Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The Art of Hârn

I am excited about the Kingdoms of Hârn being published as hardbacks in Columbia Games new Kickstarter. While I do think the loose-leaf format really lends itself to the publishing style for Hârn, the world constantly growing each year with published locations all over the island, it is nice to see the main kingdoms bound into slick hardbound books for our game shelves. The loose-leaf format will continue, so your binders of this fantasy world can continue to grow, in addition to CGI offering PDFs for all of the catalog.

The publishing schedule for Hârn has been steady and strong for years. Most of the kingdoms are finished and ready to go. In the coming Kickstarter Series for the Kingdom Hardbacks, we will be fleshing out and expanding the few that remain like Tharda and Azadmere- which is almost finished. I will be doing new art as needed and coloring some of the older publications.
Kaldor for example has been colored recently but I never got a chance to work on the page one illustration. It is a piece I did quite a while ago. I do like the theme, I would like to bring it up to the current standards. My work as improved since I did that image twenty years ago. I will be starting that image this week as the Kickstarter successfuly winds down.
Columbia Games asked me to discuss some of my favorite images Ive drawn for Hârn over the years. My answer to that question is usually "the project I just finished". So currently I am pretty proud of the work I did for the Dwarves in the Azadmere publications. There were not a lot of images for this Kingdom so I had free reign.

Enter Azadmere, pen and ink, digital,
Copyright © 2021, Richard Luschek and Columbia Games, Inc.

While I was a bit intimidated to do the cover images for the Hârnic Kingdoms, I am really happy with how they have come out. Kaldor was basically my interpretation of the scene that Eric Hotz had done for Kaldor almost 40 years ago. It has been an honor to work on this stuff as the work of Hotz was one of things that originally drew me Hârn in the first place.
One of the covers I am most proud of is the Chybisa Kingdom cover, which features the Royal Guard charging in to save a caravan on the Genin Trail from some troublesome barbarians.

Chybisan Charge, pen and ink, digital,
Copyright © 2021, Richard Luschek and Columbia Games, Inc.

Another favorite was the cover for Lokis. Of course this site is off Hârn, to the east in Ivinia. It was nice to feature powerful and important women in fantasy art who are not wearing chainmail bikinis.This image was fun to plan and design.

Path to the Oracle, pen and ink, digital,
Copyright © 2021, Richard Luschek and Columbia Games, Inc.

I do particularly enjoy drawing the pageantry and symbolism of the Hârnic religions. It's fun to expand on the parameters set by the original works to grow this world with new visual details in the architecture, items and clothing that is important and representative to each of its followers.
Often for the buildings I spend a lot of time turning the floor plans into 3D models using sketchup. I have a tendency to go overboard, as it is so fun to build these structures, but I usually turn the models into videos that I share on my YouTube channel.

Cundras, assembly of the troops, pen and ink, digital,
Copyright © 2021, Richard Luschek and Columbia Games, Inc.

This is Cundras, the primary keep for the religious order of The Lady of Paladins in the Kingdom of Melderyn. I often say I do not like drawing bird's eye view images as they are not typically what the players would see (unless they get a magic helicopter), I tend to like to draw the locations as they would appear to a player walking up the road, but I do like this image. More typical is what you see below.

Caleme, pen and ink, digital,
Copyright © 2021, Richard Luschek and Columbia Games, Inc.

Caleme is another religious site I very much enjoyed working on. I love the design and feel of grand medieval churches. To get to work out the art and details of these places is always a joy. The stain glass windows are strongly influenced by real world saint, that I changed to reflect specific saints in the Larnai Church. If you take the time to translate the Harnic text it will tell which ones are featured. 

In every major article I try to do primarily realistic images that will help set the stage for that location. I also like to draw at least one piece of art that looks like it was made on Hârn. So I will draw a medieval manuscript page or stained glass window that show how folks of this world see themselves and their myths. It is a great way to illustrate things that happened in the past or may not have actually happened. I like to sneak in inaccuracies. A monk may be illustrating a scene or creature that he has not seen but only heard about. So every manuscript image is often exaggerated or just plain wrong, which I think is fun for a Gm to show players, who's plan could be completely based on bad information: Hârnic fake news.
Finally, in each article I try to have a silhouette image. I really enjoy trying to tell a story with just B&W silhouettes. It is also a way to show violence without it being too gory. Adding color behind can really bring them to life- giving a moody feel as they are usually the extreme lighting of a sunrise or sunset.
This is one of my favorites. A scene in the orchards of Esenor in the Kingdome of Kaldor showing the peasantry collecting apples in the orchard and a beekeeper working on the hives of the aviary.

Esenor, morning in the Orchard, pen and ink, digital,
Copyright © 2021, Richard Luschek and Columbia Games, Inc.
Now I suppose I should get to work on the page one illustration for the Kaldor Hardbound book.
If you enjoy the work Im doing I suggest you follow my YouTube Channel
If you want some cool swag, check out my Redbubble account for t shirts and lots of other products.
You can also support me through my Patreon where I post 3 full color game character and creature images for your games.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Polishing an Orc.

Its entirely possible I will start doing more blog posts. Ive said this before, but this time I almost kinda sorta mean it, maybe.

I do think the key is to keep it sort and sweet. Since I started blogging 13 years ago, Twitter and Instagram have been training people to be annoyed with much more than a single image and 140 characters. I include myself here since I was annoyed when twitter expanded to 240 characters. Who has time to read extra words?

To the topic at hand: I have been working for CGI for almost 20 years. Its been so long that I am getting to rework and redo stuff that I did when I was in the early stages of my illustration career. So, there is a lot of stuff in print that I am very embarrassed by.

The recent kickstarter of Columbia Games HarnMaster update gave me the chance to redo some art that really hurt my soul. One of the things Ive wanted a second shot at was the Harnic Orc and the Ivashu creatures. I drew some real turkeys. Since this time Ive done some pieces for fans and for other Harnic publications that have greatly improved how I draw these guys.
There was one Gargun image I did I was still quite fond of: the Gargu-arak or small orc. I rescanned the 17 year old drawing and worked it over a bit in black and white before coloring it. You can see the differences in the two images below where I fixed some problems (Bow just touching the knee) and refined some of the drawing.

Also back in the day, for some reason the images got converted to clunky bitmap files. So the new high res tiff files have more life to them even in black and white.
As is the style for my Harn work, I paint under the line art in photoshop. I have a few brushes I like that give a  nice water-color feel. For this image I thought Id try something different and give it a fall look with bright yellows and orange colors. Every other harnic orc was too embarrassing and replaced with something new.
Hope folks are as happy with the update as I am. Please burn your old copies so my shame disappears forever. Seriously, burn them all! and get the updated version.
Ill post about the Ivashu updates next. Feel free to ask questions in the comments or suggest topics for future posts.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Freaking Magic- Melderyn Cover

It has been a while since my last blog. I've been doing some work that I feel like talking about, so you may see a few more of these pop up.

Please be nice, as I need to get my writing chops back.
I wanna talk about the recent cover I just finished for the Kingdom of Melderyn.

Bringer of Storms on the shores of Melderyn
pen and ink, digital, Copyright © 2019, Richard Luschek and Columbia Games, Inc.
Years ago, Tom Dalgliesh at Columbia Games asked for new covers for all the Hârn Kingdom Modules. This was a big job and the idea kinda frightened me. I worried I was not good enough to pull this off. I procrastinated. A few HârnQuests came up that were new or updated kingdoms and they needed covers: OrbaalIvinia, Rogna and most recently Lokis. When forced into a corner, one at a time, I felt they were pretty successful. So, after this request from three years ago, I'm off an running on the rest.
The original kingdoms in the 80's all had cover images, mostly painted by Eric Hotz, but as Hârn moved to the binder model with constant expansion to the product, the images did not quite fit and a simple monochrome cover was used.

Almost makes you yawn doesn't it? Are you yawning?
My original plan was to use the inside, page one image on the cover. This idea worked with Kanday- after a lot of tweaking.
This time for Melderyn, I did a mock up with that image just to get a rough idea. You can see where it was a long panel and I had a lot to add to the top and bottom.
Melderyn cover rough layout
I decided there was a lot I didn't like about this image for the cover. The pose was boring, the hands were not great, the color is iffy, and the image does not pop. It needed more punch.
I like the idea, not the execution. The idea is based on the destruction of the Viking fleet at Cape Renda that is in the Hârnic histories. Though it could also be a new, similar event. The details of the story can be left up to the Game Master.

So, I was back to the drawing board. I did a rough sketch and then asked my neighbor to pose as the sorcerer. He came over, we got him dressed up in the approximate garb and I had him strike a bunch of poses. He really got into it and did a great job.

sketch and pose reference
I did a more detailed drawing and then inked over the pencils lines with Pigma Micron pens. I mostly used the small ones (005 and 01) as I like the fine lines and building up a tone slowly.
Bringer of Storms on the shores of Melderyn
pen and ink, Copyright © 2019, Richard Luschek and Columbia Games, Inc.
I knew I wanted lightning being summoned or at least the illusion of that. I got the idea that the lightning would be in a similar position as the magic user's right hand. Like he was directing the lightning, composing the storm. I played around in the mirror, moving my hand into a pose I thought looked lightningy.
I even played around with different colored lightning. Below you can see I started out drawing the blue lightning over his arm, following all the joints of the skeleton, enlarged it and moved it into position. I have labeled things to make it clear.
Lightning Arm
The white lightning looked better- a bit more subtle and the giant arm of lightning felt a bit too on-the-nose. A bit harsh honestly. I tried a few other things on this piece, like having the lead boat be on fire. Sometimes restraint works well too.
I did have fun on the standing stones- making up some magical type designs, including the Shek Pvar wheel at the top, and some map that could be a strange solar system or list of portals.

All the Hârn Kingdoms will have a similar treatment. Kanday is done, Rethem is started and I am finishing up a "redo" of the original Hotz painting from the 1984 Kaldor cover.
All should be done and available by Gen Con.

As to how these will be made available to customers with the old kingdoms, I do not know.  You will be able to get them somehow.
This image will probably appear on some products in my new swag shop at Redbubble. Visit now to purchase all your Luschek Swag.

Post your thoughts below or on the many social media site this will show up on.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

HarnQuest, Coselin and Lorkin

A few notes about the newest HarnQuest, which contains the articles Coselin and Lorkin and a map.
I got a chance to expand the illustration for Lorkin, so I built a sketchup model. Lorkin also has a cool mausoleum on a rock in the river just out of view in the illustration below.
Lorkin Keep, pen & ink and digital,
Copyright © 2018, Richard Luschek and Columbia Games, Inc.
"Lorkin commands the head of the Anoth Delta in the southeast corner of the Kingdom of Orbaal. It is the largest settlement in the region and an important center of maritime trade."
I chose a view very close to the original illustration by Hotz which I liked it a lot.

Watch this video walk around in Sketchup here on YouTube:
For the mausoleum I chose a solid, yet simple architecture as it is of Jarin construction.
I selected a view that hints at a visitor. Is it a Jarin Ilvirian who has come to study the mythology of Eochaid, the priest laid to rest here? Is it an Ivinian here to deface the sacred site or is it someone here to pillage the site for artifacts?
I always imagine an Ilvirian site teaming with life. Seals have chased some fish up the river and are now resting on the rocks. Seals are some pretty strange Ivashu dont you agree?
The scene I selected:
 The resulting illustration:
Faenghease Rock, pen & ink and digital,
Copyright © 2018, Richard Luschek and Columbia Games, Inc.
 I had a lot of fun drawing the floor painting of the mausoleum. I chose an image of Eochaid of Olthair, aided by some Hru to drive out the gargun to restore the temple at Gedan. I tend to look at early Celtic as inspiration for the work of Jarin.
Eochaid of Olthair, pen & ink and digital,
Copyright © 2018, Richard Luschek and Columbia Games, Inc.
Coselin has a very cool temple as its major feature. The images for the towns often tend to feature the castle or keep of the town, so it was nice to focus on something else. The Sarjin Temple dominates the shore line.
The floorplans are pretty simple, and I struggled with how to represent it. I looked at the complicated wooden Stave churches and took inspiration from there.

I hinged most of the Coselin illustrations around the docks. You can see from my sketchup reference I had to work a bit to make this interesting. The simple model I built looks more like modern pole building.

I wanted to roof of the temple to have the feel of a serpents back-  I wish I had pushed this a bit more. I covered the temple in pinnacles and various fanciness. The whale ribs form an arch as you approach the temple.
Coselin, pen & ink and digital,
Copyright © 2018, Richard Luschek and Columbia Games, Inc.
The interior design and description of the temple left some room for playing around. I designed the priests platform to look like Sarajins sled. The priest is holding a ceremonial golden axe, a warrior and a shield-maiden present for this ceremony.
Worshiping Sarajin, pen & ink and digital, Copyright © 2018, Richard Luschek and Columbia Games, Inc.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Combat Infantry: World War II tactical block game

A few years after working on the block art for what I thought was all going into Victory in Europe- (Sometimes I don't know the plan. I just draw what they tell me to) all of that art is going into a new game, Combat Infantry now on Kickstarter.
Combat Infantry, Charge, pen and ink-digital color
Copyright © 2017, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek
I was asked last month to do the art for the box cover. I will paraphrase the request from Tom, "Something silhouettey, with soldiers in combat, and I am fond of orange".
Above is what happened from that request.

Here is a shot of the game block art I did a while ago. Of course it is all very much strongly based on lots of reference photos that I tried to clean up and turn into readable images that would only be around 3/4" square.

Combat Infantry, game block art, pen and ink-digital color
Copyright © 2017, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek
But I digress, back to the cover.
Combat Infantry, Sketches digital color
Copyright © 2017, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek
I decided I wanted the cover to have the feel of WWII poster art which have very strong and readable designs- though Columbia Games asked for something a bit more realistic, I feel I kept it pretty much in the middle of those ideas. In my research I found a few photos and images I liked for reference. The final image is based on a nice black and white photo of a single soldier charging. I sent these three sketches for Tom Dalgliesh to approve. As he said in his request, he said he likes orange- so he picked the first one. He had some suggestions, and I went from there.
First step is to a more detailed drawing. I used Google Sketchup to get the positioning of the tank which was a bit challenging to draw from that view rolling over the hill.
I ink the drawing and scan it into photoshop to color it.
Combat Infantry, Charge, pen and ink
Copyright © 2017, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek
I played around a bit and at moment tried a bluish sky but Tom thought the orange sky with higher contrast had a stronger impact. I agree.

Combat Infantry, Charge variation, pen and ink-digital color
Copyright © 2017, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek
I pushed the sky to orange and removed the competing tank explosion and replaced it with a trail of smoke to keep the focus on the charging soldier.
Once this gets laid out on the box slip cover it may go through a few more changes but I am pretty happy with the final image.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Plain of Towers

A quick blog about the March HarnQuest shipping as I type this. I just finished the last illustration less than a week ago. It is a pretty unified release, focusing on one location of Harn, the Plain of Towers.  Included in this release is the map section of Chelna Gap.

"The Plain is named for the large mortared cairns or standing stones, some more than 30 feet tall, that mark the ancient barrows of the Jarin people.
The Plain is within the range of the Chelni tribes and dotted with their burial sites.
The region's most prominent feature is Elkall-Anuz, the ruined city that was once the center of the empire of Lothrim the Foulspawner, the despot who ruled much of central Hârn from 110 to 120 TR. In addition to the ruins of Lothrim's city and gargun (Hârnic orc) complexes, the site includes one of best-preserved structures left by the Earthmasters."

Sunning on the Rocks, Plain of Towers, pen and ink-digital color
Copyright © 2017, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

Here is a Sketchup model I did for the Earthmaster sites.

I found a spot I liked and did a screenshot of the model. I often just throw the Sketchup dude in there for scale.

The Gazers Well is described as "sweet", so I figured it would be frequented by local wildlife visiting for a drink. A large hawk rests on a column.
Afternoon Drink, Elkall-Anuz, pen and ink-digital color
Copyright © 2017, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek
My favorite illustration of this article is of a particularly vicious orc, named Kalgash one-eye who has taken up residence in a local ruin. I gave him an unusual hairdo having it tied up in natty horns on the sides of his head. A cute touch for a nasty dude.
Kalgash one-eye, pen and ink-digital color
Copyright © 2017, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

Thursday, March 9, 2017

I've Been Busy

Yeah, its been a while since the last post on this blog. I apologize, but give me a break, I've been busy.

So, what should I talk about? Anyone?
Well, the October HarnQuest was my last topic, so lets discuss the December HarnQuest, which was a very cool Guthe Bridge article and the Orbaal town of Leriel. (links to the print versions, PDFs also available)

Guthe bridge is a very cool location that was a challenge to illustrate and to model. Here is the Sketchup model video I made on You tube. I am only making these models so I can really pick a cool viewpoint for my illustration and to make sure perspectives and sight lines are correct. These are not an end in and of themselves- they are a means to make the illustrations. If anyone complains they are too blocky I will drive to your house, knock on your door and slap who ever opens it. So don't.

From this model I move around until I find some good positions and save the view as a 2D image to work from.
I throw in some clunky dudes to use for scale reference and get this. The sketchup warehouse has some ready-made models to use. Trees and roman soldiers, etc. 
I very loosely use this image to do my sketch.
Here is the final illustration.

Visit from Zerhun, pen and ink-digital color
Copyright © 2017, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek
The second article in the October HarnQuest is a the largest town in Orbaal with a very cool series of gates leading to the castle. The original illustration for Leriel was very distant view, so it was fun to get in there and really flesh it out.
Here is the model. As with Guthe I could use the same model for multiple illustrations.
I figured out how to add music to these videos. I am limited to copyright free music on youtube. Is it better or just annoying?

It was pretty easy to choose a view.

I thought the castle looked puny so I did adjust some things. I do a pencil drawing and then I ink it. When I am doing color I try to do very minimal inking so it doesn't get muddy.

Leriel gates, pen and ink
Copyright © 2017, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek
I scan it in and digitally color it in photoshop after making any corrections to the drawing, for example make the giant seagulls a more reasonable size.

Leriel gates, pen and ink-digital color
Copyright © 2017, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek
I will try to post more. I have finished the next HarnQuest coming out this month and also done a ton of FFF characters for the Guthe Bridge location. How about I peak one of the them now? I have not gotten to draw a lot of Dwarves, so this was quiet fun. Feel free to comment or make suggestions on topics or illustrations you like to see me discuss.

Lord Esatol, pen and ink
Copyright © 2017, Kerry Mould and Richard Luschek