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Sunday, 27 November 2011

Owlbear by Tara Helfer

I'm gonna be doing some work for an project called 72 Demons. A collection of artists will each be doing one of the demons features in Ars Goetia, a 17th century grimoire. The head of this project, Tara Helfer, offered to do an art trade, where I do a header for her blog and she submits a monster for mine. Well, I haven't gotten around to my side of the deal yet, but she certainly has. She even prepared the blurb for me.


Owlbears are probably the crossbred creation of a demented wizard; given the lethality of this creation, it is quite likely that the wizard who created them is no longer alive. Owlbears are vicious, ravenous, aggressive, and evil tempered at all times. Owlbears are a cross between a giant owl and a bear. They are covered with a thick coat of feathers and fur, brown-black to yellow-brown in color. The 8-foot-tall males, which weigh between 1,300 and 1,500 pounds, are darker colored. The beaks of these creatures are yellow to ivory and their terrifying eyes are red-rimmed. Owlbears speak their own language, which consists of very loud screeches of varying length and pitch.
An owlbear's main weakness is also its greatest strength -- its ferocity. Because owlbears are so bad-tempered, they stop at nothing to kill a target. It is not difficult to trick an owlbear into hurling itself off a cliff or into a trap, provided you can find one.

The owlbear walks a line between the whimsical and the most fearsome beasts. Art featuring the owlbear tends to split in two different directions. Apart from the big, bad and bloodthirsty, there's a tendency to draw the owlbear as an awkward and misunderstood creature - pretty embarrassing for a killer. And why not? The owlbear doesn't make a lot of sense in terms of evolution and is excessively armed for a forest predator, making it my favorite d&d monster.
I wanted to draw the owlbear with a more flexible, feathery form rather than a bear's. While it's known for it's deadly "hug", I imagine the face-full of beak following would be much worse.
Also, my kobold illustration was used in a website called Delvers, where the 2e campaign stories of guy, his girlfriend and her two itty girls  are collected.


  1. Thanks for the mention, Blanca!

    Tara, I love your owlbear. A couple of dwarves in Eastbrook mounted the head of one in the local Tavern. It was really fun to describe to the girls who have never heard of the thing.

  2. That's a lovely owlbear.

    I will defend the owlbear to my dying breath--I can't help it, something about the idea always seemed so evocative to me.

  3. Frickin' sweet! Love the owlbear and I'll totally be keeping an eye on 72 Demons now!

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