Tales from the Sketchbook: Scaled Down

A picture paints a thousand words; a picture with context can say a lot about a game; but explanations of the random sketches of an artist-gamer can say the most of all. In this series, I look at the just-had-to-draw-them images distilled from my games: what they are, what they mean, why they demanded drawing, and what techniques and in-jokes went into them.

“I got bored, so….” This pretty much sums up the impetus behind a lot of my most complex pieces. In this case, I had a very vivid image, access to a reference picture, and a whole lot of dead time at my work when the patrons weren’t coming in and my coworkers were all either off for the day to begin with or taking their 59 minutes/comp time. What resulted was this.

This little fellow used to be one of my most effective antagonists, one who was hated for his major arc and then grudgingly respected when he (sort of) came back and wasn’t actively troublemaking. Much. By the time he demonstrated himself to be too much trouble to keep around in that form, even his worst enemy thought he was worth hanging onto. The result was the above automaton. I often find myself wondering just what it says that his creator went to so much effort on him; yes, the fact that I myself love drawing intricate detail-work contributed, but I’d known he was something special sculpture-wise even before then.

One of the things I attempted with this picture was to make the source material clear. I draw a little cartoon lizard all the time for my library, but even I can’t guess at the species (somewhere between a gecko and an anole, I think). But this one’s structure I based on a reference picture, and tried to keep it close enough that a herpetologist could at least figure out the genus, if not the species, of the original picture. Can you guess what he was based on?

The scale pattern, meanwhile (or the not-quite-pattern, as the case may be) was inspired by a trip to the zoo I’d taken between the time I did the line-art and when I actually located my metallic colored pencils (50% of the colors in this picture; the other three were the green, gold and silver from a standard Crayola 50-pack) and began coloring. I was fascinated by the way the snakes managed to combine individually colored scales into striking patterns, and resolved to at least attempt something similar with this one.


  1. UZ says:

    Bearded Dragon? May even have found your reference picture… but I saw some of these at an aviary a while ago, sitting torpidly out on a table like paperweights. They didn’t have the scrolly emeralds, but otherwise pretty close. Why does he have a hanky?

    Also, if you’re interested in the reptiles, you should have a look at the Red Tegu, which is the fattest, smilingest lizard I have yet seen.

  2. Ravyn says:

    Yep, that’s the one.

    The hanky–I actually see it as a bit of paper–is in part because my original picture cut off the lead foot, and in part because his job now can be pretty much summed up as “paperweight”, so I figured there should be some paper in the image somewhere.

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