As promised at the end of the last Drawing-A-Day post, here’s a post about me actually drawing the things.
Step 1: The Draw
When we left off, I had a deck of cards with the names of monsters on them.
So, every morning I wake up and I shuffle the cards (well, usually I have coffee, then shuffle the cards, but you get the idea) and deal myself… whatever comes up.
Of course, today I know what the card will be before I wake up, because I’m at the end of the deck. Today’s card is the flumph.
Is this your card?
Some mornings, the card draw can be a tense affair; I have a decent idea how much time various critters are likely to take, and if I have a busy schedule it can be unnerving to get a tough card on top of that. The day I drew the Tarrasque, I ended up completely clearing my calendar so I could spend the entire day fiddling with the drawing. (The end result doesn’t necessarily justify this kind of decision, but this project is about process, not product.)
Mostly, the cards have been kind, and I have vetoed a draw exactly once. That was two days ago when I had already decided I’d write this post when I drew the flumph, and it came up, and I knew I didn’t have time that day to document my process. You, reader, are the only exception I have made to my self-imposed rules. For the rest of the year, whatever I draw, that’s what I draw.
And no, the pun/double meaning of “drawing-a-day” hadn’t occurred to me when I started this project. In case you were under the misapprehension that I’m that clever.
But before I start drawing, I do research.
Step 2: Source Material
I don’t stress out too much about this. I have a general knowledge of D&D monsters, so for some of them I’ll just do a quick Google Image search and start drawing. For others, I may read the descriptions from various D&D editions for inspiration, or dig out the AD&D Monster Manual and see how the creatures have changed over the years.
I have never learned how to take a screenshot on my netbook.
I am officially an old man, banging rocks together.
For monsters that are inspired from real-world animals, though, I do more image searches. Lots more. I’ll have as many as eight tabs open (occasionally crashing my browser, because netbook). Today there are four images that leap out at me.
These jellies give me a sense of color—flumphs, as everybody knows, change color according to mood, and anyway white is hard to do in this project. It’s also nice to see the longer arms and tentacles, how they flow.
Of course, the flumph also has eyes on stalks coming out of its head. Jellyfish don’t have those. But crabs do.
This isn’t actually the photo I’m using for eyestalk reference, but the one that’s actually useful isn’t licensed for re-use (images courtesy of Wikimedia). So for the purposes of this blog, we’ll have to pretend.
Now that I’ve put a bunch of images into my brains, I can start drawing.
Well, usually I do the research and then get up and get another cup of coffee, or some lunch, or maybe go do something else for a while. Depends on the day. Right now, I’m about to get up and eat some soup. That isn’t a part of my drawing-a-day process, it’s just a thing I do sometimes called eating.
Step 3: Rough Sketch
I almost always skip Step 3. It takes longer, it’s hard to transfer a sketch to the playing card, and usually I just end up with a drawing in my sketchbook that I like better than the final version. But occasionally I’ll do a test layout or sketch a head or something, just to warm up.
Case in point: that Tarrasque on the left. Lookit! Lookit how coot he is!
So much better than the final version. Ah, well.
So, skipping step 3 today, as usual.
Step 4: Layout
I grab my yellow pen and draw in light, rough, sketchy lines, the basic shape I’m looking for. When I’m particularly smart, I start at the bottom and work up.
I use yellow because, for most drawings, it’ll get eaten by the darker colors but is still a little visible during the first layers of ink so I can still keep track of the base sketch. For a few things where I don’t want any yellow in the mix, say the gray ooze or water weird, I’ll do the initial sketch in blue or black. But usually, I stick to yellow.
In the previous post, I mentioned that I use Staedtler Lumocolors.
I adore these things. Fine point, felt tip, waterproof, permanent… sorta. Permanent eventually. See, when you use a Lumocolor on the face of a playing card, the coating on the card keeps the ink wet for a second, meaning each color can be blended just a little bit. And whenever more ink is put on top, the lower layer reactivates for a split-second, so I can lighten a dark color, or erase it.
Quick illustration, on a different card. The first quick outline.
Add green, it blends if I swipe it immediately after putting down the line.
I can fill a field with a particular color, going over the original lines.
But draw over in yellow, and so long as I swipe away the line immediately, it’ll take most of the green away.
It also means I have a perpetual inkstain on my thumb.
This will be useful for the flumph (the technique, not the inkstain), because I’d like it (the flumph, not the inkstain) to be sort of a pinkish lavender, but I only have dark purple and red pens. So.
Step 5: Color
After I’m happy with the layout, I’ll move down the box, picking darker and darker colors, sometimes going back in with a lighter color to blend or alter bits of the drawing as I go.
The bottoms of the tentacles got a bit too dark, so I hit them with yellow to remove a bit of the ink, then hit them with red to blend. It’s a bit lighter IRL.
Step 6: Outline
Once I’m happy with the color, or once I’ve finally decided to stop messing with it, I’ll grab the black and do the outline. Sometimes this will ruin a drawing I’m particularly happy with (e.g. the imp), sometimes it serves to cover up sloppy lines and make the whole thing pop (e.g. the Kuo-Toa), sometimes it’s just a thing that happens (e.g. most of them). I do try to use the outline inks to help emphasize perspective, using thicker lines around the things in the foreground and around main shapes, thinner lines for background shapes and detail work. The flumph is pretty simple, and I like the translucency of the color, so I’m using thinner lines overall.
To follow the feed of monsters and occasionally other things I come across, head to Instagram:
If you have a D&D monster you really want to make sure I draw as part of this project, I’ve set up a request line. It’s ugly, but it should work.
And yes, Miniature Giant Space Hamster has been requested, and has been added to the very next deck.
Is there a Monster you want Jonesy to draw?