“The Crusader is the armored fist of the Dark Gods. So long as followers of the gods of light stay the hell out of his way, the Crusader turns his wrath against the demons that would destroy the world his own gods want to rule. Follow the Crusader if you must win at any cost.”   –From the 13th Age icon teaser description.

The Crusader digitally painted by Lee Moyer.  I’m going to let the images do the talking this week because Lee and I are busting our humps* to finish the interior art for 13th Age, now available for Pre-Order.

*Oh, you didn’t know I have a hunchback?  It’s common among illustrators.  And that structure behind the Crusader…that’s my studio.

My pencil drawing:

My thumbnail sketch:


“The Three were among the first dragons to walk the world. The Red is a living engine of destruction. The Blue is a sorceress, perhaps even the original mother of all sorcery. The Black is queen of shadows and assassins. Unlike the Great Gold Wyrm, who must fight alone, the Three have learned to join forces.”          –From the 13th Age icon teaser description.

Behold The Three digitally painted by Lee Moyer.  Not only are these mamas ancient, they are also enormous.  Look for the Where’s Waldo Priests for a sense of…”scale” (sorry).  This behind-the-illustration post gives you a much closer view of those guys, but they are ultimately inconsequential in comparison to the awesome majesty of The Three!

My pencil drawing (after receiving Lee’s request for plenty of “crunchy pencil detail.”)  You’ll notice that my choice of color for the dragons was different than the final.  Decisions, decisions – all part of the process!

And here’s the promised closeup of our dark priests, Larry, Curly and Moe:

As an extra bonus here’s an early thumbnail where I happened to accidentally not draw most of the dragons’ anatomy.  Hmm…you’d think I was hesitant to draw thousands of scales or something.  I haven’t confirmed this with Lee, but looking at this image and the final, it’s my guess that he may have appropriated this version of the Blue sorceress dragon in the final.  Ah, Process, you are the Black dragon cloaked in vague shadows until you strike as quickly and decisively as a deadly assassin!

“The Diabolist controls fiends and tampers with forces even the Archmage avoids. She likes her victims screaming and her chaos pure while claiming that the demons she summons would otherwise overwhelm the Great Gold Wyrm who seals the Abyss. There are two differences between her and her demons: First, she likes keeping destruction personal rather than universal. Second, she’s capable of kindness, so long as it comes as a great surprise.” –From the 13th Age icon teaser description.

Lee Moyer’s deliciously diabolical digital painting of The Diabolist (in a sense 3D;)

My pencil drawing:

Early thumbnails included demons in the shadows of the Diabolist before we decided on a graphic background suitable for a most notorious Icon.

“The Emperor rules the world’s greatest human kingdom, known as the Dragon Empire for the mounts of its mightiest warriors. All the signs suggest that the age is turning, but will the Empire fall or shift to a new balance?”  –From the 13th Age icon teaser description.

The final illustration of the Emperor digitally painted by Lee Moyer:

My pencil drawing:

An earlier sketch that had the key ingredients, but didn’t have the necessary amount of refinement that the Emperor demands:

Earlier thumbnails included the Emperor with a tamed dragon.  Think Ernst Stavro Blofeld (of James Bond fame) and his cat.  That approach was too ripe for parody.  We’re not going for Dr. Evil here.  Whether the  Emperor is a corrupt ruler or not has yet to be determined.

“The Priestess hears all the Gods of Light and speaks for those who please her. She is part oracle, part mystic, and part metaphysical engineer, since she created the Cathedral, an ever-expanding temple with rooms or entire wings for each of the faiths she favors.”   –From the 13th Age icon teaser description.

Lee Moyer really made this piece his own with the digital paints.  I sometimes have a guess about how the light and color will work when I turn the pencils over to him, but this was one of the cases where the final result was a total surprise.  I just gazed in awe for a few minutes when he sent it to me.  We had discussed the architectural design of Hugh Ferriss as an influence for the Priestess’ cathedral, so evidently I was expecting the background to be mostly monochromatic.  I have come to understand that the tastes of the Priestess are much more diverse and spectacular.

Below an extremely crude thumbnail.  (I’m lucky that Lee and Rob can look at something like this and determine whether it’s a direction I should pursue, or not.)

“The Dwarf King is lord of Forge, the dwarves’ new homeland beneath the mountains. He’d love to reclaim the dwarven Underhome lost to war against the dark elves and the creatures of the deeps. But now that the Empire is stumbling, the dwarves find themselves manning the mountain walls that shield the Empire from the orcs and monsters of the north.”  –From the 13th Age icon teaser description.

Without further ado…The Dwarf King!  Digitally painted by Lee Moyer.  Below you will find my pencil drawing as well as an earlier sketch with revision notes provided by Lee.

**Somewhere between Lee’s revision sketch and my pencil rendering there was mention of Brian Blessed’s teeth.

“The Orc Lord is a figure of legend. The last time he walked the land the Lich King fell, in part because of the Orc Lord’s attack. Who will fall before his hordes this time? Who won’t?”  –From the 13th Age icon teaser description.

The images in this post should give you a pretty clear picture of the way we developed the illustrations of the Icon characters for 13th Age.  The striking Orc Lord that you see before you, again masterfully painted by Lee Moyer, came a long way from my original thumbnail.  Once I was reminded that this wasn’t your typical “Joe Orc,” I quadrupled his body mass and covered him in the finest armor, at least the finest by orc standards.  Lee altered my sketch to improve his proportions.  It is very helpful to have someone who can see the image with fresh eyes and not only describe the revision ideas, but actually present them visually.  I stayed true to Lee’s alterations with the pencils and then he let fly with the digital paints.  Looking at the full color version I can almost smell the smoke and orc sweat lingering heavily in the air.

Email from Lee Moyer:  “SO – Interesting discussion with Rob (Heinsoo), and it’s led to THIS version of the Orc Lord.  Rob’s point is that the Orc Lord should never be mistaken for ‘just some Orc’ so the extra beefiness is great!  Basically, he LOVED the width of the figure, so I’ve added some significant width to the torso and arms.”

You’ve come a long way, Joe Orc!

Introducing the High Druid.  The teaser from the 13th Age press release states,  “A champion of the Wild, the High Druid might shake the Empire to pieces or point to a new way to live.”   Once again the evidence of Lee Moyer’s stunning painting talents are on full display.  Below are my pencils and  the early thumbnail version.  Thanks for your interest.  Check back for more developments on the 13th Age.

I intend to continue posting  behind-the-scenes development of the key Icons from the upcoming RPG 13th Age (at least the images that are, at present, available online).  Here’s the description of the Lich King from the 13th Age press release: ” The Lich King was a powerful wizard who ruled the land in ancient times, and has risen from the dead to reclaim it.”   Here he is in all his undead glory as reanimated by the incredible coloring talents of Lee Moyer.  As you trace his development backwards you’ll notice that my original thumbnail had him more “freshly dead” or zombie-like, if you will, but our final version of the Lich King has been dead long enough to have decayed significantly.

 

Happy Friday the 13th!  I have a relevant announcement for today.   The numerical synchronicity has me giddy, but furthermore, I’ve been keeping my mouth shut about this project for months now and I’m thrilled to be able to share the news.   I’ve been drawing character designs for a new game by two very influencial game developers, Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet.  You can read about the game here and in the press release. Both links have preview art. I’m also working with an admired colleague, Lee Moyer. Aside from designing the book, Lee is creating symbols, maps and turning my crunchy pencil drawings into refined full color paintings. Feast your eyes on the Archmage, the first character image we developed for the 13th Age. (I’ve included my pencil drawing below so you can fully appreciate how Mr. Moyer brought the image to life.)  I’m thrilled to be a part of this project and I look forward to sharing more as it progresses.

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