Sunday, December 8, 2013

Attention!!

Hello, friends and followers!

I am issuing a formal apology for my lack of posting. In the past three months I have planned a wedding and been married, managed a move to Connecticut, and gone job hunting. Sketches were being drawn, art made, but at a fraction of the time I normally produce it. More will be coming, soon. My wife and I are settling into a new life in a new state, and I am finding myself with more of my time returned to me. More art coming shortly!

Sincerely,

J.D.R.

Now, just so I don't leave you completely empty-handed, some of my greatest artist inspirations. Enjoy!


Darell K. Sweet


N.C. Wyeth


Willy Pogany


 Maxfield Parrish


Time Hildebrandt


Keith Parkinson


Gervasio Gallardo


Virgil Finlay


Monday, October 14, 2013

'Dragons, Wurms, and Drakes, Oh My!'

These images are sketches of dragons I made during the long slow days at the Museum after school let back in. They breathed fire on annoying customers and warded folks off with their general unpeasantness. This way I could spend my time drawing unmolested. So enjoy these two fellows in their draconic glory. They were fun to draw, especially the top left dragon. He was the most interesting dragon I met during my day's meanderings through the forest of imagination.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Wyrm Fighters

 
 
A sketch of warriors battling a wurm.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Dwarven Gifts

 
The dwarves gathered outside the forge-hall to discuss the Master Smith's most recent accomplishment, a bright, flawless sword. The untested weapon hung brightly in the space between the smith's calloused open palms. It glittered lazily in the light of the torches. It was as if the very stars were contained within the blade's polished surface.

'Hm,' scrutinized the Steward. 'It is indeed great craftsmanship. What will you call it?'
'Call it?' Scoffed the smith. 'That is up to the King. He shall name it when it has proven itself in battle. The enemy further weakens the front gates every day. Sooner rather than later this blade will know battle, and it will sing of the prowess and greatness of our people and throw back our foes.'

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Of Birds and Swords


One of my favourite types of creatures are bird warriors. I have a bird soldier Magic deck that I love playing, just to look at the cards and imagine all the stories the creatures would be a part of.  Needless to say, the D&D Kenku were an instant attraction to me as a boy discovering fantasy creatures. And, look, I even gave him a tassle on his cloak. That is detail I am fond of. I think it stems from 'The Hobbit'. Oh, and speaking of that, what happened to the cloak thing in the movie? Big mistake, Mr. Jackson. Big mistake.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Beast Within'


Coming soon!

'The Beast Within.' Unused cover illustration.

The image was a blast to work on. Being one of the first to read the manuscript, not to mention working on a possible cover, was a great honour. I eagerly await the other two volumes and eagerly anticipate the moment this one hits shelves. I'll definitely be getting a copy for myself.





Here is the reference I used for the figures. The werewolf was made from polymer clay and painted white, then shot from an angle. My beautiful fiance served as the reference for the woman. Of course, there were other bits of reference in there as well, but these were the main images I used.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

'Through the Portal'


You ever feel like someone, or something is watching you?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

'Spider Slayer'


Hunting spiders can be perilous work, evidenced by the plethora of victims lying in the beast's terrible den. One fellow, however, has been able to succeed where so many others have failed. Mortally wounded, the spider will soon expire, ridding the world of a silent and ravenous menace.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sneaky, Sneaky II


Dragons and dwarves. I just can't seem to get away from them. And I guess the dwarves can't seem to get away from the dragon. This was a response to the knight and the dragon from the previous post. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sneaky, Sneaky



This was fun. One of the things I love about Magic cards is that they are self-contained narrative. Really good ones are those that unite story with mechanics and flavour text fluidly. It is the same with any illustration. Magic cards, however, are little pocket-sized art pieces that you can store in great numbers in boxes smaller than an art book. Granted, the art is best seen in larger form in a book, or, even better, in person.

Even if I didn't like playing Magic so much, I would still collect the cards for the easily accessible art they contain. I do not care about their material value and often buy them solely for the artwork (and will use them in decks, even if they are not very effective, just so I can look at them while I play and because I like the ambiance they bring to my playing experience). I have a stack of cards I keep just for the art, separate from the cards I play with, that I look at every now and again for inspiration.

The card game aside, I like to think about my own images in ways that tell stories well. 'Show, don't tell', rings in my ears frequently. I hope you all enjoy this image. It made me laugh when I was done and sparked another exploration I will share with you in my next post.

Friday, August 23, 2013

A Waterfall of Faces

 
Waterfall of faces. This one was fun and inspired a bit by an image of Aaron Pocock's I had seen recently, and an image or two of Brian Froud's. I haven't allowed myself the pleasure of just letting my pencil wander as it would for quite some time and wanted to explore some whismsical imagery. This was the result. Odd, yes, but fun none-the-less.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Wizard


I don't often paint magic. It's something I would like to remedy. This fellow came about while, again, at work. In the midst of spell craft, the wizard prepares to unleash his magic.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

'Watch Your Step'

 
Oozes are great. They are a staple to fantasy dungeon crawling and remain one of my favourite monsters. Please enjoy this little sketch from a day stuck down taking tickets at work recently. It's been awhile, I apologize. I have more images coming very soon. Tonight or tomorrow I am photgraphing some from the sketchbook.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Just Art

 
 
 
I am exhausted. So, no words, just an image, today. Thank you, everyone!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Continuation

This should have been included with the last post, as it's all related. Even though the two ancient helms are not stylistically the same as the more medieval versions, I sketched them here so I would not forget the shapes and cool designs.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Knights And Warhammers; And A Longing For Those Past

So, I have a thing for warhammers. Not sure exactly why, though I suspect exposure to the 'Dragonslayers' painting by Larry Elmore had something to do with it. The left sketch book page is a sampling of some ideas I was exploring while designing the weapon the knight on the right is carrying.

I miss the role playing game fantasy art of about about twenty years ago and earlier. The weapons were plausible and the armour functional. Granted, this is still the case in some instances today but, largely, the popular aesthetic is the big shoulder pad, gigantic weapon, etc. I feel at a loss sometimes because I cannot suspend my disbelief while viewing modern fantasy. I respect many artists that do the kind of work I am speaking of, and they are amazing. The large armour and weapons are just not my aesthetic. I miss Parkinson, and Darrell Sweet.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

'Battle With The Nazgul'

The battle Theoden fights with the Nazgul has always been a topic of great interest to me. The fall of the King of Rohan and the revenge that was had in his honour are two of the most poignant images in 'The Lord of the Rings', in my opinion. I have been trying for a long while to capture the confusion and intimacy of this scene. I was able to somewhat capture it here. I would like to further explore this theme (and I am sure I will in paintings and further sketches) but this was a nice initial mood study and put me right at the height of the action, directly before the moment when all is finally decided. Enjoy.

Friday, August 2, 2013

A Long Week, and Then... Behold! ... Er...

Hey, folks. Back again after a long week. Lots of drawing accomplished, but not much time to scan them. So, here goes. A picture of some adventurers battling it out with a beholder. These creatures hold a special place in my heart, as I'm sure they do with so many others. This is the one creature I never fought as a character but always wanted to. What a cool battle that must make. I always loved the mirrour idea as a way to zap intruders.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

At the Inn


Just a sketch, but an idea I would love to illustrate fully. Part of the mystique of role-playing and storytelling in general is the relationship between characters. What kinds of stories can you tell without being too literal? How can you represent relationships and character familiarity? My favourite images from the AD&D set were those that showed adventurers at tables inside inns or taverns, relaxed after a grand undertaking. I delight in trying to tell the story of each character through body language, costume, etc. Again, a rough start, but if I can get a strong 'feeling' for what is going on at this stage, I can conclude I am being a successful illustrator, a successful storyteller. So, enjoy and, until next time.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

More Morgandor





As promised, Morgandor with hammer studies. This guy is going to fun to play :)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

'Reluctant Adventurer'


Sometimes, you just don't want to walk into the mouth of doom, or even a scary cavern full of bats and other nasty critters. A skull or the bleached bones of various prior would-be heroes is enough to turn the blood cold in the veins of most brave adventurers.

Monday, July 15, 2013

More Dragons, More Dwarves

 
This first image began in an annoying sort of way. I was all settled down to go to sleep, the lights were off, I was under a nice, warm comforter, about to snuggle up to my fiance, when I saw this as I closed my eyes. I know from experience to draw this kind of thing down, while it's fresh. I cursed, leapt out of bed, grabbed the sketchbook, headed into the bathroom where I could sketch without bothering my fiance, and got the idea down.

 
This strange fellow is Morgandor, the brother of my most recently deceased Pathfinder character, Balon. I have another image of him I will upload later. Accompanying the next image will also be some warhammer studies.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Painting Adventure


One of my favourite things, a thing I miss terribly in this new age of gaming and fantasy literature, is the feeling of 'adventure'. Ever since D&D 3.o was released, my love affair with gaming took a serious turn for the worse. Painters like Elmore and Parkinson, Easley, and (dare I say it) Clyde Caldwell were replaced by something darker. I could believe what I was seeing when it came to the early to mid years for D&D and other gaming products. There is something about this new 'World of Warcraft' mentality that instantly kills the mood for me. Big shoulder pads, power house characters, and weapons way to big for use all ruin my suspension of disbelief. These are all too much for my sensibilities. Maybe I am a traditionalist. Maybe I am too naive. But I will claim both eagerly. I don't want my fantasy irreverent and dark. I want it light, epic, and 'moody' in the right parts. I want balance, not 13 dwarves, a wizard and a hobbit riding a wooden bridge down the goblin-infested halls of Peter Jackson's mockery of a wonderful story.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Gelatinous Cubes

 
Well, after a long and harrowing battle with my fickle machine, I am back with some sketches. What's not to like about gelatinous cubes? They're ooey, and gooey, and will eat the flesh from your poor, adventurous bones so that some other curious adventurer can marvel over the magical loot you left behind. Warning! Please Keep Gelatinous Cubes Out Of Reach Of Curious Adventurers. Choking and Devouring Hazard!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Dragons

And again with the dragons! A staple of fantasy and myth for centuries, it remains one of those mystical, magical creatures that we cannot escape. Even those that think the fantastic is silly, firvolous, geeky (which in this world is difficult to come by these days with the advent of a mainstream fantasy culture), they could all recognize a dragon if they saw one. Even drastic changes to anatomy cannot mask it. I give you here another wyrm of spiteful, malicious intent. Behold!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

'What news, wyrm?'

Okay, so I had a bit of a hiccup there, for a bit. My computer is still down, but I am able to use my fiance's to upload images.

This image is one I had a great deal of fun with. I imagined a rat-king being visited by his little flunky, a goblin, or a similar creature, to bring news of a mission. The rat king, with more than a little disdain in his raspy voice, hisses his command through razor sharp incisors. The pet toad is a fat reminder of what happens to those that fail to meet the tyrant's high expectations.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Inspirations, Part 1: Larry Elmore

Well, here's the first of (hopefully) many Inspirations posts. The first is, well, the first. My introduction to fantasy came when I saw a friend of mine with a binder with one of those clear covers you stick things into. I always stuck pictures into them. So did he. A wizard stared back at me, like Merlyn promising a lifetime of wonder to a little Wart.

'What's that?' I asked.
'That's my D&D binder, man.'

From there history was made. And so was my mind made up to follow a particular path that would challenge me and give me so much in return for my devotion.


'Dragon Slayers and Proud of It!'
Larry Elmore
'That wizard led me to the book store to the AD&D 2nd Edition Player's Handbook. I opened the pages right there in the store and stumbled upon another image of a group of faithful, fateful adventurers whose stories were mine to wonder about for as long as I wished. I wanted so badly to be a part of their troupe; to be the great, jovial fighter; the warrior priest with his war hammer hung leisurely over his shoulder, resting after a hard won battle; the stranger hovering in the background, shrouded in the folds of his crimson cloak, a worker of mysteries, enigmas; to know the elf woman with the bow (who I imagined began with the priest on some special errand); and to batter steel against steel in mock combat against the warrioress (whom I always imagined as a sellsword, or a rogue of some kind, a companion to the giant man and the wizard).

Even though I have many influences now, Larry Elmore was the first. From that day in the book store to the days I spent traveling the lands of Krynn, he made me wonder with nothing more than coloured mud and brushes... I wanted to do that, too.

Little did I know that the wizard on the cover of my friend's D&D binder was me...

Much as Merlyn reached from the future back to Arthur's youth to guide him into the shoes he would eventually fill as a man, it seems to me now the wizard was familiar. His task, to teach me to wield the wand of graphite and smear the coloured mud in many patterns and signs to make visions to enchant the world, to show it beauty and magic, to help
 it dream.

If you ever get the chance, go to an old used bookstore and rummage through the early D&D stuff there. Chances are you'll find old copies of 'The Dragonlance Chronicles', back issues of Dragon or Dungeon magazines featuring Elmore's art. And make sure you stop by Mr. Elmore's website and pick up a print, or two, or three. Stop by his booth at the various conventions he frequents. I had the opportunity to meet him two or three times; each was a blessing and a treat. It was very important to me that my earliest hero turned out to be a big kid and a friendly face.

Elmore's still an active artist. My eyes are always peeled for updates of new commissions, personal work, and another opportunity to meet such an inspiring fellow.

So, my thanks, Larry. You were the first to set me down this path, and you are the first here. Thank you...

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Dragons

Of course, next to dwarves, dragons are my favourite creature to draw and paint. I seldom represent good dragons. For some reason, to me, dragons are almost exclusively an obstacle to overcome, a cunning adversary or villain to act as foil to the cause of good, the valiant knight. That is not to say I have not spent time exploring goodly dragons or that I don't reserve a special place in my heart for them. Indeed, I am very fond of Krynn's metallic dragons and some other notable serpents of friendly and noble disposition.

Primarily, however, dragons are a primordial force of evil. Perhaps this is because they are so huge, so symbolic of malevolence, so awesome, that even in their goodness they represent a terribleness.

In most fantasies, the line between good and bad, black and white, is so clearly drawn that the individuals belonging to either side must be exaggerations of normal human experiences and concepts in order to emphasize the struggle within us. Good is good only when compared to evil. Dragons represent the larger than life, ultimate obstacle. The dragon slayer, the walker through the valley, is the one that will come out the other side stronger for having faced his challenge, the amplification of his fears and demons.

And it is for this reason, I feel, that I must relegate dragons to the evil side of the spectrum. Sure, there may be those few good dragons that still and will capture my imagination and heart, but I have fought enough of them to know that even the good are not what they seem. To slay a dragon you must be wary of their tricks, sound of heart and mind, and courageous, even when defeat seems immanent. To be bold in the face of ultimate suffering, to fight when you want to give up, that is what fighting dragons is about.

I think about this struggle frequently these days. A friend recently lost his fight with a most foul wyrm, Cancer. This post is for you, my friend. Goodbye, Shawn. You fought bravely, and you will be missed. I haven't had a proper time to grieve for you, until now, your passing was such a shock. Your fight is done. May you rest well. God knows you deserve it...

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Bard the Hare

A character I am playing in a friend's 2nd Edition AD&D campaign.

The Elf Prince

 A character I have been dealing with for some time is an individual called the Elf Prince. I've started writing a story about him and would love to explore his journeys visually.

The Elf Prince represents for me a romantic ideal. He lives in a world very close to our own, yet removed from it. Maybe, one day, when I have been doing some freelance for awhile, I will come to a place where I am ready to share those stories in more detail. For now, here are some sketches.
I hope you all enjoy these images and they inspire you as much as they inspire me.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Don't Lose Your Head...

Skeleton warriors are one of the coolest fantasy monsters. They're iconic. I think Ray Harryhausen started my interest in them, along with the illustrations from the early Dungeons & Dragons monster manuals. This is one I'd like to explore in more detail and turn into a painting.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

To Slay a Hydra

Continuing the hydra theme, I will post this. After all, a beastie can only sit so long atop his bone bedecked hoard before a brave soul comes to put an end to his voracious appetite.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Hydra

I have no words of wisdom or special thoughts, at the moment. Just enjoy the sketch.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Dwarves... Again


As I have said, D&D was a huge influence on my life. Since I can remember playing I have been drawing my characters to flesh them out more for myself and fellow gamers.

Balon was my first D&D character. I revisited him a bit for the latest game I'm playing in. It's interesting to see the differences between then and now.

So, enjoy! I had loads of fun sketching these.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Necromancers and Process

One of the things I always do my best to capture, is a feeling. I just let my pencil wander along the page (which you can see in many places on both images) then pick out the shape and line relationships I find there. I do my best not to 'think too hard' and let the pencil do the talking. My heart speaks a language my waking mind cannot grasp completely, but somehow is translated through the drawing media. Almost like I am a silent observer watching the tale unfold, and every now and again putting in my two cents worth. It's so much fun to be surprised by my own drawings. Sometimes I get big ideas and put them down, as well. But I always allow the pencil, like a trusted wizardly advisor by the side of his king, tell me what he thinks. This essentially means there is never any artist's block.

Once I've made my 'notes' in my sketch book, I shoot my reference, tighten up the drawing where it needs it, then paint.

I've reached a point now where I will not stay with something I am dissatisfied with. If I do not like the 'feeling' of a drawing or painting, I will completely erase or destroy it, and start over, again and again, until I get what I want.