Freelance illustrator Dmitry Burmak talks to us about creating fantasy art for "Magic the Gathering” and "Frostgrave,” and gives us some great advice for portfolios...
3dtotal: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?
My name is Dmitry Burmak, I'm from Moscow, Russia and I've worked as a freelance illustrator for the last seven years. Usually I draw fantasy illustrations for tabletop and card games projects - mainly Magic the Gathering
, miniature war game Frostgrave
, and Japanese card game Duel Masters
, but I've worked on many other games in the past.
Misfortune Demon - Illustration for the "Duel Masters” card game
3dt: Tell us about your creations and the type of work you love to make.
What is common for me, and what I like to draw, is fantasy pictures. I love all these brutal warriors, scary monsters, characters with crazy armor, skulls and swords. It came from the childhood I believe, from the stories like Conan the Barbarian
and Lord of the Rings
, and fairy tales of course. Most of my illustrations are based on this theme - monsters and fantasy creatures, mages and warriors.
Chivalrous Chevalier - Illustration for "Magic the Gathering”
3dt: What software and plug-ins do you use in your usual workflow?
The main tool of the digital artist nowadays is, of course, Photoshop
. It's the software which I spend almost all of my time with. The only plug-in I use is MagicPicker
color wheel, really great tool to pick colors. Other than that I use SketchUp
to create simple 3D scenes for the illustrations. It helps a lot with the pictures where the perspective is important. I also have some helpful apps on my mobile devices for the poses and anatomy - Handy
and 3D anatomy for Artist
Illustration for "Magic the Gathering”
Barbarians - illustration for the Frostgrave miniatures wargame
3dt: Other than art, where to you draw inspiration from?
As I said earlier, I was a big fan of the fantasy stories in my childhood, and I still am, but I now find the real world much more inspirational than any fictional one. I love to read books about history, watch documentaries about nature and people of the world.
Alchemist - Illustration for "Frostgrave”
3dt: What piece of work are you most proud of? Why?
I believe the illustration I like the most is the one that we did in cooperation with my wife Kate for the Frostgrave
miniature game, the Alchemist (Above). There's a horrifying monster trying to break into the laboratory, while the Alchemist is desperately making some potion to repel or even kill the intruder. I really wanted to show a strong story, full of emotion and action. It was so interesting to imagine the reaction of the character and all the laboratory equipment. And working together with my wife is a great experience of course.
Gnome Token - Illustration for "Magic the Gathering”
3dt: How do you keep your portfolio up to date?
Oh, that's interesting question because you really can direct your future work on a certain way by putting certain things on your portfolio. I've found simple rule for myself - what you put on your portfolio - that's what you'll get from clients. So if you want to draw characters just post few cool looking characters online, want illustrations - post them. I'm trying to publish images I really like and similar to what I want to draw in future.
Redesign of "Bomberman” - personal project
Gnolls - Illustration for "Frostgrave”
3dt: What techniques or skills do think are essential for someone trying to become a professional artist?
The most valuable I suppose is to learn how to learn. That's not so easy. You've got to take it all seriously, set your goals, get information, really focus on studying and solving problems, put away all the distractions like videos and social networks. And be brave enough to correct mistakes, redraw things if needed. I think it's the only right way.
Broodwalker - A creature from the "Descent” tabletop game
3dt: What are your artistic ambitions?
To be better than I am now, I suppose. To be honest I don't know at the moment. For several years my dream was to draw illustrations for Magic the Gathering
, and now I'm doing it, and my only goal now is to draw them better and better. I understand now how much more I need to learn, and I'm trying to learn it.
Cover illustration for "Frostgrave”
3dt: How do you occupy yourself when you need some down time from art?
I like to walk outside, do some sports, like run or gym, but I'm not so athletic. I love to read. I didn't play video games for a very long time, since school I believe, but I bought Nintendo Switch last year, and it's like a curse; sometimes it's impossible to ignore it.
Tiszarain - Monster for "Frostgrave”
3dt: What can we expect to see from you next? Any cool projects we should look out for?
I want to focus on my illustrations for MtG
, so I think my images will be all around that. Maybe I'll start publish more sketches in future, I just can't find the best way to do it. I'd like to keep them out of my portfolio but still noticeable, I'll try my best to figure that out.
Bloodbound vs Ironjawz - Illustration for "Warhammer: Age of Sigmar”
Check out Dmitry Burmak's portfolio
See some of Dmitry's awesome videos on his YouTube page
Catch Dmitry on Livestream and see him create in real time