23 Jan 2013

The Archer: Deluxe T&T

I LIKE CHARACTERS and I cannot lie. Whether in artwork or when writing, I’m character-driven in the things I create.  I suspect this is part of why RPGs appeal to me the way they do. Being able to project myself into a character’s head (surely a skill I developed reading as a wee young bairn) is something I can spend hours doing, whether at work or play, reading or gaming.

imagination

So I was overjoyed when, last Sunday, the characters who will populate the new cover of Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls sprang to life in my head and under my pencil. A glance, a reaction, visceral body language, a gesture… these are the roots of what makes a character instead of just a figure on the page. I could feel their emotions and they leapt into place on the page with only the slightest encouragement. Come over the jump and I’ll give you a taste and a tale to go with it…

SERENDIPITY
I had a cover I intended to paint for this project as far back as last October, when Steve Crompton and Ken St Andre unearthed a long forgotten but very finished sketch of mine, done in the mid-90′s. This was just a bad photocopy but enough to remind me it ever existed, and appropriate enough that they suggested I use it for the new dT&T cover.

The image was good.  It gave me a leg up on getting this project underway, if I simply used it as-is… but something held me back. Eventually I knew that was not the right cover for this book. It would influence this one, but at one remove, and that alone would set a puzzle for me to solve before I could get things moving again. I’m going to withhold that sketch and the longer story around it for now — that is a tale for another time.

CHARACTER STUDY
What I am going to share is one of the characters in the new cover sketch. Have a look.

Archer

The original T&T covers I painted had an archer, the dwarf. I wanted to give a nod to the earlier versions, but without re-doing them. I was never all that pleased with the cover I did for Fiery Dragon. The idea of doing the Fifth Edition painting “same scene, two seconds later” was not without merit, but my heart wasn’t in it. It was the best I could do at the time, but perhaps that too is a story for another time.

This adventurer seems to be someone with more depth of personality than the melee rogue in the first painting. She might not be conventionally “pretty” but I think she’s got lots more than that going for her.

I’m tickled with some of the details. The hair? Inspired by someone I saw while out running errands. Creative people get inspired by the weirdest things (as Ken noted when he recently tweeted about inventing cactus trolls). The jacket? A friend’s zippered wrap morphed considerably and now I really want a jacket like this. She’s clearly got the whole rogue thing going on; plus, it’s a sensible outfit over her mail. The arrows are held as they are because my Anthro degree and readings in art history provide confirmation bias that this YouTube video about old techniques of speed and accuracy for a combat archer would dictate such handling. The oak leaf details should explain themselves.

MORE TO COME
I’m not putting up the whole sketch because there’s lots I’m still working out. It’s underground and the lighting is perhaps the most dramatic I’ve ever planned for a painting. That will only show in the final art. I do expect to share the work in progress here, starting with the sketch once it is as tight and finished as that old photocopy Steve and Ken found.

Who is this archer? Someone I’d like to meet, to get to know. She’s got a couple of equally interesting companions, shieldmates in the painting to come. I get to explore and develop their personalities further when the time comes to put brush to board. I’m really looking forward to that — my heart is definitely in it, this time around.

And that look of concern on the archer’s face? Completely justified. You’ll see.

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25 Responses to The Archer: Deluxe T&T

  1. grandpachet says:

    Frankly, I’m overjoyed to see a fantasy or science fiction female who ISN’T huge breasted. It’s as rare as a flat-chested Wally Wood woman.

  2. Rob says:

    I agree with grandpache. It’s nice to see a ‘real’ woman!

  3. anen kram says:

    I like your Archer’s expression & the focus of her eyes. I like that punk-rock look too. I didn’t know about the positioning of her arrows & bow. I thought she was getting ready to drop it and go for her sword. I can’t wait to see the cover.

  4. SSCrompton says:

    Yeah love that archer too. At first glance a thought she might be an elf, but then I realized she has human ears. It’s really nice! More to come I’m sure!

  5. David Ullery says:

    The other thing I love about Liz’s art (besides the normally/reality proportioned body parts) is the clothing. She covers her characters realistically, complimentary, and convincingly. Love it, Liz.

  6. Stefan Jones says:

    What a great behind the scenes look at the evolution of a cover! I look forward to more entries as work goes forward.

  7. Awesome! And the story you give us in introducing us adds to the intriguing nature of the image. Thank you!

  8. Trrrommm says:

    Trrrommm likes the Archer

  9. Dhonn says:

    Gritty and dynamic.

  10. Andy Holmes says:

    Just brilliant! :)

  11. David Crowell says:

    Liz, thank you so much for giving us a real woman, sensibly dressed for adventure. As the father of two adventurous girls it is nice to have role models like this.
    I’m eager to see the rest of the cover.

    • Liz Danforth says:

      This comment warms my heart more than almost anything else said here (and I really DO appreciate the compliments from everyone). A friend and I recently discussed the role models we had growing up, in fiction and film, and how difficult it was to calibrate between who we were on the inside vs who we were expected to be on the outside. Give your girls a hug for me, would you?

  12. Lee says:

    Brill! Can’t wait for the next instalment.

  13. Knick says:

    I like the nose. Not sure why, but she just has such an expressive nose.

  14. Notatroll says:

    Looks great!

  15. Mike Jarvis says:

    I love it when fantasy and FRP characters are depicted as real and realistic. The world just does not need any more half-naked barbarians or scantily-clad slave girls. THIS is how a ‘real’ adventurer should dress; practical, but with style and and a hint of ‘not of this world’. Great stuff and I can’t wait to see the rest.

  16. Brian says:

    You always bring a touch of reality with your art. Maybe less than “ideal” but authentic. With your art it is always easier to I agile myself sharing the scene

  17. Brian says:

    *i agile should be imagine.

  18. grandpachet says:

    All right! Enough with this soft, lovey-dovey type posts. I know – it’s my fault – I started it. Unbecoming of a Trollish Delver, wasn’t I?

    To get us back into an aggressive, belching, scratching sort of T&T mood, I present from Tarzan of the Apes, Chapter 6, paragraph 17, which will give us the proper caption for the (admittedly great) illustration above:

    “A is for Archer, who shoots with a bow.”

    Now lets go out there and BE GRUFF!!

    growl, roar!!

  19. She looks grim as hell and I love it. Almost said I would want to share a brew with her but she probably doesn’t have time for such trifles. She looks alert — farsighted both with visual acumen, and in her values and decision making.

    At least that is a piece of my story for her thus far. Can’t wait to see more of your character!

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