Tuesday, December 8, 2015

HarnQuest- Geldeheim in the snow.

I am currently finishing up the December HarnQuest with only a few more illustrations to go. Till then, lets talk about the last issue. The royal city of Geldeheim in  Orbaal.
Geldeheim in the Snow, pen and ink-digital color, Copyright © 2015, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek
"Geldeheim is the seat of Alegar II, King of Orbaal. The castle is on the south shore of the Geldesfjord, the most populous region of the kingdom."
I had a lot of locations in the town to illustrate, so I went a bit overboard with the Sketchup model this time- but it was so much fun.
Here is a walk-thru of the model I posted on YouTube.

So, the various scenes are then used as reference for final illustration.
Used for the snowy view on page one.
The nice thing is that while a lot of the stuff done in sketchup is custom built, there is a nice online warehouse of prebuilt models, including a viking ship and a selection of medieval houses. You can also save components you build to use for later.

The Agrikan Temple had an exit below to the river that I wanted to show from the other bank. Getting things to scale without using this a model is challenging for me.
Agrikan Temple, pen and ink-digital color, Copyright © 2015, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

Not the exact view I used for the illustration, but this gives you an idea of the scale issues I needed to figure out.
Shipbuilder, pen and ink-digital color, Copyright © 2015, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek
This one didn't really need the model, but it doesn't hurt to double check things. Here is a distant view of that scene.

I did a separate model for the Annwyn ruins too. I was not too sure what I was going to draw so the model helps me get some ideas.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Barbarian Charge vs Barbarian Sneak

HarnWorld Barbarians, Copyright © 2015, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek
I was asked by Columbia Games to update a cover for one of their publications- Barbarians of Hârn. They wanted something featuring a lone warrior- something with a bit more action.
One of my big goals for this years production running up to the next Gen Con is get nice covers done for all the Kingdoms and the major cities. I think Hârn needs covers that will help sell the product to a new fan base. This was a good way to get the ball rolling on the cover situation for new products and to fancy up the current product like.
The original cover was done by Eric Hotz, the illustrator who set the gritty visual tone for Hârn and is one of the reasons I was drawn to this fantasy world in the first place.

Barbarians cover by Eric Hotz, Copyright © 1984, Columbia Games, Inc. and Eric Hotz
The original cover is 30 years old (that does not seem possible!) and was due for an update. There is something quaint about this cover but I always thought the barbarians looked more like shy, fat Dwarves.
I decided to compose my cover after one of my favorite Hotz covers- Nasty Brutish and Short.

N, B, & S cover by Eric Hotz, Copyright © 1984, Columbia Games, Inc. and Eric Hotz
Imagine your players being attacked from the right by goblins when suddenly a barbarian tribesman charges out of the woods on your left.
I started with some very rough sketches to get approval.

I did about 10 or so, some on horses, but thought a closeup of the barbarian would be more interesting.
I chose the Equani tribesmen known for their rough facial branding and collecting of scalps.
After posing myself for some very manly reference photos (which you will never see), I started sketching it out. I had a sword initially but the axe is just too bad ass.
Barbarian Sketch, 11" x 9", Copyright © 2015, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek
I tweaked it a bit, printed it out on 11x14 card-stock then coated the drawing with amber shellac. The oils in the paint will eat the paper, something is needed to protect the drawing.

Barbarian drawing , 14" x 11", Copyright © 2015, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek
I just started in painting in oil, working towards the big look of value and color on that first day.
Barbarian Day one Lay-In , 14" x 11", Copyright © 2015, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek
Each day I refined the drawing, bringing it into focus.

Barbarian Day 4 , 14" x 11", Copyright © 2015, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

Once the painting progresses problems start to emerge and you discover things you just don't like. I did not like the back arm and totally repainted it removing the leather guard. The sketched in brands were starting to take on  a gross dimensional look.

Barbarian Day 5 , 14" x 11", Copyright © 2015, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek
After I fixed the back arm, the one in the front started to look terrible. Looking in the mirror, I found a pose I liked better and I took some new reference shots.
Barbarian Day 6 , 14" x 11", Copyright © 2015, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek
A bit more tweaking and I was basically done. I ended up adding a purple glaze over the whole figure to darken him down and give him a more swarthy look.
I shot a high-res photo of the painting. A bit of photoshop cleanup and it was ready for the title- which ended up covering more than I had hoped.
The cover was printed and added as a wrap around to the books in the warehouse. The interior text is all the same, so if this is already part of your collection, but you'd like to update with the new cover, contact Columbia Games for purchase.

The framed original painting is available for sale as well. Contact me if you are interested. If you have young children, this would look great hanging at the foot of their bed.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Cover Babe

I think we can all agree that Hârn has been in need of the stereotypical high-fantasy, hot chain-mail clad babe on a cover a long time. Well, I have finally made all your dreams come true -Sort of.
Bestiary of Harn, Copyright © 2015, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

There has never been a Bestiary for Harn. We have a lot of separate beast articles but there has never been a starter product or a binder to hold them. I will admit the selection of articles in the current starter bundle needs work and will probably change (for one, Garguns are not in the bundle), but we got one ready for GenCon and sold all we had.
I wanted this cover to be similar to the HarnWorld and HarnDex covers. So I started with that as a base.
Of course a Bestiary needs a dragon on the front so I thought a St. George and the Dragon type image would be cool. I decided to not be sexist and go with a female knight. A knight from the Order of the Crimson Dancer located at Quimen in Orbaal was the obvious choice. I like the idea of an Agrikan being a hero of the story.
Bestiary of Harn- Early version, Copyright © 2015, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek
As these things tend to develop and change as I work them up, here is a very early version of the cover. I initially had a more typical, knight saving a damsel in distress thing going on but decided it would be more Agrikan like if the knight used a slave tied to a tree as bait for the heroic hunting of the beast. I imagine that slave will be abused and burned at the stake in celebration of the kill.
The HarnDex cover did have some beasts already though it needed some adjustments.  The Kuboran warrior need to be changed, I tried adding a bear in that spot but thought it would be more cool to make the Kuboran undead. The Aklash was added in the top with the stinking breath decorating the corner. I adjusted the castle to look a bit more like Quimen and changed the shield to a generic Agrikan symbol.
I tend to shy away from true accuracy in these medieval manuscript images and make sure the image is pleasing and decorative. I find the mistakes and odd interpretations in medieval manuscripts fascinating.
On my To-Do list is to get all the beasts colored, at least the first page of every article. I did 10 for this release, including the Yelgri and the Old Ones.

Yelgri Attack, Copyright © 2015, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek
 It is not up yet, but for those of you who have all the articles already, the covers for this and the barbarians covers should be available for sale from Columbia Games soon. Or you could just ask for one now.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Big Catch

The next HarnQuest is coming out very soon. I have all the art done (only about 2 months past due) but I had other Harn related stuff to do -so give me a freaking break will you!
Floating to Freedom, Copyright © 2015, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek
Actually I will post about some of that other Harn / Gen Con related stuff next.
This issue of HarnQuest will contain Menekai, Patrel and the Salt route.
Menekai has never been illustrated. The rough looking Larga Gydsilen has been shown in Rethem, but the castle and its surroundings had not. I started with Sketchup model drawn over the maps by Oddgeir Drevdal.
Often things are found in modeling that helps us draw better maps. One discovery was that the north tower and walls are in mid construction. I had modeled them too high. Brent pointed this out and we realized the maps really should have scaffolding and some signs of construction. The corrections were made.
Here is the cool flyover animation I did of the model once I had something in mind.

Once the model is complete, I pick a view that I think will look best and gives a good flavor to the place. I wanted to show the metalworks, with the smelting furnaces going, and the charcoaler piles smoldering. I decided to show a boy fishing as a dead body floats by, probably from the slave quarters. I would imagine with the harsh conditions of this place, slaves don't last long. A lazy guard may just decide to toss the body in the river rather than deal with it. I use Sketchups rough 3d figures as stand-ins.

Menekai Sketchup screen shot
After I do a sketch, I ink it, scan the image in photoshop and start coloring. I usually create some layers for the major units of the image. The inked layer is on top set to multiply. I had a sky layer, a water layer, a town layer, foreground layer, boy/body layer, and a water reflection layer -which was the town layer selected, filled with a gradient, vertically flipped and set to multiply over the water layer.
All this gets painted in broad strokes, working towards detail. I often add some multiply layers to get darker and add some mood.
I thought I was done.

Floating to Freedom (minus mood), Copyright © 2015, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek
One of the writers pointed out the image was not dark enough in mood, and possibly in value. That the place should feel dirtier. After my attempts to get that person fired failed, I thought maybe I should consider this criticism.
I do like contrast in subject matter. So a sunny scene of a kid fishing with a dead body floating by had a touch of that. I figured a bit more mood could help, plus I keep forgetting my promise to myself to do more rain scenes. Harn is a wet place. Adding a rain texture gave it the miserable mood that was needed. I had to darken some things, like the kids wet clothes, add some splashes resulting in the image you see at the top of the page.

Look for a few more posts soon. I will try to keep up on this blog more. Let me know if there are any topics you'd like to see covered.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Xerle Chapterhouse

The next HarnQuest will be printed this Tuesday with shipping beginning shortly after. This release has a nice variety of articles including Arathel Castle, Onden Keep, Ruins on the Silver Way, and Xerle Chapterhouse of the Checkered Shield (an expansion to the Dyrisa article).

I thought I would post about some of the work from Xerle.
"Xerle is a chapterhouse of the Order of the Checkered Shield. The order holds the manor from the Serekela (archbishop) of Kanday. Xerle is home to a commandery, or half-chapter, of five melana (knights) and 10 meken (common men-at-arms). The Xerle chapter is charged with patrolling the King’s Way."
Morning Patrol Gathering, Copyright © 2015, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek
First thing I do, after skimming the article of course, is to load the map into Google Sketchup and rough out a model of the complex. I do tend to get carried away on these models since it is kind of blast to do, but I am getting pretty fast and have a collection of components stored I can reuse. Sketchup has a cool animation feature which makes it very easy to do a quick fly around of the model.

The idea for the cover page image was to have the Larani soldiers gathering for the morning patrol. Of course "Chivalry, honor, and duty are characteristics of the Order of the Checkered Shield, a fighting order dedicated to the goddess Larani, the Shieldmaiden of the Worthy Cause", but that doesn't mean they are above stringing up some poor bastard in the woods to coax out some answers.
I did an image of the patrol questioning a suspect. At first drew him being strung up by the neck. I figured it was confusing and looks too much like they are administering frontier justice. 

A few questions, Copyright © 2015, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

I changed it to the having him being painfully hoisted with his arms behind his back. Also, it's probably easier to answer questions this way than with a rope around your neck.
As the process is sometimes in flux, writing and art happening together. That with my desire to cram art into every orifice of the article resulted in me drawing an image that would not fit into the latest article. So, I had to squeeze that tree down a bit to fit the space. 

Here is the final image with some color. Pretty sure this guy will talk.

A few questions, Copyright © 2015, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

I also did a fly around of the image of Onden Castle for your enjoyment.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Ilvir's Crib

A new reprint of Araka Kalai is about to be shipped to customers. It has been expanded and updated.  
"Araka-Kalai is, according to legend and the doctrine of the Ilviran church, the dwelling of the god Ilvir. Located in the isolated Misyn region, the site’s dominant feature is a huge limestone sinkhole known as the Pit of Araka-Kalai. An ancient tower stands on a rocky island in the Pit, surrounded by a liquefied, fermenting sludge with a stench that puts to shame all other offensive smells."
Wading through the Muck, Araka Kalai, Copyright © 2015, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek
Hopefully the above image looks like it is a stinky place. The plan was to use much of the old art, but this is such a cool site on Hârn I could not help myself- I ended up redoing most of the art. I did a sketch of the tower with a guide presenting the tower, but it looked a bit goofy and touristy. I decided for a view in the pit of some pilgrims carrying a ladder to the tower so they can enter the holy site. I did do a SketchUp model since the old article had some scale issues if you compared the art to the maps. The stout scaling would make the tower look too stubby. Here is a video walk-thru I did of the model.

We did an updated version of the cross section Eric Hotz did for the original article in 1987, but it ended up getting cut due to it not being "useful or accurate". Showing the cave complex in any realistic way would be very tough to do. I like the image anyway and was sad to see it go, so I thought I would post it here.
Araka Kalai Cave Complex, Copyright © 2014, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

The other illustration that I was glad to tackle was a old one I had done for the Tave, an unique Ivashu. I did it over 12 years ago and was never very happy with it. A few obvious issues are that it is not long enough as per the description and the scene is more comical than frightening. It also needed to be colored and shown in a cave setting.

Tave, Copyright © 2002, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

As this creature is an Ilvirian priest that turns into a snake (spoiler alert!) I wanted the face to have a bit more personality. I made the soldier look terrified and added a bit more action to the image.
Tave updated, Copyright © 2015, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

Here is the final version colored.

Tave Attack, Copyright © 2015, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek