An ongoing project by Blanca Martinez de Rituerto and Joe Sparrow.

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Sunday, 31 October 2010

Spell Weaver

Spell weavers are enigmatic creatures, encountered alone if encountered at all. Gaunt, six-armed humanoids with owl-like features, they neither speak nor express any visible emotion, whether to humans or (apparently) their own kind. They are known to collect and steal magical artefacts, "raiding" bands of adventurers for a particular magical trinket. Physically weak, they are as dextrous as they appear, having the uncommon ability to cast six spells at once, one with each arm.

Two interesting characteristics are shared by all Spell Weavers: firstly they all carry a small disc, about a handspan across, which pulses with a variety of colours. As far as non-Spell Weavers have been able to discern, this is some sort of spell-casting device, further boosting the creature's already formidable magical ability.

Secondly, Spell Weavers have a bizarre tendency to leave notes behind for their victims to read - more often than not these are rambling streams of gibberish, and answer no questions about the creatures' motives.

Spell Weavers are some of my favourite creatures ever! I have a fascination with owls' faces and a soft spot for spellcasters. With hindsight the robe here reminds me more than a little of this... uh-oh...

Green Slaad

The Slaadi are hermaphroditic toad-like creatures born of the Everchanging Chaos of Limbo, a highly morphic and dangerous dimension that only the most willful can control. The Slaadi have a parasitic form of reproduction, being born of egg implantations or diseases they inflict on other creatures. If the affected creature is a spellcaster, a Green Slaad is born. It's more intelligent and powerful than its lesser bretheren, has shapeshifting abilities and can summon others of its kind.

The Slaadi are a well-known trademark race of the D&D universe. Despite being creatures born of chaos, they aren't motivated by good or evil, though they are still destructive enough to be cast as villains. They are the only creatures who can effortlessly control the morphing of Limbo, as they're the only true natives of that plane. All Slaadi look like bipedal toads, but that isn't their original form. They are ruled by two Slaad Lords; one is a black skeleton and the other a golden ameoba. They decided to seal the Slaad race in their current form to prevent them to mutate into something more powerful.

Most Slaadi are red or blue, and they're the only two with the ability to reproduce. A Green Slaad is rare, and the longer it lives, the more powerful it becomes. If it lives long enough, it can become a Black Slaad, a creature too strong for the most powerful devils and dragons to destroy. Thankfully, it takes at least 400 years for a green to go through all the steps and rituals necessary to become black.

Thursday, 28 October 2010


The Reekmurk is one of serveral kinds of water-dwelling oozes. They are normally found in underwater caverns in the depths of frigid arctic oceans, but tectonic movement will release them from their normal home and force them to the surface. It is a formless black shape, not unlike a cloud of ink or oil slick, with thin tendrils spreading out. It's practically invisible in the darkness. It's size means it can easily take down ships, its acidic body burning through wood and its foul poisonous vapours weakening life. This creature is weak to sunlight, which can kill it or drive it back to the depths from which it came.

The ooze is an iconic Dungeons and Dragons creature that we've been kind of avoiding. All oozes are pretty much the same thing; a mindless, destructive blob. They vary little in appearance, save for colour and mild size differentes. The best known one is the Gelatinous Cube, which is exactly what is says on the tin. Of course they all have different abilities, but at the end of the day you're still looking at a blob.

But then again I suppose the challenge in illustrating an ooze is to show it in action.

Void Ooze

Creatures of the "Ooze" type are often physically primitive - posessing little in the way of defined organs and rarely maintaining a constant form for any period of time, their bodies are simple, gelatinous masses of chaotic magical tissue.

Void Oozes have no specific origin but "occur" naturally across the planes. They are manifestations of negative energy, the anti-life force which is tapped by magic users such as necromancers who use it to power their spells. As such, a Void Ooze is often found in areas devoid of life, occasionally accompanied by smaller undead who are drawn to the negative magics it excretes as a dark penumbra.

This week's theme was designed to pose a challenge - how do you make a drawing of a formless blob interesting? I enjoyed drawing the Void Ooze, as its appearance bears no small resemblance to a certain Flying Spaghetti Monster. Lighting in in a suitably "negative" way was also fun.

Saturday, 23 October 2010


The fell armies of Baator, the realm of the Nine Hells, are subject to a rigorously strict natural hierarchy. The devils that populate them range from the unimaginably powerful - such as the indomitable Pit Fiends, who act as lords and generals - to the numerous but pitiful Lemures - who serve as mindless front-line soldiers and lackeys. Standing at five feet tall, a Lemure is a tortured knot of flesh and skin, almost formless from the waistline down, mindless but for its master's telepathic imperative. What Lemures lack in individual strength, they make up in numbers and sheer, thoughtless determination.

Struggled with this one all week (whilst juggling other commitments, hooray!). Lemures look nothing like other devils (which is interesting) but they also look kind of stupid, so it look me a while to figure out how to depict one. I enjoyed colouring this one, but I wish the drawing was a little stronger.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Hill Giant

The Hill Giant is the weakest, stupidest and smallest of all giants, and the ones whose appearance most closely resembles humans. Their intelligence is too low to form any kind of efficient society. Despite this, they are still skilled in the taming of dire wolves and strong enough to be a threat to villages. One of their preferred methods of attack is to hurl heavy rocks at their opponents, or to trample smaller creatures underfoot. Of the evil giants, they're probably the most open to servitude to other creatures, and are often hired as mercenaries by warlords or spellcasters.

Something that was quite useful for this post was looking at photographs and videos of strongmen --not bodybuilders, but men who build their bodies to perform real feats of great strength, muscles that serve a purpose. These men usually have quite thick torsos, bellies and arms, making them look like giant hairless bears. I also looked at Scottish Highland games, which have the sports such as who can flip a tree the best (caber toss) or throw stones the farthest (stone put). They're really super impressive.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010


The Megaloceros is a gigantic deer that wanders in herds over the frozen tundra. Its likeness is found carved out of bone, stone and wood in many towns and tribes, since its commonly used as a totem creature. Atop its skull are two massive horns, its primary means of defence. If you are not trampled underfoot, the deer will gore you with its horns, lift you up with them, and toss you away. Their skulls are coveted as ornaments, and live ones make powerful mounts.

This is the first chance either of us have gotten to do something that properly goes under the animal catergory. Most animal-like creatures in D&D have some kind of magical power; anything that falls under the category of an animal is just your average, mundane critter. Not something that's really meant for a fantasy art blog. We have more interesting things to draw than a dolphin or a badger.

But these guys are pretty exceptional. A megaloceros is an actual prehistoric creature (the Frostburn book has a lot of those) that roamed the world when it was a little bit colder and animals were a little bit bigger. A simpler name for these guys are Irish Elk, even though they aren't really Irish. The skeletons for these are amazing to stand next to.


The Shivhad is a strange creature that will build its nest in cold, mountainous areas. Despite its crab-like appearance it is a being of uncertain origin and immense intellect. While other creatures are compelled to expand their territory, secure wealth, food or a mate with which to reproduce, Shivhads appear to be driven by none of these motives. Where Shivhads have made contact with other races they establish themselves as near deities, ominously demanding a toll of a weekly sacrifice. Whether this is merely to indulge a power fantasy or fulfill some darker function has never been ascertained; Shivhads speak nearly all languages but are so unthinkably dangerous that very few races will dare to provoke them. A Shivhad is usually the size of a large house.

This week's theme (a feature we'll probably instigate with more formality sometime soon) is that both our creatures are from the Frostburn book, one of many "add-on" books for D&D which introduce new weapons, quests, spells and monsters. Frostburn is, as you might expect, focused on creatures that live in incredibly cold environments.

The Shivhad is the first "epic" creature we've illustrated here - "epic" in Dungeons & Dragons being a term that describes very high level play (above level 20, which is initially as high as you can get). Basically, to kill one of these you need a team of adventurers of near demigod-like skill and experience. I really like how inexplicable the Shivhad is - a giant, superintelligent crab that lives in glaciers. I think it's pretty original as fantasy creatures go.

Sunday, 3 October 2010


Githyanki are vicious, gaunt humanoids who live in societies strewn across the Astral Plane, the vast, timeless space between dimensions. Long ago bred as slaves to the ancient Illithid empire, the Githyanki were led from captivity by their ancestral leader Gith, in a great war which nearly wiped out the Illithids altogether. Now, wracked by internal conflict, the Githyanki are little more than a race of pirates, adding to the dangers of astral travel. They build their fortresses on the petrified bodies of dead gods adrift in the void.

The Githyanki are a weird sort of race in D&D, looking a little like a cross between orcs and elves (if such a thing is concievable). Not only are they essentially pirates, they are space pirates, which is pretty cool in my book. I inked this one by hand in Photoshop after making some custom brushes, and I'm pleased with the result. I tried to make up for the fact that they're usually depicted as barely clothed humanoids by doing a ridiculous upside-down foreshortening thing, but I think it gets the zero-gravity feel of the Astral Plane across fairly well. Oh, and they use these cool mercurial swords.


The Kobold is considered by many a travelling adventurer to be small and harmless. The more experienced adventurer knows that the kobolds use this to their advantage, to lull others into a sense of security and lead them into traps that'll butcher the enemy. Kobolds are clever and proud, and only serve themseleves or the dragons they believe they're descended from.

These are some of my favourite creatures.

Kobolds are a pretty common early-level encounter. They're small and have a very low challenge rating, which means you can throw a whole pack of them at the players without worrying too much about murdering them too early in the game. Even the Monster Manual goes to some lengths to describe how pathetic they are. "Kobolds speak Draconic with a voice that sounds like that of a yapping dog," says the Manual. They're the chihuahuas of the D&D world.

But that can make them dangerous. They're expert trap-makers and you'll spend more time avoiding them that you will fighting the little creatures themselves. There's the infamous Tucker's Kobolds, a group of completely average kobolds which specialized in guerilla tactics and dangerous traps instead of direct confrontation, designed to challenge players at high levels. There's also Pun-Pun, a demonstration about how the rules of the game can be broken to create a ridiculously powerful character. Wizards later released another book, Races of the Dragon, expanding on kobolds, making them more intelligent and conniving, and listing futher specialties and qualities.

Later illustrations of kobolds in further books and magazines went on to make them a bit more evil looking, but I've always preferred that their cruel minds were hidden behind an adorable, pathetic exterior.