Monday 14 October 2013

Bestiary artwork

Over the summer I created 40 spot illustrations for the Adventures Dark and Deep Bestiary, a Kickstarter project for BRW Games. This has recently become available (via RPGNow), way ahead of schedule and looking very nice indeed!

The brief for the artwork was that it had to follow an old-school D&D line art vibe, and that the images couldn't be larger than 3.5 x 2.25 inches. This in itself was an interesting challenge, as I had to keep things relatively concise and uncrowded visually. The use of greyscale wash wasn't strictly allowed, so I had to make sure that my line work was steered in certain directions. 

Creating 40 illustrations wasn't planned from the outset. BRW's Joe Bloch would send five descriptions to me and the other artists, and we would get a new batch when those were done and signed off by him. I ended up creating 40 simply because I was inspired by the subject matter. I found that some images were much easier to create than others, as I had an idea and then had that flow from pencil to pen to paper. Others took two or more attempts to get right before I was happy to send them along to Joe.

I guess I could have made my life a little easier if I'd not tried to draw each one within the prescribed dimensions, as I could later scale them down digitally. However, that would have made for a variation in line width from image to image and skinny lines in such small illustrations could end up being somewhat illegible. I wanted to try and have the line scale stay consistent. I also tried to work with a few different drawing styles within my own general one, and then tailored that to suit the old-school vibe. Skimming between the Monster Manual and Field Folio (especially Russ Nicholson's work in the case of the latter) helped me to sqaure everything in my head as I was working.

Here are some sample thumbnails:

Clockwise: Blindheim, Titanic Spider, Shambling Mound, and Cave Fisher

Clockwise: Deadly Slime, Flumpf, Jinx Midge, and Mimic

In some images, I tried to tell a bit of a story. In others, I wanted to keep things simple and just show the creature itself. All in all, it was a very interesting project to work on!

Saturday 5 October 2013

Trawling for treasure on Ebay

I'm currently in the process of moving out of London (I've been here for 20 years and I think that's enough), hence the lack of blog activity. Anyway, despite the stresses and strains that moving house involves, I've recently been able to track down and acquire various RPG-related goodies on Ebay. This is something I do every once in a while when the idea pops into my head, as there's various things I used to own and would like to own again, or couldn't find at some earlier point in time.

So, here's the result of the latest trawl:

A few of these things were new to me, such as the Tunnels & Trolls books. These are UK reprints published by Corgi in 1986, one of which is a rulebook for the game itself and the other is Fighting Fantasy/Choose Your Own Adventure-type book. It was only recently that I found out that there was a range of miniatures for Star Frontiers, and it was great to actually find one of the box sets. Here are a few pics of what's inside:

The level of detail on these is rather good, and it's particularly nice to see a Sathar miniature. Of note is a detail on the back of the box:

For some reason, the Yazirian figures have been labelled as 'Yazarian' (along with a TM) which seems an odd little mistake and one wonders why TSR trademarked this typo.

As for the rest of the above haul, TMNT and CyberSpace were always fun games to referee, although I don't think that I got as much mileage out of them as RPGs as I wanted to. As for the Palladium Book of Contemporary Weapons, this seemed to be a little rare back in the late '80s when we played TMNT. Maybe that was just because of a lack of stockists at the time, but it was nice to finally acquire a copy. It's an interesting book as far as being a system for the Palladium RPGs (as it bases potential damage of any given weapon on the calibre and type of bullet fired) and I'd like to see how this would work in-game.

One very recent acquisition was this '80s-era Citadel Miniatures Dwarf fighter:

When I was first introduced to D&D (as detailed in an earlier blog post) I was slightly obsessed with acquiring miniatures, despite the fact that I lacked the necessary cash to fund that obsession. Nevertheless, the various dwarves made by Citadel stood out for me, and so the above example was the first one I bought. I then decided to create my first D&D character based on his gear, and thus was born Mystichi Argonshire. Seeing the miniature again was a real Proustian moment - it immediately transported me back to my 13-year old self, which was a rather strange but enjoyable experience.