Work in Process: Exquisite Corpses (Skeleton)

When Jim Raggi from LotFP and I began discussing a revised edition of ‘Exquisite Corpses’* a number of years ago, we both agreed it needed more creatures. We collaborated on a list that included various animals and other creatures… one of the creatures added was the ‘skeleton’ which has caused me no end of trouble. I thought I would share some of my attempts in order to illustrate a response to some of the emails I have gotten and (hopefully) allow a peek into my process.

My first skeleton was done when I was working on the illustrations using acrylic paint. I have since decided a) acrylic wasn’t the right medium, and b) all three tabs need to be the same size for printing / die cut at the printers, so this version goes on the scrap heap, despite being pretty good (albeit unfinished). I like the purple robe and will probably include purple in the final color scheme.

skeleton I


I then decided to do them in pen and ink and add color later (this gives the transition from one tab to the next a more unified look). I like the way this guy is climbing out of the grave… unfortunately, I made a really stupid mistake and split the legs from the torso at the top of the pelvis rather than the bottom of the pelvis. This means that if I used this one, any creature employing the skeleton legs would have 2 pelvises…a skeletal pelvis beneath the pelvis attached to whatever torso you used. Despite being a pretty promising start, I had to ditch this one, too.

skeleton II

3rd version, pen and ink, avoids the mistakes of 2nd version… but something about the arms and legs just looks bad. I like the design of this helmet, though, and decided that ragged strips of cloth, from the skeleton’s decayed clothing, can help disguise the transition from one section to the next.

skeleton III

4th version… this is probably the final (although it is unfinished). Because the three sections all need to join together and be the same size, realistic proportions take a hit (most people’s legs are a little longer and their heads and torsos might be a little shorter, but these are the sacrifices we need to make). I’m happy with the vaguely ‘Hussar’ look of the helmet and armor and have an environment sketched out around his feet.

skeleton IV

*If you are reading this, you are probably aware that E.C. is a monster ‘flip book’ I self published a few years ago where you can flip tabs to put the head of one creature on the torso of another and add the legs of a third, etc. It’s a quick and fun way to create your own mythological beasts. See these posts for explanation:

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