Michael Whelan forges a vision of Deathwing

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If you're a fan of science fiction and fantasy, the name Michael Whelan is likely familiar to you. And even if the name isn't familiar, it's incredibly likely you've picked up a book with Whelan's art on the cover. Michael Whelan has been one of the world's premier fantasy and science fiction cover artists since 1980, with covers that grace the works of Isaac Asimov, Sir Arthur C. Clarke, Anne McCaffrey and many more. In 2009, he was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in Seattle -- the first living artist to be included in a distinguished list of notable authors.

Whelan was approached for a commissioned piece by Blizzard's Art Director, Jeremy Cranford. The subject? Deathwing. This month's ImagineFX magazine includes a two-page spread of the full painting, but Whelan has also featured a behind-the-scenes glimpse showing the full process behind creating this beautiful work of art on his official website.

It's a fascinating look at what that process of creating a piece of art is actually like. There are a tremendous number of steps involved -- including, in this case, a detailed head study of Deathwing, shown above. The end result is a dramatic, bold, beautiful and very Whelan piece, but the post on Whelan's website includes all of the developmental pieces of art as well.

Head to Whelan's website for the full story behind this gorgeous piece of art and an illustration of the work it takes to go from idea to finished piece. And if you're interested in a truly unique holiday gift, the head study of Deathwing is available for purchase, too.


This article was originally published on WoW Insider.