Sunday, April 28, 2013

Goddess Interrupted

Okay - not interrupted - just in progress.  For those of you who are interested in the process, here is Pherosathoola midway through here first inking, with the original pencils faded.

Yes, I said first inkng.  After I scan the final pencils in and pull up the piece in Photoshop, I start inking.  In the first inking pass I am not so interested in varying the line weight - think and thin - I am just working on accurate line placement.  Line thickness at this stage is incidental - except in the face, where I do fiddle around.  I'll do maybe five more inking passes, making certain lines thicker in places.  This is to provide perspective through line weight, help sort out certain object (that tangle of snaked on her head mainly,) to help enhance important bits (face and boobs and the curve of her rear end,) and finally, but most importantly, to provide a flow of action for the eye to follow.

And you thought they were just lines!  Ha!

- Ark

Friday, April 26, 2013

Idea for Star Wars Game

Fixed point in time.
I'm sooooo sorry.
The players are a spaceship crew who has had their freighter impounded on the peace-loving planet of Alderaan, and their captain is in the clink on charges of gun-running.  While commiserating at the local cantina, the players hear news of a moon-sized space station entering the Alderaan system.  It's announced on Alderaan Holo-Net that the gigantic space craft must be some kind of thoughtful peace offering from Emperor Palpatine - maybe even with goodies inside.  Like a piñata.

The incarcerated and suspicious captain is the only one who knows the key-codes to get the freighter running.  The Alderaanic Port Authority has the ship securely bay-clamped.  The players know they are being watched by:
  1. the Alderaanic Bureau of Investigation, because they think the players know where the hidden weapons are, and
  2. Happy the Hutt, covert leader of the shadowy Alderaanic Underground, because he thinks the players know where his shipment of hidden weapons is.
The players, however, do not know where the hidden weapons are.  Heck, they aren't even allowed to HAVE weapons on Alderaan.

As the gigantic space station enters Alderaan orbit and eclipses the sun, the players get a collective bad feeling about the whole situation.

Whatever will they do?


- Ark

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Who Are They?

I doodled these guys tonight while having a beer.  I don't know them.  If you are so inclined, let me know who they are, and feel free to stat them up in the system of your choice. :)

(I have no idea what Malta 5000 means, either.)

- Ark

New Ad for the FLGS

Roll2Play is only a short hop from where I live, and receives a regular tithe from me. :)  Oh, and I think that's a Cthulhu die in her hand.

- Ark

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

So I'm a Frikkin Bard, Eh?

I Am A: True Neutral Elf Bard/Wizard (3rd/3rd Level)

Ability Scores:

True Neutral A true neutral character does what seems to be a good idea. He doesn't feel strongly one way or the other when it comes to good vs. evil or law vs. chaos. Most true neutral characters exhibit a lack of conviction or bias rather than a commitment to neutrality. Such a character thinks of good as better than evil after all, he would rather have good neighbors and rulers than evil ones. Still, he's not personally committed to upholding good in any abstract or universal way. Some true neutral characters, on the other hand, commit themselves philosophically to neutrality. They see good, evil, law, and chaos as prejudices and dangerous extremes. They advocate the middle way of neutrality as the best, most balanced road in the long run. True neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you act naturally, without prejudice or compulsion. However, true neutral can be a dangerous alignment when it represents apathy, indifference, and a lack of conviction.

Elves are known for their poetry, song, and magical arts, but when danger threatens they show great skill with weapons and strategy. Elves can live to be over 700 years old and, by human standards, are slow to make friends and enemies, and even slower to forget them. Elves are slim and stand 4.5 to 5.5 feet tall. They have no facial or body hair, prefer comfortable clothes, and possess unearthly grace. Many others races find them hauntingly beautiful.

Primary Class:
Bards often serve as negotiators, messengers, scouts, and spies. They love to accompany heroes (and villains) to witness heroic (or villainous) deeds firsthand, since a bard who can tell a story from personal experience earns renown among his fellows. A bard casts arcane spells without any advance preparation, much like a sorcerer. Bards also share some specialized skills with rogues, and their knowledge of item lore is nearly unmatched. A high Charisma score allows a bard to cast high-level spells.

Secondary Class:
Wizards are arcane spellcasters who depend on intensive study to create their magic. To wizards, magic is not a talent but a difficult, rewarding art. When they are prepared for battle, wizards can use their spells to devastating effect. When caught by surprise, they are vulnerable. The wizard's strength is her spells, everything else is secondary. She learns new spells as she experiments and grows in experience, and she can also learn them from other wizards. In addition, over time a wizard learns to manipulate her spells so they go farther, work better, or are improved in some other way. A wizard can call a familiar- a small, magical, animal companion that serves her. With a high Intelligence, wizards are capable of casting very high levels of spells.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

- Ark

Pherosathoola, Goddess of Sexual Fear

Here is the latest step in my drawing of a Petty Goddess. These are the 'proper' pencils I've put down after I was comfortable with the Non Photo Blue. Next step is the inking.

I've added the freckles, as requested.  She was already cute, and they make her look even cuter - which makes me laugh, as she is the petty goddess of sexual fear.  So take a good look at Pherosathoola, and then go read about her on Rended Press.  Are you sufficiently horrified now?



- Ark

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Next Goddess Cosplay

In case you were wondering where I was going with the last scans of the petty goddess drawing - well - here is a better idea.  Surprise! She's Gorgon-riffic! Not quite done with the pencils - but my fingers hurt at the moment from drawing all of those scales.  This is still just the pencil sketch.

For those who are interested - what I am actually drawing looks little like the above image.  I'm not drawing with a #2 pencil on manila paper or anything.  This is just a scan of the sketch run though a filter in Photoshop so you can see it.  What it actually looks like is this:

That's a lot harder to make out on some computer screens.  Why?  I'm using a pencil that is designed to not copy or photograph well - a Non-Photo pencil.  The official name is:

Prismacolor COL-ERASE 20028 Copy not NP Blue

That's a mouthful. :)  It's meant for sketching so that you can lay down ink over it and not have to erase since, in theory, it is a color that graphic arts cameras cannot detect.  It these days of Photoshop and layers, these pencils don't get much love.  But I love them.  Smooch smooch smooch.  I am a heavy handed drawer, and sketching with a regular pencil involves a lot of erasing and my hand drags though the graphite and I smear everything and it the paper - and my hands - end up a piggy mess by the time I am done.  The NP Blue pencils draw very lightly, don't smear and only barely smudge, and don't leave me looking like a preschooler on art day.

So, anyway, welcome to my world.  There are pencil shavings everywhere.

- Ark

Monday, April 22, 2013

Next Goddess

This is a rough sketch for the next piece I'm working on for Petty Gods.  Been busy these days, so drawing is slow - but I'll just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.

- Ark

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Frog, The Finch, and The Boy

When I first fell into the spiked pit trap that is the OSR, I found myself pondering which clone to play.  It came down to one of two choices - Labyrinth Lord or Sword & Wizardry.  After some investigation, Labyrinth Lord looked comfy and familiar - a lovely Moldvay clone.  Sword & Wizardry just looked kind of weird.  It seemed off, somehow.  So I bought Labyrinth Lord and ran with it.

Fast forward half a year later, and I'm at the 2011 North Texas Role playing convention with the Boy.  It was my first role playing convention - the culmination of the 30 year old dream that blossomed when I peeked in the back of Holmes and saw the ad for GENCON.

I saw Swords & Wizardry Complete in the dealer's room and bought a copy, then crammed it into my bag with my other loot.  I was glad I did, because the game I had signed up for Saturday night had fallen through, and the only game available was this Mythrus Tower thing being run by Matt Finch.  Whatdayaknow?

It was a packed, raucous room.  There were no pregens.  Matt expected us to sit down and roll up characters.  Odd concept, eh?  So I started looking through S&W Complete, trying to figure out what was going on in the book - having never seen the inside before.

By this point, the Boy was tired of waiting for me to figure out what page clerics were on, and began to grumble.  Three days into a con can frazzle even the most hyped up ten year olds. :)

Suddenly, Bill Webb, head of Frog God Games, pulled out a copy of S&W Complete, signed it, had Matt sign it, and then handed it to my son.  I opened my mouth, but Bill spoke first.

"What?" he grinned.  "He needs a book of his own."

The Boy beamed and his grumpiness melted away.

Matt then proceeded to take us on an adventure in the never-ending bowels of Myths Tower, where we encountered screaming fungi and ogre chefs that insisted on feeding us dumplings.  I had never been in such a big game before.  There were 14 players.  But Matt - and the other players - were professionals.  They knew how to pull off such a big game.  There was a caller.  A real caller - who called.  And Bill played a thief like nobody's business.

It got loud - really loud, so Matt stood up on a chair and yelled through part of the game, having one player marking important things down on a giant whiteboard.  Rather than being distracting - it worked remarkably well.

After the game I got to talk to Matt a bit, and told him that I played Labyrinth Lord.  He smiled and said he didn't care what people played, as long as they played something.

Later, I got to sit down and read Swords & Wizardry Complete, and realized what it was.  It's not a clone of AD&D.  It's not a clone of Basic.  It's all those little manila pamphlets that I could never make heads or tails of - rewritten in a format that is understandable.  There are notes about the ever evolving game, and some alternate mechanics included - like ascending and descending AC - to make different audiences feel at home.

In some ways, Swords & Wizardry Complete, is like an archaeological dig into the D&D that existed before I got involved.  In some ways, it's an alternate version of AD&D - a leaner, meaner, clearer version than Gary envisioned.  I was very impressed.

That Christmas, I picked up a copies of the Swords & Wizardry Whitebox rules for the whole gang.  I had downloaded the pdf and was impressed, yet again, with it's clarity and simplicity in purpose.  I gave them all copies, not so I could DM them in a game - but so they could DM their own games with other people and spread the Old School message.  And they have been doing just that. :)

- Ark

PS - As this is Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day, there is a 25% off sale going on today at Frog God Games with a coupon code of SWApprDay and D20PFSRD with a coupon of SWAD252013.  Pretty nifty!

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Draw of Arting . . . no, wait . . .

Eight years ago - Ugghh.
I get questions quite often in email about my art.  I think it may be because since I've had my blog, people can see my progress from Absolute Crap to A Tad Crappy, and this intrigues them.  Hey - it's forward momentum, at least.  I am a lot less embarrassed about showing it in public these days.

So, I figured I'd share some things I've learned along the way.  Here are my rules of art:

Rule #1 - Ignore everyone's rules of art and make up your own.  Read about art voraciously.  Learn what value and line and composition is.   Ask artists stuff.  Bug them about how they did things.  Then toss is all over your shoulder and figure out what really works for you, as opposed to some guy who lived 500 years ago and was painting with egg whites.

Rule #2 -  Draw every day.  Shut up.  Stop whining.  I don't care if you are busy.  DRAW SOMETHING.  Draw a frikkin happy face.  Just draw.  I've been trying to  draw every day for about a year and a half now.  This has been the one thing that has helped me most in drawing.  Ever.

Rule #3 -  Draw what you are interested in.  I like TITS AND ASS.  I draw TITS AND ASS.  For years, I thought something was wrong with me because all I wanted to draw was naked ladies.  To hell with bowls of fruit or pottery or my hand.  Now, I fully expect - and hope - that one day I get out of my little mammaric niche and become interested in something else.  Hasn't happened yet.

Rule #4 -  Draw A LOT OF WHAT YOU A INTERESTED IN EVERY DAY.  Okay, yeah, stating rules 2 and 3 again, but they are important.  For me, the site Figure & Gesture Drawing: Tools for Self-educating Artists, has been invaluable.  I set the Practice Figure Drawing tool up to spew naked lady pictures at me and I draw them as fast as I can.  It's lovely.

Rule #5 - Ignore the asshole art critic inside of your head.  Yeah.  That one.  He's not happy unless everyone is miserable.  Why is he miserable?  Because he's just a voice inside your head and he can't draw or paint because he doesn't have HANDS.  He wants to be an artists, but can't.  JUST LIKE HITLER.  Ignore Hitler and your day goes by much more smoothly.

Rule #6 - Escape the computer when you can.  I've learned a hell of a lot more sketching with a pencil that I have with a Wacom.  Dunno why that is.  Maybe it's the lack of an undo button in the real world - but it seems to be true.  I ink 'okay' on the computer - but I bet if I forced myself to learn to ink with a brush, I'd be ten times better.  I'm just lazy at the moment. Don’t be like me!

Rule #7 - PLUSES.  Don't sit around waiting for likes or thumbs ups or people to tell you how great you are.  The picture that took you 87 hours to create will get you fewer comments than a smart-ass remark you spit out on the inter-webs with .5 seconds of thought.  If you are drawing for fame - please go back to the end of the line.  If you are not drawing for that occasional orgasmic brain explosion that you get at some point during creation - then you need to stop selling death-sticks, go home, and re-evaluate your life.

Rule #8 - Don't be afraid of references.  For some reason, many artists I know - including me - are frustrated and ashamed that we can draw okay from a reference - but not from inside our heads.  I saw an awesome artist field a question this way.  Q. I can't draw from my imagination.  I can only draw from reference.  What should I do?  A.  THEN DRAW FROM REFERENCE.  DUH.  The point is that if you keep on drawing from reference, you'll eventually 'get it' and can take the knowledge you got from all of those detailed studies and draw from your imagination then.  Well, I hope that is how it works. :)

Rule #9 - Draw real things!  Real, 3d things, I mean.  You know - things other than pictures.  Pictures are fine - but real things are . . . finer.  The recent improvements in my art - the point at which I suddenly wouldn't be embarrassed to have my work published in a book - coincided with me finding some  women who didn't mind me staring at their boobs for hours and drawing them.  Now, the actual drawings I make of those lovely ladies SUCK.  But it seems to have affected my ability to draw from photo reference and enhances it quite a bit.  Real boobs are magic, I tell you.

Rule #10 -  Sketches are sketchy.  Rough drafts are rough.  It ain't gonna flow out of your pencil all perfect like.  Those artists who have the drawings that seem to go all SWISH and the lines look perfect as if GOD HERSELF drew them?  Well, that's decades of training.  Or, sometimes it is 17 hours of work to make ONE LINE look right.  Anything that I make that looks easy took me a freaking damn long and painful time to do.

There are other rules, but they get much more specific into technique - which is one of those flowy, changy, wibbly-wobbly things that as soon as you write into stone it changes.  So I'll shut up about those.

Again, these are my rules.  Go get your own . . . and happy arting.

- Ark

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Yhoundeh, the Elk Goddess

Here is Yhoundeh, the Elk Goddess.  I think.  I mean, I think I am done, but I am tired.  I might need to tweak something, but it's pretty much done.  It's not like it's going to change so much that I'll make Han shoot first or something, so it's close.


For Petty Gods.

- Ark

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Pencils for Yhoundeh

Here are the rough pencils for Yhoundeh, the Elk Goddess. This will be my third piece of art for Petty Gods, and boy, are my arms tired. :)

- Ark

Pelchako, the Trickster God

(apparently, I have Make-A-God-Itis, and I blame Petty Gods.)

Pelchako is the god of tricks and revenge.  He fits neatly into most pantheons - over on the edge where people don't notice him much.  He is ever watchful, and loves to even the score, bringing retribution to gods both low and high.  Despite his good work ethic - Pelchako is never invited to parties.

There are no temples to Pelchako, no cathedrals, not even a nunnery.  The common man does not worship him - but he does have priests and priestesses.  Pelchako-ites look, for all intents and purposes, like crazy bums that wear lots of beads and bones, pierce themselves is strange places, and cover themselves in swirling tattoos.

People in need of revenge or retribution donate items of value to the Pelchako-ites.  These holy men and women then go off and shame, harass, rob, or beat up the wrong-doers. Sometimes they perform these holy rites in private, but most of the time, they choose good public places packed with spectators.

Killing in retribution is very uncommon - but it has been known to happen.

These revenge activities rarely result in any legal entanglements for the priests of Pelchako, as they are performing their holy duty.  However, if a Pelchako-ite must go into lands where their god is unknown, or places that are dominated by stuffy worshipers of grumpy gods of law, they can get into trouble.  Some towns will immediately kick out a Pelchako-ite on sight.  Other, more even grumpy peoples, have been known to nail Pelchako-ites to pieces of wood on the side of the road.

In extremely rare cases, bands of Pelchako-ites have been gathered up by governments and paid to seek retribution against other governments.  A platoon of Pelchako priests coming at you during your morning constitutional is the last thing you want to see.

Woe be it to anyone who falsely hires a priest for retribution, though.  Pelchako knows all.  Well, maybe not all.  But he knows the juicy bits.

- Ark

Monday, April 1, 2013

Amber Bubbles

Yeah yeah yeah - I can't leave well enough alone - but I thought it needed something in the background. :)

- Ark

Amber Blood Sword

This has been one of the more challenging drawings I've worked on.  Bringing it from 'okay sketch' to 'good ink' had me banging my head against the wall and abandoning the piece three times.  But I've stuck with it and almost - ALMOST - finished.  I keep on looking at it and feel that it needs something.  Composition-wise.  I think that is the right word.  Composition.

Anyway, Amber Blood Sword is one of Konsumterra's Petty Gods, and the write-up can be found at  She's a crazy-ass killing machine.  A mostly naked crazy-ass nigh-immortal killing machine.  You know - like my first girl friend.

Anyway, my fingers and eyeballs are all sore from Miss Amber over here - so I am going to go rest. :)

- Ark