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

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Sunday, 30 January 2011


The hobgoblins form the warrior branch of the goblin army, brandishing spears, axes and swords proudly looted from their fallen enemies. They are a fierce race, all trained in warfare and all eager to expand the empire of their species, but they are as likely to attack another tribe of their own kind as to attack others.

The hobgoblins are the larger cousins of the goblins, man-sized and relying more on tactics and strength than on sneakiness. Though barbaric, they're extremely loyal to their chiefs. They're also another typical low-level encounter.

Sorry about the no entries last week. We wanted to open the post-Guest Week with some animations, but we proved to be a little ambitious. The animations will still be posted in the future, but they still need some work.

Meanwhile, enjoy a mandrill with a sword.


Despite appearances, Bugbears are are a close (although vastly more savage) relative of the Goblin. Named for their wide, bear-like noses and short tempers, they doubtless originate from the wily goblin stock but have grown larger and hairier than their diminuitive brethren, forming a truly barbaric culture with a hierarchy established by brute strength. Standing just taller than a man, with thick skin and an umatched eagerness for fighting, the Bugbear is not a creature to be underestimated, especially in numbers.

Alas! Animations still aren't finished so here are some drawings that don't move to tide you over. I feel like this owes a lot to Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, not just in the colour but with the approach to linework and shading. Personally, I think anime is a great thing to take inspiration from sometimes, but like any other media you have to pick and choose your sources. Everyone's seen a few Ghibli movies by now, but there's other stuff out there worth looking at, and even if you don't like it, it can be inspirational in its wackiness. Just my two cents, anyway.

See you next week with animations!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

GUEST WEEK: Thri-Kreen by Victoria Maderna

The mantis warriors scour their arid territory for today's meal, moving slowly and deliberately to best blend in with their surroundings. They come across some high cliffs and, looking up, spot a pair of desert goats steadily making their way up the rocky face. The hunters begin to leap up the steep face, easily finding handholds, and quickly closing the distance between them and their prey. They fall upon the goats with poisonous bites and swipes from their two-bladed gythkas.

Thri-Kreen are a classic D&D monster, appearing all the way back in 1st Edition and gaining popularity in 2nd Edition with the introduction of the Dark Sun campaign setting, where they became one of the playable races. They're one of the more popular non-core player races, though the Thri-Kreen are a little bit to strong for a truly low-level campaign. And really, who wouldn't want to play a giant praying mantis that can leap farther than most can walk, has unique racial weapons, doesn't need to sleep and (depending on the DM) has psychic powers?

This is the final entry for this round of Guest Week. Our closing image has been provided by Victoria Maderna, whose artwork has appeared in the official 4th Edition D&D book, the Player's Strategy Guide. More of her artwork can be seen on Pigs with Crayons, along with that of her partner Federico Piatti.

I'd like to thank all the artists that have contributed to the blog for the past week. It's been really awesome to see different people's styles take on the monsters of D&D. We're definitely going to do another guest week again in the future.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Guest Week: Umber Hulk by Keith Sparrow

The Umber Hulk is a subterranean creature capable of burrowing long distances through solid rock. Creatures of mindless anger, they are most often found rampaging through the countryside, attacking and devouring anything small and soft enough not to pose a threat (including humans). Whilst it may seem merely a creature of brute strength, the Umber Hulk is not a force to be underestimated- while it may be slightly lacking in intelligence or magical ability, those ferociously strong arms, capable of literally battering their way through stone, can make short work even of an armoured foe should they get within reach. Umber Hulks have also been known to use their burrowing ability to create traps, pitfalls and cave-ins to deal with enemies too tough to handle otherwise.

Today's illustration is brought to you by Keith Sparrow, a professional illustrator with many years of experience who has specialised in illustrations for children and children's books. Probably the most well-known string to his bow is the popular Mega Manga book, one of a series of How-To-Draw-Manga books which you see pretty often in comic book stores and art stores in england. As you might have gathered from the name, he's also my dad and pretty much the sole reason I wanted to be an illustrator growing up. I really like that Keith produced this illustration completely by hand, it really shows off his genuine skill in that regard, and makes for a really original interpretation of a classic monster. Cheers, dad!

Friday, 14 January 2011

GUEST WEEK: Glaistig by Adam Vian

The haunting song comes from a beautiful woman standing waist deep in the pond, her clinging robe mottled with algea. She beckons her victim closer into her embrace, and when her song stops he only has enough time to notice her long teeth, and her goat legs beneath the rippling water surface. What he thought were stones and pebbles in the pond floor turn out to be bones.

And here we have yet another addition to the evil fey collection we've been building. Gosh, they sure ain't nice, aren't they. These fellas come from Celtic mythology, though they aren't always evil in the original legends.

Today's image is given to us courtesy of Adam Vian, another university chum, and one half of the Super Flash Brothers team of Flash games and films. They're currently working on a sequel to one of their more popular games, Detective Grimoire. Our other guest, Catherine Unger, is helping with it too, providing some amazing background artwork for the game, which can be seen on the game development blog.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

GUEST WEEK: Nalfeshnee by Matt Dicks

The Nalfeshnee is an enormous demon and denizen of the chaotic Abyss. It appears as a huge gorilla-like creature, standing three times the size of a man and weighing more than 8,000 pounds. It flutters obscenely on impossibly-small bat wings, taking horrible enthusiasm in its task: the torturing of damned souls.

In D&D, Devils and Demons are two distinct families of hell-kin; the former reside in the Nine Hells of Baator and represent the Lawful Evil alignment - Devils are evil but generally live by a lawful system, and are more likely to play "within the rules". By contrast, Demons are always Chaotic Evil, and their home - the Abyss - is a lawless place, governed by whoever happens to be strongest at the time (and often-changing).

The Nalfeshnee is brought to us by one Matt Dicks, another illustrator friend of ours. Although perhaps not the greatest enthusiast of role-playing-games, Matt is in posession of a truly amazing and distinctive style, kinda Ralph Steadman in its violence but always with an intelligent restraint. I thought a demonic creature would suit the style well, and I really like what he's given us.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

GUEST WEEK: Orcwort by Grethe Bentsen

On the hill there's an immense tree that suddenly appeared one night, large, ripe grey fruit hanging from its branches. The fruits twitch and plummet to the ground with a wet sound, and in a few minutes monstrous man-shaped creatures burst from their syrupy interiors. Under cover of darkness they travel to the village below, and first take the livestock and animals. They take the drunks sleeping in the streets, the farmers rising at dawn to discover disappeared chickens, the women travelling to a nearby brook to gather water for the rest of the day... Every morning the grey monsters return to their home tree and place their new victim in a toothy hollow of the tree, which closes and eats.

Today's highly original image is brought to you by Grethe Bentsen, master of card and scissors. She's another one of our university chums and in fact was Joe's partner in their film Ex Libris, where she constructed and photographed the monsters that Joe later composited onto film.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

GUEST WEEK: Redcap by Ben Tobitt

The majority of Fey creatures (a category that includes faerie, nymphs, and other generally good-natured creatures) express their innately chaotic natures through mischief and folly, generally at the expense of the less-intelligent. Redcaps are one of the few exceptions to the rule - small and decrepit in appearence, these psychotic old men wield long, cruel scythes and take pleasure in little besides murdering the innocent. Legend has it that their eponymous red caps keep their hue by being nightly dipped in the blood of its victims.

Today's illustration is brought to us by Ben Tobitt, an illustration student at Kingston University. Ben is already something of a success before even leaving education, having taken on some high-profile commissions for book and album covers. Check out his website for a great and varied collection of work!

Monday, 10 January 2011

GUEST WEEK: Peryton by Catherine Unger

As you look down at the rocky ground, you see it casts a human shadow, arms outstretched and racing in your direction. Surprised, you cast your eyes quickly at the creature itself, an immense eagle with the head and antlers of a stag, diving at you, screeching horribly. As it lands, pinning you, the monster deals the final blow by plunging one of its claws into your chest. It tears out your still-beating heart and begins to eat.

The last thing you see before your vision fades is its long, inexplicably human shadow, which seems to writhe and change, becoming the exact mirror of your own.

Welcome to Day 1 of Guest Week! For the next few days you'll be treated to artists presenting us with their interpretations of the many monsters of Dungeons & Dragons.

Today's image is brought to you by the talented Catherine Unger. Catherine is a friend of ours that we've known since coming to university, and has been something of a prominent contributor to DeviantArt for a while longer than that. She's a dab hand at Photoshop and a lot of other media besides and specialises in conceptual design. Check her out!

Sunday, 9 January 2011


Sphinxes are a family of creatures that widely vary in their levels of intelligence. Hieraco- and Criosphinxes are little more than savage animals, chimaeric creatures who fly and hunt effortlessly, rarely concerning themselves with anything above their basic urges. Gynosphinxes are much more intelligent creatures, with such great intellects that their their time is mostly spent in contemplation of things far more sophisticated than the human mind could appreciate. They are famously fond of puzzles, riddles, or ways of thinking that challenge their (already vast) understanding of the world, and are known to have much respect for creatures capable of appreciating such things. Though physically mighty they are reluctant to fight and would much rather win over an enemy with words than claws.

As requested by Wolfgang Baur, who runs Kobold Quarterly and has done an awful lot of stuff for a variety of roleplaying games! I like any creature that's basically "x-but-with-a-human-face", as it feels like these have really creepy, Boschian inspiration for them. I assume sphinxes were at least partially inspired by this kind of thing (be warned, it's kind of gross) but regardless it's nice to see a mythical beast that doesn't present women in a completely psychotic way (I'm looking at you, Harpies!).

Another reminder that tomorrow we start our Guest Week! check back every day, we'll be uploading another picture by a different artist. IT WILL BE AWESOME


The Unicorn gallops across his wild domain, confident in his security. No evil creature can approach him, and hungry wild animals are too wise to consider him prey. He only stops to socialize with the gentle fey of the forest. In exchanfe for their friendship, the Unicorn approaches their wounded and ill, and touches them with his horn, which glows with healing light.

This one's a pretty tough creature, considering it's thought of as pretty girly. If you're a typical party, you're more likely to find yourself allied with it that against it. And if you're an evil party you're going to have a difficult time catching it, because it'll sense you before you notice it and teleport to some other part of the forest.

Picture requested by a user of the Giant In The Playground forums.

I like the idea that the original idea for the unicorn came from mutations that happen naturally in nature, for example albino deer, or one-horned goats and bucks.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Feature on Kobold Quarterly! (also Guest Week news)

Oh daaaaang, yo. Look who's artwork is on the Kobold Quarterly site.

We got comissioned to do two illustrations for a new race, the Roachlings, featured in Kobold Quartlerly's 4e adventure setting, Courts of the Shadow Fey. They are a filthy people of half-roach, half-man, primarily living in the most disgusting urban environments. They are sneaky and numerous, and so accustomed to living in filth that disease and poison have little to no effect on them.

Special thanks to Chad Middleton for comissioning us, and Wolfgang Baur (publisher) and Scott Gable (web editor).

And on another note, starting the 10th of January we are going to be having a GUEST WEEK, where we'll be posting monsters as interpreted by seven taleneted artists. It's gon' be good.

Sunday, 2 January 2011


These are the maidens of battle, towering above mortal man, born from the spilled blood of war gods. On their steeds the Valkyries are part of the endless battles of the Heroic Domains of Ysgard, or fly over earthly wars in search of great warriors. Their eyes always crackle with lightning, as do their swords. They know no cruelty, but they also know no mercy.

There are actually two entries for the Valkyrie creature in the books of Dungeons & Dragons 3.5. The first is a storm-wielding woman of fury with wings and hooves, and the second one is essentially a celestial level 20 Paladin. I liked aspects of both (the lightning of the first and the steed of the second) and decided to combine them into a single image.

This image is dedicated to Wolfgang Baur, publisher of the D&D/Pathfinder magazine Kobold Quarterly, who requested this creature.


It is assumed by those who study such things that Chokers (so called for their fondness for hanging from rafters and using their long, flexible appendages to catch unsuspecting passers-by) are, as with many monsters, a product of some ancient wizard's attempt to create a deadly minion. Their progenitor long-forgotten, these creatures now populate the cold and dark places of many worlds, hiding in caverns and dungeons in wait for foolish adventurers.

As requested by Daigle, of the Kobold Quarterly forums! Something of a low-level staple, Chokers are a simple but effective incentive to get new players rolling spot and listen checks every time they enter a room. Again, this was inked by hand then coloured on the computer. I think it could do with being a bit more graphic. Oh well!