Jade Redux

I’ve been mulling over a forum thread for a few days, wondering if it was proper to post a reply. A smart person told me to cool off and another one told me to post in my Livejournal instead. Posting in the forum creates the type of situation that seems lose-lose. Either people feel like they’ve got a clear target for slinging mud or I come off like a jerk. Like I’ve said before, pros are supposed to take their lumps with a smile or never communicate online at all. Anything else makes them ungrateful or jackasses apparently.

On the other hand, I loathe reading this stuff without commenting and leaving people with the idea that I don’t care. That’s really the point of this post, when it all comes down to it. I really love Exalted and White Wolf. Love the games and the people that work there. When I came on board Udon and was asked to work with Brian on Exalted, I was ecstatic because it gave me a chance to be involved with a company whose products I’ve enjoyed a lot while I was growing up.

The studio produces a lot of artwork for a host of clients day in and day out. I’d be lying if I said that every single piece we did was jaw-dropping amazing. Things happen in this business behind the scenes that fans have no idea about: deadlines get crunched, descriptions get changed, artists get sick and schedules get muddy.

There have been times when Udon has stepped in to do work under the gun in order to make sure clients hit their print deadline. These weren’t pieces we were originally assigned, but we’ve stepped up to complete them because we were asked, it needed to get done and they trust that we can deliver what we say we will. Even the Exalted: Fair Folk cover was done under a crazy deadline because the artist that Brian had intended to have on board was unable to sign on. Even under that kind of pressure I think we delivered one of our best covers ever.

The original artists who screwed their deadlines to the wall are left untouched as far as the fans are concerned and we get kicked a bit because it’s not considered up to snuff. It’s a weird mix of pride and annoyance that comes with something like that. I’m proud that we can be the “go-to” guys when stuff hits the fan. The fans are 95% of the time amazing, but occasionally sling shit without knowing what’s actually going on.

I’m not saying that every artist other than the Udon crew screws up deadlines or that every piece has been done at breakneck speed. I think every artist could look at their work and see some pieces that aren’t as strong as they’d like them to be.

Below are two versions of line art. The left one was done over a year ago. The right one is the redone version that will actually be used in the card game. I redid it even though the first one was approved because I wanted to make sure that I was proud of the final version. That’s worth my time and effort.

We started the Exalted card game artwork when the original playtest began and I wanted to take care of the Harmonious Jade pic because of my nerdy excitement for the project and the line. I don’t think the old one’s a terrible piece, but I also knew that my artwork has improved a lot since then and the new one reflects the Exalted style much better. I told Brian a few months ago I was going to redo it and I wish I’d done it up again before they’d reposted that pic on the official site.

I used to wonder why I knew so many artists who hated their old artwork no matter how good it was… I understand it now more than ever. The person evolves but the old artwork hangs around. You have to accept that, look for ways to improve and get back to the ol’ drawing board.



The past few weeks feel like an improvement, artwise. I can’t wait until my new pieces are finally in print.

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