Graphic Design and Illustration.

Archive for ‘November, 2019’

Fantasy Map

As a kid, I loved maps. I especially liked the ones found in my favourite fantasy novels. The first one was the Hobbit (of course) with many more to follow. I loved to trace them out, and try and track down extra information about what would lay beyond the boundaries of the map. Middle Earth was especially bad for that. I’m not sure exactly how many versions of the Book of Lost Tales I slogged through trying to find out more of what went on beyond the boundaries of the epic The Lord of the Rings.

Anyways, I gave a ty at creating a map for a fictional boardgame. Sort of a Risk clone. The map itself was generated over that this site here. I used it pretty much as it. I did get rid of most of the cities and just kept one for each capital. The website produced an SVG that mostly opened up fine in Illustrator. It’s still pretty much vector art. The exception being the parchment texture in the background and the faked in mountain texture. I reset all the type as I seem to have some different ideas as to what is acceptable type design compared to most computer programmers. Oh well. Enjoy!

Custom Titles

Over the years, I’ve had to put together hundreds of different game titles, many of them requiring different title treatments. Often, there isn’t a font on hand that convey what’s needed. Sometimes, all you need is to make a few little changes. Often, you need to draw something out from scratch. These are a few of them.

Sadly, many of these were never used.

All of them had to work fairly small and be easily reproduced using at times a fairly primitive means of reproduction (flexo). Enjoy!

Fantasy Map

I’ve known about this procedural fantasy city/town generator for a while. You can find it here. I decided to try and see if there was anything I could do with it. It all works in your browser. You can export SVG files, so I thought I would give it a try.

Illustrator did have some problems opening up the SVG file, but it seems enough of it made it intact. Working with it was a breeze. I added some colour and then brought everything into Photoshop for further refinement.

I came across an image of some sort of campaign for an RPG game called Pathfinder. It had something in the style I was looking for for to emulate. The name I gave it was a little on the nose, but good enough for a portfolio piece I think. It turned out pretty decently. I had to bring out just about every trick I could think of to get it to work. Believe it or not the type, is mostly just fonts (no need to break out the calligraphy set on this one!), though it did require a few adjustments. Free Google fonts only really get you so far.

My son certainly liked it. He was disappointed that it wasn’t really a game he could play. It was just a picture his Dad drew on the computer.

Oh and here’s a screen shot of my file. Notice the labels on all my layers? Thought you did. Enjoy!

Lil Orc


In the midst of battle, around the carnage, and just underneath all the destruction, there’s a cute little orc who just wants to say hi!


This is a fun little drawing I did quite some time ago. Created after studying up on some of my daughter’s toys. Eventually, I scanned this into the computer (it was a pencil sketch done in one of my myriad sketchbooks) and had the colour dropped in on Photoshop.

I MIGHT one day see if I can get her into 3D. Would be a definite challenge based on my skillset, but you never know! Enjoy!


Drawcember update 2019


As a lot of people who have discovered this bog over the past couple of years know, I (and at least a few other people independently) created a personal art challenge called Drawcember. I created it over the disappointment I felt after discovering Inktober half-way though October. Unfortunately, doing a daily art challenge in December of all months, with a couple of young children, is sort of a recipe for disaster. So I never really did anything with it. Until now.


So this year, I’m going to try it again. This time, with a purpose. I’m trying to beef up the KidLit section of my website. And what better way to do that than by creating a fake children’s book at trying to illustrate it. Of course, this needs a plan as trying to crank out a drawing a day for an illustrated children’s book seems like a disaster for any month, never mind in December. December tends to be a busy month. So this month of of November, I’m going to plan ahead and get somethings sorted out before diving into a drawing a day.


First things first. A story. I’m not much of a writer, but I feel like I could at least get a germ of on idea on paper for a kids story, even if it would be a bit crude. The point of this exercise is an illustration one, not a writing one, so as long as I have a good story that would lend itself to illustration, I figure I could over look some of the nuances of children’s book writing that would be much more important if this was going to be a published work. And I have a story idea. A random bit of storytelling from my 3 year old daughter, “There’s a Bear in the Bathroom!” No idea what brought it up. I DID check the bathroom. No bears. No bare bums either. So not sure what prompted it, but I’ll take it all the same. The story is quick, short, and almost written. My deadline is the end of November.


Next, the format of the book. I need something to hang all my illustrations on. I feel this is where people who are interested in self-publishing their children’s stories fall short and scare off any would-be illustrators from working with them. I need some specifics of the overall book design. And there’s a LOT of options to choose from. All I have to do is look at the growing library of books my kids have collected over the years. I settled on something pretty basic. Twenty-four pages plus covers. And the size is going to be 8 inches x 7 8/16 of an inch. Seems to be a pretty standard size for all the licensed (ie Disney) softcover books out there. For the guts of the book there is usually a cover page, a catalogue page (with all the copyright and publishing info), and a dedication page (usually, but not always). That leaves 21 pages that will either be copy only, illustration only, or a combination of the two. For this fake book, I’m only going to be interested in the front cover plus guts. Back cover is usually reserved for author and illustrator bios and maybe a back catalogue of work. Same with inside covers. That leaves about 22 illustrations to be done in a 31 day month. That gives me some slack if I want to goof off on Christmas and New Years Eve.


And then comes the illustrations themselves. The monthly challenge is Drawcember. I ultimately want these in colour and I’d rather do that digitally. I think I’m going to do the illustrations traditionally in graphite (my first love). Paper is pretty portable, so I can draw anywhere without the anxiety of running out of power on an electronic device I don’t even own. Digital colour can be forgiving if you make a mistake or change your mind about something. I will scan these images in after December to get them coloured. So all I have to worry about is a single graphite drawing a day. I think I can manage. Especially if I have a pretty good idea of what I’m going to draw each day. Means that for this month of November, I need to be thumbnailing as I write this thing out. I’m thinking about 5 thumbnails per page. So that’s 110 thumbnails total! From there I will choose the best one and blow that up to size to use as a guide for my final drawing.


So here’s a few things I have already…

A very basic cover. Subject to change once I figure out what I’m going to draw for it. Gives me an idea how I’m going to handle the type and maybe just how much I’m really going to need to illustrate for the cover.

Some developmental images. These are a just a few of the many I made. Just trying to get a feel for the style and look for the various characters that will appear in the story. These are NOT the final character designs.


So stay tuned. I’ll probably post some thumbnails and final character sketches by the end of the month. Enjoy!

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