Thomas Novosel

blog for art, writing, and games

Category: Blog

Upcoming Projects!

Did you enjoy Runaway Hirelings, a 30-ish page tabletop role-playing game from whenever time ago? (It was 1 year Thomas omg.) Well, do you also want to know what I am working on getting shoved out the door with kisses and a packed lunch?

Here it is! This is the blog post for you. The one that has some descriptions and pitches of games and products that I have coming out in the near future. Including a game zine filled with shorter games that I have worked on, a Runaway Hirelings hack/reskin, and my artbook for 2018!

Office Murder Party

Day One: Drink coffee, gossip about packages delivered inside the office. Day Two: CEO starts rambling over the intercom at odd intervals about “Armor plating over the windows so that the drones who work in this office building can’t escape when I take it over.”

No one is certain what this means. Then, all of a sudden the windows go dark and the speakers crackle alive with a command, “Create a Civilization.” Now, as interns are trying to escape a wild mailroom boy, fuelled by panic and potentially drugs filtered in through the vents, you must make it to the first floor lobby. That is where freedom is.

Will you draw the Watercooler desert location from the Office deck? Or an Executive Challenge, where you are punished for not jousting in the portable escalators? In Office Murder Party, the Office deck is a deck of cards that brings forth areas to explore, emergency situations to intrude on whatever is going on, and Executive Challenges. This deck is assembled at the beginning of play by the players and determines what challenges come up during the game session, while the players control their office workers and introduce strange and troubled NPCs to this lockdown mega tower in downtown Desert Vista.

Office Murder Party is a role-playing game that is inspired partially by: The Belko Experiment, The Office, and Sunset Overdrive, injected with the default silliness of Runaway Hirelings.

Game Specs:

  • Single session game
  • 1.5 to 2.5 hour game session
  • 3-6 Players recommended
  • Original Game System

2018 Artbook

At the end of the year 2017, a book came out in paperback with a plain white cover with a little doodle in the center. This was a collection of my 2017 sketchbook pages and zines that I had put together in a paperback form.

Well, here we are, it’s 2019, and I have my 2018 artbook coming out. But this time it will be hardcover, 6 in. x 9 in., and it will have a ton of creative captions. Almost all of them have nothing to do with what the art is inside. These captions are just descriptions of some of the images in the book, not from when the image was created, but of what I see in them now as I am assembling this artbook.

At over 185 pages of words and black and white drawings, you can flip through stranger and more rubbery drawings that I have done, stripped from my personal sketchbooks, a lot of which have not been shared online. So prepare for some weirdness and check out this new artbook.

Page Spread from the 2018 Artbook.

Book Specs:

  • Artbook containing sketchbook art from 2018
  • With unrelated caption text littered about
  • 185+ page black and white hardcover book

My Assorted Art 2017 book can be purchased in print here and digitally overhere . My 2018 Artbook will be coming out on lulu for the print copy, and itch.io as well (did you know that you can follow creators on itch.io? Well you can! Follow me for notifications!).

Game Sack vol. 1

Here are some of the zine sized publications that I have previously put out. Game Sack is bigger than all of them.

I have written a few smaller games, some super short games, and others are of a sort of interesting length that I wouldn’t just publish on their own. So this is what I am going to do with them: give them layout and a little bit of art, then print out a bunch of them on a laser printer and make them into a zine.

It’s a zine of small games! Games about pancake dates, and tree spirits talking about whether they should reveal themselves to humans! A game where magic items make the adventurer! A game where you rush out the kitchen at the inn trying to get ingredients, so you don’t disappoint the master chef of the Whisper Willow Inn and Rest Stop.

Be prepared for a zine of small games of varying silliness and length. Some of which have been previously released through my Patreon, but here they are rewritten and with a little more polish!

Book Specs:

  • Short Game Collection
  • Zine (size and production)
  • Assorted Genres

This game will be coming out in PDF over here on itch.io and also drivethrurpg when it comes out. To make sure that you don’t miss it and get notified of its release, may I recommend subscribing to my mailing list? There is a form at the bottom of the page.

The Magic Hour

Brie Beau Sheldon (designer of Let Me Take a Selfie and the TTRPG Turn!) and Thomas Novosel (fantasy illustrator and designer of Runaway Hirelings) team up to create a fantasy adventure that takes place in an incredibly small town at the edge of the oldest segments of the forest…

People have been going missing at dusk. Surrounded by forests on the outskirts of the county, and just beyond the fingertips of the capital guards reach, something has been coming and taking people. Not a single glimpse has been caught of the perpetrators, but something needs to happen. A gang has moved in to investigate, but it is taking too long; everyone is worried and unsure of what to do. There aren’t a lot of lives to spare in a small town, and soon it won’t even be occupied by ghosts.

In this fantasy role-playing game adventure, players form a party and investigate the recent disappearances. Meet a wide variety of characters, each having things to say about what is going on. You will encounter the strangeness of a quiet forest, and soon understand that silence should always be concerning – especially when your ears are looking for a sound to hear from between the old trees. Listen carefully for something… anything. But dread what you suspect you may hear, a scuffle at dusk, followed by a buffeted wind.

The Magic Hour is an system agnostic fantasy adventure meant to either kickoff a new campaign or be one night of investigations and adventure.

Adventure Specs:

  • System Agnostic
  • Fantasy Adventure
  • One Session length

Follow me for updates and release information!

So that’s what’s next up from me and you can keep up with these projects and more by signing up for my newsletter and following me at itch.io. If you enjoy anything I’m releasing, please let me know! I love to support podcasts and blogs that feature my work and work by other awesome designers.

I am also always available through DM’s on Twitter, if anyone has any questions for me, or media inquiries.

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YouTube Videos to Learn With (and more)

Most of my drawing skills have come from YouTube tutorials and copying from art books (not specifics, just details and lessons I think is the best way to describe it). Thanks to this education I have seen so many videos that I would consider “okay”, bad, and some were just highly useful and inspirational. Just so important to alter how I draw and how I look at a piece of paper when I am drawing.

For a playlist to just go through and learn to draw with the videos that helped me, take a look at this YouTube link and watch forever (or however long the playlist is at the moment that you check it out).


YouTube Channels

Here are links to some YouTube channels that I watch very often for instructional material:

moderndayjames – often fantasy drawing instruction, breaking down cloth and perspective in short bits. Hit premium instructional videos are also worth it if you are willing to throw a couple dollars towards him.

Proko – tons of anatomy drawing videos which are realllyyyy good and easy to get through. His series on drawing hands is one that I would highly recommend going through.

James Gurney – excellent water color videos, sometimes it helps to see a master fantasy painter doing their studies in real life with gouache. A lot to learn just about colors from this guy, and plein-air and painting setups when you are on the go.

Marco Bucci – ten minutes to a better painting is a very good series, going over quick tidbits that’ll make your paintings better.

Scott Robertson – master teacher, just seeing his sketchbook flip through’s make me want to think differently about sketching with pens and markers. If you want to see the best example of what drawing each day does check out Scott Robertson’s flip through and chat with Chris Ayers of the “Daily Zoo”.

Drawing Tutorials Online – it is exactly what it says. High quality drawing tutorials, but what is actually the huge inspiration for me is the video playlist he has which is flip-throughs of his college students sketchbooks. 


Art Books I like

I have a fair number of art books on my book shelf but here are the big ones that I reference quite often for information and some explanations on how to draw things:

How to Draw by Scott Robertson – just wow, this guy knows how to teach perspective. I mentioned his youtube channel in the other tab, but this book is excellent and I would highly recommend it. The exercises within it really build your skill level up.

Bridgmans Drawing from Life – a classic for a reason, I know it can be a good learning tool but I think it is a much stronger tool if you have google nearby so you can look up more detailed pictures of muscle, so that your working off more than the sketches in the book as reference. This book focuses on drawing the body and getting the proportions burned into your skull.

Rebus by James Jean – sometimes I get too stiff in my drawings, so I look at some james jean art and try to grab at the curves he has perfected in his lines. Just google search his work or follow his instagram and you may like what he does. His book isn’t so much instructional but inspirational.

The Art of Ian Miller – Miller is one of my major influences, it is clear by what I started drawing with (technical pens) and what I started drawing in fantasy (towers and castles). This is more of an example of what I do, I keep my influences within reach. That way if I need to remind myself of what gets me really jazzed for my lines I can flip a book open or look up to a paper pinned above my desk and get back at it.

Any of Kim Jung Gi’s Sketchbooks – these books are just bound pages of people at various different angles as drawn by artist legend Kim Jung Gi. If I need a quick angle, he is likely to have drawn a sketch in pen. If I need to think outside the box, I just flip through this book and try to blend the feeling I get from looking at his stuff with the lessons I have already learned and use when drawing.

Other Websites

If it didn’t fit so much into the other tabs here is everything else, it involves more youtube channels and some unrelated but also sometimes related websites that I frequent:

Mateusz Urbanowicz – I love his watercolor painting videos, and I am really wanting his Tokyo Storefront watercolor artbook that he put together (a lot of his videos have him working on those works).

Art Cafe – artist interviews on YouTube that are really good and often times have artists showing off their technique while discussing their art careers and techniques.

Art Station – just a ton of high quality artists posting on one site that you can look across. Often good for some inspiration or to see what other people in games and visual digital art like to do.

The Art Assignment – fun art videos about art movements and specific art locations. Its pretty good and quite a bit of fun. Its kinda where I started getting into and learning about some art movements and conceptual art.

Parka Blogs – website that shows video reviews of art books and full blog post write-ups for each. Honestly, just flipping through the blog posts is a good way to get introduced to a weird variety of art books that I normally wouldn’t stumble across such as Illustrated Musings by Eddie Chau, which looks nice.

Pinterest – while alot of people are not a fan of posting their own work to Pinterest, I can say that I am a fan of just going down rabbit holes for art and style inspiration for projects. Again, stumbling across things I just normally would not find if I went to a library or just asked for artist suggestions. And with the help of a reverse google image search I can find attribution if it is online. Here is my profile in case you want to check out the boards that I have set up for inspiration.

Life Drawing – photoshow website that can provide life drawing pictures to work with and help with learning some anatomy and poses.

The biggest thing for me is having enough inspiration within a glance or a moments notice that I can use them to learn styles and details and tidbits. They can influence me in a direction towards whatever I want to learn more about.

Update and Future October 18

I don’t normally post on my website, but lately some stuff has been going across my mind. Specifically the latest news that Google Plus is going away, and since I got my start in fantasy illustration there and still would consider it a large part of my art experience. I want to talk about what is next for me and what I plan to do.

I started drawing with intent sometime in mid to early 2016, catching my first paid illustration commissions shortly after starting, I got incredibly lucky in that way. I released my first game that I wrote, did layout for, and illustrated at the end of 2017 (my game Runaway Hirelings that I am incredibly proud of). And a more recent development was this year I did my first convention table where I sold some art prints and books. Its been a climb and I have enjoyed working on all the projects I have taken on, sometimes I feel like I didn’t do as well, but I am still glad I took on what I did and met the people online that I did.

As for Google Plus’s part in this story? Its where I met artists in games, talked about some games, drifted away from games a little bit, reconnected with some art, drifted away a little bit, and was an active participant for a little too. It was where all of my tabletop role-playing game connections came from. A bunch of people seem to be spreading out across platforms, and I am unsure if I will end up following over to anyone of them. Or if I will just try to develop myself on a platform that I am already on. If I do, it may end up being this website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

We’ll see since there is still 10 months until the circles of google+ break apart to dust and are gone forever.

Goals and Plans

Since the announcement of google plus shuttering its doors, I have had to think about what I want to do and where I want to go with art and creating game related stuff. What do I want to do? Where do I want to go with whatever it is I do?

The obvious first goal is to get to making stuff full time. I want to be able to draw stuff each day and have it go places and be somewhere where it can be appreciated at least in a way close to what I intend. That is why I want to have enough stuff together next year, to submit to art shows and solo show calls. I also have a card idea, a goal involving some form of video games, and another writing goal.

Galleries and Shows

I watch a lot of videos and try to take in as much as I can about art and theories about taking a part art and how to look at things. Since I am in what most people consider a desert for that type of thing, and I am still new to all of it. It means that what I know is basic and what anyone else who has google and just started reading highlighted blog posts and YouTube videos would also know.

But, I want to put together a set of stuff in the vein of a picture that I worked on this year, if I could put it all together maybe it would help me feel more successful with my pens and pictures. And when I have that set in frames and ready to present, I can at least have something to present and then attempt to show.

Why do I want this? I do and it’d be nice to talk about things that I draw for more than “it looks cool”. Also it would be nice if someone got something and hanged it up on their wall.

Cards and Tarot

As for art products as projects, I have had a passing interest in tarot and as similarly interested in how some artists put together illustrated card decks. I had thought about it previously a couple times when I was younger (I had a lord of the rings tarot deck that my aunt gave me when I was a younger child), and about the same time as I had a binge of internet google searching of custom or hand carved chess sets.

But what reignited my curiosity was reading The Art of Ian Miller book that I have where one of the pictures captions said Miller was going to use this one image of a haunted building across and atop these geometric pillars that spiraled around like a chaotic mess. Looking at that just makes me want to make a deck, to draw these pictures and put them in a deck so I can pin them to the wall. So that other people can have a gallery in their hands to flip through when they want dark buildings and a horror landscape.

I am working on educating myself on tarot that way I can get fully into it and make something that both is respectful of it but fulfills my creative goals and needs with drawing the pictures. If it seems that I can’t make the tarot work, then a deck of cards with cools pictures may be where it goes…

Video Games

Or as I often describe them in tweets and chat conversations “vidya germs”. I have reinstalled a bunch of game making software that I previously tried to use a ton of times throughout high school and shortly after, but I think I now have enough knowledge and awareness to at least try to make something small.

Which is why next year one of my small goals is to make a small game that is 2 hours long. It may end up being a game that uses just text. Or it may be a short adventure game idea that I was playing with (potentially making use of Adventure Game Studio and a bunch of digital tools I got in a big fat folder on my desktop).

Right now its looking like a game inspired by one of my favorite castle illustrations may end up being the one that I go with.

Writing Goals

As for writing goals? Beyond literally all of the other things that I am thinking and wanting to do, why would I want more? I just want to get a lot of stuff done.

Earlier this year I wrote a short story, just a bit over 3,000 words and I was proud of it. I thought it was pretty good. So, I want to write some more short stories of varying length; I definitely have enough stories that are half written or started that I could retouch and work on next year.

Assuming I don’t redo one of them between now and the end of the year.

As usual, my stories will be tied to weirdness and horror, or attempting to describe surreal stuff and what I think surreal is to me. Beyond just stories, maybe I can finish another game project? Something small and tight like Runaway Hirelings; hopefully I’ll like it just as much as Runaway Hirelings too.

Too many goals

Having so many goals and plans for things that I want to do may seem like it is counterproductive to getting work done and completing projects. It is, and it feels like it is sometimes. But bouncing around helps me a lot when developing ideas and concepts slowly towards some version of polish.

Will I accomplish all of my goals? Probably not. But I really want to do something different and break into my own space and do some new things.

Where can you find me?

And where will you find these updates and what not? Well, I want to put more on this website, so here of course.

I’ll also be on all the sites on listed on this page: http://thomas-novosel.com/about-me/

Runaway Hirelings

Runaway Hirelings digital and print cover.

Runaway Hirelings is a silly game for those who like to play weak characters who fail, cannot hope to even bruise anyone in a fight, and want to play dungeons as the Demi-Lich intended. Really weird descriptions of rooms that could never be mapped on a grid, and rooms meant to be run through screaming.

In Runaway Hirelings, players take on the role a hireling whose boss has died leaving them in the final room of the dungeon. They now have to make their way out of the dungeon without any heroes to defend and fight for them. Hirelings will die, and other hirelings will be found that were lost along the way.

… what started as Wirdum, the Lost City of Cogs, and home to an unstoppable mechanical army slowly morphed into a multi-millenia-old, ruined theme park with broken animatronics and an unstoppable army of maintenance and cleaning mechanicals.

James F.
Print copy of the game, photographed on haunted staircase.

Game Stats

  • Preparation Required: Game-Master needs to read the rules. Handouts are made available to all Players, and 4 six-sided dice are to be shared at the table.
  • Playtime: 1.5 hours – 2 hours.
  • Players: 1 Game-Master, and 1-5 player characters (as Hirelings).
  • Digital Contents: Rules book PDF’s and Handouts PDF. Rules are 36 pages (with blank pages left in for zine printing). An additional no-art compact version of the rules is also included for easy printing at home.

This game was intended to be read and then played in the same day, picked up and brought to the game table as quick as possible with little preparation.

Where to Buy

  • Print and/or Digital: You can get it from DrivethruRPG here.
  • Alternatively, you can purchase a digital copy through itch.io using the button below. Purchasing here is how you can give me tips, as well as on itch.io I receive a larger cut of each sale.

MORE for Runaway Hirelings

  • Player Handouts; this includes rules reference pages and character sheets for use in play. They can be downloaded for free from here.
  • Extra Sauce #1; Extra Sauce is additional rules and mechanics for RH. The first includes Dungeon Templates and an updated version of the playtest 0.5 dungeon “The Needlelands”. You can get the PDF for free here.
  • Extra Sauce #2; This extra sauce contains the weirdometer, some rules to help with adding cosmic strangeness and alien old ones to your game. Also contains a new dungeon template “The Temple of Al-Guratt” and a new hireling called the Candlekeeper. You can get the PDF for free here.
Booklet is opened to a page that has a picture of a person falling shirtless with a sword in a splotchy ink art style. The opposite page has the rules for The Dunarch player.
A page from a print copy of the games rules, photographed on my stairs.

Press & Podcasts

Our game involved a lowly farmer creeping along the floor with a barrel over his head pretending to be a worm to escape sentient statues, a torchbearer seducing a red dragon, a fool giving a lecture on the merits of a potato stuck on a stick as a form of art criticism as so much more. It was one the most hilarious games I’ve played in a while. You should all totally go get yourself a copy, and play the heck out of it.

Abigail L.

Credits

Text, art, and layout for Runaway Hirelings is by Thomas Novosel. The game full release was edited by Owen Kerr and Jarrett Crader.

Development History

This development history is written so that people who were not around when I talked about this game back on Google Plus can look through earlier iterations of the game before publication. I think, personally of course, that most earlier versions of the game were barely playable. But each version and draft was crucial to forming what would become the end product. My little silly fantasy game about trap pokers in caves.

  • Original Micro Game; Runaway Hirelings was originally written as a micro game for a fantasy game design challenge that involved making a fantasy rpg that didn’t use warriors, swords, or the traditional fare you would find in D&D inspired games. The original micro game can be downloaded here.
  • Playtest Version 0.2; this is the original playable version of the expanded game that was used for the first couple games of play-testing. The quality may be bad, but it is because it is a scanned version of my personal printout that I used. It can be downloaded here.
  • Playtest Version 0.5; this is a publicly released playtest version of the game that was put out as the first post on my Patreon to patrons. It pretty cleaned up, and much better, but still noticeably different from the final version of the game. It can be downloaded here.
  • Unrelated Development Videos; early on in development I started working on notes videos where I talked about some of the early ideas. While I didn’t continue the series throughout all of development, it still might be interesting to watch. You can watch them here.

The micro game was released in early 2016, early writing for an expanded version started a few months afterwards. All of the art in the final game was done in October 2017, the original art style that was going to be used was traded in for an art style that I was using while doing Inktober, making use of a Pentel brush pen. Final notes were made and the game was released January 2018.

Influences

Runaway Hirelings is a game that plays with the tropes of comedic-ly incapable people who work for mighty heroes. They can’t do much and often fail at whatever they do in tabletop role-playing games. That is where the hirelings come from.

As for game mechanics, Runaway Hirelings was inspired by two games:

Apocalypse World by D. Vincent Baker and Meguey Baker for its writing style and rules presentation, the idea of writing rules as individual if then statements came from here. Apocaylpse World also lead me to treat the rules book as the GM manual, and to create handouts to act as the core way that players would interact with the game. This turned out to lend itself well to my core design desires for the game. That it be quick and easy to pick up and play, as well as teach.

The tone of the character funnel from the game Dungeon Crawl Classics from Goodman Games was a primary setting influence. My knowledge of the game came from the art in the rulebook which presented chefs stabbing skeletons, and the actual play episode from Role-Playing Public Radio playing through one of the game’s published adventures fueled the main purpose and plot of Runaway Hirelings as a game. Low powered characters dying left and right while fumbling to survive in a comedic dungeon run.

Sales Reports

This section includes my copies sold, and any notable sales events. As of right now (July 2020) the Total Number of Copies of Runaway Hirelings sold is 946 copies.

  • Release month: 30 total copies sold
  • Release month of the One Shot Podcast Actual Play: 22 copies sold.
  • Pay-What-You-Want month: 52 total copies (average: $1.70 ea.).
  • Tabletop itch.io Selects Bundle: 495 total copies.
  • Lifetime itch.io: 509 copies.
  • Lifetime DriveThruRPG: 267 copies.
  • Lifetime Gumroad: 20 copies.

I update this post from time to time with new and updated sales numbers for the game. So if you are curious about how this increases, check back later!

What am I up to, March 2018

It is March 11th! Stuff has happened! I am working hard! This is work. First the quick updates on stuff that I am doing that you can go check out RIGHT NOW!

Notifications:

  • Runaway Hirelings, my short tabletop rpg about hirelings escaping a dungeon after their employers die is out! IN PRINT AND PDF! Print + PDF over on Drivethrurpg, and we also have just a PDF over on Gumroad.
  • Monster Butts Volume 2 is out! You can get #1 and #2 in a bundle pdf purchase over on Gumroad, the second issue has a game by Brie Sheldon in it! So check it out! More monsters, more costumes, etc etc
  • Inktober 2017 zine! Its available in PDF over on Gumroad, go check this outttttt! Its all my ink drawings from 2017’s inktober. It is also in the compilation that is assorted art 2017.
  • Assorted Art 2017, my 2017 sketchbook art book contains a butt load of my sketchbook zines from 2017, monster butts #1, inktober 2017, and just a good 280 pages of sketchbook page scans from 2017. It is available in PDF on gumroad, or you can get a paperback copy over on LULU.
  • White Star Galaxy Edition! I did the layout for this might as well be star wars OSR game, galaxy edition is a big cobble together and revised version of the white star game and its various releases. You can get it in PDF + Print over on drivethrurpg, or pick up a print copy on lulu! Check it out, its pretty.

If your a fan of stuff that I make myself (Runaway Hirelings, Monster Butts, my zines, and art books), I recommend checking out my patreon! I give zines there that I don’t sell anywhere else most of the time. I also give print discounts for books that I made (not white star, not stuff that I get paid to do or am hired to do, just the stuff that I publish). Go check it out, I also give out small packs of for commercial use art on their to patrons. Which at this point the folder is feeling like it is getting bigger and bigger.

Here is an example of for commercial use that Patrons get to use:

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Sketchbooking and Making Art

This year I am hoping to learn more, study more, and just all around get better at what I do. To this end I am filling sketchbooks and drawing as much as possible, I also am looking and absorbing more art around me, through art books and the internet. Just yesterday I went to the frederic remington art museum and did a few pencil sketches quickly of stuff I saw that interested me. So I want to fill my books and learn how to paint. Here is a few pages from my latest sketchbook preview I gave to Patrons (shortened for the blogpost).

And here are some pictures of paintings that are WIP:

Sword Arms and Spellbook Brains

Each player has a character, that character is an adventurer, a collector of magical treasures. A hero with a hoard of treasures so large that their individual strength and power is defined by powers contained in enchanted boots and wizard hats.

Characters

To create a character do the following:

  1. Make up a name and choose whether you are a wizard or a hero.
  2. Roll 2d6 for each of your attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma). The higher you roll, the better you are in that attribute.
  3. To determine how many Hit Points a character has, roll 2d6+4.
  4. Each character has 6 equipment slots, each of these equipment slots can only be filled by magic items. Each of your magic items can be selected from a magic item list in your favorite fantasy role-playing game, or you can come up with each magic item as you need to do something. The limitations for magic items are endless, but they must have specific powers, invisibility boots are great, bottles full of wishes won’t work.
  5. For each magic item assign it to a tier, the tier that it is on is equal to the the modifier used for attribute checks when using a magic item. Each character can have the following items for each tier:

 

Tier 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
Number of items 1 1 2 2

Magic Items

You can also just choose items off this list (player chooses what tier each item is):

  • Mini Mimic: A mimic on a necklace, rip it off and toss it onto the ground to have it grow to a full size mimic as your familiar.
  • Unipig the Man: A pet pig who can speak and mystify humanoids with its wild dancing. It can also talk.
  • Tenta-Boot: A single left foot boot that has a sticky tentacle which can stretch and move around on the wearers command.
  • 5 Eye Gauntlet: A glove which shoots lasers, a different laser for each of the five finger tips eyes.
  • Memory Hat: A hat which when activated can record the voice of a monster or character (its loudness, tone, manner, etc), the user may utter a sentence using a voice that was recorded. Once that sentence is uttered, the voice is no longer able to be used unless attained again.

Or items from the Assorted Equipment Art zine (free in PDF here).

Rules

  • Attribute checks: If performing an action without the aid of a magic item, roll 1d6+5 versus applicable attribute, roll under to succeed. Rolling over causes failure, in combat this means damage. If you are using a magic item, roll 1d6+(item’s tier) versus applicable attribute, roll under to succeed.
  • Attack rolls: If attacking another character or monster, roll 1d6+(5 if using a non magical weapon, the item’s tier if magical) versus the targets Dexterity. Rolling under the targets dexterity results in a successful attack, a failed attack results in the attacker taking damage, this is how monsters make attacks.
  • Damage: damage done by characters is the margin of success for the attack roll. Damage cannot be done by a character unless it involves a magic item being used. Monsters have magical defenses which cannot be countered without a magic item!
  • Death: a character dies when it has no hit points left, but if someone has a magic item that can resurrect characters…

Monsters

  • Monster Attacks: monsters make attacks when a character fails an attack, in these attacks monsters do damage equal to a monsters tier+margin of failure. Monsters can do attacks on their own as well, but for those attacks they must roll 1d6+(monster tier {ranges from 1st to 5th}) versus their targets Dex. The damage a monster does with this attack is equal to margin of success.
  • Making Monsters: use monsters from your favorite D&D or OSR book, give each one a set of attributes, trying to make them go from 1-12 for each one. Just eyeball it.

Example Monsters

  1. Goblin: a man who has an allergic reaction to emerald encrusted collar jewelry, but the jewelry is either locked onto their neck or they have gotten too large to fast to take off the jewelry. Their fingernails and fingertips no longer are there as they have tried to pick at the collar, they have fine bones for claws. HD: 1 DMG: d6

Notes

  • Turns: each character and monster when in combat has 1 turn for a round and go in order according to initiative (2d6, highest to lowest).
  • Movement: characters move 20 ft. in one turn, attacks must be made within range specified by magic item or that makes the best sense. It should be pretty obvious if you are close enough. Same goes for regular weaponry.
  • Healing: Characters can heal using magic items that have healing powers or by taking a short rest (returns 5 HP for a 4 hour break).

My Tools and Art Supplies

Category/Tags
Categories: Blog
Tags: review 


Since having started drawing early last year I have accumulated quite the collection of tools to use for illustrating, painting, drawing fantasy maps, and castles. Here is where I give a rundown and also links to everything I use and where you could get it from (and where I recommend getting it from).

As a note, I prefer to purchase the majority of my art supplies from either jetpens.com or dickblick.com.

My Travel Pouch

I have a small pen pouch white I use for travelling and also just on the go drawing, I fill it with everything I need to draw and get along day to day and on the go. Specifically it is a small pouch which fits in the front of my laptop bag. Inside it are the following:

  • Rapidograph 0.25, 0.35, 0.5
  • Micron 005, 01
  • 3 General’s Pencils
  • 1 Pilot Precise V5 Black Ballpoint Pen
  • Pilot Pocket Brush Pen
  • 2 Pentel Fude Brush Pens
  • 1 Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen
  • 1 Zebra Disposable Brush Pen
  • 1 Non-Photo Blue Pencil
  • 1 Pencil Sharpener
  • 1 White Eraser
  • 1 Uni-Ball Signo White Ink Pen
  • 1 Zebra Mechanical Pencil
  • 1 Red Bic Pen
  • 1 Black Bic Pen
  • 1 Bic Ultra Round Stic Grip Pen (Black)
  • 1 Big Ultra Round Stic Grip Pen (Blue)
  • 2 Tombow Dual Brush Pens (N75 and N95)

The total cost to replicate this bag set would be: ~$175

If you use Microns solely instead of Rapidographs: ~$80


Pens

Pilot Precise V5 0.5mm Extra Fine Ballpoint Pen: these can be bought at walmart, they are precise and pretty great at quick sketches and I often use them when speed is important, as with my technical pens I cannot move super quick and sketchy without the possibility of bending or wearing down the nib. You can also get them in a multicolor pack. While I enjoy using them for quick sketches and find them great for writing (the ink is super black which is something I generally don’t get with a bic pen), I do prefer my brush pens for mapping. Links: Single Black V5 ($1.90), multicolor set ($11.00)

Pigma Micron 01, 005, 02, 03, 08: at this point if you have looked across the internet or seen people mapping I can assume you have seen these technical pens. They have a felt tip which I have found wears down pretty fast for me (I have too much pressure in my drawing hand), this means that you get different levels of precise-ness over the course of use. They are disposable and probably the best bet for entry level technical pens with archival quality ink. They were the first technical pens I got and I have a drawer full of them (primarily the 005 as that is a 0.2mm tip and great for precise detail work). I got the set of 16 of various sizes for about $20 and would recommend it in a heartbeat as a good sampler of size. They also have different colors too (although I have not got around to trying them). They’re great for hatching too! Links: Various Size 16 set of Microns ($24.00)

Uni-ball Signo UM-153: I use this white ink primarily for adding white highlights ontop of finished ink drawings. It is also good for minor corrections of cleaning up rough edges, however I find the ink to be goopy so I prefer to fix bad edges in photoshop. But I can’t recommend this pen enough as a white highlight tool, I have two and since I use them for highlighting I don’t go through them quick at all. Links: Single Pen ($2.50)

Rotring Rapidograph Technical Pens (.25, .35, .5): These are cartridge based technical pens with a metal tip which means it does not wear down over use! They do require you to be slow and not apply to much pressure though (as bending a metal tip can result in permanent damage which would require buying a replacement pen or a replacement nib). The cartridges are about as expensive as a single micron pen but the actual pens themselves can run up to a pretty penny sometimes $35 a pen. They are a high quality pen that I’d recommend if it seems like you burn through microns quick. I use these now instead of the microns because I find the lines to be consistently precise and the ink actually feels the slightest of a tiny shade darker. I use these for all of my city illustrations. They also make refillable ones which don’t use cartridges, however they do require more cleaning as far as I know, whereas the ones that use cartridges I have to clean only after I go through say 3 or 4 or if I left a cap off (always keep the cap on tightly even while switching between pens as the ink can dry very quickly on the tip). Links: Various Sizes (~$35 a pen)

Pencils

U.S.A. General’s Cedar Pointe #333-2HB: These are my favorite pencils for everything from sketching to just basic pencil drawings and shading I cannot recommend them enough. They are literally the only basic pencils I will use that are not mechanical or colored. They feel great in your hand due to the wood, the eraser isn’t complete shit and the quality control is high (also they aren’t crazy expensive and I haven’t had lead break while using one, and none of the pencils I have ever bought have ever had cracks or splits). I have a drawer of these and they also don’t make squeaky scratchy noises when I use them which makes them perfect. I use these for sketching and also underlayer lines when I know I will be getting rid of an original ink drawing. Links: 12 Pack of No.2 ($5.30)

Zebra M0391 0.5mm Lead Mechanical Pencil: These are the mechanical pencils I use for details in pencil sketches prior to inking an illustration. I get them at walmart, they are cheap, and easy to replace. But they also function to the ability I need them too. The only downside is the eraser and that after about 6 months the grip that holds the lead can get worn down enough where you need to swap to a new one. But they are pretty cheap, the metal body and compact form make it nice to hold and easy to throw into a small pen pouch. Links: 2 Pack ($4)

Staedtler Non-Photo Blue Pencil: The non-photo blue pencil is great if you are worried about lifting ink due to erasing pencil marks prior to scanning as the type of blue lead makes it easy to edit out the blue lines in photoshop or gimp prior to final delivery of digital illustration files. When erasing over black ink with regular pencils you sometimes get lift, which means a certain amount of ink just comes off the paper which can cause a faded look, with the non photo blue pencils you don’t need to erase. However, if you do erase non-photo blue after inking, I have found that any ink that is ontop of the blue pencil lines comes completely off so I would not recommend this if you plan on selling the original paper (I find the blue lines make it less frameable). I’ll also mention that I have difficulty getting precise lines due to the the colored pencil lead. Links: Single Pencil ($2)

Prismacolor Colored Premier Colored Pencils: While I don’t use colored pencils often, I do find them useful for adding in lights shades or crisping up edges of watercolor painting. Specifically I have a 24 color tin set and also the 150 color complete box set. I’d recommend using the 24 color set as it has a good amount of variety and is a good gateway to finding out if you’d like to purchase a larger color set. My only complaints with these pencils is quality control, I have a few pencils in my 150 color set with crooked lead (meaning sharpening is goddamn impossible) and cracked wooden casings which mean the pencils can break easy. Luckily I got the 150 color set on sale and you can purchase individual pencils for replacing ones you have used. The quality issue isn’t bad enough that I’d not recommend them, but it is enough that it was worth mentioning. Links: 24 color set ($12), 150 color set ($80)

Brush Pens

Pentel Fude Touch Bursh Sign Pen: These pocket pens are disposable and have a felt tip with enough give that I consider them my thick brush pen (they have a thicker start and finish than all of my other disposables). They are literally tiny brush pens which you could easily carry in your pocket, they also have a variety of colors available. I like to use these for some of my newer item illustrations for the big broad lines as well as for making lines that would have shadows darker by going over them a second time. I also use these for dungeon walls and stones, but not for slight details such as cracks and “doodads”. Links: Available Colors ($2.50 ea.)

Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen: This disposable brush pen has a lot of resistance and a small felt tip, it essentially is the micron 005 of brush pens, great for details such as cracks in stone and drawing little plates onto tables, drawing plant life etc. I can’t recommend these highly enough, because sometimes you want some varying weight in super thin lines which technical pens just don’t offer. Can’t recommend these enough for dungeon doodling and drawing details such as shoelaces on equipment illustrations due to the heavy amount of resistance and the thinness of the entire line width spectrum for these pens. Links: Single Pen ($3)

Zebra Disposable Brush Pen – Fine: This is a disposable brush pen I got on a whim to try it out and actually I am quite pleased with it based on the times I have used it, it doesn’t have as rounded a felt nib but a more brush like felt nib (long and slender but still has a good illustrating width). It has by far out of all of the disposable brush pens I have the widest range of width, in that it can go from the smallest of the fudenosuke width to the widest of the pentel fude touch width in the same stroke. The resistance is at a comfortable amount so you won’t accidentally get super wide or super thin lines, however I do have trouble keeping a super thin line super thin. I’d recommend these if you want a more brush like brush pen that is still a felt nib. Links: Single Pen ($2.50)

Kuretake No.8 Fountain Brush Pen: I bought this brush pen after watching a youtube video (this one exactly), it creates some pretty sharp lines and I actually have drawn a few things using it, but besides an orc face, I generally use it as a ink filler or brush sketcher. I don’t use it enough that I could recommend it as necessary, but I think I would recommend it as a small ink filler because of the synthetic bristles means you can walk right up against your technical pen lines then do big strokes to fill in with black. I should use it more, but it hasn’t been in the front of my carry all toolkit lately. Out of all my pens it does have the longest body if that would be a selling point for the sythetic part of it, also when used quickly you can get a sort of dry brush effect which is pleasant and gritty, whereas the pentel pocket brush pen has a higher flow rate. Links: Pen and Two Cartridges ($12)

Pentel Pocket Brush Pen: This is the common recommendation for brush pens, its a small body making it super portable, it uses cartridges which means you do have to buy extras in anticipation of it running dry. It has a fast flow rate meaning you always have heavy black and consistent coverage. I don’t use it a lot, but I do like having it in my travel pouch for quick gesture drawings. Links: Pen and Two Cartridges ($13.50)

Markers

Tombow Dual Brush Pen Art Markers: They are great, end of sentence. If you want to add depth prcisely to your maps without muddying it up to much with tons of black lines, these water based colored markers are great (add some nice shadows to those dungeon hallways yo!). I purchased the Grayscale 10-pack and have my eyes on getting the 96 color set when it economically convenient for me to do so. But, the ten pack of grayscale is pretty awesome although you do have to worry about bleed when used alongside the brush pens (the technical pens I listed do not bleed when next to the water maters but the brush pens definitely do to a violet wash which I actually made use of in the John Silence zine illustrations). I also recommend these for hatching outside of the dungeon walls if you want tight hatches that don’t distract too much from the dungeons layout. Links: Grayscale 10-pack ($15), 96 color megapack ($140)

Crayola Super Tips Washable Markers: They were on sale at walmart for $10 so I grabbed a 100 pack of crayola thin tip markers. They are great for just doodling with bright colors and I don’t feel bad if they get wrecked because they were pretty darn inexpensive. I wouldn’t recommend them for professional drawing, but if you want to have fun with colors at the game table or on your own its worth it if they are on sale. Links: Amazon Link ($30 there, but probably cheaper in Wal-Mart)

Paints and Brushes

Koi Pocket Field Sketch Box from Sakura: This is my favorite watercolor set that I have, its small enough to throw into the front pocket of a backpack and even has a waterbrush that goes inside the plastic field box. Links: 30 Color Field Box ($25)

Pentel Aquash Water Brush Set (3 pack): Water brushes are awesome for watercolors! They have the water in them and make clean up as easy as just squeezing the brush to flush out the color. Great for travel watercolor drawings and just low prep watercolor painting. I use these every time I paint with watercolors. Links: 3 Pack ($19)

Mudder Water Brush Set: A relatively inexpensive water brush set that also has flat synthetic brushes in the set, I actually have an india ink wash in the smallest tip one for india ink wash type drawings. When used with a water brush of just water alongside it, it makes india ink washes fun and quick to do on the go. This is probably the better starter set of water brushes in the money side of things. Links: 6 Pack ($10)

Simply Watercolor Tubes: This was my first set of watercolors which I bought from wal-mart, their fun to use but I definitely prefer the koi for color vibrance, variety, and portability. Links: 24 set of tubes ($20)

Simply Acrylic Tubes: A set similar to the simply watercolor but for acrylics, again another 24 set of tubes which I got from wal-mart.

Watercolor and Acrylic Brushes: at the moment I has a drawer full of brushes which I got from wal-mart. So cheap brushes which I don’t feel bad about burning through. I would like to try out higher quality ones at some point, but not at the moment because of my current ability level with acrylic and watercolor.

Hair Dyer: This isn’t exactly a paint or anything, but I find it incredibly useful for when I’m doing both watercolor and acrylic painting to speed up the drying process so I can just work on the same piece for hours across multiple paint layers without the huge amounts of time generally needed to wait for things to dry.

Paper and Sketchbooks and Canvases

Pentalic Traveler Pocket Journal Sketch 6″ x 4″ (160 pages): This is a good pocket sketchbook for technical pen drawings, also tons of pages which is nice for a pocket sketchbook. I often do little doodles in the ones I have or draw little maps in them with notes. The pages accept ink pretty well and while there is a little bleedthrough, it isn’t enough to make it unusable. Definitely not for painting in though. Links: Sketchbook ($8)

Canson XL Paper: These are sketchbooks I get at wal-mart (no art supply store nearby sadly) and I tend to like them for watercolor and mixed media stuff. I specifically get the watercolor pads and the various sized mixed media spiral sketchbooks. I wouldn’t recommend using the micron pens on the mixed media paper though as I feel like it just burns through those felt nibs with how much tooth the paper has. Links: Watercolor Pad ($7), Mixed Media Pads ($6.50)

Cardstock: This is the paper I use for just about all of my ink illustrations! Its cheap, it comes in giant packs, and it works well for the technical pens and brush pens I use. The big thing is I can buy alot for a little and it is available at wal-mart which means when I run out its only 5 minutes to get more. I even have a binder full of sheets which I use as a inking sketchbook. I actually plan on getting a nice wire binding machine at some point so I can just make my own sketchbooks out of this paper so its portable and cheap. Links: 150 Pack ($5)

Canvas: Essentially I get what I can find for canvas board and prestretched canvas from wal-mart or random shops. If its on sale it works for me! Gesso generally fixes any problems I have with a canvases tooth.

Software and Equipment

Epson Perfection V600 Photo (Scanner): This is the best scanner I could find online and I love it dearly. I scan everything using it at 1200 dpi .tif before opening it in Photoshop for editing. Links: Amazon ($200)

Adobe Photoshop: Some people love Gimp, but I prefer photoshop since I also use indesign for all my layout needs.

Wacom 13HD Cintiq: This is the wacom I use for when I want to paint draw or edit digitally in photoshop. It’s super nice. Links: Wacom Store ($800)

Kyle Webster’s Photoshop Brushes: These brushes are the bee’s knees and are great if you use photoshop to paint or draw. Links: Webstore ($varies)

Reference Zine: Volume One (PDF)

Category/Tags
Categories: Downloads, Art
Tags: releases, zines


I have recently been looking at a ton of different art styles that involve pens, or things that I could replicate using technical pens. So I have been looking at old woodcuts and engravings, the type I remember finding in the school libraries copy of Dante Aligieri’s “Divine Comedy”. Specifically the first book, Inferno.

After looking across the internet, I downloaded a bunch of free to use images (found using google’s advanced image search of course), and assembled them into a zine. A art reference zine, which I could flip through whenever I need some inspiration quick or need to “oh yeah that’s how it looks” a specific things such as waves and water or fat pudgy clouds while working on a drawing or a piece.

Feel free to download this short zine, print it out even, and keep it by your desk too! Perhaps it may be useful to you too.

Click here to download

art reference volume 1

 

John Silence 1.5: Ritual for Retrieving the Third Madness

Category/Tags
Categories: Downloads, Blog
Tags: releases, zines


Here is issue 1.5 of the John Silence series of zines, a co-creative endeavor where Josh T. Jordan comes up with the words and I come up with the art for the weird detective and his various adventures (although this one is more of a game you see?).

The Ritual for Retrieving the Third Madness is meant to hold you over until the release of the second issue is upon us all! Josh described it to me as a “trancelarp”. So be sure to enjoy it!

Click here to download

There are still a few copies left of the first issue of the series, which can be purchased over at my webstore here.

RitualforRetrievingTheThirdMadness_JS1,5

Form Fillable Alternate Character Sheets for The Indie Hack

Category/Tags
Categories: Downloads
Tags: resource


The Indie Hack is this cool game by Slade Stolar that I can easily say I am a pretty big fan of. So it only makes sense that I make some cool and easy to use character sheets right? RIGHT!

These character sheets are bookmarked, have all the character info on each sheet for each character, is form-fillable so that they can easily be used on the computer or to type in and then print out at home, etc. etc. etc.

Anyways, here is a download link to this 8 pages of delicious.

There are also some alternate versions of the pdf now:

Also here is a link to Slade’s website where you can purchase the game 🙂

If there are any problems with the character sheets, give me a shout over on Google+ or Twitter.

CharacterSheets_IndieHack_fullletter

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