colour for the sky which went though a number of interesting colours before ending up that dark.
Everything’s finished off by adding some glows from the lava to the figures to tie them in to the experiment more and because anything as hot as lava is going to emit some energy as light. I also go around adding any special effects that need to be done in the secondary medium at this stage before giving the piece a good ironing and sealing it.

And then you get to make animated gif’s that show the progress through each stage.

If there’s a conclusion to be reached here its probably that its worth exploring your past sometimes, I’m not sure how detailed I would have gotten the two small figures working any other way for example 7. The next stage of course its to use this style again but to up the amount of line work across the entire mat 8.

7. Dark magician most likely wouldn’t have eyes or that expression.
8. But that can wait, next time I will be talking about Cosplay, when sounds a bit odd when I write it like that but will make more sense next time 9.

9. Hopefully. 

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