It’s all pen and ink…

Many years ago when I thought that Games Workshops White Dwarf magazine was worth reading they used to run a section called “Illuminations” where each month they would show some drawings or artwork from one of their artists.

These are the artist that did the work that went into their rule books or codex’s across their whole range, and I loved looking at them trying to imagine what it would be like to be able to draw as well as these guys did.

Although they had some great artists around at the time like John Blanche and Ian Millar who produced some incredible work I had my favorites, people like Paul Bonner and Russ Nicholson, these two I guess more than any others were producing the art that I really wanted to emulate, but… there is always a but, I found that it was very hard for my brain to come up with anything original which was very frustrating I can tell you.

I just loved the pen and ink line drawings that these guys did.

One of my first forays into adventure gaming was playing through the Warlock of Firetop Mountain by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingston, this book was illustrated by Russ Nicholson and I still have it along with about twenty others, solo adventuring at its best and full of great images that really set the scene for the adventures.

One day while looking at the books in a charity shop I found a slightly worn but beautiful book called Goblins of the Labyrinth by Brian Froud & Terry Jones, in this book are some of the goblins that were in the 1986 David Bowie movie Labyrinth, and again I so wanted to be able to produce drawings like these.

There is something about this type of fantasy drawing that I find so good, I know over the years fantasy art has evolved somewhat, just have a look on any of the digital fantasy art sites out there and see what can be produced today on a computer it’s incredible.

But even with all that incredible art out there I still love the way a black and white line drawing can have so much character and tell a story so well.

So why I am rambling on about this stuff I hear you ask, well I was looking through an old box of computer discs when I came across some scans of some of my own drawings I did a while back and thought that some one might be interested in seeing them.

They are of course not originals, they are my attempts to produce this style of drawing, these are simply copies of drawings done by Russ Nicholson and Paul Bonner, and just for a laugh the last two are from the Labyrinth book and use a little bit of colour.

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  1. Vic

    Woah, Mac! You’re a much better artist than I am, some of those above you’ve done are really good. My friend Peter’s an artistic type too – it’s enough to make one green …

    My favourite artists in the genre are Pete Knifton (he did quite a bit for GW & some for Alternative Armies) & Wayne Reynolds (the D&D artist).

    I can’t draw for toffee

  2. Mac

    Hi Vic,

    Thanks mate, it’s been a while since I did any drawing although after finding these again I may get the pens out again…

    I didn’t know of the two artists you mentioned so I had to google them, some of their work is pen and ink and really good.


  3. Vic

    Hi Mac,
    Most of the Pete Knifton work I’ve seen was pencil, although I’m sure his did a lot more than I’ve seen. Mark Miller was another favourite – his illustrations for the first volume of Realms of Chaos (Slaves to Darkness) were incredible – very baroque gothic.

    The other big name in fantasy art is, of course, Larry Elmore, also of (old) D&D) art – some of his work is brilliant, but some might not fit quite so well with modern observers! Not enough chainmail, if you understand me!

    I’d like to be better at such things, but sadly no, although not for lack of trying … oh well, one can wish … =)

  4. Vic

    Oops, my bad …

    Its Ian Miller, not Mark! Got my cables tangled on the names! Chris Achilleos is also a very good artist (but also controversial, for the same reasons as Larry Elmore) …

    • Mac

      Yep I love some of Ian Miller’s work mainly his weird trees and buildings!! all normally in pen and ink sometimes with a splash of colour.
      I have one of his and John Blanche’s books called “Ratspike” it has some great stuff from both artists.

      Lol I had to look up Larry Elmore and Chris Achilleos as I didn’t know anything about them, I had seen some of their work before, but I hadn’t known who they were.

  5. Mike P

    Wow I knew you could draw M8, but didn’t realise you were this good!! Why did you stop – keep it going (but easier said than done – I know I’ve been meaning to pick up my sketchbook for ages!!).

    • Mac

      Hi Mike,
      Thank you.
      I do enjoy doing the drawings, but it is finding the time needed to do it as it is does eat up my time.
      I always seem to be busy doing other things like writing rules or painting figures ( and spaceships ) and occasionally playing games, oh and working ☹

      I do have a new rule set in the works at the moment and was toying with the idea of trying to do some of the artwork myself, although that might just me be dreaming a little… or even a lot.

      Good to hear from you Mike,

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