Posts tagged “sketching

Freshly Rendered: The Maasai Slayer


“The elephant does not get tired of its tusks” ~ old Maasai proverb


Freshly Sketched: The Maasai Slayer


Yup. Still posting sketches about zombies and zombie slayers. I decided to take a tour the world in search of zombie slayers. My first stop was Africa.  Immediately I thought of a Maasai warrior. Somehow I think they’d fare quite well in an undead apocalypse. He may be the first one I render.

Hell if you can deal with the wildlife of the African plains I don’t think a few thousand dopey deadheads would be much of an issue…


Freshly Sketched: Pike the Mad Elf


Game Name: Legacy
Game System: Palladium RPG
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Character Name: Pike
Game History: The Palladium Roleplaying Game System was my first foray into serious gaming. At the time I was knee-deep in Marvel Super Heroes and was gearing up for my first venture into Vampire: The Masquerade. I was surrounded by other closet gaming geeks therefore I was privy to knowledge not known to the likes of mortal men and women. One tasty bit of information came in the form of the super secret (but no so secret) location of a magical building called The Forbidden Planet.

I know. It just sounds nerdy, right?

It’s hard to describe what this was. It was like a gaming strip club for nerds. You had to ascend a flight of steps lined with Manga posters and collectors item toys before you actually reached the main floor. Flanking the stairway to your right was the Fortress of the Cashier post manned by the Sentry Geek. There he or she (depending on who was stationed at the time) would stand amidst a halo of gaming paraphernalia. From dice to cards to pewter figurines, you name it, the Sentry Geek had it. He was a bastion of worldly wisdom and would wait patiently overlooking the book and toy landscape. The Sentry Geek was a prophet and quite often could answer your questions with only a few words. The shop itself was narrow yet stretched for as far as the eye can see. Books upon books lines the walls. Statues, posters, painting supplies, board games, tv and movie memorabilia and even a life-size Wookie could be found throughout the tight spaced isles. It was a hobbyist’s wet dream and a playground for the gaming elite. It was here that the Palladium Fantasy RPG first caught my eye. I had long wanted to run a Lord of the Rings style game and this system sang to me like a siren on the horizon.

I ended up purchasing a total of 6 books for this particular game over the course of the two years (and still have them to this day).

The Character: Pike was by far my most favorite character to date and that’s saying a lot considering some of the outlandish roles I’ve had over the years. He was my first deviation from the “me look” and persona. He was brash, egotistical, arrogant and could start a fight in an empty room. Some could say I act like that now but back then it was a stretch for a low-key cool cat like myself.

The story took place in a world called Vale. It was a place of magic, mystery, mystical creatures, and kingdoms of men. Pike grew up in a time many thousands of years after the fall of the great Elven kingdoms. It was the Age of Man and not many of his people remained. Those that did went into hiding or had assimilated into human society, adopting their ways and their Gods. He grew up in a small farming community on the outskirts of the Western Empire called Thenyn. The first of three children by way of Varius and Ecstacia, Pike spent the early years of his life following his father’s footsteps. Varius,  the town blacksmith, taught his son the trade and had him working in the forge before he could even hold a weapon.

At the age of 12 Pike’s life took an unfortunate turn. Thenyn was attacked by a marauding horde of Midland trolls. They were merciless in their assault and slaughtered everything in sight. His mother and sisters managed to escape the onslaught but his father perished trying to save his fellow villagers. Those that didn’t find death at the end of a blade were taken captive and marched south towards the Old Kingdom Mountains. The trolls were doing the bidding of a ruthless band of mercenaries called the Red Blade. They had established a labor camp at the base of Mount Icera and were importing slaves from neighboring lands to work the quarry. For years he toiled without hope in sight bearing the loss of his family. Salvation came years later in the form of a liberation force from the Western Empire. Those slaves that managed to survive the years of torment were freed and the Red Blade was vanquished. With nothing left for him to go back to, Pike wandered aimlessly with his friend Rodius in the hopes of finding a new life.

Their travels brought them as far south as the Timaro Kingdom. There they found fame and fortune on the wrong side of the law. Life on the road had transformed them into thieves and hustlers, skills perfectly suited for the criminal underworld. By the age of 18 Pike and Rodius’ guild ruled Timaro from the shadows having put down all other major criminal organizations in the city in less than two years. Many bloody guild wars were fought but the Shadow Dancers walked away with an iron fist grasp on all illegal activity that transpired in the region. Life finally had purpose and they were on top of the world. That is until fate intervened in his life once again.

A man with and outstanding gambling debt requested audience with the guild leaders. Such a privilege was rarely ever granted but was approved regardless. To Pike’s surprise his was a face from his past; an old merchant that frequently traded with this village. He shared with him unbelievable news. He told of how his mother and sisters survived the massacre and that he had seen them as recently as the past year. Overwhelmed with emotion he absolved the man of his debt and relinquished control of the cartel to his long time friend. He set forth back to the Western Empire on a journey that would change the face of Vale forever.

It’s Worth Noting:

  • The character Pike spanned through a complete campaign that lasted about a year and respawned later in a game I ran several years ago.
  • He was totally a randomly generated character to begin with. I had modified a character generator derived from a Japanese RPG called Mekton that my friend had. That generator has been the basis for whipping up characters in almost every game I’ve run since then. It’s easy enough to customize to suit whichever system. Currently I modified it to work for the Dragon Age RPG. If you’re feeling really geeky (or just plain curious) give it a try. I even left some virtual dice on the Net for you. 😉
  • I tend to use the name Pike (or variations of it)  in video games and MMORGs as well. For example I’ve played under the name Lord Pike the Undying in World 9 of  Tribal Wars for years now. Course some of my tribe mates will dispute that since I’ve pretty much gone AWOL since coming up north. ;p
  • I’ve recently started adapting the first campaign Pike was involved into written work. Nothing serious though. Just a recounting of what went down told from the perspective of someone who knew him in the game. You have to understand that this game was run back in the olden days of ’90 – ’92 when computers where barely starting to break into households. All my documentation was handwritten in a notebook and about couple dozen pieces of paper.  Much of what I’m writing comes from memory and those few notes that I kept at the time. I’m trying to retell the story before feeble mind loses it forever. If you’re ever bored and want to kill some time reading pseudo-fan fiction just ask for a copy.

Do you think there’s really any treasure here?


So here I am yet again, sitting at my computer locked in an eternal battle between utter exhaustion and overactive brain activity. My body is telling me to go to sleep but the 8am-sky-at-3am is telling my mind we have to be up for some odd reason. So what does one do when they can’t put two thoughts together for more than five minutes?

Start blogging of course.

I didn’t want to write anything earlier. I was perfectly content with penning my late night business correspondences but that became incredibly tedious. Like a true professional I got distracted and somehow I found myself organizing some directories on one of my work drives. Since getting my rig back into working shape I hadn’t really organized any of my files and folders so of course it was prudent to start doing this at 2 in the morning. I didn’t have any specific goal in mind but I sifted through the clutter anyway. I was taken aback at how old some of the files on this computer were. It was at that point I unearthed a treasure trove of old artwork I had completely forgotten about. I sat there for a half hour reminiscing and revelling in how good (and bad) some of it was.

Since starting my whole crusade to get back to drawing I thought it would be fun to treat my faithful to a humorous and eye-opening trip back into my artistic past…

We travel back first to 1998. This was probably my most active time ever as an artist. It was a banner year for me because not only was it did I meet my beloved wife, but it was my first love affair with Adobe Photoshop. A good friend of mine introduced me to Photoshop 3. He was impressed with what I was doing with just pencil and ink and assured me that this program would revolutionize my entire concept of artwork.

No words have ever been truer.

I had zero knowledge about how to use the program nor did I even have a graphics tablet. That didn’t stop me from grabbing the mouse as soon as it was installed and drawing this little guy. You can see my utterly stylistic use of that rather funky bubble filter. I really don’t know what was on my mind at the time. Okay that’s not true. Obviously I had eggheads, christmas and cigarettes on the brain. I had some sick fascination with those bug-eyed aliens for some reason. It’s a good thing I don’t obsess about stuff like that anymore…

I’ve always loved this picture though. It’s significance is monumental to me. It’ll always remind me of the first time I played around with the program I now use practically every single day for the past decade.

Prior to my transition over to digital artwork, I used to work exclusively with markers, pencil and ink. One of the last things I did, fully inked on paper, was this little work titled Misguided Youth. I made a digital re-imagining of this (that I’ll show another time) a few years ago but it never really captured the feel of this picture.

It fascinates me that I drew this. I’m not trying to toot my own horn or anything (because believe me if I could do that I wouldn’t leave the house ever) but I just really admire the amount of time and effort I used to put into my artwork. I probably spent days working on this one. Sure it has its obvious technical flaws but it just boggles my mind how dedicated I was to the craft.

I think of how I work now and everything is rushed. I draw knowing it’ll go into Photoshop at some point and I can “touch it up”. Back then I didn’t know about digital illustration. I had to bang it out in one shot and try to make as few mistakes as possible. I wish I had that patience still. I guess I’ve just grown complacent and lazy thanks to the power of Ctrl+Z.

One day I’ll regain that level of commitment… but it’s gonna take a pretty big power outage for that to happen.

Go back a little further to 1997 and I was still toiling away with pencils and ink. I was never quite an art pencil type of guy. I had shelled out $125 (which was a lot at the time) for a Rapidograph graphic pen set that had 8 precision sizes and wasn’t about to waste anymore more money on pencils. I figured if I couldn’t sketch with a good ole’ No.2 then I shouldn’t be drawing at all.

Anyway I came across this piece and it shocked me. I studied it for a while and was in awe of how detailed it was. I can even dare say it’s far better than anything I do now. Some disagree but it motivates me nonetheless to get back on point.

I had totally forgotten about this character. Her name was Celeste and she was my vision of a lost Jedi knight. She wasn’t for a game or anything. I just liked Star Wars and was pissed that there weren’t any hot female Jedis so I made one. Although Leia had minor force powers she was in no way a Jedi. I wanted to see a kick ass, lightsaber wielding broad so thanks to having an incredible amount of time on my hands and a vivid imagination I created her.

I loved drawing women. What dude wouldn’t? You ladies out there really don’t realize what remarkable pieces of art you are. No matter what shape or complexion the female form inspired me to draw literally hundreds of pieces of artwork.

Unfortunately for me I have no idea where the paper sketch of it is. The scanned copy is all that I have to remember how good I used to be without technology.

The greatest treasure though came in the form of this little sketch that dates all the way back to 1982. I had no idea I was drawing at that young age. A pretty toxic romp through the teenage years robbed me of a lot of childhood memories so this gem is priceless.

Apparently I was only 7 when I decided to bust out the drawing skills. If I remember anything I know I was all about GI Joe. I had dozens of the toys and would be latched to the television when the cartoon came on. My favorite character was always Stormshadow. If you don’t know your GI Joe, let me tell you that he put the cool in being a ninja. He wore white when every other ninja wore black and his whup ass switch was stuck in the ON position. He was awesome before I ever ascended to those heights so obviously I had to represent by making a rendition of him.

I’m impressed with his arsenal. My Stormshadow is packing tons of weapons on him. I’m not quite certain how effective some of them are. That arm knife looks kinda like a syringe but who cares? It can still take an eye out. He’s even got child-sized nunchucks in case he has to beat down some kids. Most of all you can’t beat the scowl on his face. He’s downright menacing. If you saw that coming you’d be frozen in fear.

I honestly thought I didn’t really start getting into drawing until I was about 10. Finding this has shed some light on a childhood I struggle to remember constantly.

I hope you enjoyed my little trek through Memory Lane. Not many artists are willing to show off their humble beginnings. I’m a firm believer in remembering what got you to where you are today. These, and so many other pictures, help me recall the days when I had absolute passion for the craft.

One day I hope to get that fire back.


A gift from a stranger


Okay. Stop with the perverted stalker connotations. Yeah yeah, I know this is the one-stop-shop for depravity and reckless thought but this is a perfectly innocent post. In fact it relates directly to one I made the other day about a little girl I’ve never even met.

Wait. That doesn’t sound right either…

Seriously though this goes back to the gutsy tale of the little girl known as (12). If you’re unfamiliar with Act I please go and catch up with the times. Those of you who are up to date I shall continue on with the story…

Poor little (12) went back to the doctor the other day to continue with her infusions. The week before was rough for her so the 4 day break was much-needed. Unfortunately her return was marred with a series of unfortunate events (the likes of which I will not go into detail here because I may pass out).  She toughed it out though and somehow manages to keep on plowing her way through whatever obstacle si in front of her. I was tipped off to an amazing scoop the not too long ago though. Apparently young Miss (12) has a birthday coming up soon.  Yes, the darling little (12) will officially join the ranks of teenage fiefdom.  I’m not a religious man but I pray for Thypolar and hope (12) never finds the angst button.

Anyway this revelation put even more pressure on me to complete the digital rendering I promised her. There is a goal in sight and it prompted me to work tirelessly in the wee hours of the morning to get it done. I am determined to get the sketch and the high-resolution digital image out to her in time for her birthday. It still feels weird sending a gift to someone I’ve never physically met. I don’t quite consider myself a stranger though. I have a picture of her and her two brothers on my fridge.

Wait… that sounds really bad now…

Her mother gave us a Christmas picture of her family ya lunatics! I may have to ask you to leave if you keep up with these perverted thoughts!

So tomorrow I will head to the Post Office and once again place the fate of a surprise birthday gift in the hands of Canada Post and the US Postal Service…

…God help us all…

Oh yeah… I suppose you want a sneak preview. I suppose I can do that…

To be continued….


Freshly Sketched: Steadfast

Steadfast

SteadfastGame Name: Marvel Super Heroes
Game System: Marvel Super Heroes RPG
Genre: Comic Book
Character Name: Steadfast / Ian E.
Game History: Around the same time I was knee-deep in zDayz I had invested some money into my first RPG purchase. That came in the form of the easy-to-run Marvel Super Heroes game system. I was in the height of my comic-love at the time so it seemed like the most logical choice to get my feet wet with in the legitimate gaming world.

MSH is all about being over the top – much like any comic book in the 70’s, 80’s, and early 90’s. It was geared towards having fun and doing the impossible every campaign. While there were some aspects that were grounded in logic much of it was left in the realm of creative imagination. This proved to be a stark contrast to the grim realistic gameplay of  zDayz. MSH welcomed you to a parallel world where mutants, altered humans and technologically advanced characters with extraordinary powers and abilities were the norm. For a person with a warped imagination like me it proved to be fertile stomping grounds.

I was still an infant in the world of actual roleplaying so once again I didn’t stray too far from myself for this character. I know, the whole purpose of roleplaying is to act out a persona other than your own. However learning how to and being comfortable with acting is probably one of the greatest fears one has to overcome as a gamer. It’s exceptionally difficult to become a character that contrasts your own personality. Often you end up interjecting your own feelings, opinions and decisions based on how you would react to them as opposed to how the written character would. To that extent I give true actors all due respect for their ability to turn it on and off like they do.  I’ve come to learn as both a player and a gamemaster that it’s always best to craft characters for RPG rookies that are close to their own personas when they’re first starting out then gradually give them more complex ones when they have some games under their belt.

The Character: This game took place back in the days of Kid n’ Play, grunge music, Power Rangers and the first Gulf War. My character was a 16 year old brash and arrogant version of myself (though some may say just a younger version of myself now sans the flat top). The origin of the unlikely super heroes started out at Montauk Point way at the end of Long Island, New York. There I and three close friends, Alex, Danielle and Roselyn were enjoying a long holiday weekend at Alex’s father’s cottage. Although under the supervision of Mr. Diaz he was there sparingly due to work related commitments he had to tend to locally. That translated to a weekend of almost nonstop partying. After all, what else do teenagers do?

After a particularly debaucherous night of underage drinking and teenage mayhem the four of us found ourselves at the beach next day soaking up the sun and trying to shake off lingering hangovers. Unbeknownst to us that Saturday night, something happened nearby that would change our lives forever.  We were too busy in our wily ways to notice that a small object sliced through the midnight sky and crashed into the water off the coast of where we were now relaxing. Roselyn and I were goofing around in the water when she caught sight of something floating just outside the break. It looked like it could be a body and that quickly sobered everyone up to the seriousness of the situation. There were no life guards on duty and there were only a handful of people scattered about in this secluded section of the beach. I quickly motioned to Alex and he tore into the surf like Johnny Weissmuller. He was by far the best swimmer amongst us and quickly navigated his way to where the object was. He towed it back to shallower waters but obviously needed help. Whatever it was massive. The four of us managed to drag it ashore. It was a body indeed. A large hulking body that looked to be well over 7ft tall and over 350lbs.

As we stood in awe of the sheer size of the person we began to notice that it wasn’t truly human at all. Its translucent pinkish jelly-fish like skin, pointed ears and webbed fingers made us realize that were encountering something unprecedented. Before anyone could react, the creature started to move. It was obviously badly injured as it struggled to lift its upper body from the sandy beach. We gazed into its cyclopean eye in both paralyzing fear and horror as he peered back and forth.  By this time the few stragglers that were on the beach nearby started to make their way over. The creature then looked directly at the four of us and muttered something we could not understand in a watery yet metallic tone. Without warning the very veins in his body started illuminate and pulsate. His whole body began to shine with the brightness of a thousand suns as we were bathed in the light. Seconds later I started to regain my sight. I was on my back looking up towards the cloudless sky. As I struggled to hoist myself up I looked around and noticed that my friends were just coming to as well.

But something was wrong. Seriously wrong.

The three of them appeared to have aged at least 10 years. Their hair dangled down to their hips and they looked as if they had been hitting the gym 24/7 for the past 6 months. Before a word could be uttered the sky itself split like someone cut it with a knife as a mammoth alien craft materialized right above us. We looked at one another still in shock about the ordeal that just took place mere moments ago. Several figures suddenly appeared out nowhere next to us. They too are gargantuan in size and resembled the being we just encountered but these blokes were carrying incredibly large and complex looking weaponry. They quickly surveyed the beach and noticed the stragglers who were now just starting to come to. The apparent leader pulled out a device and pointed it at the beachcombers. In a thunderous voice he barks out an order in an indecipherable language. Two of his companions open fire with their weapons disintegrating the unsuspecting people in the blink of an eye. Not even their clothes remained. Two of the other creatures rounded the four of us and bound us with strange metallic manacles. Reality started to get watery around us as the last thing we see is the cottage in the distance going up in a tremendous ball of flames.  An instant later we found ourselves in the belly of the alien craft being led by our captors.

As we traversed the long and winding dimly lit corridors Alex manages to whisper something to me. He asks me what happened to the girls and why they aged. I reluctantly inform him that the same has happened to him as well. Puzzled by the revelation he casts a bewildered look at me and questions why nothing happened to me. It hadn’t dawned on me till that moment. Everyone but me seemed to have been affected by that burst of light. All of a sudden one of the captors became enraged with our secret conversation, turns and backhands me sending me reeling about 15ft into the wall. Rage filled my body as a rush of adrenaline erupted inside me. Like the Hulk I started to grow and grow ultimately morphing into an incredibly muscular, near 7ft tall behemoth with glowing yellow eyes and a flat top. The transformation was totally unexpected and the guards tried to rally to subdue me but were met with raw and unbridled strength. The chaos of the moment must have triggered everyone else’s powers as well. As more guards descended upon us one by one our powers began to spill out. Alex charged towards one aggressor and suddenly found himself engulfed in smoke and flame like the exhaust of a space shuttle booster. He seemed unphased by the combustion around him as he rocketed around crashing into bodies and walls alike. One alien raised his weapon high to bash Roselyn but as she cowered in defense a blast of white-hot energy exploded from her body totally vaporizing the assailant and burning a hole straight through the hull of the ship.

We could see the ocean below shimmering through a watery veil. Realizing this was our only chance to escape I quickly set my companions free from their shackles. I told Alex and Roselyn to try to reproduce what they did and cause as much destruction as possible. They proceeded to wreak uncontrolled havoc while I used my brute strength to rip open the hull at the spot of the breach. The ship trembled violently as Danielle looked on in disbelief. Bad things were about to go down so I snatched both her and Roselyn up and yelled back to Alex to come on. The three of us plunged out of the gaping opening and plummeted about 200 feet into the water below. Alex splashed down seconds afterwards as the alien craft above collapsed in upon itself and imploded out of existence. Remarkably none of us were hurt too badly from the fall. We managed to make our way back to shore, lost and confused. As the adrenaline began to wear off I transformed back into my normal self. There were too many questions and not enough answers. The only thing we knew for sure was that we could not go back to our normal lives. The four of us went into hiding to protect ourselves but those around us. We had been bestowed with unimaginable power and needed to learn how to harness and control it.

It’s Worth Noting:

  • I played Steadfast for quite a long time. In later campaigns the four of us were picked up by a group of fellow altered humans who helped teach us to use our powers. Although my power was similar to Hulk in that high emotions triggered the transformation at one point my power mutated to the point where I could not revert back to the teenager body. Imagine a 16 year old with the power strength of Superman.
  • Our origins and powers were strongly based on existing marvel characters. Mine was closed to the Hulk (as mentioned). Alex was based on a character from the New Mutants called Cannonball. Roselyn was based on X-Factor character Havoc and Danielle had the powers of Sue Richards from the Fantastic Four.

Losing my place in the line… to HELL


I’m not a nice guy.

Don’t let the devilishly good looks, intoxicating writing style, utterly unbearable aura of awesomeness and supreme humbleness fool you. I’m not saying I’m a bad guy, mind you, but I’m certainly not as “good” as I could be. Often I have thought farts that don’t make it to the blogosphere. I call them thought farts because no matter how disgusting a fart is you still laugh. You don’t want to but you do. They’re crude, rude and lewd and if said in public would bring forth a piercing sneers and jeers but muffled giggles as well. I say things people think about but don’t have the balls to say sometimes. I’m like a walking South Park episode. I find humor in almost anything. I make light of things other people take far too seriously. There’s a fine line between disrespect and comedy that people really need to learn about. I push boundaries sometimes but it’s all in good fun. I’m frighteningly politically incorrect and in some people’s eyes that’s a bad thing.

With that as the backdrop to this whole post, I fear I’m losing my place in line in Hell. Over the past 23 or so years I’ve strategically maneuvered my way down the queue.  There are a ton of people at the head of the line that I’ll never be able to get past but that’s okay. I just want a decent seat if I’m going to roast for eternity. Unfortunately moving up here has halted and, dare I say, even reversed my hard-earned progress. First it was volunteering my services at the animal shelter. Initially I only intended to build a website for them for free but now I’ve found myself walking and tending to dogs for the past 3 weeks. That’s not the kind of thing you put on your resume to Hell.

Then it was volunteering for a couple of activities during Toonik Tyme. There I was working long hours,  making friends with adults and mingling with children. Me. The supposed antisocial anti-child anarchist. As if that wasn’t enough, as of the past week I’ve found myself volunteering once again – this time at the Iqaluit Community Greenhouse – doing manual labor duties such as hauling soil and bedding planters. Helping the community and expecting nothing in return.

What the hell is going on? The now 23hrs of daylight must be baking my brain.

But then came the ultimate act that’s bound to get me kicked right out of the line completely…

A couple of weeks ago I was reading a few posts about a loving mother and her beautiful young daughter’s medical condition. Some of you may be familiar with my blend Thypolar. If not I urge you to cease reading my dribble and catch up with this fascinating woman’s tale. Her daughter, who creatively is referred to as (12), is an inspirational young girl who’s going through some physically and mentally taxing times right now. She’s a trooper that somehow manages to crank out a movie-star quality smile whenever the camera is on her. Some how… some way she managed to inspire the non-existent fluffy frilly side of my heart. I decided since I’ve been on a sketching roll as of late that I’d make something specifically for her. Not only would I send her the signed sketch (which I rarely do) but I’d digitally render a full color, print quality illustration of it as well.  She likes frogs and faeries so that’s what I’m going to make for her. I’m still debating on how to present it to her. I know Thypolar reads my blog and sometimes informs her kiddies about the well wishes and compliments they receive but I don’t think they actually see this blog.

Geez… I’d hope not. I live in fear of my parents keeping up with this much less underage children. *nyuk nyuk*

The recent Rapture-mania made me think about (12) once again so I finished off the sketch for the most part…

On a completely serious and out-of-character note, it saddens me that the flaming bag of douche who got the whole Doomsday craze rolling has gained so much notoriety meanwhile real people with real problems and real concerns like young little (12) remain anonymous. Sure I kid around a lot here, spout outlandish thoughts and spin interesting tales about my life experiences but I would hope people are intelligent enough to know when I’m playing the fool and when I’m dead serious. I’m very proud and honored to send this little wonder something I created. Sure, it’s just a piece of artwork, but if it puts a smile on her face or makes her day I’m happy. I’m actually experiencing a bit of anxiety about sending it because I want it to be just right. A 35 year old tough guy is intimidated by a 12 year old girl. Go figure. Every artist wages a constant battle with perfection. I know this picture is far from perfect and it makes my stomach turn on end as I constantly question myself whether its good enough.

Anyway before I start babbling again stop flitting around here and read something more interesting. Read up on her. Beam her and her lovely mother some positive energy and if you’re feeling really proactive, send her a card or something. Let her know there is still some hope for humanity and that we’re not all a bunch of trend-hopping stooges who go gaga over the stupidest things and neglect the people, plights and stories we should really be concerned about.

Stay tuned for future updates about this piece.

Love, peace and hair grease folks!


Freshly Sketched: zDayz Character

zDayz Me

I’ve unearthed some characters that I had long forgotten about. Think of this as an exposé into my gaming roots. Every piece of artwork has a story behind it so rather than just post random pictures that no one other than me and a handful of people know about, I’ll include a bio as to the origin of the particular character. This has high levels of geek in it (hence the Geek Zone pairing) but fear not, it’s entertaining at least… if you’re into zombies and such (AMY). As always if you’re not interested in reading you can just view the artwork. Makes no difference to me. I like talking to myself. I once had an argument in an empty room so don’t worry about offending me by not reading.

…but at least comment if you have something worth while to interject… hehe

zDayz MeGame Name: Untitled
Game System: Improvised
Genre: Zombie Horror
Character Name: Ian E.
Game History: This was the first classic pen & paper RPG I ever played way back in the days. Oddly enough it was my father (of all people) who not only got me into it but ran the game. I know, it sounds unlikely but it’s very true. My pops is probably as big of a zombie fanatic as I am. He corrupted me on the brain munchers at an obscenely young age. He’s awesome like that. Anyway we had a good number of zombie movie watching under our belts and I recall us having those long overly-precise conversations about the subject. You know how it goes – we’d be driving around and comment on which places would be best to hold up in, which areas of the city would be overrun, where the best place for weapons would be. At that time I had just started reading about another roleplaying game system and figured why couldn’t we just run a game ourselves?

The makeshift system we had relied more on storytelling and decision-making than dice and stats. We primarily used dice as a sort of chance factor. Certain tasks required a higher or lower roll depending on the complexity of what was trying to be accomplished. We had d10s (a 10 sided die) so basically insanely hard or nearly impossible tasks required a roll of 8 or higher while average difficulty feats were around 5 or higher. It was pretty simple.

The Character: Since this was my first official character it was my easiest to play because it was myself for the most part. The story took place in the then present time right at the start of a zombie outbreak. The particulars about why or how it happened were always left to speculation. You can pretty much surmise any conclusion based on any zombie movie you’ve seen. It was a fast paced game in that I woke up to “the shit going down” and had to work from that premise forward. I was by myself at the start and was inside my apartment building. While some of you uninformed individuals out there might see this as decent place to begin, let me say that my pops was merciless and made full use of the fact that the neighborhood we lived in housed more than 10,000 residents in a 6 block area. He wasn’t absurd and didn’t make them all undead, but if you can imagine the panic of a catastrophic event like that happening in such a confined area littered with drug dealers and unsavory characters it has the makings for a chaotic start to a game.

After a long series of unfortunate events and narrow brushes with death I managed to escape the housing projects but didn’t get too far before I was forced to take refuge. Ironically enough I ended up holing myself in the convent across the street from my elementary school. I was familiar with the area and knew that the convent was one of the more secure places around. It was mindracking trying to make sure I had everything fortified but thankfully there wasn’t anyone inside I had to “deal with”. Once I felt that I was secure it became a waiting game with the supplies that were left in the building.

After several days of listening to people screaming, cars crashing, sporadic gunfire and explosions the city began to eerily get quiet. Soon the only thing that could be heard was the persistent moan of the undead as they prowled the streets in an endless search for anything living. The secret to my success was lying low, staying quiet and remaining out of sight. These zombies were old school in that they didn’t run but they had a little bit of getty up in them if you got them riled up. Get enough of them around you and you’re meat. I hadn’t been out since the first day of the outbreak and now food and supplies were running dangerously low. I would have to venture out and start foraging if I was to survive.

With a bat and kitchen knife in hand I set out to the local convenience store to see what I could salvage. Looters had already ransacked the place like a horde of locusts so there wasn’t much to take. Evading the undead wasn’t that hard. They have more sight-based tracking than anything else and their vision was comparable to the living so as long as you kept to the shadows you were fine. The area wasn’t as densely populated with them  as it was. I had assumed many of them followed the people who were trying to flee which meant the highways and bridges must be infested. That was sort of a relief considering my apartment building was quite literally next to the 59th Street bridge. More than likely that area became a death trap.

On my way back to the safe house I got caught in a serious moral dilemma. Darwin preaches “survival of the fittest” and I’m Gloria Gaynor when it comes to saving my own ass. However en route back  I caught sight of a young girl being assaulted by a group of stumble monkeys. She foolishly jumped into an abandoned car as a last-ditch effort to escape from them but doomed herself in the process. They would hang around and pound on that car for days – weeks even – until she eventually died of starvation or whatever injuries she may be suffering from. It plagued my mind replaying all the panicked screams of help I’d heard over the past week and change so I strayed from better judgement and decided to try to rescue her. It was a gruesome fight. Luckily I had the element of surprise on my side so I was able to dispatch a couple of them almost instantly. The rest swarmed like kids to the ice cream truck. She wasn’t an idiot thankfully and used my distraction to not only escape the vehicle but assist me as well.

Having no place to go she followed me back to the convent. This was both a blessing in disguise but also a nightmare come true. My shady little nook had avoided attention for all this time but now I had woken up the whole neighborhood to my presence there. The addition of an extra body – especially a female one – made the trade-off somewhat even. You know one hand – army of zombies, the other – live-in hotness. What can I say? I’m shallow. Sue me. It was a game. ;p

As time went on the two of us ended up become a great zombie-bashing team. We even started rescuing more and more local people and bringing them back to our zombie compound. With more people came more responsibility but also more opportunity. Over time we raided abandoned police stations and armories amassing a substantial arsenal of weaponry. After several months of defending our turf we had accumulated a following of 23 people. The downside to that was the once spacious former convent was like Guantanamo prison now. There was virtually no space for all of us to be housed there. We had been clearing the region block-by-block for weeks in an effort to foolishly put and end to the zombie threat. No matter how many we would clear in a day, more would show up the next. We needed a place that had limited access but enough space for use to expand our operation.

We decided to take over Roosevelt Island.

That was no easy task by any stretch of the imagination. The logistics of it were staggering to comprehend but it was our most viable option. It was surrounded on all sides by the East River and had only one bridge in. Having to guard just the one choke point would make defending ourselves that much easier. The biggest problem (aside from other organized bands of survivors) would be clearing the island of threats and taking care of the 59th Street bridge that crossed over the southwestern portion of the island. We couldn’t very well have deadheads falling on us from above or make available the threat of repelling raiders so we decided to do the impossible and blow up the part of the bridge that crossed over. We had collected a disturbing amount of explosive material over the months so we had the supply and a couple of people with the know-how (or at least believed they had the knowledge) so it was just a matter of execution. Six of us were to go to Roosevelt Island (in two-person pairs) and clear it out while the rest would escort and stage the demolitions on the bridge.

We knew the demolitions squad was going to take quite a while to execute the game plan so we decided to clear the southwestern side of the island first and move northeast so that we would be out of the way when the roof came down. By this stage of the game I was incredibly arrogant, cocky and feeling invincible – which is why I didn’t foresee this as being too difficult. I pulled off a great number of accomplishments with the aid of good dice rolls and creative thinking on my feet the entire time we were gaming and I’m certain my pops saw me getting too big for my britches. He did something that changed gaming for me forever. While my partner-in-crime Maureen and I were in the condemned remnants of a mortuary I was cutting a lot of corners with regards to operating protocol. When dealing with zombies you have to always be vigilant and stay faithful to the guidelines and tactics that have kept you alive the whole time because they do not learn and will capitalize on the slightest deviation from procedure. I was lazy and wasn’t watching my corners and blind spots when all of a sudden my failure to check something came back to haunt me. One sneaky little pussbag crept out from the shadows and took a chunk out of Maureen. We quickly gave him a prison beating but by that point the damage had been done. We’d seen what bites, scratches, heck even accidentally getting a little blood in your mouth can do and she had a full-on gaping wound.

I was pissed, more with myself than what had happened. It freaked me out how ‘attached’ I got to this character and knowing I killed her bummed me out big time. A sobering last conversation with her ended with having to put two into her head. I couldn’t shake the feeling of hitting the reset button even though this was a live game. I didn’t want to play anymore and in true suck-ass teen fashion I ended the game. The attention I had drawn to myself attracted more and more maggot factories to my position. I didn’t care anymore at this point. I sat down next to my oldest companion and waited for them to come. As they started to surround us I popped the pins on a couple of grenades and gave them a profanity riddled last statement before committing character suicide.

It’s Worth Noting:

  • This was the first game that I experienced character attachment. It’s an unexplained phenomenon in gaming where people inexplicably become attached to their character and the ones that surround them. I would learn later on when I started running game how to use this to my advantage to steer a campaign and write good dialogue. You know you’ve succeeded in your storytelling when people reminisce about characters like real life people.
  • This game was an inspiration to the zDayz first-person blog style narrative I wrote.

Freshly Sketched: The Vampiric Elven Blood Mage & Self-Mutilated Dwarven Berserker

Vampiric Elven Blood Mage

“Are you afraid of dragons? “
~Valerian: Dragonslayer (1981)

I’m debuting a new category yet again today and decided to pair it up with my recently inaugurated Art? section. I decided to ease into this new and harsh realm slowly like an old man into a warm bath. The Geek Zone is all about celebrating geekiness and geekdom. This category’s subject matter will vary from time to time and is reserved for common knowledge geekiness within said topic range. If you are unfamiliar with a particular topic you have two choices: start doing some homework or avoid it all costs. I spend far too much time educating the masses in all my other posts to do that here. This is a place where geeks can roam free and mingle amongst the herd. If you are faint of heart in the face of supreme nerdiness or easily flustered by knowledge and references that are beyond your scope, the Geek Zone is not for you.

Those who stumble upon the vast reaches of my nerdiness beware, it is a path not easily tread upon. I’m not a total meanie. I’ll point you in the right direction sometimes but for the most part you have to figure the particulars out yourself. If you’re truly interested you’ll find out more. If not, then no loss either way. I’ve combined this with some Freshly Sketched artwork so that even if you don’t know what’s being mentioned you can look at the (un)pretty pictures. It’s my way of getting back at the world for making me a Professional Dumbass. At least you were warned, right? Those prolific in the Geek Topic of the Day should have no trouble following along.

Today’s Topic – Dragon Age Role Playing Game

Source: Wikipedia

Suzanne and I have cracked out on this series to the point of actually purchasing the RPG. I love the stories and culture of the game. Draws a lot of comparisons to real life but with a dark and sometimes humorous twist. After reading through the Players Guide (because Suzanne has forbidden me to read the GM Guide because she wants to run her first campaign) I got hit with massive inspiration to draw some characters. I’ve probably run through Dragon Age: Origins a dozen times and Dragon Age 2 about 4 or 5 times now but the books actually shed more light on the world of Dragon Age than anything else and opened up the floodgates. It took me back to the good ole’ highschool days when some buddies and I would commandeer a spot in the local pizza shop for hours gaming.

The geek runs strong in my family. My father had it. I have it. My friends have it… and my wife has it.

Anyway the first vision to pop into my head was Marilyn Manson. I know… not the first thought any sane person should have pop into their head but who ever said I’m sane? Just awesome. Manson is iconic in the RPG scene. Back when I was playing Vampire: The Masquerade I had him pegged as a Malkavian hands down. I dig the show he makes of himself. He’s an incredible concept – art & character wise – so whenever a twisted drawing comes to mind, he’s usually at the forefront of my mind as a template. In the Dragon Age world blood mages are about as twisted and malicious as you get.  So I decided to marry the ideas of a vampires, blood mages, and Marilyn Manson into this…

Vampiric Elven Blood mage

My second concept came in the form of a dwarf. Everyone always falls in loves with writing about and drawing elves and humans but dwarves are always the odd man out cuz they’re short, angry and hairy. I decided to present a battle dwarf in a whole new light. Berserkers thrive on pain and violence. What better way to feed off pain than to have it self-inflicted constantly? So I decided to create a female dwarf built like the WWE’s Beth Phoenix but wrap her arms and legs in barbed wire. Nothing like having that persistent searing pain of razor-sharp wires to stir up some real emotions, eh?

Self-Mutilated Dwarven Berserker


Freshly Sketched: The Ogre

Ogre

“I’m an OGRE! You know, ‘grab your torch and pitchforks!’ Doesn’t that bother you? “
~Shrek

I remember a while back I promised that I would draw more often because web design has all but eradicated my ability to free-hand anymore. So what better way to launch my latest Art? category then to debut my new Freshly Sketched posts. I have no way of knowing how many pieces will show up over the course of time but whenever I produce one worthy of showing the world, it’ll be Freshly Sketched. In time I may work on it further and put out a rendered version of the sketch in my Mental Wasteland (like I’ve done with others) but I’m not committing to anything yet. if inspiration carries me away then keep checking there. You never know what may show up. I figure this is a good way to get me posting once again considering the wellsping of my mind dried up weeks ago with regards to writing.

Anyway over the past couple of weeks I managed to carve out some time for myself to refresh my sketching skills. What does one draw when they haven’t put pencil to paper in ages?

An ogre of course.

I know. Not really a classic representation of artistic aesthetics like a bowl of fruit or portrait of someone but I have to go back to my roots. I’m in no way a classically trained artist so why should I draw something classic? I have a rich history in redundant movie knowledge, comic books, role-playing games, and digital erotica. Yeah.. that’s right. I was commissioned to do dozens of digital dark erotica postcard-like pictures in the late 90’s for a website called darksites.com. The site has changed its direction over the years so they don’t carry the work I did anymore (since they’re more or less a link store now) but who knows, maybe one day I’ll enlighten you all with a peek back into the past.

So back to why I decided to go with the ogre as my return sketch…

I always found inspiration in role-playing games. The level of creativity involved in both book-n-dice and video game RPGs boggles the mind. The stories, characters and mythologies are so complex and detailed that you can’t help but get inspired. For anyone who can’t comprehend that concept I challenge you to read a gamemaster book from any RPG system. Any gamemaster book. Read it like you would any other book. If you’re still biased about gamers and the whole RPG sub culture then screw you. I cast a cone of silence on you and banish you from my blog. ;p

When I think of an ogre – which thankfully doesn’t happen often but the fact that it does happen still worries me – I don’t think of Shrek. I imagine them to be closer to homo sapiens than not… a sort of missing link between the apes and humans. I imagine large, brutish creatures with thick brows, broad chested, powerful limbs and hairy as hell. I present to you my non-Shrek Ogre vision…

Ogre