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Friday, 13 January 2017

Iron Colossus

The forbidden palace-city of the Dread King Irek is an alluring quarry for treasure-hunters. Abruptly and mysteriously abandoned by both its master and its thousands of apparent denizens for hundreds of years, its halls remain a trove of wealth, technology and magical artifacts that few thieves could resist. As many have discovered, however, the city is not unattended.

It is assumed that the six building-sized iron golems, known affectionately as the Daughters of Irek, act as caretakers of the Dread King's earthly remnants in his absence. Nobody can be sure, of course, for they do not speak. The slow, relentless beat of their unimaginably heavy paces can be heard for miles around as they patrol the great streets, tricking some into thinking that they are docile, or even mindless. Despite appearing to lack any great sensory faculties, however, the moment any intruder crosses the threshold of the great city, the Daughters wordlessly break from their patrol and converge on the offending creature. Seeming to simply "sense" its presence, they continue to pursue it until they have the opportunity to destroy it, which they do invariably and without hesitation. Only once the intruder has been slain do they ponderously return once more to their mysterious pattern.

Happy 2017! Insert my usual platitudes about not posting enough here, etc etc. Here's an Iron Colossus! Predictably, all the Colossi listed in the Epic Level Handbook are of the colossal size category which is essentially the largest meaningful size category that is statted within the D&D system (everything larger is simply lumped under "colossal plus"), so they are some truly big boys. I probably should have put some stuff in there to show scale (a la my oversized Cadaver Collector from a couple of years ago) but honestly I just kind of went in guns blazing on this one and didn't think about it too much. I guess the stomps kind of suggest a very large size? I don't know. It's always a struggle for me to work out the amount of detail/effort/attention to put into large drawings (which I know sounds weirdly lazy - of course I should put effort into everything I do), but I find it very easy to overthink things, so sometimes I have to try and work against that and just do something that's a bit more relaxed. I'm mostly saying this to justify to myself why this drawing looks a bit crude compared to the Cadaver Collector despite that drawing being two years old. But it's ok.

One of the reasons I was trying to stay quite relaxed about this drawing was because I made a time-lapse video of me making it! This is something I've wanted to do for quite a while (people often ask me about my process and I'm wayy too shy an artist to livestream myself drawing or whatever so this seemed like the next best thing). I usually do a few more design ideas at the beginning and there are usually a lot of false starts - sometimes i'll literally get halfway through cleaning up an illustration and then abruptly decide I hate it and start again - with this one I tried to just start drawing and keep going until I got done. I'll definitely try and do this again in future - if only because I really enjoyed picking the music (which, if you're interested, is from Undertale).


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Sunday, 8 January 2017

Ice Golem


The ice golem! Terrifying frozen construct of the cold wastes, servant of sorcerers of frost! These towering guardians wander the snowy surroundings of their masters' domains and can swiftly glide across or climb any icy surface. The power to animate this creature is held in the runes that have been carved into its body. For offensive capabilities, the golem is capable of shooting great shards of ice from its body, tearing surrounding intruders to shreds. Yowza!

Of course the ice golem can also be created by the wishes of children. Not quite as powerful or big as something made by a wizard or druid, and prone to free will, but still pretty impressive.

A somewhat belated Christmas / New Year's image for the blog. But it's still winter and the twelve days of Christmas are barely over so... eh?

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Sunday, 11 December 2016

Chain Golem


Chain golems are one of those golems found almost exclusively in Hell under the command of kytons -- devils which already have a morbid fascination with hooks and chains. If one is ever seen on the Martial Plane, it means that someone somewhere is about to have a very very bad day. The primary weapon of the chain golem is, of course, the chains, which come with all sorts of pointy things attached. When threatened, the chains whirl around it, creating an almost a protective wall where any incoming object or person will likely get sliced to pieces. Though neutral like all other golems, they are inherently servants of kytons and if its kyton master dies, it comes under the command of the nearest kyton or other kyton its previous master mentioned.

I should probably draw a kyton.

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Sunday, 20 November 2016

Sister Nina, Haunted Nun


Sister Nina leads primarily a solitary life at a church. Ever since she was young, she's been a spiritual nexus, something that the spirits of the dead are attracted to. Sister Nina can't see them, but she can hear them, and it's worse when she sleeps. Sometimes she hears the voices of angels or demons, but mostly it's the unhappy dead. Living on hallowed ground helps, but not by that much. To counter the effects of her curse, Sister Nina was taught two of the Seven Bells of Pharasma: the Bell of Disruption and the Bell of Compulsion, to dismiss and control spirits. Her skills have caught the eye of The Order of the Broken Bell (coincidence?), an organization that deals in putting down hauntings, curses and monster infestations, who use her on a freelance basis. Sister Nina is a meek soul and is generally no good in the situations that require force of personality or combat, but that's what Katya, Bogdan and Dr Henkelberger are good for.

Nina's the character I'm playing in Ben's latest campaign. It takes place in the same world as the campaign where I played Renata in. That particular campaign was played using the Pathfinder system, but for this campaign we're experimenting with Fate, which is a good deal more streamlined. I'm always interested in trying new systems, though I always found it a bit odd looking through the Fate book because where are the pages and pages of lists I need those lists. It's a system where your character is defined by a group of simple sentences which are quite open to interpretation. I like it in some ways, how much faster and looser it is than the other RPGs I've made and how it doesn't punish failure -- and that failure can be a reward sometimes. The looseness can be problematic sometimes though, since in more rule-heavy systems it's easier to look up what you can and can't do.

Nina ended up being a little like the kid from The Sixth Sense if he could use the bells from Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series. If we'd been playing Pathfinder she probably would've been an Oracle, or maybe a Spiritualist from the Occult Adventures rulebook.

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Sunday, 13 November 2016

Wereshark


The curse of the wereshark is most often seen in coastal or island nations. The shark form of this curse means that the afflicted has so keep close eye on the lunar cycle, since transforming away from water leaves the shark in a helpless, painful situation. In water, of course, the wereshark is deadlyand difficult to outswim.

Like the werecrocodile, this is another creature that makes you scoff because it seems like a silly idea. But like the werecrocodile, it has a basis in myth and man's fear of his area's apex predators. The Hawaiian legend of Nanaue tells of a man born to Kalei and Kamohoalii, human woman and shark king. Before Nanaue was born, the shark god told the Kalei to never let the child eat meat. But as a coming of age rite, the men of Kalei's village took him away and gave him meat, not knowing what his mother knew. That sparked a hunger for human flesh in Nanaue and at night he would turn into a shark and hunt for human victims. Nanaue was forced to flee and make a new home several times, but the local villagers would always chase away the vicious man-eating shark.

Also Nanaue had a big ol' shark mouth on his back even when in human form.

Sorry about the several months of silence between posts! I just got really burnt out on work and hadn't been happy with my attempts to design interesting new D&D creatures. I hope this wereshark is a sign of inspiration returning.


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Sunday, 8 May 2016

Orglash



Most elementals come from other planes, the Plane of Air, Earth, etc. Even your typical ice elemental hails from the borders between the Plane of Air and Plane of Water. However, the orglash is not an extraplanar being, but an elemental which has naturally evolved on the Material Plane. While this may seem like not that big a deal, keep in mind that one of the most straight-forward ways to rid yourself of an elemental is to banish it to its home plane. This won't work with orglashes.

The orglash is a very territorial cold-based elemental found in the mountains and forests of Rashemen. They mostly attack outsiders, which is good for a nation which frequently suffers invasions from jerk wizards on one side (the Red Wizards of Thay) and barbarians on the other. Bad if you want to trade or are a travelling adventurers. Maybe stick to the slightly warmer roads where the orglashes don't lurk.

We're gonna be at TCAF next week. Yay! If any of you out there are Canadians or Americans whats lives close to the border, come on up and buy our stuff. We've got the Dungeons & Drawings books and new postcards. Joe also has his non-Dungeons & Drawings related but still really good comics, including The Hunter, published by Nobrow. Neato!

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Sunday, 1 May 2016

Angel, Planetar


Planetar are but one facet of the many-sided jewel that is the angelic hierarchy. As a manifestation of goodness and law, angelic beings function as wardens against the spread of evil and chaos throughout the planes, and Planetar serve as elite soldiers in that battle.

While angels are without exception good-natured and compassionate beings, Planetar see it as their primary purpose to destroy evil wherever they find it - often with a violent fervour that other good beings find shocking. It is worth remembering, however, that as interplanar beings, Planetar have seen and experienced much that mere mortals never have or will. It is not inconceivable, therefore, that they are acquainted with far more powerful and malicious beings than will ever trouble the material plane, and that while their dogmatic attitude may seem unreasonable to us, their presence in the multiverse guards against many far greater evils.

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Considering how much of a stereotype they are, I'm weirdly fond of both angels and their demonic counterparts in fantasy. These days it's rather common to put the whole "both bad but for different reasons" spin on it, where neither the angelic nor demonic powers are shown to be fully in the right, and some shade-of-grey via media is (perhaps somewhat patronisingly) offered as the "correct" choice.

While the allegory serves to demonstrate that dogmatic adherence to a way of being can be toxic - for example, the angels and devils in the Sandman series, or in Spawn, or even Bayonetta* (angels are beaurocratic pedants, devils debauched sadists) - it's fun to look at how and why each "side" justifies their actions. I quite like it when, as in settings like the Warhammer 40K universe, the "good guys" (the human Emperor and his minions) are capable of some truly horrible stuff - but the threat of Chaos is so much worse that you can kind of see how they justify it to themselves.

In D&D this kind of relates to the alignment system, too. Angels are Good, devils & demons are Evil. A lot of debate comes up around what is even meant by either descriptor; for what it's worth, I'm most comfortable completely separating Good and Evil as D&D concepts from good and evil as ethical ideas. Good, in the context of alignments, I take to simply mean "selfless". They do stuff for others more than for themselves. Evil means "selfish". Under this definition, a Lawful Good character can still be unpleasant, can still be horribly violent, can still be an utterly horrible addition to a party. Granted, in many instances this won't be the case, but I think the possibility for a nasty Good-aligned character (and, by extension, a nice Evil-aligned character) makes for interesting characterisation.

When I was colouring this I realised it reminded me a bit of Undyne from Undertale, which I was prepared to chalk up to unconscious plagiarism but then I checked and the first sketch of it was from March 2015 - before the game released!! In related news: this one took me a long while to get comfortable with. I gave up on it for a while, then happened upon the sketch again recently and decided to try finishing it. I think it's ok, although I still don't feel like I've quite zeroed in on the correct amount of detail for these things.

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*NB: I have been playing a lot of Bayonetta recently and I'm super fond of its concept art can you tell????

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Ki-Rin


Should you see a ki-rin in your vicinity know that somebody is about to have either a very good or very bad day. It is an agent of truth and order and spies into the minds of those around them to find evil thoughts. To those it finds worthy, it gifts clothing and items, or otherwise appears as an omen of good fortune. The ki-rin is a horse-like creatures that, despite their massive size, have such a light footsteps that they won't bend a blade of grass beneath their hooves.

Doing research on this was interesting. I'd been aware of the kirin/qilin creature for a while, and was well aware of how weird it is that it's called "the unicorn of the east" when most depictions of this dude show him with two. It's more common in Japan to see a kirin with one horn, but most other Asian cultures with a version of this creature go for the two-horn thing. Like a deer. Or a giraffe. Which is actually what the creature is based on, actually. Some Chinese bigwig centuries ago got a giraffe as a gift and was all like, this means I'm super important, and lots of weird iterations later we get the horse-deer-dragon-cloud thing that the qilin appears as. "Kirin" is actually the Japanese word for giraffe, kinda how "baku" is the word for tapir.

Ki-rin's horn is inspired by this funky little mutant deer skull thing. Oh nature, you goof up sometimes.

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Correction: While giraffes and kirin/qilin are closely associated, the mythological creature is likely not based on the other. The earliest mention of a qilin is in 5th century BC China, while a real giraffe was brought to China in the 15th century (i.e. about 2000 years later) by the explorer Zheng He. While it’s possible that the original qilin was based on an ancient giraffe sighting by some other explorer or visitor to China, there is no actual record of this being the case. The Yellow Emperor (from the 2500s BC) supposedly had some qilins, but since he’s more of a King Arthur type legendary figure, we should take that with a grain of salt.
Special thanks to @unikirin for spotting my mistake.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Avoral

Avorals are one of the many Celestials who fight against evil. The avoral is strong (it has to be to flap those wings), yet light and swift. Its touch can heal the worthy, and it can telepathically communicate with all animals. However, the avoral is best known for its amazing sense of sight. It can see through all disguises, even invisibility, and can make out details from miles away. They make excellent scouts for the forces of good, is what I'm saying.

Sorry about how slow Dungeons & Drawings has been lately, by the way. It's been a busy few weeks job-wise and social-wise, not leaving that much time for personal drawings. The last couple of images were a bit of a headache to do, what with the necrophidius having all those dang little bones and the legs on the avoral just not being quite right for the longest time.

Anyway, I should hopefully have some time to get a few images done in advance.

Special news for you Canadians out there. Dungeons & Drawings and Joe Sparrow Comics will be at TCAF next May! Huzzah! We haven't done a con outside of England before, so we're quite keen to see how they compare. Hope to see some of you guys there.

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Monday, 28 March 2016

Necrophidius


Though literally called a death-snake, the necrophidius is not an undead creature. It's actually a construct, made up of snake and human bones (most notably the skull), created as a guardian. The serpentine form is possible the second most popular shape for constructs (the first being humanoid). Like other snakey constructs, the necrophidius' main tasks are guardianship and assassination. Despite the lack of visible venom sacks, this creature's bite injects paralytic poison. Should it be spotted before it gets within biting distance, the necrophidius is able to perform an undulating dance which hypnotizes its target.

So this one was a tricky one to draw. If I'd been smart, I'd have gone for the much more simplified and bendy vertebrae that Joe used in his devourer image. Silly me, I decided to go with less flexible, much more numerous vertebrae (with disks!). That's my excuse for this late image, at any rate.


Sunday, 13 March 2016

Yellow Musk Creeper


The yellow musk creeper is a parasitic plant that feeds on brain matter. The large yellow flowers of the creeper produce a spray of pollen when they sense the vibrations of nearby creatures. This pollen has mind-controlling properties which compel creatures to come within the grasp of the creeper's vines, which latch onto the victim and tunnel into the brain.

Those who have their brain destroyed by a creeper become a part of the plant's reproductive cycle. While seeds gestate within them, the host is compelled to stay close to the parental creeper to protect it against harm. When the host eventually dies through trauma or natural decay, a new creeper grows from the body at an accelerated rate.

The creeper is extremely resilient, able to heal damage deal to it quickly. Fortunately, it's as weak to fire and corrosive materials as one would expect from a plant. The plant is capable of movement, but is extremely slow.

One of my favourite creatures from D&D, though it feels a bit more of a natural hazard than a true enemy. It has an Intelligence score of 2 though, which puts it on par with dogs and other smarter animals so I suppose that distinguishes it from being a plant that just sits there.

Parasitic plants obviously exist in the real world, but they're parasitic because they latch onto the roots, stems and what-have-you of nearby plants to steal their nutrients. The yellow musk creeper is possibly inspired by the members of the infamous Cordyceps genus, a parasitic fungus. Some of these fungi essentially turn insects into zombies, forcing them to climb to high places and starve to death to ensure better distribution of their spores.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Yurian

Yurians are a species of man-sized intelligent crustaceans that move about precariously atop a pair of spindly insectile legs. Found mostly in coastal caves, they are a simple folk, primitive hunter-gatherers who subsist on fish-flesh.

Although the craftsmanship (craftscrabship?) of the common Yurian is meagre, they are known to hoard the seabound detritus they find - driftwood, scraps of gemstone and metal - and fashion small trinkets from them that, despite their simplicity and fragility, are quite beautiful. Yurian caves can be strikingly pretty dwellings.

Hey! So it's been a little while again... a gap mostly to do with house-moving and a pretty harsh art block kinda thing. Anyway, hope an adorable crab-man goes some ways towards an apology. How can you stay mad at those eyes!!!?