Tales from the Sketchbook (Who Is Solace?)

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.

Remember how on Saturday I mentioned having pre-drawn a picture for an upcoming question in my game? This is it. The question I drew from: “Who is Solace?”

Hint: not the big bony thing.

Who is Solace? Apparently, she’s the kind of person who will actively reach out, in at the very least a metaphorical way, to something very big and very undead. Or at least, was that kind of person when she was younger.

This is my first attempt at going for full-on horror, in the Lovecraftian things-that-should-not-be sort of way, in my drawings. I had three things I wanted to draw attention to: the eye (color contrast), Solace herself (medium and color contrast) and the light-on-a-tendril being held up to her (color contrast)–though the last two could reasonably be treated as one unit.

At that point, I started having fun. Eye mounted on thing that hopefully brings to mind at least two possible structures, both of them creepy and rather Wrong? Check. External intestiney things in bizarre and potentially restrictive sorts of places? Check. Eyes and mouths in places where other parts of the face should be? Sure, why not? Mantis claw with bones for spines—heck, while I’m at it, why not have it poking through said restrictive external intestines here and there?

I’d acquired a pattern of computer modification on my last few pieces (the Hat-topus was one such, and I have another one I’m saving to post until I can actually explain it where I computer-created an entire layer and visibly tweaked the colored pencil sketch I scanned), so in this one I decided to break off and go in the opposite direction—what you see is what I drew. I used three media: pastel for the Creature, colored pencil for Solace and for the creature’s eyes, ink for the background (chisel-tipped permanent marker, in fact) and certain points where I wanted a particular darkness. It’s certainly the most ambitious thing I’ve ever done with pastels; Aisling’s Gambit didn’t have near this much detail. (Still need to get the hang of blending without going over my lines, though—Q-tip is better, but I’m still not sure it’s my applicator of choice.)

I think I might get out of the habit of pre-drawing things as specific as this, just in case the players manage to sidestep them—but this one was worth it anyway.

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