A funny thing happened on the way to the Crown of Axis arena. Wade’s request for a cover image featuring two powerful female gladiators had been executed in style by Aaron McConnell:original sketch
For a change, Aaron decided to hand-paint the piece, old school instead of digital. That turned out to create a delivery problem. At first, the paints wouldn’t dry. Well, they dried a bit, but the yellow was taking a loooooong time. Then Aaron’s scanner tech couldn’t pick up the colors he’d painted with properly. Neither could Aaron’s photos.
drying on the easel
So Aaron went over to Lee Moyer’s house, since they were working together on a different project and Lee has a Serious Scanner. And if you know Lee, you know Lee’s super-power—he had suggestions. They got the piece scanned and then worked together on the paints, turning a high-noon situation into an evening showdown. Aaron held onto the piece for another couple weeks, but he has overcome separation anxiety and is calling it done!
Crown of Axis cover by Aaron McConnell, with paints assist by Lee Moyer
I found some enticing images at 13thAge.com of the new GM Screen that I developed with Lee Moyer, along with the accompanying Resource Book that includes a couple of my new interior illustrations. I enjoy these behind-the-screens shots of the printing process. I’ve seen a fair amount of my work in print now, but have never had the opportunity to visit the printer as it comes off the press, so these snapshots are satisfying.
If you’re interested in pre-ordering you can do so HERE.
Lee Moyer reworked one of my drawings from 13 True Ways and turned it into something entirely unique for the cover of the first issue of 13th Age Monthly. Click on the image to be redirected to Pelgrane Press for subscription information. Also, for your consideration, a kickstarter for a novel set in the 13th Age universe written by Greg Stolze. Find out how to contribute to The Forgotten Monk.
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…
13 True Ways has arrived. The first expansion book for 13th Age is now available to pre-order from the Pelgrane Store. Kickstarter backers will get the PDF before Monday, and pre-order customers will get it June 30. http://www.pelgranepress.com/shop/
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.”