Repost from Pelgrane Press Announcements

The following is a repost from Pelgrane Press Announcements as described by my art director Rob Heinsoo:

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:13Age_CrownofAxis_MockUP_Aoriginal 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.

EaselView-scaleddrying 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!

13Age_CrownofAxis_NightPainted_A-scaledCrown of Axis cover by Aaron McConnell, with paints assist by Lee Moyer

13th Age Monthly and More

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. DragonRider2 copyAlso, 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.

13th Age Nominated!

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2014 ENnie Awards Nominees

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: 13th_Age_page-188 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: Clerics_Pencils_A 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!Clerics_Sketch_A 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…Incoming!

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/

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Great Bear Druid

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.
GreatBearDruid_ScanA GreatBearDruid_ThumbAGreatBearDruidRob 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.”

13 True Ways Commander

Behold, a dwarven commander whose troops carry the flag of the Emperor!  Read Rob Heinsoo’s notes on the commander at this post.BattleCaptDwarf

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?!)BattleCaptDwarf_ThumbA

The charcoal sketch:BattleCaptDwarf_Pencils

And a preliminary sketchbook drawing of the Commander in repose:BattleCaptDwarf_Sketch

13 True Ways Necromancer

It’s a process post for 13 True Ways!  I had fun doing these posts for some of the 13th Age core book art about 2 years ago that I called “Behind-the-Illustration”.  The first image below is a preliminary pencil sketch in blue and red col-erase pencils.  You can see a little thumbnail scribble in blue, top left:  NecromancerDead_PencilSketchI added some color and Lich King symbols fused with Archmage emerging from the volcanic rock below her feet before turning it over to Lee Moyer: NecromancerDead_ThumbAAnd Lee gave the image an ethereal quality as if the adventurers witnessing the scene can’t be sure if their eyes are playing tricks on them or not: NecromancerDead3  Rob Heinsoo wrote a fun mechanic for the necromancer that you can read here.

Also, I’d like to invite anyone interested in 13th Age to consider contributing something to the first issue of a 13th Age Fanzine called ICON that is currently accepting submissions (deadline for the May issue is April 24th).  Click the banner below for details: blog-header-icon