Lazy Luddite Log

27.4.14

Adventurers

One thing I enjoy with creativity is that it tends to cascade. In other words one creative activity can inspire others. It has been so recently with my running of a fantasy role-play game. Running this game motivated me to do something that I could have done at any time - draw a set of creature illustrations for my fantasy setting The Lands. The images will be useful in that I can now say "you meet something that looks like this" rather than having to go into long-winded verbal description. However it also allowed me to produce another portfolio, something I've neglected lately.

More than at any time I made use of online images as 'references' to help me draw. In the absence of models (since I can hardly ask friends to depict some of these non-human monsters) this was incredibly useful in lending my images a degree of realism. Some illustrations drew on several images for one end product. In only one case did I look at just one image - for the Selkie I only looked at the feet of seals (I suppose my past life-drawings have served me well for imagining nudes).

I decided on including nudity partly because I like it and partly because an inspiration for me were the black-and-white line drawings that illustrated Dungeons & Dragons books in the 80s. These were somewhat risque as well as having an ominous charm. While my drawings have many flaws I feel they are an improvement on what I was comparing them with from my gaming youth.

And just as the Bestiary portfolio was inspired by gaming so too other things that can feed back into future gaming were produced by working on the portfolio. One was a fictitious character set. Some of my drawings needed writing to be depicted in them but somehow using Roman letters would mar the fantasy of those images. I considered appropriating existing but neglected scripts such as Cuniform or Linear (A or B) but decided that inventing my own was simpler for me than becoming familiar with historical character sets. My letters represent sounds but the look of them assumes that they were originally pictograms. The shapes were informed by assuming each of them represents a particular divinity, legend, planet or constellation of The Lands. Most of the letters can be seen in this image.

The final bit of cascading creativity came from the way in which the Internet has changed me into someone who uses gimmicks to draw attention to what I do. So as a part of my sharing the portfolio I ran online polls of friends in which they could choose which five adventuring Demi-Humans (included in some illustrations to give a sense of scale to the monsters) would be depicted in an adventuring party illustration. By then however I had hit a creativity wall and the action group poses I imagined proved too challenging for me. I settled therefore on something simpler and more whimsical (which also draws on another old game known as Hero Quest)...

The final illustration suggested a story however. I had some fun devising names and I also decided to write the back-story of that party. It is less a story in its own right and more background notes as part of a wider described setting. Both the image and the back-story (posted as a comment) can be seen here. At some time the implications of this story may then feed back into future gaming.

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