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

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.