Sunday, 8 May 2016
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!
Sunday, 1 May 2016
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.
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.
*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
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.
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
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.
Monday, 28 March 2016
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
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
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!!!?
Saturday, 13 February 2016
Flagella is no more. Driven into a blood frenzy by a cursed sword, Flagella was surrounded by endless waves of undead. Her companions were unable to break her from the sword's enchantment, and the necropolis' fail-safe engulfed everything outside the safety zone in cleansing flame. Flagella's corpse was left in such a crispy state that only potent divine magic would be able to ressurect her. Divine magic beyond the party's reach. After some traumatizing attempts to communicate with her soul, the party decides that the best thing would be to let her rest. They placed her remains on a pyre at dawn, and her ashes were scattered by the desert wind.
Meanwhile, Ahp has entered the city of Ninazu. She's been sent by her masters from Plane of Water to see into the deathly magic that's seeping through the portals that feed water into the desert city's aqueducts. If the source of contamination isn't stopped, the portals may be closed as a defense. Ahp was eager to volunteer to explore the other side, but she hadn't expected the Material Plane to so dry. So very, very dry.
Flagella is my first character to die in a very long time. Normally I'm the DM that kills other people's characters, so it's nice to be on the other side of things for a change. Flagella died a glorious, amazing death, so it ain't so bad. The cursed sword was a Berserking Sword, a sword that gives you rage and won't let you stop fighting until everything around you (enemy or ally) is dead. It wasn't that noticeable on Flagella, honestly, since she was already pretty keen to destroy all enemies and would often end up getting knocked out. After her death, the party kicked the sword down a bottomless pit. Randomly generated loot for the next unfortunate souls that explore the necropolis!
Ahp is actually the original character I wanted to play for this campaign (The Cerulean Throne) before deciding to go with Flagella. Going with fighter / bard for her. Originally she was inspired by Morphling of DOTA 2, and I wanted to make a water elemental character that whooshed about a lot. Her appearance is
Monday, 28 December 2015
This year's Winter-themed creature and the last image of 2015.
The frostwind virago is one of those high-end fey that you really really don't want to run into. She is the anthropomorphic representation of the beauty, danger and caprice of winter. They live in cold mountains, though will travel is the cold weather permits it. Their favourite passtime is enthralling warm-blooded creatures to torture with their frost magic until the unfortunate victim freezes to death. Even those who aren't charmed by the virago's magic or are immune to the ice she summons, she can exert a strange mental torture on them. Those near enough to the virago feel their minds seize up and slow as if that is freezing over.
Ah, the return to the frosty woman. This is a theme I've visited a few times before, namely the snow weird and ice weird. For those images I focused pretty much entirely on snowflakes, frost and ice as my visual themes. And it's still present in the frostwind virago, but this time I permitted myself to look outside that for inspiration. The main inspiration behind this image is actually the snowy owl (Hedgewig, for those of you who remember Harry Potter). I went a little bit off script with the virago too. The description makes a big deal out of her having blue eyes, but she's already so blue and I wanted to give her yellow owl eyes. She also doesn't have horns, but I wanted her to be kind of a companion piece to the verdant prince.
Interesting etymology behind the word "virago". It's one of those words whose name has gotten twisted over time. It used to mean "strong-spirited woman", but now it means "loud-mouthed, stubborn bitch". Kinda like how the word "hussy" used to mean "good housewife who takes care of her man and her kids" became "filthy slut who wrecks marriages for fun". Funny how history finds a way to turn positive words into negative ones, isn't it.
Sunday, 13 December 2015
Honestly, when I read the entry for the shadow giant I found it a bit silly. A giant with a death attack? Seems a bit overkill when a single punch will probably kill smaller creatures. Sneak attack, weakness to light, so on. Let's see what the spell-like abilities are. Deeper darkness and blur are pretty okay, shadow walk fits with the theme. It's got shadow evocation and... shades? Wait, it has shades as an at-will ability? As in able to cast an 8th level or lower conjuration (summoning or creation) spell every turn for free? At will?
So it's that last bit that I think makes the shadow giant hardcore. Granted, shades may not work on those who realize that whatever spell it's copying isn't the actual real spell, but even then it has an 80% success rate.
So if I were a DM using a shadow giant I would just have it copy the trap the soul spell ad nauseum until the whole party is trapped in gems. Then I would make a tasteful necklace out of their trapped souls.
Tuesday, 1 December 2015
Honestly, the idea of the Harmonium (who also served as the police force in the inter-dimensional city of Sigil) is a bit more interesting that the rhek themselves. Though you can see how they would make good enforcers of the law, since they have abilities that let them detect and smite chaotic creatures. They also seem to share one trait with the krogan from the Mass Effect games: redundant organs. This translates into rhek basically continuing to fight until they are stone dead.
Monday, 23 November 2015
We made another book!
Back in 2013 we put out the first Dungeons & Drawings book. We’d been selling postcards at expos for a while and decided to experiment with something a bit more ambitious. 40 of our favourite images went into the book, accompanied by simple stats, descriptions, and the folkloric history of the creature and scientific trivia surrounding its possible origins.
Book #1 went down well, so now we’ve decided to continue with the series with a second!
Dungeons & Drawings #2 debuted at Thought Bubble in Leeds this year. Thanks to all the people that bought it, and to those that bought the first one and rushed excitedly for the second one.
And now we have an Etsy store. Both books are available for sale now! Go git ‘em!
(Comes with cat’s sniff of approval.)