Sunday, April 13, 2014

More Firefly Characters


The PDF version of the Firefly RPG has been released so I can post more of the character archetypes I painted for the game. I'm posting two of my favorites, along with the preliminary drawings for each piece. The first is an Alliance Engineer. I was able to incorporate more elements than just the figure into this one so I'm pleased with it in part because I like the overall design those extra elements allowed me to create.

The second character is a Derelict Salvager. As I mentioned in my previous post on these archetypes, I really tried to portray an ethnically diverse group of characters and these two pieces are certainly representative of that effort. The second piece also illustrates an effort to use colors that would work well with, and against, a blue background. In this case, I even went so far as to work quite a bit of that blue into the character. I did this because the planned layout for the book involved putting the characters on blue. Knowing the artwork would have no painted background but would be placed against a medium blue rather than a light color or white impacted the choices I made. For example, it takes darker colors and stronger edges to stand out against a medium value than against white, cream, etc. Each piece was painted with that in mind but, unfortunately, in the final PDF book (and presumably in the print edition, to be released soon) the artwork is all placed on a white background. Changes like that aren't uncommon and I'm sure there was a good reason for that decision so I'm not complaining but the decision did result in some of the artwork looking darker than intended. When painting something intended to go against a light or white background, I normally try to make choices that soften the contrast between art and page a little.

That's a little insight into how color choices are made and how layout choices can impact the final presentation of an illustration. I've included a sample image below to illustrate what I'm talking about. The figure is unchanged. Only the background color is different and as you can see, the difference is somewhat dramatic.

Thanks for reading! You can learn more about the Firefly RPG at

Friday, March 28, 2014

Firefly Character archetypes

As a science fiction fan and a fan of the short-lived TV show, Firefly, I was very pleased to have the opportunity to illustrate some character archetypes for the Firefly RPG being produced by Margaret Weis Productions.  The game should be released next month but for now, I'm able to show you two of the archetypes I painted. Quite a few of the characters don't have a futuristic or science fiction look to them because many aspects of the Firefly universe are pretty low-tech. However,  the bounty hunter illustration above was an exception. Since I paint fantasy subjects most of the time but tend to read a lot more science fiction, it's great to be able to dip my toes in "sci fi" waters once in a while. I hope to do it more often.

I've also posted a dock worker character. I really tried to vary body types, ethnicity, etc. in this group of illustrations. I'll be able to post more when the book releases but for now, I hope you enjoy seeing these characters.

You can learn more about the Firefly RPG at

The copyright to the artwork belongs to Margaret Weis Productions.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Here's another creature I painted for the Pathfinder Pawns: Bestiary 3 Box. It's essentially a heron made of brass. I love drawing and painting animals so naturally, I had a good time with this one!

Sunday, February 23, 2014


This odd creature, a huge beetle with a human-like face, was created for Paizo Publishing's Pathfinder Pawns: Bestiary 3 Box and like the squonk I recently posted, it was really fun to design. I relish opportunities to design creatures that aren't big, menacing, "bad ass" monsters, equipped with massive teeth and claws. That stuff is fun too but quirky, strange, more atypical creatures like this are far more interesting to me. In addition to being a beetle with a human face, it was described as placid, "kind of an underground Buddhist beetle".  I'd like to think I managed to capture that tone.

Saturday, February 1, 2014


My first exposure to the word squonk and the creature associated with it came when I borrowed the Genesis album, A Trick of the Tail way back in high school! There's a song on that album named "Squonk" (it's a good tune, look it up) and it's based on the mythical creature of the same name.

The mythical squonk is said to dwell in Pennsylvania, of all places. It's a creature with ill-fitting skin, warts and blemishes. Ashamed of it's appearance, it spends much of it's time hiding and weeping and when threatened, it can dissolve into a pool of tears to evade capture!

This version of the creature was painted for Paizo Publishing's game Pathfinder (it appears in the Bestiary 4) and was described as a fat, hairless pig-like thing. I've included a preliminary sketch as well.

Now you know about squonks! I love the concept of this mythical creature so much that I'll have to re-visit the idea one day and design another take on it, just for kicks.

Squonk art  copyright © Paizo Publishing. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Pathfinder Kaiju

Last summer, I was asked to design 3 kaiju for the game Pathfinder. Kaiju is a Japanese word for "strange creature" but has come to be known in english as "monster", usually of the gigantic variety. Godzilla is probably the best-known example of a kaiju, but he's far from the only one.

I was asked to illustrate 3 fairly archetypal kaiju for the Pathfinder Bestiary 4 book: a large, reptilian kaiju, a flying, dinosaur-like kaiju and an "insect" monster. The well-known Japanese film equivalents to these archetypes will probably be familiar to just about anyone reading this blog. Because these kaiju were somewhat archetypal, I couldn't go crazy and create really wild, exotic monsters. Nevertheless, I had some freedom to play and I had a good time with these illustrations, especially the insect/crustacean kaiju, which ended up being my favorite.

The illustrations were to be text-wrapped so they don't have backgrounds. At some point, I'd love to revisit this subject and paint a full-fledged scene of a kaiju wreaking havoc and causing destruction!

I've included both the final art and the preliminary drawings. In some ways, I prefer the clean simplicity of the latter.

The Kaiju images are copyright © Paizo Publishing. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Establish a Temple

I painted this scene for a card in the D&D game expansion Lords of Waterdeep: Scoundrels of Skullport. It's a subterranean temple. If you look closely, you'll see a few workers who are still building it, hence the title "Establish a Temple".

This piece presented some lighting challenges since it's a subterranean scene. It needed to read well but still look like it was underground. I ended up backlighting the temple and using a muted ambient light from an unclear source, punctuated by some torchlights. 

I had a good time designing the temple and overall, I was very pleased with the final painting.