Money for the sale of the book and the accompanying art auction goes toward the Seattle Children’s Hospital! This marks the 6th year in a row that I’ve had a piece in the book (see preview of my 2020 piece above). I won’t be in the Artist Alley this year, but I will be attending at the No’madd Booth #109 in the ECCC Exhibition Hall, probably Friday-Sunday (3/13-3/15).
This digital painting is part of a ongoing project know as No’madd that I’ve been developing with writer/creator Andrew Kafoury and his team of “spiritual warriors,” to quote Alejandro Jodorowsky. Please learn more at www.nomadd.net and follow the latest news on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.
Boltstrike Pillar is a massive stone column that twists and
turns seven stories into the air. The tower has been a node of
supernatural forces for ages. It may have started as a moreor-
less natural formation, but over the centuries it has been
partially hollowed out and carved into living spaces and magical
workshops. Around the tower is a walled area with a few stone
and timber dwellings and storage structures, a well, etc. Other
features of the living space outside the wall depend on which
icon holds power. -p. 301, 13th Age Core Book
Boltstrike Pillar appears in Chapter 10, the “Blood and Lightning” adventure in the 13th Age core book. Below is the rough draft and a bonus sketch for a different adventure that Rob was toying with at the time.
I have a couple years to go before I can say I’ve been a freelance illustrator for over a decade, but I have been doing it long enough to know that receiving any kind of accolade for a project is an extremely rare occasion. So it was much to my delight to discover that 13th Age has been nominated in three different categories including Best Game in the ENnies, The Gen Con EN World RPG Awards. Cause for celebration IMHO, and especially humbled to be considered among the other nominees.
I couldn’t help waxing nostalgic about how I got involved in this project back in 2012. I had no idea how many hours and how much enthusiasm I would foster for the project between then and now. My very first illustration for 13th Age was a pencil drawing of the Archmage, if I remember correctly. You can see this Announcement Post about that piece back then. I was trying to remember which interior piece I worked on first and I don’t know if it was the absolute first, but the Clerics were definitely one of the earliest. These are the clerics as seen on page 188 of the core book: I hadn’t seen what Lee Moyer did to finish this piece until I saw it printed in the book, 2013. You can image what a treat that was for me. My memory of the piece was the pencil version that I handed over to Lee the previous year as seen here: Below is the rough sketch that I submitted to Rob Heinsoo. I hadn’t figured out how I was going to depict those spirits emanating from the male cleric’s magic item, and apparently it was compromised by the Diabolist because demonic spirits seem to be escaping rather than angelic ones! The clerics in this sketch were a bit light on armor for Rob’s taste, so I think he sent me some snapshots of tabletop miniatures for reference, but I can’t find them! It was all the way back in 2012 after all. Seems like Ages ago…
Today I’m peeling back the process of creating the illustration of the Great Bear Druid found in the upcoming 13 True Ways book. This piece almost got the cut because I think both Rob Heinsoo and myself may be a little overeager when it comes to the druid class. There may have been a concern that the druids were overtaking the book, but evidently enough balance was restored to keep this piece. This drawing came together rather quickly. Below is my sketchbook page of the druid summoning his Spirit Bear and then a smattering of ungainly goblins. The next stage was done in Photoshop. I arranged the various sketch elements into a composition and added some digital paint. Lee Moyer swung his sorcerer’s wand around and brought contrast and clarity to the image. One thing I’ve learned from working with Lee is the importance of creating a composition that can still read when reduced to the size of a postage stamp, a valuable “big picture” skill that he has keenly developed. Rob wrote about the druid class at his blog. Here’s an excerpt: “As you’ll see, the druid class is a beast. The challenge of embracing elements of traditional druidic roles (wild healer, animal shifter, elemental magician, summoner, warrior of the wild) became huge fun as I took new approaches (talents defining spell lists and abilities, carefully calibrated summoning mechanics, spell lists tied to specific terrain). It’s definitely the biggest of all the class design jobs. I hope it turns out to be as much fun to play as it was to design.”
Behold, a dwarven commander whose troops carry the flag of the Emperor! Read Rob Heinsoo’s notes on the commander at this post.
I’ll work backward on the process this time around, for some variety. Below is the original image that I sent Lee Moyer. Lee added the Emperor’s flag to the final illustration, as you can see above, not to mention greater contrast and golden light illuminating the scene. (Could that light be reflecting from a guarded treasure trove, perhaps? Or perchance they have encountered the fleeting essence of The Gold Wyrm?!)
The charcoal sketch:
And a preliminary sketchbook drawing of the Commander in repose:
The 13th Age Core Book is finally available from Pelgrane Press! Buy It Here! The book has been long anticipated by some patient folks (it was originally slated for release in December 2012), but all new to others. The game has been available as a PDF for months, but the official book release was at Gen Con this past weekend. It has been rewarding to see numerous snapshots of the cover pop up on the web posted by people who pre-ordered and received the book by mail. I’ve seen very few pictures of the book’s interior, though, so I thought I’d make use of my blog and post a few shots of what you see inside when you crack that cover. Much of the polish and beauty of the interior can be attributed to Lee Moyer who meticulously art directed the overall design, created the icon symbols and various tiles, and painted many of my illustrations. In addition, Chris Huth is responsible for the stunning page layouts. It’s a $45 dollar book, but at 320 pages and over 60 illustrations, this is a book that even the Archmage would add to his library of mystical tomes.
Here’s a Preview…
Those pictures with my hand may just seem like an opportunity to fulfill my dream to be a hand model, but I’m trying to showcase the Icon Ring that came with my comp. An outer piece rotates and allows the bearer of the ring to randomly select an icon during key moments of game play. A few of the illustrations showcase characters who in some way are representing a relationship that they have with one of the Icons. Buy the book and try to find all the connections…then it’s time to start making up your own! Game On!
News! I will be drawing Part 2 and 3 of a 3 part story adaptation of Robert E Howard’s Dark Agnes published in the Dark Horse anthology Savage Sword #6. I stopped by a comic shop yesterday and had to look in the back issues for Savage Sword #5 released in August 2012. Here’s a preview of 5 that includes a couple pages from Dark Agnes Part One drawn by Francesco Francavilla. I’ve been a fan of Francavilla’s pulpy artwork and couldn’t be happier to fill in for him on this adaptation. In addition, the adaptation is written by Periscope Studiomate Paul Tobin! Paul and I went to a Portland dive and smashed flagons of ale over each other’s morions to get in the right frame of mind for this tale. (Maybe I only imagined we did that, because in actuality the book was late to press and I started working on the pages immediately after I got the script. It’s all a blur whether the ale is to blame or not.) I’ve been approved to post preliminary drawings for the story here on my blog, so I’ll get that rolling with a character sketch of Agnes in the forest!
More News!! The Gettysburg Address: A Graphic Adaptation will be released next week! Here’s a link to the listing on the HarperCollins website. There are already some favorable reviews that will become public very soon, but in the meantime may I remind you of the excellent website with videos, annotations and more available at graphicgettysburg.com Below is another process image from the book: Inks to final colors. But I don’t have my comps yet, and if you pre-ordered a book there’s a possibility you’ll get your copy before I do…(I’m making this up, just tryin’ to keep things exciting here at aamcconnell.com…truthfully I know nothing about the distribution process.)
And speaking of printing, I’ve been enjoying these delightful teaser images of 13th Age going to print courtesy of Pelgrane Press. One day I’d like to actually visit a print shop when one of my books is being printed, but I have a feeling printing people like to keep illustrators removed from that process to avoid any unreasonable demands or unnecessary interruptions. These pics, though, are giving me an appreciation of the process from afar. Also, there’s a new review of 13th Age at RPG.net. Spoiler…they like it.
And finally, here’s an illustration I did for a start up gaming company Unrestrained Games. “Orc of the Spires” (aka “Lord of the Flies” since orcs are basically teenage hulks). Thanks for following my blog!
Rob Heinsoo keeps releasing thumbnails for drawings I have yet to finish for 13 True Ways. Makes me nervous, but since it’s already adrift on the internet waves I’m owning it here. Read more about the Murder Pixies at Rob’s blog.