A public dumping ground for words and pictures. Contact me at ThomasTamblyn@Gmail.com

Saturday, 31 December 2011


 You see it is a lizard-looking amphibian with poisonous spittle so it is like a salamander but also a gila monster. Subtle, eh?

I'm not sure about the eyes. They're a little bug-out-y. Also an odd colour. They match the bile toad in style though.

He has cute little T-rex arms. The right arm stands out nicely against the belly, but the left gets a little lost.

I think the bulging cheeks and dribble makes it obvious that he's a spitter. I like that.

It took me a while to get the patterns on his tail right. I wanted the last stripe to break a little and serve as a trransition to the mottle-y stripes on the main body, but it looked awful. Plain rings on the tail worked better than I'd expected, so I did that instead.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011


Long story redacted - I decided to try and concept five worlds based on the three-colour "wedges" of Magic's colour pie. It was fun, and I think I did ok.

An endless industrial city, defined by numberless stagnant organisations. Common people are crushed in the cogs of inflexible bureaucracy. The city's overriding theme is law for law's sake, without reason or room for growth.

The hierarchies are so moribund and corruption so rife that only way to advance is through unofficial channels.

Industry is everywhere, but innovation is stifled. Genius is regarded as a dangerous mental sickness and a threat to the city. Not entirely unjustly either - there have been too many practitioners of "wild science" that put their untested theories into practice with no concern for the public well-being.

A full half of the city's gainful employment is involved in law enforcement. The idea of individual prisons has long since been given up on - nowadays entire districts are designated as prisons and blockaded by the city watch. But these are not the most dangerous pllces to be-

When two organisations both try to exert their authority over the same district, the result is chaos. Neither will acknowledge the other's authority and the watch have little official power to interfere in matters of corporate law. The unfortunate citizens must try to survive war by competing architectural development, compulsory employment, contradictory bylaws and no end of other difficulties. The whole morass usually ends when the population are pushed past their breaking point and riot.

 The Endless Isles. A volcanically active island chain that girds the planet, impossible to fully chart. This is a world of exploration and adventure, filled with swashbucklers, pirates, giant monsters, eccentric inventors and stunning natural phenomena.People live in ad hoc communities on great floating rafts, united by common purpose or whim.

 Creativity is rampant here and inventors and scientists will often find themselves at the centre of a whirlwind of apprentices and hangers-on, eager to share in the excitement and glory.

Most people spend their lives travelling and anyone with a map and an airship will find no shortage of volunteers to join them hunting for treasure, or testing a cutting edge new ship design, or the allure of piracy.

Exotic onsters are rife. Huge primordial beasts live under the forest canopies, the open sea practically heaves with leviathans, and dragons roost in volcanic craters.

Ape-men are common on the islands - intelligent, but they seem to have abandoned civilisation. Certainly the great stone temple complexes they live in are falling into ruin and disrepair. Everyone has their own theory as to the history of their race and have formed the basis of numerous research expeditions.

Solidei - Death's garden. This world is defined by the cycle of death and rebirth. People spend their lives trying to live in accordance with their karma so that their next incarnation will be one step closer to enlightenment.

Enlightenment is to gain the knowledge of all your prior incarnations and be blessed with immortality. Beings who accomplish this are known as avatars and they are the foremost authorities of the world. These avatars are not necessarily human in form. They can be graceful cranes, wise elephants, coiling snake oracles or any of the other shapes a soul may incarnate into. On this world it is common wisdom to be polite to every animal you see.

Inevitably, some rebel against the natural order and try to escape the cycle of death and rebirth. The vast majority of these are trapped in a hideous half-life as walking corpses or unquiet spirits that infest the uncivilised areas. Some few master the art of extending their own life by draining that of others.

Okay, for this world I didn't come up with much. Something something eternal war? Innovation spurred by constant siege and battle?

Vikings maybe? Valkyries would be cool.

 This was the first one I came up with, but the least developed. The world is a huge tropical jungle. There's that there's no stone or metal - all technology is biological. So civilisation is about analysing and adapting the natural world to your purposes.

Some find it easier to work with dead things, others use selective breeding or magical gene splicing. Lots of body-modders. The idea hasn't really flowered in my head yet though.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Gunners and incisors

Pirates and mad surgeons; going a little bit retro here.

 The pirate gunners feel a bit old-fashioned to me. I think it's the feet - I've largely stopped varying feet/boots now. But for pirates I think a wide variety in clothing is a good thing. Only one of them has variant legs, but I think it's best to consider the torso+legs as one element.

The guns are deliberately over-large so that I could detail them a bit better. They're far from perfect though. Particularly the way #3 carries his. Doesn't feel right. #2 and 1 are okay though I think. The cannon-style gun is particularly cute. Maybe it's that #3 is too vanilla in general. Should I have mixed the parts differently?

I'm also iffy on the colours. I can't point to any one thing to change, but they seem very earthy and subdued overall. I got to a point where I gave up and moved on. Coming back with a brighter palette later on would be easy.

Now, surgeons. "incisors" to be specific. These are also old-fashioned in my eyes due to the gowned body. I like the super-slim waist combined with the broad manly shoulders and power-tool. It gives them a distinctive look. I continue to be a big fan of men with exposed armpits.

There wasn't much for me to do here with colour detail. The gowns resisted any kind of crease-highlighting that didn't look over-the-top. Originally I was going to confine the blood to the tools in a tasteful (but unrealistic) manner, but it left the gowns looking so sparse...

Number 3 got a bit messy. I figure when you're using a chainsaw there may be a little splatter. It's given him a distinctive appearance though.

The design of the tools is something I worked on for ages. The bodies are a little wishy-washy, but I like the business-ends. I don't think there's any other way to do a chainsaw in this style without a crazy line-count. With the nifty blood pattern on the rotary cutter, it might not need those extra "blade" lines.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Superhero names

Absorbs energy and stores it internally. They can release some of this energy when they hit someone to create small explosions.

Gains better speed and reflexes the hungrier they are.

A cyberneticist who replaced more and more of her body with robotic replacements. Eventually she even uploaded her mind into a computer and replaced her own brain. Her crime-fighting partner can move so fast that the air ignites from the friction. Fortunately he also has psychokinetic control over flame.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Brine zombies again

I have fixed up my brine zombies. Compared them to the original bunch they have fewer, cleaner lines, tidier colouring and more effective detail. It's reassuring to see that I can now make these kinds of improvements. That I'm better at deciding which details are and are not necessary.

I did wonder whether the torsos of #2 and #3 needed some detail, and I tried to give them some blue waterlogging pattern there, but in the end I think they're better left clean.

A few notable changes I made:
No jackets. Unnecessary extra lines.
Added vertical lines that imply drips or hanging weed.
No variation in trousers and boots. These areas are not interesting or important.
Shrank boots. They were a bit too clompy before. I'm not sure if this is just correcting a mistake in my proportions, or a matter of my style for these characters evolving.

I'm not very happy with the detail layer of the seaweed. I'm not sure what I really want from that texture or how to get it. But I've made such strides everywhere else that I refuse to get bogged down there.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Brine mutant writhers

They need a better name. They're another rescue from an old file. The rightmost guy is the closest to my original idea so it's appropriate that he's the least satisfying of them. The other two look far more "natural", while he's just a tentacle-guy wearing a shell. I'm not sure how I should have done him differently. 

I hit a block working on the tentacles and had to sleep on it before I could finish them off. The colouring wasn't exactly easy, but there was a feeling of continual progress. I wasn't demoralised by speedbumps or having to redo parts. Maybe that means I'm getting the hang of things.

#2's head-shell probably took the most effort for the least impact. No matter what colour I gave it, it stood out too much. In the end I just gave it the same neutral shade as #1's barnacles, and then reused that on #3's crest as well.

#2's arm was originally drawn as a barnacle. When it wasn't coming together I changed it to an anemone, which was a lot more fun to colour. The tentacle's shading is interesting too, with that wobbly gelatinous shape. Looks sting-y.

Parts: Tentacle, torso (including shoulder), head. Thought about adding something to the legs, but I've learned that it's hard to do meaningful distinctions on legs and feet. The shoulders are so detailed that minor things like belts or shoes don't seem worth adding.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

First nymph

It's some kind of insectile fairy/elf thing.  Nymph is an obvious name. Design is reminiscent of a whole bunch of different things.

The hair's a little weird; the way it has that extra wisp at the end. A little worried it looks like it's holding it in its hand.

Butterfly is cute but possibly unnecessary.

Didn't and don't have much of a plan with this one. I was of two minds as to whether it needed variants or not. I guess I could have done variations on the armour/carapace and hair, but I wasn't feeling inspired in that direction so I just went to the colours.

I like the mottling quite a bit. It could follow the implied depth a bit better, but I'm ok with it for now. Hair's highlights are haphazard.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Wooden marionettes

Clown dolls? What was I thinking. There is no question mark there because I know exactly what I was thinking. I was thinking "I have no fucking clue how to make these interesting. maybe a delicate touch of paint as decoration? And.... now they look like clowns. Fuck it."
Well I went back to them. Improved the lineart and vastly improved the colours. Wooden colours work much better. I stalled for a while, but these magnificent clock-girls gave me the necessary kick in the behind. I  shamelessly sampled their colours for use on these guys.

I love those clock-girls so much. I tried to copy the idea of cut-outs in the legs, but I couldn't make it work here. Might bear it in mind if I do another puppet set.

Saturday, 24 September 2011


I was looking through my "fragments" file of abandoned projects that might yet be salvageable. And I started tinkering. These are the result. Burly punch-men. You can tell how old they are because they have those tiny feet. I haven't used those at all in this generation of veeps until now I don't think. Maybe I should - frees up space. Especially effective when I want to emphasise the upper body.

Highlights: the way the lines on #2 create that burst leotard. #1's cigar and scars. #3's jawline
#3 lets the side down here. He seems to lack pizzaz and I didn't know what I might do to rescue him. It happened at the colours-stage. Before that he looked pretty cool. Maybe it's just that the leopard skin and scarring worked so well that he wasn't left with anything. I thought about a design on his T-shirt, that would give detail. But what he needs is character. He looks like some kind of diner thug or trucker. Boring.

Ho hum.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Glam imp rockers

This is my idea of a productive Saturday morning. Glam imps! I've had it in the back of my mind for a while that imps may be imbecilic pyrotechnicians, but they're also badass musicians. These are closer to human-proportion than their kin, but it was necessary for the pose. Maybe it's the drugs and rock&roll lifestyle that turns them lanky. I'm happy enough with these that it makes me want to make the rock/metal aesthetic the imps' thing.

I'm happy with the basic guitar template. I think it has just enough lines to evoke, without getting too caught up in the details. The tuning screws in particular. While I was colouring them, they didn't really take off until I decided that #2's long flowing hair needed to be bright pink, and realised that the guitars needed to be brightly patterned. After that it all fell into place.

#3's "hair" is weird. But not in a bad way. It's either shiny nylonish fur or stage-FX fire. Either way it looks cool enough. #1's squinty eyes are cute, and I like to imagine his outfit is a little metallic.

It's been longer than I realised since I last did a proper trio with interchangeable parts. Hair/wings, eyes, gloves, torso, guitar body, guitar head, tail tip. Now that's modular!

Also I tweaked the hydrocore to be lighter. Looks more vivid now I think.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Instigator, or "Hey look I did that thing I said I'd do"

As intended, I created a missing link architect. Took three tries though. Still not perfect, but good enough, eh?

The name's a placeholder. "Insitgator" isn't terribly inspirational. Trampler seemed promising, but it's not at all on-theme for the architects, so I just said "sod it" and moved on.

I like the implied shape of the thighs. The way they curve around and meet behind his lower back as a single piece.

The belly-plate's a little odd. I think the left hand side is too convex. And the shading is a little waffley. The hands turned out better than I deserved, but are still sloppy. Ditto the hoofs.

He'll do.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Achitect lineup

Down on the bottom right, you'll see that I fixed up the artisan. Fixed his awkward lean, gave him a more distinctive head and had a better go at colouring too. Lingering suspicions that the feet aren't right, but minor issue overall.

And having done that I felt like doing a lineup of all my architects to see how they work together. I like.
Now the two proto-architects don't quite fit (I played with the colour balance for this pic)but I don't think it would take more than trivial tweaks to fix that. If I was going to do just one more, I'd try and make one that bridges the gap between the potbelly pounder and one of the lither specimens.

When doing them I deliberately used slightly different shades on them all to make them seem more individual, but I'm not sure about that any more. Totally different would be cool, as would exactly the same. Slightly different sits square in the realm of not-right. I also wonder if I should have gone with the green, but I just can't imagine them as anything other than red and bone now.

This feels like a completed thing. I am happy with it. I have ideas for more stuff, and if I sketch something awesome I may make more, but these eight will be fine even if I never do.


I think that's a snail-foot with teeth. That little bit of linework defining the hips felt good at the time, but it might have done as much harm as good. When I came to colour it limited how I could texture the area, so I did a simple striated fade.

This architect has a feminine aspect if you look at it the right way. Not entirely, thanks to the shoulders, but there's no escaping the impression of a backless dress.

I was deliberately careful with the nodecount. It would have been easy to bulk out the hands or wrists, but I decided to keep it sparse.

I did want to do something more interesting than a plain oval for the head this time though. That's a good shape there. I might (might) go back and do variants for the architects once I have a good library of suitable shapes. Certainly I want to revise the artisan - he's by far the least satisfactory to me, both in linework and colour.

I might have reached the end of good architects. But if I do one more, I think I'd emphasise the arms and legs for a change.

Sunday, 31 July 2011


I think that makes three with legs, two that scuttle and two hovering. That explores most of the available space. I've another thing I want to try for the next architect though (serpentine didn't turn out right unfortunately).

This is a surveyor. He was a scrutator but I changed my mind. Surveyor isn't as obscure and sounds architectier.

The collar is weird, I like it. The other architects' "flesh" is mostly drawn tight. I tried something different here because I don't want them all gaunt and spindly. The head is also smaller and narrower than usual. I'm overusing the one-eyed look though, so I'll try and make the next one binocular.

WIP version of this had way too much shading detail. I think dialling it back was the right decision, though it was hard to decide which were the important parts. Shoulders, definitely to sell the texture of the "flesh" there. Collar, same reason. Belly because otherwise that area looked flat and blank. Torso so I could transition smoothly to the starker white on the head and arms (necessary so that they pop). Arms to ensure the spheres looked embedded. The fingers needed something but I didn't want more detail so they got a flat fill of the darker red.

Not sure what those spheres are. The purple stuff is obviously significant, maybe some kind of crystal? Since they're major self-modders they don't often need tools or props. That means the purple crystal orbs and green metallic stuff must be important. That's the sort of feel I want to give. There's no thinking like overthinking!

Inscrutable & Caretaker

Architects!  Two of 'em!

Side-by-side, it's striking how much more detailed the left-hand one looks. It's only slightly more linework and slightly more shading detail, but the aggregate effect is significant. I think changing the right-hand one's waist would eliminate most of it, but I like those waists.

I don't want to crappify the left-hand guy, because he looks cool. But I also don't want to sacrifice the style by trying to bring everyone to that standard. I guess I could call him a boss.

They have names. On the right is a caretaker. On the left is an inscrutable.

I was concerned that the architects would be too samey since they have strong similarities and not much in the way of weaponry. I didn't want them all with weird guns like the purifier. Here especially, both have scuttly-bodies. Even if the caretaker's odd pincers, I felt the inscrutable might be too close. Floaty artifact was an excellent solution that I plan to use more.

Trivia: Despite their more complex appearance, the inscrutable's legs each have the same number of lines as the caretaker's.

Caretaker looks a little gormless. I think he'd be a grunt-type.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Clown dolls

Finally got me my generic marionettes. They weren't intended as clowns; it just happened as I was colouring them. It gives them a bit of identity at least. I might change my mind later and recolour them in various light and dark wood colours. That could be pretty cool, but for now they're clowns.

The more productive I am with the drawings, the less I have to say about them. Also have a bit of a headache.


Meet the hydrocore. I like elementals, but I'm trying to make them more interesting by not making them "pure". For example, the pyrovile isn't just made of fire, he has a skeleton. The zephyr king is... is... ok he's pretty generic. That's why hydrocore has a fleshy eye and a strange heart-organ.

He took for fucking ever to colour. I feel it was worth it though, I stepped up my game for him and the colours make him four times better than his linework. I was tired at the end when I did the splash of foam he's sprouting from, but I think that's passable.

The pose isn't perfect but all in all I'm pretty happy. I guess he could be brighter - the linework blends into the dark areas a bit.

I don't have a theme for him to live in. I just did a sketch and I liked it enough to complete it. I guess he could go with the brine cultists, but I'm not keen. Something will turn up.

Now I'm going to try and do some more architects.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Infernal Purifier

Another inf... hmm. I'm calling them infernals but as they become conceptually distinct from the fire and brimstone that name seems less and less appropriate. Abyssal? Collector? Architect? Architect... that's got potential. I'll think about it.

I wanted the hell theme to have some weird technology, but that niche has been taken over by these guys. That weird gun-thing he's holding is almost exactly what I wanted the fire elementals to have. Maybe I'll come up with another look for helltech later. Or abandon the idea. Either-or.

I do like the gun. I'm not sure what it does, but I bet it's weird. I wanted it to be made of the same bone-porcelain as the "hard" areas of its holder, but it blended in too much. It made me want to give the gun a thicker outline for the sake of depth.

The shoulders and legs are quite similar to the architect. Shared style is ok, but if I want these to look like individuals I'll need to be careful to include more variety. Legs are a problem though. I could probably get away with another floaty body if the torso was different enough. Scuttling spider-legs? Those are hard to draw. Naga-style? I have a sketch that might fit the bill.

I'm liking where these are going. It feels good to be making something distinctive. I've four of them now. No variants though. I'd like it if I was able to come up with a reliable way to make variants. And now I've typed that out I'm seeing possibilities.

Something else to chew over.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Infernal Artisan

Ever since I was little, 90% of the time I draw figures from the feet up. I bring this up because I like this guy's legs. He had lots of names: Strange engineer, artisan of the strange and various permutations. Infernal artisan is the snappiest, but I do like artisan of the strange.

I'm getting more of a sense of who these guys are. They're a people who used strange sciences to alter their own bodies. They're from an older time, and the survivors are a little odd by now. They didn't used to be so alien, but they've engineered themselves into exactly what they needed to be. They busy themselves making strange architecture that shouldn't work. This guy's puzzlebox is meant to represent that. Very individual, though I think maybe there should be serf castes who are unfortunates altered by their betters.

I don't have a lot to say about the picture. Errm, I added the bifurcated arms mainly to stop him looking too humanoid. The torso's shading is unconvincing.

I'm experimenting with white backgrounds and grey shadow to make it pop. I like the look now but we'll see what I think tomorrow.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Revised vine golem

Flashback to May 2009. That vine golem's cute, but the flowers have far too much linework, the shapes don't flow quite right and the colouring is muddy. It needs a revamp.

That's more like it. I think the biggest problem with the old version was the line density. I did a lot of small things to improve the ratio of lines to open space. The flowers were dialed way back, trusting in the colouring to give them definition. The mask is redone and made to contribute to the 3d flow of the pose.

I decided some of the vine twirlies were unnecessary and removed them. A lot of the body lines were tweaked and separated slightly to make sure there was more body than outline.

I made up for all the lost texture with the colouring, now that I'm "allowed" to use detail shading. Much more vivid and tropical now too. It has most of what I liked about the original, but updated to my current standards.

I don't think I'll be giving this treatment to all of my old ones, but this particular one was drawn to my attention and it was nagging at me.

Monday, 20 June 2011


Yula is a word that means something between honour and law. It is the sum of honour and obligation upon a person, and also a property of things in the world bestowed upon a person. Countries, people, objects and agreements can all have yula.

A country's yula might include its code of laws, which all its inhabitants would be expected to follow. In turn the country protects and provides for its people.

If someone offends against yula then there must be some kind of penance or punishment involved to cleanse that person. It is a serious accusation and will often be a matter for the courts. Only in the most exceptional circumstances, self-defence for example, is it permissible to violate yula.

Everyday life is full of unspoken yula. You are invited into someone's house with the yula that you behave respectably. You are given good service by a shopkeeper with the yula that you do not disparage his wares. You are given free use of the roads and pathways with the yula that you not obstruct them.

Yula can be a source of strength. One might be given a bow and a quiver of arrows, all from the same tree, with the yula to fire never shoot other arrows from it. The arrows from that bow will fly straighter and truer than they would for a bow with no yula.

There is also divine yula, which are the intuitive laws that all people share. To respect the Gods and yula. To do no unnecessary harm. To pursue peace. To be generous to those in need. And so forth. Offenses against the divine yula are the most serious of matters as even those unaware of yula are expected to have an inborn sense of what is good and what is wrong.

Monday, 30 May 2011


Black azoth. Tarry, used for porters/cumbers.

Silver azoth. Mythical. Said to raise the dead.
Gold azoth. Suppresses aging.
White azoth. Dangerous - siphons life on contact and turns red.
Red azoth. A gel that encourages healing.

Desperate citizens can make a penny applying white azoth to themselves to turn it into valuable red. But most of the red azoth on the market has less ethical origins.

Bulletpoint ideas

Older but not weaker, just getting stronger for a longer time.
Suspiciously breathy fish-things.
Earth heaved up by iron that wants to grow.
A a dungeon of iron bars that un-rust as they grow.
A paintbrush-streak in motion, a tableaux in the moment of impact.
More to escape artistry than locks and ropes.
Renamed not reshaped; a change that doesn't touch the blood.
Like a many-legged turtle with a shell designed by an angry architect.
Tearing the air in front of him to make way.
Improvised clothing.
Wearing a dead octopus.
An endlessly useful device.
Likes to think a situation through after they jump into it (very good at escaping).
Terrified of the smell of XX's feet.
Exasperated by others, walks away from a situation without needing closure.
We're the muscle because we had the brains to decide to get stronger.
We are the kind of people that make things happen. You are the kind that watches.
You are the people who make things happen, but we are the happening.
An immortal who slept underwater. The barnacle knight. The coral man.
He looked almost like a man, but smelled of dead meat when he breathed.
A segmented red fruit that tastes of bees.
A large roast grub, split and overflowing with fragrant yellow stuffing. It raised difficult questions regarding the provenance of the hors d'oeuvres.
They had spent an inadvisable night together and to this day spent a a great deal of mutual effort forgetting about it.
The air was too hot for love. Even courtly love.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Poe Dolls

So I did go and make some variants after all. Also they got a better name - Poe dolls - because #3's blades made me think of The Pit And The Pendulum. It has that same quirky sound as snickerdolls, which is nice.

Didn't end up putting distinctive seams on the wood, just changing blades and heads. I tried differences in the "spine", but I couldn't come up with two more that lived up to the (current) spiky mode.

The large blank areas did give me room to do differing paint patterns though, which adds a lot more variety after the colouring stage.

#2's blades were intended as guillotine blades. You know, that lovely distinctive rectangle with an angled blade? Well I tried, but they just looked like boring square blades with a little perspective, no matter how I arranged them. A shame I couldn't take advantage of that powerful shape. Maybe I'll get a chance later on.

I don't like how un-puppet-like this pose is. I want a puppet with its arms and limbs dangling. It's cool that they have weight, and that works for them, but I don't feel they represent the puppet idea very well. Another reason to do a third puppet type - providing proper context. And I should probably make another puppeteer.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Plant elementals and Guillotine doll

 Another puppet/doll. I doodled a few of them and this was the other promising-looking one. It turned out as a bulkier-looking thing. No variants obviously - didn't seem to be much potential for them, though I may try different arm-blades and masks at some point. Maybe play with the joints or give it seams in the wood? That's not a bad idea actually. But maybe later.

The spinal-looking connection between hips and torso reminds me a lot of the safeguard from Blame!, which isn't a bad thing since they were one of my major inspirations for the puppet look. For the record, the others are Naruto ninja puppets, Devil May Cry's early enemies and the character Puppet from the Amiga game Body Blows Galactic. That guy's been stuck in my head for years.

The worn-away paint on the legs and feet was very effective here. Makes it obvious that it's a wooden puppet without too much detail, and makes it seem heavier on its feet than the snickerdolls.

 I think I want to make one or two more kinds of puppet. I have a design for one that's stalled at the linework stage because of a dodgy neck, and I feel like I don't yet have a generic or baseline puppet. The snickerdolls seem a touch too characterful to fill that role at the moment. I want something in ruffle-y clothing, a skirt perhaps and floofy sleeves.

Getting away from dolls but not abandoning wood. Plant elementals. Intended for the witches, though flower-guy would also fit in with the jungle island. I'm glad I've been able to do more with this technique for depicting plant masses. As I've said before, monsters tend to lack superficial details that I can swap about to make variants. Too much of their shape comes from basic structural elements.

Anyway. I have issues with both of them. Starting with the ore tree-like, his pose is weird. I wanted an awkward and not-right pose, but this is a bit too far. I can see an easy alteration that might fix it but I'm leaving it for now.

I drew tree-guy without a head, but he seemed to need something there so I added the apple. I think this was a particularly good idea, since it gives him a sense of identity distinct from a generic tree-man. Perhaps Applechild as a name? Ambiguous whether the apple is the brain or just the prize. I imagine that his kind are something the witches summon from apple pips.

Flower guy's right hip is my favourite feature. Also the uneven "eyes" on the mask. I worried a lot that the flower drew too much attention from his mask/head. I've been staring at the whole, and now I'm wondering if it would look cooler if I removed the head entirely. The pose would be reinterpreted with the flower as the head and the result looks like it will be quirky.

However I did all this thinking after I'd coloured it, so I wasn't going to muck about back at the linework stage. So I'll note the possibility here to come back to one day.

Sunday, 22 May 2011


Their "official" placeholder name is "blade dolls", but I really wanted to call them snickerdolls. See it's snicker as in Jabberwocky, or "snick" like the sound of scissors. A little more merry in tone, and more suited to the carnival/performance feel. I may yet decide to regress. On that topic, I'd have liked to give the green one blades that were as characterful as the other two, not just wolverine-claws. They're nice and shiny at least.

I changed the background colour for these because I was fed up with doing colour jobs that blended into it. The white lining only does so much.

In case it's not obvious, these are puppets/mannequins/dolls. I tried putting strings on them, but the lines stood out way, way too much. I wanted to try using the whites for strings, but if I start using the white layer for actual content rather than just framing that's a can of worms I'm not sure I want to open. I bet I could some cool things with it, but I'm scared I'll be upping my standards again.  The more I try to talk myself out of it, the more possibilities suggest themselves. I'm almost certainly going to do this at some point. But not here.

I'm happy with the colour detail. Pattern on the head was necessary to draw attention there. A little something elsewhere on each of them to give them that garish circus look. #1's fans came naturally. #2 was a pain in the ass because I kept trying to do her gloves/boots as wrinkled fabric - it looked like leg warmers and mittens. Her linework was a little dodgy in black and white, but the colour makes it work. #3's shiny ball-joints weren't something I had in mind when doing the lines - golden joints on #2 gave me the idea, and giving them some kind of glossy lacquer gave that one both spot colour and some detail.

I'm a little sorry that I didn't put coloured shapes on their chests like the masks, but I deliberately restrained myself. I don't want them too busy, and I wanted the wooden surfaces to be dominating and obvious.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011


Those legs. Like bloated noodles. I don't like them. They're only a hair's breadth below my "too shitty to go ahead with" threshold. But just saying, I know they're crappy. The guy as a whole seems cute enough though.

I took this one the colour stage a little prematurely - the "real" linework has a little devil-tail, which makes the pose more balanced-looking.

This fella's a lot blobbier than most of my stick figures, and the shading slightly more involved. Detail-creep is everywhere it seems.

No variations again. Pondered swapping the ears out for horns, or even pathetic little wings, but that's not enough. Different styled eyeballs I guess? I'm just not feeling enthusiastic about that.

Ok, time to be positive again:
While the shaded areas are detail-creep, I'm happy with how they define his shape and make him seem properly plump - without doing too much violence to the idea of a consistent light source. And the shine of his eyeball - the way it crosses multiple delineated areas. That's nice.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Bile toad and soldier bug

Once again I've produced monsters with no variants. Oh I'm history's greatest monster.

Both of these are old line work tarted up a little. I've been going through old WiP sketch pages and trying to rescue abandoned bits with potential. It's nifty that there's a decent stock to be plundered there. It makes me happy that I'm actually producing this volume of stuff. There's some saying about how it's impossible to do the same thing three-hundred times and not get better at it. It's cool to go back to failures now I'm better less crap.

The amphibious thing is a bile toad. I know it's not a toad, but I like the name. I don't think it's diseased - the "bile" is natural toxin that's expelled through the skin and drool. I am very pleased with the milky eyes. I wonder whether I could do a worthy variant with exactly the same linework, but losing the warts.

The soldier bug was briefly a bug soldier. But bug soldier sounds like a description, while a soldier bug is a name. I used the detail here to add depth and definition to shapes, sticking my middle finger up at a consistent light source. Also to make the pointy bits look sharp. Colours suffered some twiddling when I realised that the pale face and colourful horns/carapace made him look like a clown. I couldn't unsee it. I can live with the current incarnation.


A crystal guy. Possibly some kind of golem or elemental. I wasn't sure how well I could create a crystalline texture in this detail-sparse style. I had to use hover-limbs to get it in the end, but I think it worked. I've a major soft spot for crystal-people thanks to the Shard from Vor. This is blockier (necessarily) and more like a "traditional" crystal golem than the sophisticated look of the Shard, but I did borrow shamelessly steal the head design.

What didn't work is the pose. So boring. So very, very boring. I was hoping I could get "forceful dignity" but it's really just... boring. The floating limbs are easy to repose at least if I decide he merits importance or expanding into a theme.

And the hands. Couldn't get any kind of fingers/claws going so I went with the abstracted hands. Irregular diamonds rather than circles because they worked better with the crystal theme. Surprised I've gotten away with it. I tried to put more detail on the feet too before deciding that they looked better as simply blank polys. The colouring might help here too, since the dark extremities suggest there may be invisible detail.

Ok, on a positive note I like how the spherical face/eye is embedded into the head with a minimum of fuss. And the faceted chest/shoulder - that's the only part that really looks crystaline, but its existence makes you interpret the other angular parts in a similar way. Sells the whole thing.

Colouring was a bitch. I planned to do something shiny or glittery, with detail shines, but it wasn't coming out right. The graduated colouring was a good plan. I'm not sure this is the best implementation of it, but it worked well enough for now. If I took another whack at it I might make the mid-tones more saturated and bring the lighter two shades closer to white.

I don't anticipate him being expanded into a theme. He might be a relation to the earthen Cyclops. Especially if I did one or two Cyclops with specifically crystal parts rather than just rocks. Crystals also mean wanky ancient science-magic so it could be a lost-city thing, or just a random weird thing. Oozing with possibilities. Veritably suppurating.

Wow, where'd that negativity come from? To counteract it I'll actually mock up a transition Cyclops. That last one I did was pretty spiky after all.

There. Not perfect but it shows that it's not a terrible idea. Also managed to almost re-layer the drawing in the process. So that's nice.

Tempted to re-hue to body to blue or green, but I wanted the crystals to contrast rather than blend in.

Saturday, 7 May 2011


I am annoyed right now. In making those hue-shifts, I managed to save and close the .psd file after I'd flattened most of it.Meaning I lost my layer distinctions.


Still, if I ever came back to that step I'd probably want to redo it from scratch, so no call for getting hot and bothered.

Obviously this is another Cyclops. Original colour scheme is ruddy and earthen like the others, but the blue and green versions look so nice and vivid. Also more obviously creatures with rocky bits rather than earth elementals. Damnit I don't want to abuse hue shifts for variants but sometimes it's unfair to make me choose between them.

His designated features are the stony crown and back. Hence the name Cragspine (oh hey look, I've given up on annoying novelty titles for my posts). His feet are earthen rather than rocky and serve to connect him (visually) with his environment. I've already used the word crag for another Cyclops so I'll probably biddle one or the other. Placeholder name. I can cope.

I did a few things differently here: I'm relying on colouring to add detail rather than the linework, most visible on the feet. I'm happier with the light patches of hide too. I feel that I could go back to the other Cyclops and use a few of these tricks to really improve their look.

Criticisms: The rocky back is probably over-detailed (colour not linework). Those fists are anatomically questionable. I think the head might be in the wrong place relative to the pecs and shoulders. That jaw looks like a 3/4 view of a straight jaw, rather than an uneven jawline.

Fire elementals wear top hats now

Another fire-themed guy. He's probably an elemental of some kind. Initially he didn't have a top hat or even a head, just a plume of fire. He was going to be called something flue or a flue something.

This works much better. Fire elementals and top hats seem to have unexpected but excellent synergy, like werewolves and the colour green.I am fighting the urge to go back and pop a top-hat on my last fire elemental too.

I'm trying to dial back my fire effects a touch. While I like the look, it wildly outclasses non-fire areas in detail. I wasn't terribly successful at it here, but my goal is to simplify it while still keeping as much of the nice embery look as possible.

I have no strong creative direction for the "infernal" theme. Imps and fire elementals so far. A few sketches of ogres. I think I'm leaning towards "devilish" over "firey", since that means more variety - cute little imps and dapper suits - without excluding fire. For now I'm just making stuff and seeing what sticks. As always I can come back and fix things later.

These monstrosities were initially meant to be infernal too, but after working them they seem more "ancient biotech evil", especially if I go with the green versions. They may yet have a home in the infernals - a technological subtheme might be cool - but again there's no need to commit yet.

Obvious Phyrexian influence, but I'm not ashamed. I don't consider it close enough to be a ripoff. The thing on the left was originally meant to be an insect queen, but ended up like those funky things from Blame!.

I like the eyes. The circular lens with the weird track-line gives them a distinctive look I'm happy with. And it can easily be applied to a variety of critters. Zombies with prosthetic heads for example. Another good point are the bruiser's fingers. They were a happy accident. A weird combination of sausage-fingers and needle-fingers.

Sunday, 1 May 2011


I didn't want a brown werewolf. So apparently they're green now. That works for me. The grey-blue has the actual colours I worked with, but I liked the hue shift to green so much that he's become the definitive one. I love hue-shifting. So useful. It brings out colours and combinations I never would have thought of using. And they usually look a good deal more natural than what I drag out of the palette on my own.

The green works well though. I imagine the werewolf being part of the forest witch theme. His name is Gordon for some reason. Perhaps he's a not-virtuous-enough knight "blessed" by the moon to protect the wilds.

When I was playing with the colours I tried colouring the hair as fire. It didn't work. But it was fantastic as an autumn scheme. I'm going to have to try that in the future, maybe as a subtheme. I bet it would look great on the green men. A summer lineup and an autumn lineup would be aces. Maybe a spring one too, or would that be pushing it?

Yesterday I gave up in frustration over the left hand. I couldn't get the linework right. This morning I resolved to fix it no matter what, and opened it up to find it perfectly ok. Maybe I was tired and over-thinking it, or maybe brownies fixed it in the night. Either-or. Ok admittedly the hands are pretty crappy, but better is the enemy of done and I've found it easier for me to improve if I just move on and do better next time.

I tried too long to give him a mouth, but eventually I resigned myself to the fact that he looks pretty damn cool without one. The lack of a cliché snarl also makes him seem more "noble savage" than "frenzied horror", which works for the theme. My remaining concern is the feet. It would make sense that you can't see all his toes on one foot if he's stalking sideways, but I'm not sure that reads right on the drawing.

I am particularly happy with the colouring. I dithered over particulars for ages, but I think I've ended up giving him character without too much unnecessary detail.

Friday, 15 April 2011


I named this fellow Pyrovile. I like this name. I started him and the imps below yonks ago, and just now got round to finishing them.

I dithered a lot over how to do his "skeleton". I think this is as close as I'm going to get to what I want without breaking the node-budget. He originally had arm bones, but this made the hands look more like random flames (odd), so I took them out.

Things I am pleased with:
The twisted flow of fire at his base.
The little bulge of fire around his skull
The way his left eye breaks the edge of the skull-shape.
The name, pyrovile. Pyrovile.

The colouring I have mixed feelings about. It's quite a bit messier than I want, but it's not terrible. I was going for the same effect as I used on the wicker man, but I think it worked a lot better there. I might need to get a new fire technique for the infernals. I don't think I want them as clean as the firefox, but this lots-of-dots method seems too embery. There's probably a nice middle ground, or maybe I'll just get better at executing this style.

A little less fierce-looking are these imps. Little arsonists trying to look innocent. They're based on a goblin/imp pattern I used with my very first primitive vector stick figures. The main changes are the cloven hoofs and the ears.

For the fire, see what I said about Pyrovile.


The ears were originally horns. Eventually decided to go for ears because I could do more varieties. And it's easier to make ears that evoke horns (as seen on the first two) than vice versa.

I agonised over whether the extra lines to make those cloven hooves were worth it. Agonised! I'm glad I did it though - it's a new kind of detail and it adds a lot.Besides, they're so simple they needed a little extra something.

I'm still not sure about the variety in their incendiary methods. Fireball is a little different conceptually to molotov or bomb in my mind. If I ever put them to work, I may need to revise them so that they're all obviously the same class. For now they're just shy of my "bothered to fix" threshold.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Tsq: God-eaters

"Tarrasque is not a monster, it is the god of hunger and the flesh. A pure existence unsullied by reason and unfettered by morality. Tarrasque is a deity whose nature is too base to find home in the heavens."

This is the creed of the god-eaters; a secretive cult that revere Tarrasque and the ideal it represents. They believe in the power of the strong over the weak, that hunger is the noblest impulse and that cannibalism is its purest expression.

They do not resent their god's imprisonment. They see it as proof that mankind is ready to take Tarrasque's place by following its example and ascending to a purer existence. Their rites revolve around gratuitous consumption and symbolically claiming the power of others as their own.

Their most sacred ritual is the consumption of Tarrasque in effigy. It begins with kidnapping some person of minor power - a rich merchant or gang leader for example. At the assembly the god-eaters ceremonially demonstrate their power over the victim, humiliating and brutalising them. At the climax of the ceremony the unfortunate is slaughtered and becomes a feast for the congregation. These vile events require much covert planning and take place rarely enough that the practice is only a rumour in the city at large.