My friend Reuben plays ‘Magic the Gathering.’ I don’t know much about Magic (other than it involves cards with pictures of monsters on them), but some players apparently use a ‘place mat’ (sort of like a giant mouse pad) to lay their cards on. Reuben had a blank one and wanted me to illustrate something on it — he had another one that his wife had done for him and wanted to add to his collection. His only request was that the ‘focus’ of the work should be in the upper 1/2 to 2/3rds of the mat — apparently he likes to lay his cards along the bottom side of the mat, so if everything worth looking at is down there, it will soon get covered with cards.
I promised him I would make him a wonderful mat right away and then stuck it in a drawer and forgot all about it for about a year. The other day I decided to get off my ass and make the mat. I soon discovered that the rubbery, synthetic mat material does not take paint at all well — so after some experiments I started painting with the air brush. The air brush is not a tool I have used very much, but if you can see in this picture, I used a ‘frisket’ (which is a sticky, clear material) to block off parts of the mat that I didn’t want paint to get on, then sprayed one color with the airbrush, cut a new frisket to mask off other parts, painted with another color, etc. The mat didn’t take airbrush paint very well either, but it was at least better than the acrylic paint. I also had a lot of trouble getting the frisket to stick to the mat, especially when I was trying to get it to stick to a part I had already painted:
Edit: I did the above drawing a while back and was inspired to go ahead and post it by Eli Arndt’s drawings of the Morkoth in this online artists group. I think Eli’s morkoths look a lot more plausible (and dangerous) than mine — mine looks like a goofy parrot face on an octopus with little wings. If fried and breaded would it taste like chicken or calimari?
I based my drawing on the Morkoth drawing from the 1e Monster Manual by David Sutherland III:
The morkoth seems to be one of those creatures who has never really gotten his (her? its?) due. The idea of an ‘underwater minotaur’ kind of appeals to me. Perhaps Sigismund the Sea Monster would make a good morkoth?
My friend Jon C. just sent me links to these utterly fantastic narrative maps of Tomb of Horrors and White Plume Mountain made by an artist working for Wizards of the Coast. Its been decades since I adventured within these classics, but I was surprised at how much I remembered — White Plume Mountain, in particular, made a big impression… especially that room with the swinging chain platforms over the pit of boiling mud.
I don’t know if this sort of map would be practical for every purpose, but I love the 3d representation and the way you instantly understand the relationship between the different heights/depths on this kind of cut-away map. But I’ve always loved cut-away views of buildings, ships, etc. Witness my maps from Aldeboran that I posted in 2011. Not pretty or precise, but you get a sense of how the levels fit together (edit: I intended to say my maps from Tana Tak were not pretty — I think the Wizards maps below are plenty pretty).
Click images to see bigger:
I was reading about Nauru and found this fascinating picture of a Nauruan warrior from around 1880:
A while back, Grognardia was working on collecting a book of fantasy gods made from descriptions and illustrations contributed by the masses which was to be called ‘Petty Gods’— a tribute to the old “Unknown Gods” published back in the day by Judge’s Guild (I still have my copy of ‘Unknown Gods’ squirreled away). At some point, the project stalled and Grognardia retreated from the public scene. Most people thought it was a shame because the contributor work had all been all or mostly done — someone said it just needed layout and editing and the book was just in limbo (which reminds me — I have several things to finish, but that’s another subject for another post).
Greg “Gorgonmilk” has been working on getting the stalled ‘Petty Gods’ book back up and running. To that end, Greg started trying to get in touch with the original contributers and re-assemble the book (or a close facsimile thereof)… and new suggestions for godlings, godlets and other divine beings began pouring in. Which is great because:
a) The ‘Petty Gods’ book was so far along that letting it stall seems a shame,
b) Rather than just pissing and moaning, Greg grabbed the gorgon by the horns and milked it! He got off his ass and did something… which is something we need more of in this world.
Now it seems that the original manuscript for Petty Gods has been discovered and released via free PDF! Get it from GORGONMILK here! The new contributions will apparently be assembled into another volume! It’s an Easter miracle! Thank the Rabbit God! Praise his chocolate eggs! And thanks to Gorgonmilk for lighting the fire that made it happen.
I didn’t get in on Petty Gods 1, but will contribute to the 2nd one. I have some illustrations of some divine beings based on an Arthur Maachen story (written up by Geoffrey McKinney) that I just finished (they need to be scanned) and am trying to contribute my own Petty God… a (very) minor deity named ‘Pafflum’ from my own Aldeboran campaign.
The above picture is a scene from some play about Mormonism. I think those are the ancient ‘Lamanites.’ Looks like something that would happen on Aldeboran. Although on Aldeboran it would probably involve a lot more stabbing and head chopping.