Monday, December 17, 2012

Painting a plate

No, I have not become a potter. As the Kickstarter for Guide to Glorantha races towards its end, it keeps raking the money onto a rather huge pile.


You can check it here:

I have been painting full page colour plates for it, very much in the style of Angus McBride's plates for the Osprey books.

Each plate depicts a culture-specific event, cultures being represented by four or five characters doing whatever they do and showing off their clothing, jewelry and tattoos.

Jeff Richard and I agreed it'd be good to show how one of these is made, step by step.

Plate n. 4 - Ralios

It all starts with Jeff sending me a brief in PDF. Like this one:

I spent one whole afternoon reading these briefs, googling images and going through my image library, looking for reference for each plate.

Examples of such reference may look like this:

I should note that I don't use these images directly, they're not traced, they're not "Photoshopped" into the painting. I simply want to be sure about how this kind of stuff looks so that I can paint it looking plausibly.
This set of reference is for the barbarian bodyguard of course.

After gathering reference I attempt to sketch a composition of the piece. It's important to decide where characters stand, kneel or do whatever they're supposed to be doing. The have to be placed to make sense in the "story" and also to be well visible. That can sometimes be a problem, but here it was quite simple. A tight group of conspirators standing in a dark alley! Very easy.

I draw and paint directly in a program called ArtRage. It produces a nice traditional look and it feels like using real paint too. (ie it's a struggle all the way through :D)
I actually drew this in two layers - one for the architecture (to keep it in perspective) and one for the characters. So if I needed to erase bits of the characters, I could do so without damaging the scene itself.

You can see I've done a bit of the character design in the sketch already. This plate didn't see many changes from sketch to paint, which is a bit unusual for me.

The scene as described in the brief sounds very dark. Dark alley, in the night, no street lights...I was a bit worried about that. I have to get light in there somehow! I suggested we give the sorcerer some kind of magical lantern and it was okayed by Jeff. I quite liked the idea of a night scene with a purplish tint to the dark city (which is pretty common in big modern cities due to air pollution. Not sure how that happened here, but hey. Artistic license, right? ;)) with a contrasting green light illuminating the characters.

You may notice the vertical and upper facing bits of buildings are coloured more towards cold grays, being "lit" by the sky, while the down facing bits are more purply. This would happen on a bright day more likely, where sunlight is bouncing off the ground upwards onto horizontal surfaces. So it's not very realistic to do this at night, but it serves as a nice compositional tool, to get some of the warm colours into shadows. That balances the use of warm hues through the image somewhat.
The bodyguard's face is also the first one I painted. I tend to start with getting faces "right", because they're the most difficult and fun to do.

I did some work on the right side of the painting and noticed the bouncing light issue. I opted for a slightly more realistic depiction and darkened the shadowed area considerably. A lot of work has been put into the stones of the building and the barbarian's costume is mostly done.

I finished the barbarian by detailing the sword, armour and adding runes to his face and arms. I decided the background could use some work, so I painted the buildings in the back. I've done some work on the noblewoman, but almost exclusively her upper half. Somehow the lower bits weren't so appealing to me in this image. I also started on the sorcerer and it was really fun and easy for some reason. The green light was a joy to use too.

This part was a mix of fun - painting the face of the priestess and less fun - painting the lower halves of the sorcerer and the noblewoman. Lots of ornaments everywhere. I also realized the lighting wasn't quite right on the left wall, so I added cast shadows and half shadows, which framed the figures better.

The last step was to paint the priestess, her frilly skirt, tattooed legs and tighten everything else that needed fixing or detailing. I decided to add ornaments to the stonework to the right, including the Harmony rune inside an Earth rune. I thought those two would be a good choice for masons wishing for their building to last. (that wasn't in the brief, just my own initiative after learning the runes by heart :D)

That's it!

My biggest fear:  The architecture. I'm not very confident about buildings, but it ended up being surprisingly alright. Darkness did help for sure though.
My favourite bits: The whole barbarian bodyguard was my favourite from the moment I got the brief. His pipe, his scratched and notched sword, the lamellar vest and (my invention for no reason) the detachable sleeve of his tunic. I also quite enjoyed designing the tall headgear of the high priestess and the mitre helmet of the sorcerer. That one especially! I really enjoy how it shows his painted forehead and how it's using his own hair to attach itself to the head. (look closely, there's a knot of dreadlocks at the top, going through the tiara)

Now what are those heavily embroidered flappy flaps going through the ring belt on the noblewoman? No idea. :) Any suggestions?

Thanks a lot for reading! I hope you'll enjoy the plates when they're all printed in the Guide. I know I will spend a lot of time gazing at them lovingly. ;P

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Dračí Doupě II - Bestiary

What an imaginative title!
I was asked to paint the cover image for the new Bestiary for Dračí Doupě 2. (an RPG I've worked on before)

A bestiary is a book full of beasts. Oh, wait! It's like the Monster Manual. There. Now you know.

The scene was supposed to depict a battle of two ancient creatures - Kostěj the Immortal and the Spideress. Kostěj is a bit like a lich, only Slavic and with his own style. He maintains an illusion of a handsome knight, but if you touch him, or break his spell some other way, you see his true rotting form. He rides a magical steed.
The Spideress is an ancient spider demi-goddess, awoken from her Cthulhu-like slumber, possessing cultists and building a lair in an abandoned underground temple.

And they fight.

You can see the front in a larger version on my DeviantArt here:

And this is what the wrap-around looks like.

As usual it's painted mainly in ArtRage, some bits were added in PS. The cave is inspired heavily by the Macocha chasm:,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.r_qf.&biw=1680&bih=961&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=36ajUKbtD8TtsgbtkoAw

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Return to Cooldahar

With the Kickstarter for Project Eternity ( almost over, I've been thinking about the previous Infinity Engine games and the wonderful nostalgia I associate with them.

And by accident, I came across this piece of concept art for Icewind Dale 1, which I believe was painted by Jason Manley.

And it hit me. I used this as reference, completely without realizing it at the moment. Icewind Dale, released in 2000, me painting a halfling druid in 2010. Ten years later, this image was firmly embedded in my brain.

It's not even a good copy! :D

Not a very deep or inspiring blog post, just something art related I noticed. Here, have some Jeremy Soule and his wonderful music for IWD!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Paladins are so OP

The motivation

I've been thinking about companies I could approach while looking for work. Paizo came up naturally - their main product, Pathfinder, seems to be very popular with players and all the good artists work for them. (gosh, what shallow reasons, right?)
And I thought they may be easier to approach than let's say Wizards of the Coast.

So a few months ago I started going through their art, trying to pick out something I could do, to show I can do their IP and do it with my own twist.

I'll admit, I've never cared that much for paladins. I never had Keldorn in my party in Baldur's Gate II, I never played one in tabletop roleplaying games. Playing a paladin felt almost as a cheat, they were great fighters who could also heal, turn undead and bless. (Yeah, clerics also, I know.)

Still, I really liked the design of Seelah by Wayne Reynolds. Seelah is one of the iconic characters in Pathfinder and I chose her for my portfolio illustration.
I liked the whole backstory with the paladin helmet, I liked her hairstyle, the fact she used a sword and shield and most of all - the confidence the artist painted in her face and posture. This paladin will smite evil and chew bubble gum. She just happens to be out of gum at the moment.

It's quite interesting to go through the Paizo blog and see all the different interpretations of this character by various artists:

The painting process

I began by doodling Seelah's angry face while gaming with friends. (note - drawing just a head and then trying to use it in the final drawing = bad idea)
Then I struggled with the pose. I wanted her to be cutting up some undead, in that Japanese style where they're already falling into pieces as she's finishing her swing.
The pose I am not too happy with. For one, an overswing this huge (that it tips you out of balance) is a no no in swordfighting. I should've probably gone for something with legs spread wide, stable, heavy and powerful looking.
But I also wanted motion and the destabilizing power of holy wrath to show through in the composition. So I went with this one. (in the end, as it often happens with my battle poses, I found out I've been ripping off Frazetta big time)

The next step was a drawing of the whole scene (in ArtRage) and a rough color study (in PS).

Mmm, yeah. Ghouls swarming behind her, ghouls being cut up into pieces in the foreground. So far so good, although in hindsight this was way too loose. (which I came to curse later)

I dove right in. You can see I rendered Seelah's face completely, while other parts of the image are almost blank. Yep, that's not a good thing to do either.

For some reason I decided to add knives to the ghouls. I don't remember why exactly, maybe I thougth the left arm was almost hitting a tangent with the cape and instead of changing that one thing, I added many other. Yeah, strange idea, not sure it worked very well. (I lost that implied circle in the composition, got a sort of a teardrop shape though. That's not too bad.)

Next step is a big jump, I didn't save the progress in between. I rendered a lot of the ghouls in both foreground and background, Seelah's armour and FINALLY decided to do something about that lazy looking cloudy background. (yay for ruins)
The armour I ground my teeth over. I adjusted the arm pieces a bit, because  I couldn't quite see how it would all hold together and move properly. The legs I couldn't do for a long time, the exposed knee is just not right (in my very humble opinion). I don't remember why I didn't put in some kind of inner knee bowl, or a piece of mail sewn to her pants, maybe to stay true to the design.
Anyway, lots of little bits and pieces of equipment to be painted on Seelah, that's for sure.

Then it was a matter of rendering more ghouls and dealing with the shiny flame path of her swing.
Right. If I planned this right, the sword would've been nearly white and the brightest point of the painting, the trail being sort of faintly visible. This way I had a very red hot iron looking sword and a blindingly bright path. What now?
Color Burn layer to the rescue! (in ArtRage! I very rarely use fancy layer modes in AR, but this time was a necessary exception.)
You may also notice there was a weird face thing under the shiny path in the previous version. I only noticed that near the end and almost by accident changed it to Seelah's tower shield. I quite like the idea she swung so hard her shield straps got torn and the shield flew from her arm. (win by accident? \o/)

Then I exported it into Photoshop, tightened up a few places, fixed values where needed, added a bit of glow, pushed contrast and hightlights. Voila! It's done and I need to not look at it for a few days. ;)

This painting hasn't taken longer than usual, but I painted it in bits and pieces when I had the time, mostly during weekends. This is a bad approach for me and it only made it more complicated. By the end I wasn't pleased with it at all and simply wanted to have it over with. I realized the many mistakes I've done and that fixing them would simply be a waste of time. So I bit my forearm and pushed through.

A good lesson it was, I have to plan better before I actually start painting. It didn't end up as horrible as I feared though. Especially the Color Burn layer at the very end made it jump from "what the hell am I doing with this?" to "Oh. I kind of meant for it to be like that in my mind.".

We'll see if it helps me get some work for Paizo!

Thanks for reading if you made it this far! :)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Oh the Banter, Lord!

If you haven't noticed by now, I adore the Mount&Blade series of games. And joy oh joy, yesterday the sequel to MnB was announced - Mount&Blade: Bannerlord

I was so happy I decided to spend a Friday evening by painting a bit of fanart. We have no idea what the setting of the game will be like, but I took it in a general mix of migration-era way, slightly Germanic/Arthurian and viking vibe. It was also a good exercise for trying to get faster and more efficient at painting.

Monday, September 24, 2012

It's alive!

It's alive and well.

What is? The Creature of course!

Recently I've had the wonderful opportunity to paint a new one for me - the Frankenstein monster!

The most generous and busy Jon Hodgson passed me this opportunity - to work with Iain Lowson on a cover image for his Dark Harvest anthology.

What if Frankenstein got it right? What if Victor Frankenstein had embraced his discoveries rather than seeking to destroy them?...
Dark Harvest: Legacy of Frankenstein is a detailed, fascinating game setting, a terrifyingly plausible alternative history and a fiction anthology; a gothic horror fantasy that will appeal to gamers and the general public alike. 
 The brief I got asked for the Creature watching a Promethean train (the flaming hand logo included and illuminating the rail tracks) from across Danube (over the Iron Gates gorge), looking grim and powerful.

Which is quite the compositional puzzle. Here's what I sent Iain along with the sketch.
The image as described in the brief gave me quite a headache. There's a compositional issue as well as a narrative one - how to show both the train and the creature (and their interaction in the story), as they're important elements, clearly at the same time?  
At first I did a more of a landscape shot and angle - behind the creature's shoulder, silhouetting him against the moonlit gorge with a rather tiny train going along in the distance. That felt a bit boring, as there wasn't much motion in the train, we couldn't see the design, Promethean logo and all that. Nor could we see the creature's face with his "grim look".

I looked at the previous covers and was intrigued by the first one - the idea to combine different shots into one image and create a collage. I've never done this as the kind of illustration I do isn't suitable for this approach. But here it seemed like it might work.

Trying to tie it even more into the existing material, I used a similar angle for the train bit as it appears in the comicbook page I have as reference. I put the creature on a rocky slope, actually climbing, or hanging off the rock. (hoping to put some latent strength and implied force in his pose)

The sketch was approved and I went from there. The Creature turned out to be a joy (!) to paint. The face (which is a part I always spend the most time on) was done in about half an hour! 
The train on the hand took a while. I haven't painted a train before, and even this one is more of an idea of a train, rather than something actually functional. Steam implying speed and movement and the train's lights also proved a bit tricky to paint.

Iain liked the final result, but felt we needed to make it more obvious the Creature isn't massive and dangling right above the train. To do that I lightened up the seams between the two parts of the image, putting more distance between them. I also added a colour shift, from a greenish moonlit side of the gorge to a colder blue one where the train is going.

Here's the final cover! (as always, painted from scratch in ArtRage Studio Pro)

Thanks for watching!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Fabulous hats and feathers

A short post today. I hope I'm allowed to show this (Jeff will let me know if not, I'm sure) - it's a page from my sketchbook, which I drew during the Splash conference last weekend.

(You can see me draw it a couple of times! :))

The sketches are of the Feathered Queen, a character I'll be painting for the upcoming "Guide to Glorantha" book. This character has been drawn and painted before, most recently by none other than Jon Hodgson:

I wanted to do my own take though. I didn't have any reference on me at the time, so there aren't that many Scythian/American Indian elements present. And the design will be different in the final painting, but I'm glad I explored the idea of fabulous feathered headgear and what shapes it could have.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Strike a free pose!

It seems July has gone by without a blog post! I apologize to ALL of you who came here last month and left disappointed. ;)

Today's post will be one of recommendation to my fellow artists.

I've never used Poser, but many artists do. Poser is a software package that  " ... comes with everything you need to create incredible digital art or 3D animation. 3D Characters, Animals, Vehicles, Props, Scenes, Cameras and Lights, all included! Poser is simple to learn, but powerful. Best of all, its fun. "

What would an illustrator use this for? Sometimes we need to reference a pose and human anatomy, but can't be bothered to go get a friend and shoot our own photo material. Some use mannequins, others will use a 3D dummy in Poser. I used to use my own rigged character, but not very often. The rig wasn't well done, there was a lot of weird stretching of skin, unnatural joint movement and so on.

Here's where today's recommendation comes in - BlenRig 4 for the Blender 3D package. The best thing about it? It's completely free!


"Blender is the free open source 3D content creation suite, available for all major operating systems under the GNU Public License."

Blender does take some getting used to, especially if you've ever used other 3D packages. The UI seems unintuitive, but the "free" part helps with getting over that. ;)


"BlenRig is an Auto Rigging & Skinning System for Blender 2.5+ series.
It features an adjustable rig which proportions can be changed  to fit existing models, or to create a new character based on a previously rigged mesh."

More importantly for artists, it's very easy to adjust the pose of the character. The default model is very good, if a bit boring muscled guy. You can get other models already rigged in this system too!
(and everything you need to know about this system is covered by video tutorials)

You can do lots just with the default guy too, you can change scale of his parts separately, or stretch and  squish them at will - so you'll get your dwarf/ogre reference as well.

Now it's not some super lifelike "muscles sliding over bones under skin" type of rig, but it deforms VERY well. Especially for quick reference of human anatomy in perspective and a particular pose you'd be hard pressed to find a better system.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Grapes of Wrath

I don't get to do personal pieces these days. I don't have the time to draw or paint everytime I think of something cool, in fact it's mostly not worth it.

But some ideas stick with me, crawling in the back of my skull. Some of them scratch their names on the wall and I can't get rid of them in any other way.

I have to paint them.

Many of these are quite silly, or strange, like this one. A painting idea is like a minibus full of stray thoughts, hopping on and off before and even during the painting itself.

Guardian of the Grapes

  • I've watched the "Somebody I Used to Know" music video by Gotye, as everyone on the planet has, only I was a bit late to the party and it was old news already. I was fascinated by Kimbra's voice and more importantly by De Backer's makeup. The pale paint leaving only his (rather fascinating as well. Those teeth!) mouth gaping open and almost obscenely red. It reminded me of how red wine dyes the mouth and lips blue or purple. 
          If you're the last person on Earth who hasn't seen the video:  
  • I've been reading books by Gregory Keyes, and most notably "Waterborn" influenced me quite a bit. I won't go into detail about the plot, you can read that on Wikipedia:
          The world full of gods and people interacting with them in a very common and regular manner appealed to            me.  
  • About a year ago I realized I actually liked red wine. So I read up on wine-making a bit, looked at photographs of vineyards.
For some reason, an image of the singer in makeup, but warped into inhuman form with dark godly eyes emerged in my mind. And so did the words - "guardian of the grapes".
And I knew who he was. A lesser guardian god, protecting a sacred grove of olive trees, among which wild grapevines grow. 
He's scary at first, hulking large, with knobbed joints and clumsy limbs. His eyes are beyond the point where large pupils are cute, they're already quite creepy and alien. He's not evil though, he doesn't hurt people. He just wants to be left alone. If only those pesky humans didn't like his grapes so much!

And that's it. I knew exactly what he was, what the situation was - a group of girls tried to pick grapes in the grove without performing an appeasing offering first. The guardian is blasting out of the bushes, vines tangled around his arms, smashing everything in sight and trying to scare them away.

I painted this in the past two months, not having time for proper painting (yay for university! :)), doing ten to twenty minutes here and there. Today I felt it was finally there. I may tweak it some more, but that's the good thing about personal pieces. It only needs my approval right now. ;)

(painted entirely in ArtRage Studio Pro as always)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

My MA thesis is finished!

No funny title today.

I'm currently trying to finish my MA Computer Graphics studies and after months of struggle, I managed to wrangle my thesis into existence.

The topic is "Digital Reconstruction of Archaeological Finds" and here's the abstract:

This thesis defines archaeological reconstruction and describes its history
and evolution. It explores the use of computers in reconstruction and lists
currently used techniques and methods. Romanian archaeology and a brief
historical summary of the ancient Dacian people are discussed with Romanian
archaeologists. The practical part presents the results of attempted reconstructions
of Dacian archaeological finds supplied by Romanian archaeologists.
Various freely available applications suitable for reconstruction were
tested and their performance compared. The thesis also suggests possible
course of further research and development of digital reconstruction.
I know, it's so DRY and boring.
You can download the whole text (with pictures too!) here:

Anyway, as part of the thesis I also did a painting.

It shows a family of Comati (or Komatai), ancient Dacian commoners. If you want to know more, check out the link above. :)

Friday, April 20, 2012

3 points on pauldrons in fantasy illustration

I'm sorry about the unimaginative title!

My armour posts seem to be among the most popular ones and I just got an idea for another one today.

Pauldrons are difficult, I won't lie. Armour in general is very hard to understand and to draw. And an illustrator usually needs to come up with acceptable yet innovative designs on a regular basis.

I won't even talk about massive Warhammer marine/Warcraft pauldrons, or pauldrons with giant spikes, those are a bit obvious and I'll leave them for an even less inspired post in the future.

There are three things I want to address. Let's look at the amazing drawing I put together five minutes ago:

(click to enlarge if you wish)

1) Single pauldrons held by body straps

This is all for the sake of coolness and asymetrical design. Single pieces of pair equipment probably were used here and there, but more because of the lack of the other piece rather than any deliberate purpose. It's also much easier to strap and set up a pair of pauldrons. As we've no doubt seen many times, these pauldrons are magically held on the body by (often really crazy) webs of straps and belts. Often they'd make it very difficult for the person to move.

Everytime I see this, I have to question the sanity of people who'd choose to wear only pauldrons and no other armour, for whatever reason. Is it ideology or bravery like with the berserks? Well then a pauldron is just as armour as any other piece.
Is he supposed to be a "light" build? Some kind of a rogue? Why on earth a pauldron then? It's not like the shoulder is the first place anyone would attack, or a bodypart one needs to protect above all others. I'd wear a cuirass, or a padded jack in that case.

To me this is the equivalent of a chainmail bikini - a dinosaur of fantasy illustration we should forget.

2) Pauldrons on hinges

I wonder who came up with the idea. Some unfortunately placed rivets on an original armour might have deceived him. Or maybe he just thought this was how it worked.

Pauldrons are not riveted to the cuirass. No.

Still, fantasy armours repeat this design over and over.
You even see it in movies (and boy oh boy, does it show how uncomfortable and awkward it is!)
 - I'm looking at you, Dungeon Siege!

also games like Dragon Age:

And man, does it NOT work when you make it into a costume!

(that poor actor had to pretend he could lift his arms comfortably)

So how were these things attached to the person? They were usually tied onto the cuirass/gorget/padded jack at the shoulder/neck. No, it doesn't flop around wildly, you can always put a strap going under the arm to hold it in place.
Putting the weight on the shoulder is a good for mass distribution and it doesn't get in the way of any movement.

3) Pauldrons wide enough to make you stuck in the door

Pauldrons are not just any massive bowls you stick on your shoulders. There are many different types and shapes, all very specifically shaped to fit the body very tightly and closely. You want to be a small target, not a huge one. You don't want it to change your balance.

I get it, wide shoulders make the silhouette seem powerful. I beg you, do it with the actual shoulders and then put pauldrons on those, don't put massively wide protruding pauldrons on narrow shoulders.

Illustrations like that remind me of American "football" players stuck in that harness of theirs. They have padded shoulders, because they want to tackle people.

There's no shortage of large "shoulder pads" in historical armours, but they're designed in a way that makes them cover a large area while remaining fairly close fitting:

I've posted mainly medieval plate armour as examples of how it "should" look. For a good reason - most fantasy is still based on our limited view and understanding of medieval Europe. Sure, it's changing, we're adding Asian and other influences. But the majority of knights, paladins and other armoured characters still wear "knight armor".

We could speak about more "primitive" shapes and designs like the tube-and-yoke armour, or the lorica segmentata. But we won't, not today. :)

I'd like to stress this is not a hate post, meant to tell all illustrators how dumb they are. Far from it!
The portrayal of fantasy armour IS getting better and better all the time.

These are just my personal pet peeves with pauldrons, that's all. Now you know how to do it LESS WRONG! ;P

A BONUS POINT! - Redundant besagues

Have you seen stuff like this before? I'm sure you have.

Those funny looking discs around the shoulders, or the armpits. Preferably painted on amazon warriors clad in mail bikini.

How? How do those make ANY sense at all? These things are called "besagues" and they're meant to protect the wearer from blows or blades slipping between the pauldrons and the cuirass - into the armpits where dem arteries are.

I only wish the artists hadn't forgotten to pain the cuirass and the pauldrons on in most cases.

As always, if you have anything to say - SAY IT in the comments! :) I want to hear it.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Candy From a Stranger

Here are the last two black and white illustrations I did for Picks and Hoes. The more I've done of these, the more I started to enjoy myself. 

And here's a cover for a book soon coming out by Moon Design - a wonderful tome about the city of Pavis.
It's been done for quite some time now. It's not at all how I meant to do it, still I'm quite content with it.

This image was a challenge - a first real piece in colour (and a cover at that) I did after a long time of doing greyscale quarter-pagers.
I had a 3D model of the city, which was of huge help to me. Thank you, awesome Glorantha fans, who make 3D models like that. ;)
It was much easier to pick an interesting point of view while keeping the architecture and layout completely accurate this way.

As soon as we started talking about it with Jeff, I knew I wanted to have the sun play a major role - the first sketches were done in normal yellow midday sunlight, but a scene of worship atop a zikkurat just begged to be happening at sunset/sunrise.

And dragon worship used to be a big thing in Pavis, apparently, so I put in dragon banners waving in the wind, hints of dragon shapes in the smoke of the scensor and the scensor itself is shaped like a dragon too.

Then it was just getting the lighting and mood right, painting all those people in the square and keeping the perspective right on the priests.

Some random guy at Dragonmeet last year told me it had "good lighting", so I see it as a success. ;P

Friday, February 24, 2012

I'm drawing again!

Hey, long time no post!

I've been stretching my drawing muscles lately. I seem to have forgotten a lot, it's always a struggle at first. When I get into it though, it's a lot of fun.

Here are 4 illustration I've done for the "Picks and Hoes" book - it's quite rare to see interior illustrations in fantasy books these days:

(there will be two more in the book, still working on those. All "ink pen" over "pencil" in ArtRage)

And this is a drawing I did for a LARP group reenacting the men of Dale from J.R.R.Tolkien's Middle Earth, for a poster I think. It felt like I was drawing this for myself though - very relaxing, no stress over reference, I just drew what I knew well and enjoyed the process very much.

("pencil" in ArtRage)


I'm quite pleased with the result. It weren't necessarily the Osprey illustrations I was thinking about while drawing it, Victor Ambrus fans will no doubt see my attempts to be as loose and effortless as he was in all his wonderful elf drawings.

Focusing on the armies of the north of ME was also interesting. I've done many drawings and paintings of the Gondorians, the Haradrim also - all southern nations. But the elves of Mirkwood, men of Dale, Beornings, the Woodsmen, those were all neglected for some reason. They don't appear in LOTR that much and somehow don't seem to fit - the inspiration, their source and origin is more obscure, yet rooted in history and mythology even more than that of the southern people.

Quite possibly it was a combination of purchasing The One Ring role playing game by Cubicle 7 (illustrated by Jon Hodgson, Tomasz Jedruszek and John Howe), reading The Hobbit again in English and also reading "Road to Middle Earth" by Tom Shippey, that made me want to illustrate these less explored parts of Tolkien's world. Less eplored in the past that is, and in the better known media. I'm sure the MERP games have done all kinds of books on the North, but it seems to me that TOR is the one game that deals with it properly at last.

The North isn't quite as boring as I once thought it was. Hopefully I'll get to draw or paint some more of these mysterious lands.  

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Totemic Creatures

"Totems of the Dead" GameMaster's Guide seems to be released, so I'm posting these pieces I did for it.
Had a lot of fun doing creatures instead of warriors for a change.