Behind-the-Illustration: The Dwarf King of 13th Age

The Dwarf King is lord of Forge, the dwarves’ new homeland beneath the mountains. He’d love to reclaim the dwarven Underhome lost to war against the dark elves and the creatures of the deeps. But now that the Empire is stumbling, the dwarves find themselves manning the mountain walls that shield the Empire from the orcs and monsters of the north.  –From the 13th Age icon teaser description.

Without further ado…The Dwarf King!  Digitally painted by Lee Moyer.  Below you will find my pencil drawing as well as an earlier sketch with revision notes provided by Lee.

*Somewhere between Lee’s revision sketch and my pencil rendering there was mention of Brian Blessed’s teeth.

**To the completionists who wish to stay up-to-the- minute on 13th Age, please follow this link to Pelgrane Press.  You’ll find my Behind-the-Illustration cross-posts, but there are also some additional Art Sneak Peeks.

Behind-the-Illustration of The Orc Lord

The Orc Lord is a figure of legend. The last time he walked the land the Lich King fell, in part because of the Orc Lord’s attack. Who will fall before his hordes this time? Who won’t?  –From the 13th Age icon teaser description.

The images in this post should give you a pretty clear picture of the way we developed the illustrations of the Icon characters for 13th Age.  The striking Orc Lord that you see before you, again masterfully painted by Lee Moyer, came a long way from my original thumbnail.  Once I was reminded that this wasn’t your typical “Joe Orc,” I quadrupled his body mass and covered him in the finest armor, at least the finest by orc standards.  Lee altered my sketch to improve his proportions.  It is very helpful to have someone who can see the image with fresh eyes and not only describe the revision ideas, but actually present them visually.  I stayed true to Lee’s alterations with the pencils and then he let fly with the digital paints.  Looking at the full color version I can almost smell the smoke and orc sweat lingering heavily in the air.

Email from Lee:  “SO – Interesting discussion with Rob (Heinsoo), and it’s led to THIS version of the Orc Lord.  Rob’s point is that the Orc Lord should never be mistaken for ‘just some Orc’ so the extra beefiness is great!  Basically, he LOVED the width of the figure, so I’ve added some significant width to the torso and arms.”

You’ve come a long way, Joe Orc!

The High Druid of 13th Age

Introducing the High Druid.  The teaser from the 13th Age press release states,  “A champion of the Wild, the High Druid might shake the Empire to pieces or point to a new way to live.”   Once again the evidence of Lee Moyer’s stunning painting talents are on full display.  Below are my pencils and  the early thumbnail version.  Thanks for your interest.  Check back for more developments on the art of 13th Age.  In the meantime you can read descriptions of the Icons at Pelgrane Press, vote for your favorite, and even enter a contest.

The Lich King of 13th Age

I intend to continue posting  behind-the-scenes development of the key Icons from the upcoming RPG 13th Age (at least the images that are, at present, available online).  Here’s the description of the Lich King from the 13th Age press release: ” The Lich King was a powerful wizard who ruled the land in ancient times, and has risen from the dead to reclaim it.”   Here he is in all his undead glory as reanimated by the incredible coloring talents of Lee Moyer.  As you trace his development backwards you’ll notice that my original thumbnail had him more “freshly dead” or zombie-like, if you will, but our final version of the Lich King has been dead long enough to have decayed significantly.

And now a *Bonus Image*!  Here’s a Lich as envisioned by D.A. Trampier in the Advanced D&D Monster Manual by Gary Gygax circa 1977.  And with that I’m suddenly inspired to get back to the drawing board.

13th Age Announced!

Happy Friday the 13th!  I have a relevant announcement for today.   The numerical synchronicity has me giddy, but furthermore, I’ve been keeping my mouth shut about this project for months now and I’m thrilled to be able to share the news.   I’ve been drawing character designs for a new game by two very influencial game developers, Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet.  You can read about the game here and in the press release. Both links have preview art. I’m also working with an admired colleague, Lee Moyer. Aside from designing the book, Lee is creating symbols, maps and turning my crunchy pencil drawings into refined full color paintings. Feast your eyes on the Archmage, the first character image we developed for the 13th Age. (I’ve included my pencil drawing below so you can fully appreciate how Mr. Moyer brought the image to life.)  I’m thrilled to be a part of this project and I look forward to sharing more as it progresses.

Ronin Revolver is still Kickin’

Introducing Brian the Knight, another character in the S.A. Williams’ Ronin Revolver project, currently on Kickstarter.  Learn more about the character and the story at Ronin Revolver Kickstarter.

And a glimpse at the development of this character’s design:

Ronin Revolver on Kickstarter

I’ve been working with writer S.A. Williams  designing characters for his comic book series Ronin Revolver.  Williams is currently raising funds on Kickstarter to hire an illustrator(s) to draw the stories.  I invite you to check out the site and consider making a donation to the cause.  Illustrators are often expected to draw pitches for low rates (and sometimes no rates!) and Kickstarter combats that less professional business practice by seeking an audience willing to invest in a project and provide the resources for artists to create their work.  One immediate incentive for investing in Ronin Revolver is the acquisition of a print of one of my character drawings starting at the $7 pledge and 2 prints starting at the $20 pledge price.  Here’s the character design for Ephram Tanner, the main character of Ronin Revolver. Learn more about the character and the story at Ronin Revolver Kickstarter.

*Bonus material*: Here are my early sketches of Ephram and a preliminary thumbnail (4×6″) for the finished color piece above.