Wednesday, April 19, 2017

"What's Beneath the Well" Isometric Dungeon

I have always been interested in the wells within small villages, towns and even large towns in our favorite RPG game. There is something about the idea that we draw clean clear water from deep below the earth from aquifers and other sources of water below our feet. With this project I am launching a series of isometric dungeons that explore the varieties of dangers that lurk there as well. Not only can we expect our wells to produce life sustaining waters but perhaps they are also avenues from which the dangers of the world come from. Sort of like the troll under the bridge or the monster under the bed. 

I have released a label free, black and white isometric of this dungeon on RPGnow that is a 300 dpi TIFF image that can be printed for personal use on 11x17 paper or shrunk down to fit any size. 

In the future I will be releasing a colorized version, as well as a completely labeled and stocked version of this same isometric dungeon. 

I hope you like what you see, thanks for taking the time to look and comments are always welcome. 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Blueholme Journeymanne Edition Kickstarter

+Michael Thomas of Dreamscape Designs asked me months ago to participate in his art kickstarter for the Journeymanne rule set. I was delighted that my work load had lightened with the completion of AS&SH 2E work, and have begun producing some rough illustrations for it. 

This thing is going real strong, but it has not yet met all of the stretch goals. This whole kickstarter is for Michael to add artwork to an already finished manuscript of his game, which means that if all goals are not met, some of the artwork I have been working on will not be put into the book. What a shame. 

If you are into B/X or Holmes Basic, or really any iteration of our favorite fantasy role-playing game, then you should check this out. 

If you are unsure of the system, go to DTRPG or RPGNOW and get the "Prentice" rules. It is a PWYW so there is really no reason not to. The Prentice rules go up to level 3, the Journeymanne rules go far beyond that, including adding some additional content, and a ton of great art from other well know artists. 

Here is a sneak peak at a rough produced for Blueholme Journeymanne:

These are just the thumbnails of two of the seven that I will be producing for the book. 

Super excited to be a part of this project, but none of it will happen if goals are not met. 

Thanks again, hope you enjoyed your stay here, comments always welcome. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Beyond the Ice Fall; Raven God Games

When +Joe Salvador of Raven God Games asked me if I wanted to do some cover work I was thrilled. When I found out that I would be emulating something from Cary Nord's Conan run I was beyond words. 

Joe and I first collaborated with +Jeff Talanian and North Wind Adventures on the Hyperborea Three pack kickstarter, where Joe wrote Forgotten Fane of the Coiled Goddess, and I did the Dinosaur illustrations. So, Joe has been a big reason why I still find work in this industry. My dinosaurs for his written work has drawn a lot of my current fan base to me, and for that I am grateful to both him and Jeff.  Now to have collaborated on a side project with him, working not only on the cover, but also an interior image I feel that much more honored by him.

Joe's own artwork graces the interior of this book, and I must say I am really impressed by his artistry. 

For the cover Joe said that he would like something similar to this image by Cary Nord.
Now, I love Cary's work, and his run on dark horse Conan in my opinion was nearly as perfect as Bucema/Alcalla's run on Savage Sword back in the day. Just saying, these guys are only a notch below Frazetta in my eye. 

So, I knew exactly what Joe was looking for, but could I do it? Make it my own, and push down my fears of failing all over my self in the process?

What I created for Beyond the Ice Fall is here. 

If you dig viking adventures in frozen wastes, and all manner of good adventuring fun, check out Joe's Beyond the Ice Fall, you wont be disappointed. Click the link or search Drivethrurpg or RPGnow. 

Ill let you be the judge of how mine compares to a true master of his craft, but I like my version for what it is. It's also one of my only cover pieces so that alone makes it pretty special to me. 

The line art is all done by hand, including grey ink wash, and white gauche.  I then colored it digitally in GIMP. I must say that I need work with digital coloring, but thankfully Joe only demanded blue tones for this one. 

I like the vikings in the foreground, especially the cloakwork, and armor. As far as the lady figure goes, a specialty not mastered by me, she is a 5/10 in my book, not stunning, but not ugly either. Hopefully your tastes are different than mine and find some intrigue when looking at the cover. 

Overall I am very happy with the piece, and think that everything Joe wanted came to fruition. 

Thanks for looking, really check out Joe's book, it really is a great read, and should be a really fun adventure, comments always welcome. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Scorpiod of Xin: an AS&SH short

“You ask me of Xin, and yet you do not wish to know the nature of the aurorae, or what brought me thence to begin with. With the weaving of this tale, the one cannot be spoken of without speaking of the other. Why I know of the Xin, and how I came to know it is as much a part of this strange land, as the monks that hired me to accompany them.” I looked at my audience, a ragged group of drunkards assembled in this rat-infested hole in the heart of Khromarium, the inquiry brought to me by the shag tooth lad of the south lands. An inquisitive youth to be sure, and one who has yet to dip his sword upon flesh or bone, one barely of age to lift the frothing mug gripped in his fist, only days past suckling on the tit of his whore mother no doubt.

“Yet you know of the Scorpiods you say”, I wanted to smack the impertinence out of his mouth, but my aged restraint cooled my nerve. “You’ve seen the horrors of Xin? Well man, tells us what you have seen.” The others chuckled and tipped their earthen mugs, leaving froth on their lips, and the tips of their noses. The stink of this cellar hole I had stumbled into this night was far from the fresh smell of tundra, wind whipped by the north wind. I came to drink the night, forget the horrors of my travels beyond the north wind, and hope to cleanse my soul with the taint of man-made spirits.

I raised my own mug, the sickly thick brew slid with some effort down but warmed my guts and cooled my head.

“Aye, I know of the chitinous she devils”, I said glowering at the youth, my mug set not lightly upon the board we had called a table.

“I’ve seen them rend flesh in the swirling light of the bloated sun. I have seen their rituals, basking in the wavering lights of the Aurorae, their youth, if you can call them that clinging to them like barnacles on a ship.” The memory of my journey there sparked renewed fear, and loathing. 

The Monks paid well, and woe they sought upon the shimmering lights on the Xin, worshiping their gods as the snow caked to their robes, coated their bald pates, and froze their hides. What madness was it to go to such a place, harsh by day as in night, the sounds of crying girls upon the winds, haunting the already foreboding place.

Sure enough that the Xin might be called beautiful to those inhabitants on other spheres beyond the rim, but to the occasional passerby, not to one who trudged the crunch of the frozen earth. The most of inhospitable; hearty beasts die there in days, the imposing cold not daunted by the flames of man. My employers kept warm by the light of their gods, while the cadre of men hired for protection, myself included, froze if not moving or warming themselves by firelight. We had lost five to the cold. Three to the beasts who roam the Xin, and more.

“Your tale bores me.” His voice brings my wandering mind back to focus. I ignore him, rinsing my mouth with sludge.

“When first I laid eyes upon her, the chill breeze whipping icy rain between us, I thought she was beautiful. Dark against the ever pressing white. Her true countenance hidden from mine eyes, only a shadow of what she was. We had heard the crying girls on the wind for weeks, their haunting songs freezing our hearts before the oppressing weather could.”

“I’m not talking about these singing girls in the streets here, boy, with their baubles bare for you to gawk at, I am talking about a pure voice raised and intoned, where the sound broke men, left them wandering to their deaths in the cold. I heard it too, and if not for my will I might still be wandering the Xin, or frozen amongst the heaps we had seen.” I saw Vigol, a companion of once, nod recalling.

“She was not the singer though. She was most definitely not the one whose voice dragged men away unto to their deaths. Her song was in clicks, and shrills, made worse by the death calm around her. The men-folk if you can call them that, bowed to her commands, still and unmoving under her gaze. The glacial stone slabs that surrounded her place of worship rose around her imposingly. We had stumbled there lost to the marching rhythm, the swish of snow on our boots, and creak of frozen leather, the murmurs of our hosts slow chant.”

“I had feared we were lost, the Adept leader had no map, and followed what he called “winds of rhythm”, complete madness, and had I known before accepting this work, I would have laughed away the silver he offered. But a man must eat.”

“And drink!” This time it was Vigol, the barrel chested man of Vikland, who interupted. He quickly drained his mug, and catching a passing wench by the neck mouthed at her mouth, spat out the sharing and demanded another mug. I smiled, but briefly as she cringed and went to fetch it.

“Aye, and drink.” I raised my mug draining the last of the mud, and set it on the wood.

“What are they then?” The south-land boy asked, intrigued and his impertinence starting to wane.

“The bloody spit created when mixing beauty with horror, lad.” I wiped my beard before continuing.

“The monks were mad with holy vitriol. Somehow we had stumbled upon the Scorpion bitches sacred site. Fortunately for us, the keening, singing and wind kept our position sacred too. I saw her there, while chattering with her god, rend flesh off of several sacrifices staked within the circle. Blood and entrails pooled below, as she split them from neck to nuts. She was emotionless, calculated, taking her time with the ritual." I took a moment to let that sit with the youths. 

"This was undreamed horror, where the sacrifices came from could only be guessed at, but where they were going was sure as shit clear. Aurorus was calling for their souls boys. The shining one drank her full that night fer sure." I watched the lads eyes grow, and compute what I had told them.

 "I alone stayed behind to cover the rear of our troop as they tried to once more find these “winds of rhythm”.

“I was set upon only seconds after the last man’s visage faded into the snow and ice rain. He was a great male specimen, his black chitin flashing dully in the light of our bloated sun, and the moon phobos dull upon the horizon. If it hadn’t been for the deathly silence at that moment, I mightn't have heard him at all, I heard the click of his segmented tergites upon the stone. I dispatched him silently, and swiftly, my sword arcing and splitting his breast, and then sliding up to between the plates at his throat. He flailed a bit, but went still. My eyes searching the cromlech for signs that our fight had been noticed. It had not.”

“The horror at my feet can only be described as inhuman. His head and upper body could be one of you seated here agape. Only shell covered and hideous. His lower half, arachnid, with prominent pedipalps set below his more human limbs. I bent to the body examining it briefly.”

“Pedipalps?” Another youth asked breaking my story to the dismay of his companions,  who cast bits of fat from their meals at him.

“Claws lad, large grasping crustaceous claws that could snap bull bone”.

The wench returned with mugs for the board, and shied away from Vigol with a teasing smile. I lifted mine and choked down more of the ichor.   

“Yet you claimed you met the she devil.” The first boy posited.

“Am I still breathing and speaking boy? Is my tale finished and yer wet-nurse tucked you in?” Vigol smacked the boy in his chest driving the wind from him, while draining half his mug. A man of few words Vigol.

“So here I stood, black gore covering my blade, the half scorpion man at my feet, my companions gone chasing the monks of the winds, I had but to move my feet and follow the boot poked snow trail. Clicks and whistles drew my attention back to the ritual, for I had lost myself looking at this creature I had just relieved. When I faced again the stones and the scene below, I was set upon by this beautifully hideous creature, larger and more imposing than her man-slave whose goo coated my sword. Her body moved effortlessly on eight legs, the stinger of her tail danced above her patiently waiting for the command to drive the foot-long prong through my skull, a drip of something nasty at its tip, eager to eat my insides. I could see in her dark feminine eyes a calculating intelligence, as she looked from my dripping blade to the body at my feet. My heart pounded my ribs, straining against its commander brain, but I could not move. All I could do was hope for a speedy death. I stared at her.”

“Her rounded breasts rose and fell with her breathing and her supple form under the hide-armor undulated with a horrible elegance. Each part of her was covered with a fine cilia, soft and wavering in the wind, a harsh contrast to the stiff nature of her armor. Her face was beautiful to a man about to die, but horrible; a mass of armored barbels replaced what could have been a human mouth. Below her arms, snapped a powerful set of pincers, they clicked threateningly, the bone on bone thunk sent a shiver through me.”

“Upon her abdomen clung her offspring, small arachnid creatures, terrifying as infants. They nuzzled her armor, dug into the spaces between her plates, and caressed her as a babe is want. I was lost to the look in her stunning human-like eyes.”

“Aurorus deems these sacred grounds, to all but the sacrifices.” A man’s monotonous voice startled me out of the cold panic and fear. “Scalalia shall not drain your life here.”

A skinny man twice my age rose from around the she-devil, stark naked save for a strip of cloth across his loins, yet not frozen. His body covered in claw rent scars, in patterns not unlike the rending’s that shown in multitude upon her exoskeleton. Sigils and incantations unholy I'm sure. His eyes were yellow, and pupiless, haunting and calm. In his hands he grasped a long staff, the eight pointed star of her god topping it, and he pointed it at the direction of my companions.  

“She commands you to go. Do not look back. You have been spared by the grace of Aurorus. May you see that her grace shines like the aurorea.”

“At once she turned, a scowl upon her beautiful face, and I heard the click and keens of her language start the chant again.”

“Fast as my feet and the drifts they trod upon would let me I vacated the sanctuary. I caught up with my troop, nearly over-running them. We never returned. The few of us that made it out of the Xin swore we would never go back. No amount of silver in all of Hyperborea was worth the horror of that place. Our monks found their “rhythm in the wind” and we left them to it. Last we saw of them they cast themselves upon their knees, heads pressed to the cold earth, the swimming lights of the aurorea's cleansing them and driving us away.”

“I don’t believe a word of it! Tale-teller or liar? Women with the bodies of scorpions! Ha! Next you’ll tell me of trees that uproot themselves, or  giant grasshopper men from planets beyond the rim!”

I looked at the boy, reached into the oxen scrote sack at my waist. Stood up, adjusted my belt and dropped the one foot long solid black chitin stinger of a male Scorpiod upon the table with a thud. I didn’t wait for the surprised look in his eyes. All I heard as I left the “Cellar Ale House” was the laughter of Vigol. 

Well, that was a bit different than what I have done in the past.I hope you have enjoyed this next part  in this series of process reports. Scorpiod of Xin, was created by +Handy Haversack for the AS&SH game. Handy submitted these creatures on the Hyperborea Forums and +Jeff Talanian has included them in the 2nd edition of the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerer's of Hyperborea game. 

When Jeff first pointed me in the direction of this write up it was rather difficult to get my mind wrapped around this thing. Here we have a matriarchal society, built of these sort of man-scorpions-like centaur hybrids. I scoured the write up several times, and as it turned out Handy himself was available to answer a few questions regarding their armor, their body type etc. 

Thanks for coming here. Hope you enjoyed your stay.

Comments always welcome.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Amazon Paladin: AS&SH process report

While this illustration has been complete for some time I have not had the time to put together a proper WIP outline for the community. This illo is one for the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerer's of Hyperborea 2nd edition of the game. If you did not have the opportunity to back this in the kickstarter when it first came out then you can still pre-order it through here and here. This is a massive tome with a ton of great artwork from Val Semeiks, +Johnathan Bingham+russ nicholson+Jason Sholtis, Peter Mullen, and Logan Talanian with cartography by +MonkeyBlood Design (Glynn Seal).  

When I started on this project back in early 2016, I had no idea the latitude that +Jeff Talanian would give me with character design. He basically pointed me to the original rule books and said that he would like some variety to the classes with the available "races" of humans. To include, vikings, amazons, picts, kelts, kimerians and all of the other people beyond the north wind. It was sort of daunting to think that I would be part of such a project and that the look and feel for so many gamers would sort of be set by some of my illustrations. 

Daunting, but exciting, to be sure. 

I had this wonderful opportunity to flesh out the look and feel of character classes, that each time someone would play that class they were sure to think back to the illustration that accompanied it, much in the same way that I looked back at the Mexntzer red box (which I started with) and envisioned the awesome Elmore drawings.

When it came down to the Paladin, I knew that I wanted action, in fact the only other advise that Jeff imparted was that he liked action and he liked monsters in the class pictures, the people of hyperborea were not just sitting in for a portrait, they were caught in the wild, brutal world of Jeff's imaginaton, which was spurred by Howard, Lovecraft, Smith and many others.  These people had to be active within the world. 

That all meant that this was going to be a snapshot of a moment in that character's life, something that not only would players remember but that the character themselves would look back on and say, "wow, I'm not sure how I survived that!"

I start just about all of these class pictures with a rough drawing of the character in action. Some artists draw out the figure and armor them up, and then place them in the scene. That is not really how I work. Sometimes I do, but mostly I just throw the image in my head down on paper quickly. The basic pose of them. It will most certainly change, but I have this vision in my head of how and what they are doing, and I just get them into the pose in a rough sort of way. 

I knew from the start that I wanted an amazon paladin. When I passed the idea on to Jeff he mentioned this picture, and it was perfect. An Amazon in armor, a good start to the project, and it filled my head with what I needed to begin the initial concepts.

You can see from the image below that I start with a very small thumbnail of the overall pose. Here I have her standing with her arm in position, shield up and casting a spell of some sort. I have yet to work out which spell, what her environment is like, but I have a general idea of the flow of her pose. 

I then move to the larger sketch, I assemble her from basic shapes, boxes, cones, cylinders, etc, and get to work on the pose, defining things a bit more. I work the tilt of her face/head, and how her body curves. 

The way her pose is here, she is in motion, but she is not exactly as I want her yet, so I worked on the arm position and dropped in a sword and wallah the final pose. 

I had to figure out next what the over all scene was going to be. In the position she is in, I knew that there had to be some bad guys attacking her that would cause her to be casting a spell vs swinging at them with a sword. Undead. It had to be undead. The thought hit me over the head immediately. 

So the next thing I had to do was figure out a way to show her being overwhelmed by undead without masking her completely. Now the story really started to reveal itself in my mind. She had entered this crypt, and triggering the undead, she ran, possible split from her party, and vaulted atop a tomb. That is where the undead caught up to her, and that would be the scene we would catch up to her in as well. 

Some photo reference would spark my imagination further and so I began scouring the web for some pictures of tombs. They had to be tall, and they had to be big enough for someone to stand on. 

I came across many on the web, and used this one to get the general size of the tomb that our heroin would be perched upon.

It wasnt perfect, but it would work. All I needed was a spark of the imagination to get the idea of how big and imposing the tomb would be. It also gave me a good idea about the perspective I wanted for it. But as you see I didnt copy it exactly. 

I began sketching like mad. I placed her atop it, but once I did I realized that having her standing on the thing was going to put her too far out of reach of our undead. So I positioned her on her knees, the thought being that she was in such a hurry to get up on it, that she didnt have time to get to a standing position before they were upon her. So she was placed kneeling. It led to the desperation of the situation, and made me understand why she was not swinging her sword, instead holding her holy symbol of Artemis aloft. It was all coming together now. 

All of those hands were a challenge, I used a lot of photo ref and constantly was looking at my own hand during the process. Not all of them ended up exactly like I envisioned them, but for the most part they serve the purpose. 

Then began the inking, and fleshing out the background. 

The final product I think really portrays the harsh realities of Hyperborea. I think our heroin realizes that she should never have left her other party members. 

But after all is said and done, I'm sure that she recounts the details of this particular crypt many times over a glass of Ixian wine. 

Thanks for looking and comments always welcome. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Mavfire Games Stock Art

Happy New Year to all of you. Hope your holiday season was filled with wonder, and joy. 

I have been busy finishing up work for the AS&SH game, as well as a few other projects. I have also decided to throw some of my artwork up as stock art for any interested parties.

 In the next few weeks I will be submitting artwork that is not licensed by publishers in downloadable zip files on one book shelf sites. My goal is to make available high resolution images for indie publishers or private individuals to use for their products. 

This does a few things, it ensures that some of my back catalog gets used, rather than sitting gathering dust in the confines of my flat files, it will hopefully continue to get my name out there to other publishers so that I can grow my fan base, and at low prices they should generate a few dollars to keep my art machine rolling into the this year. 

I really appreciate all of you who have become my community over the past few years, and have given me the opportunity to not only grow as an artist, but become a fellow among the OSR gaming community at large. 

I have already submitted two separate files to one book shelf. Search for mavfire games and you should find them easily enough.

Magical Wands I
 Swords and Daggers

Some of you may recognize these first images from the pages of & Magazine, continue to support that awesome product, the gang has a great future ahead of them. 

Both of these product should be available by weeks end as one book shelf approves their release. I will update this page when that happens. 

I hope that these are just the beginning of my releases. If any of you use them please let me know and I will give your product free plugs here on my blog and elsewhere.

If these go well, then I expect to produce more of all manner of stock art in the future. There is a large back catalog, and I am dreaming up more all the time. 

Thanks again for all of your support, and I will make further announcements as more products are available.