The Art of Doug Chaffee

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One of the most important ways we have of connecting with the BattleTech universe is with art.  A picture really does tell a thousand words when dealing with a universe as far off as the one we adore.  A key artist in bringing the universe alive was Doug Chaffee.  Over the years, he painted many pieces that adorned the covers of novels, books, as well as numerous pieces in the CCG line.

Unfortunately, late April was the two year anniversary of Doug’s passing.  It left us all poorer.  There are some wonderful stories about how nice he was to fans at conventions.   But, he left an important legacy for us.  His style and composition contributed to the gritty universe.  You can find some of Doug’s work at his studio.

Doug created over 70 of pieces of BattleTech art, plus line drawings in several books.  His family has been selling the original art of his work, and they still have some of his BattleTech paintings.  The gives the community Doug enriched an opportunity to have some of his art.  Let’s look at some of his paintings, and at the end, we’ll discuss where one can go to get pricing information and pick up some art.

All of the art we’ll be looking at is listed for sale, along with prices, on a document passed along to us by Melba Chaffee.  While many of his BattleTech pieces were picked up by others, most of these should still be available.

Let’s begin with the cover from the Tukkayid Scenario Pack:

Chaffee’s Tukkayid – Fun Scenario Pack + Great Art!

Without all of the distractions, this is a wonderful piece, full of action at every scale.  One of the largest military actions in the 31st century is depicted, as clan and ComStar face off.  It appears that the art itself is a little lighter than the cover of the book, which darkened it.  With the lighter art, the Behemoth is not as dull, and detail pops out.

He created some great cover work for books like the Technical Readout: 3058 and 3060.  But one cover we find really interesting is the Solaris VII Mappack:

‘Mech on ‘Mech Love – Chaffee Style

Here we see Yen-Lo-Wang in battle at the Solaris VII venue.  The modified Centurion is dodging and blasting away.  Without the distracting words over the top, the art pops as the scene moves to take center stage.

Now let’s move to some lesser known art.  Let’s begin with some art from the CCGs.  Due to the nature of these pieces, they are smaller – they tend to be 5.5” by 6.5”.  While he has many mech CCG art, such as the Axman, Grim Reaper, Pillager and Gladiator, let’s look at some of the other work he did, which is just as good.  Frankly, the non-mech pictures tend to really flesh out the universe well, and also tend to be cheaper to purchase.

Here is the Mobile Headquarters:

(Image bly Trol and Toad)

Support for the win! (Image by Troll and Toad)

The actual art has a bluer more alien looking sky, which the CCG appears to have darkened to make into a typical night. It’s a lovely feature of support equipment.  He has some tanks, such as Mobile Long Tom or the Chaparral.

Some interesting CCG art shows scenes of warfare as well as logistics.  Take the card Staging Ground:

Where is the fighter going? (Image by Troll and Toad)

The fighter taking off over the Rasalhague base creates a nice scene.  The odd angle of the fighter in the image shifts the focus nicely back and forth from the background.  Of his scenes though, this is one of our favorites.  This is Aerospace Fighting Mission from the CCG:

BOOOM!!!! (Image by Troll and Toad)

Sometimes the mechs don’t win!  These fighters are wreaking havoc on the battle formation below. The devastation unfurled by the fighters can really be felt looking at the card.

And of course, all of these images are in addition to many other CCG cards Chaffee illustrated.  You’ll find work of things like battle armor and VTOLs.

Finally, there is a section for the covers for several novels.  Some of these novels include Measure of a Hero, Test of Vengeance and Initiation to War.  Here is the cover from Operation Audacity, which looks particularly good in art form:

Somebody’s about to lose an arm…

Doug has graced us with a rich legacy of art that will continue to bless our community.  One last piece of art, that really gets the action and power of BattleTech is the cover to the Operation: Stiletto scenario  pack.  As the mechs are hot landing, with the dog fighting and DropShip in the sky behind them, it’s truly an amazing piece of art that demonstrates pace.  Everything is a heartbeat away from destruction.

Allons-y!

If you are interested in seeing the pieces that are still available, you can click for it here:

Doug Chaffee Art for Sale

That pdf has both a list of the art as well as sizes and price.  If you are interested in getting more information about the art as well as making purchases, just e-mail at illplus@charter.net.

Let’s celebrate the impact of a great painter on BattleTech today, and raise a glass in his memory.

P.S. – As an aside, I picked up the Axman art myself, and it looks beautiful on the wall.  It came with a certificate of authenticity and a signed artist proof copy of the card.

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About Abe Sargent

When his first attack roll with an LRM15 from that Crusader destroyed a Ryoken deep in the jungle, Abe grew hooked on the game that brought heavy metal to a smart sci-fi universe that realistically portrays humanity in the future with all of the foibles of today.

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