Saturday, 7 April 2012

Dicing with Dragons

As the last scans of my work used in Dicing with Dragons have just been posted in an excellent Blog by Billiam Babble who has, among other things, written a very nice piece about me in his latest post. See the side bar, or use the link, for those who would like to read it. 

But for those others, here are the pictures. Yes I know I promised a 'Trolltooth War' post next, and I haven't forgotten. It will be coming soon.

Here I imagined one of my own drawings as a Citadel figure. I never saw this one made but Citadel did base a few of their figures on my drawings, and thanks to being sent examples I even have a few 'somewhere'.
I have so much 'stuff' that 'somewhere' is becoming the plaintive cry of the lesser spotted Russ. Squawk!
 Where do ideas come from is an often asked question, and with this chapter head I show a few iconic film images that I've always found inspirational, certainly as mood if not story. i love movies sad that so few of the old black and white classics are shown anymore on TV.

 The following pictures all appeared to illustrate the game that was part of the original book. The game itself was later printed as a solo book itself called 'Eye of the Dragon', but my work was 'dumped', and does not, as far as I can see, appear. Instead it features [I understand] the work of that excellent Fantasy artist Martin McKenna. But thanks to Will and his diligent work you have the chance to see the original drawings, which themselves might seem familiar because such pictorial themes used often appear in the FF series.

 One characteristic that I've been accused of, by a few in the past, is of being boring [fair enough] in my simplistic compositional viewpoint by the use of the 'square' room type picture that you, the viewer, look into. Such a picture formula was much used in the early books.

Can I say, for the record, that was not by choice, but because of my instructions, given from the authors, and I made every attempt to break out of that formulaic format at every opportunity. Occasionally I succeeded, and occasionally I did not.

My experience was to be given a series of illustrative descriptive tasks to work from and not the whole manuscript.There were a couple of exceptions, 'The Trolltoth Wars' being one, but they were rare.

                                 How do I start ... well, at the finish of course :)

So there you have it a peek into the past. Hope it brought back some happy memories.


  1. " One characteristic that I've been accused of, by a few in the past, is of being boring [fair enough] in my simplistic compositional viewpoint by the use of the 'square' room type picture that you, the viewer, look into. Such a picture formula was much used in the early books."

    The idea that because a composition (or a set of compositions) is 'good' because it is dynamic that all compositions must be of one of those types is folly. It leads to an inexorable sameness in modern illustrative look that, although 'dynamic' creates an enormity.

    An endless series of pictures, all 'dynamically' alike generating sameness and boredom on a galactic scale.

    Screw those people. I would rather view 100 images of rooms that you drew then one 'dynamic' composition from them.

  2. Wow! I want you on my side in the playground! Glad too, that you are. Nice comment my friend.

  3. Fantastic post!
    Takes me waaaaaay back to see these again =)
    I'm actually thumbing through my old copy of 'Dicing with Dragons' as I write this, good times.

    Your work always had the essence of what FFantasy books were about for me, much like Gary Chalk's work for Joe Dever.

    Just curious, did you find it more of a challenge to create a piece when given just the one description or the whole manuscript?

    1. Appreciate that Tim.
      Now as to your Question.

      Mmmm... In terms of the Game book genre the description was often enough if it was clearly written, or, in the case of working on something such as the Fabled Lands series the close rapport and collaboration that was generated helped me become really deeply involved. However, in terms of a story, I've found it is so much better to work from the full manuscript. I'm working on a piece where the author sent me both his 'take' on what he'd thought I'd be sympathetic too visually, and also the whole manuscript, and I found, although there were other possible scenes to work with one of his choices certainly 'ticked all my boxes'. But decide for yourself [maybe remind me of your question] later in the year when I post it on the blog, but beware, it's gross. He he he!

    2. Haha! Thank you Russ, looking forward to seeing it!

  4. Russ, have you thought of releasing a [.pdf] book of 'gaming' images (or have you already done so)? Maybe just lots and lots of dungeons rooms with a simple, square room composition...

    One of the things that frustrates me about gaming products is that they often have lovely art (and maps). Art (and maps) that, very often, only the GM will look at. I love books - the physical things -, and have little time for gaming books released as .pdfs, but .pdfs are convenient as a source of images. Single pages can be printed, pictures cut out, and scattered on the table at appropriate points or stuck on a GM screen. This is easier than lugging books down to a copyshop.

    Given that you already have a library of hundreds of images of dungeon rooms/wilderness scenes/chaotic cityscapes/looming monsters, I imagined that a .pdf archive could be used by GMs in a very similar manner to dungeon floorplans, though with far more room for the imagination.

    On the other hand, it might be a mad idea...

    1. Interesting idea, and I see what you mean, and certainly not a mad idea, but there are a few obstacles at present. Just a few for example: Some images are also copyright of the authors [I am able to post those images through their kind cooperation]. What images I have posted are 'helped' through the time and effort of dedicated fans who want to share my work. I earn, it is my only source of real income, a few pounds from selling my work to other publishers. I have no time, at present, to take on such a task. Anyway, all my posted images are collected together on Google + [are you on Google +?]. In short, a nice idea but not easy for me to accomplish at present.

    2. Cheers Russ, I thought that there might be more than a few practical problems - along those lines - with my 'plan'.

  5. I am on Google+, by the way, but my account is pretty dormant - I have no-one in my circles! Which Russ Nicholson are you? The one with a capitalised name, or the anti-capitalist?

  6. Lowercase.... I've never been totally anti-capitalised [grin]I tried your moniker through Google + but had no luck in a search.

  7. I've got Dicing With Dragons proudly on my shelf next to Fantasy Wargaming. Glad to see you're still around-- those illustrations were very influential to my 16 year old mind, especially the one with those old Universal horror film monsters stuck in there.