Sunday, August 28, 2011

a pic and a link

Roger at Roles, Rules & Rolls has a interesting little piece up today, using as his springboard my favorite non-cheesecake Elmore painting. Check it out.

I've always loved this piece for its utter ridiculosity.


  1. I have always loved this picture too. I am an Elmore fan but this one stands out as being both fun and dark at the same time.

    I have always thought it would be great if he did a followup piece where mama or daddy dragon was shown coming over the hill in the background.

    I had a group that went out on a dragon hunt for a patron and they killed a baby red dragon to get the scales and blood. I let the mother be able to track the scent and so ended the dragon hunt campaign. So this image and the followup idea always reminds me of that.

  2. @Wymarc: Yeah. I argued that this piece is somewhat light, because they're gloating over what looks like an easy kill, but adding the hint of dragon revenge would have shunted it from "light" to "dark" mode in an instant.

  3. i have always loved this picture. i never looked at it and thought an easy kill tho. look at the female warrior, she differently went threw a fierce battle. sure the cleric is being smug also but look at the wizard, he looks like he is about to crap his robes. like he knows they just messed up and better go hide.

  4. It always made me feel like the adventurers were big bullies.

    That & the picture of the kobolds in A4 always made me a bit more mindful of presenting some monsters as more 3 dimensional at times or presenting the pc's with moral dilemma type situations.

  5. Hey! That was TOTALLY a Dire Fiendish Vampiric Paragon Wyrmling with 10 Druid levels!

  6. Is it just me or does the big fighter look a bit like Gary Gygax?

  7. Hey, a kill's a kill. Dragons are serious business. :P

  8. DM question. And I want plausible theories, not guesses:

    What are the light sources in this scene? Where are they?

  9. @ZakS
    Mayhap I'm misreading your question, but to my eye it looks like the sun is shining from the lower left corner toward the background, based on the shadow cast by the trunk of the tree they're hanging the dragonet from. The foreground is being shadowed by what I would presume to be the canopy of another, "off camera" tree somewhere in the direction of the sun.

    I think Elmore uses a fair bit of photo reference for landscape stuff, and is probably painting it as he sees it.

    To my eye the wizard looks rather bemused, more "I can't believe my friends are acting like killing this runt dragon was the same as taking down Tiamat, but I'll just smile and play along 'cos we're all low level and you take what wins you can."

  10. Anonymous4:26 PM

    I've been looking at Socialist Realist posters for my Dungeonista! project - and dammit Elmore's beat me to it !

    None of the greasy Kapitalist greed of Trampier - Elmore gives us joyous fraternity in triumph.
    This is not cheesecake, this is ideological war.

    Viva the Dungeonistas!

  11. Almost unrivalled as my favourite Elmore illustration.

  12. @bigfella

    See, I'm seeing sun setting, and the light source is above and to the left of the viewer--offscreen--based on the leg shadows of the elf and the thief and those on the tree branches.

    However--then we have all kindsa questions: why is the sky blue and not sunsetty? why is the dragons arm casting no shadow, why is the dragon not casting a shadow on the big guy (answer: elmore had no model for the dragon so made it up and wanted to kep it "legible" by not casting too many shadowS).

    There are tons of possible explanations for this stuff, but the simplest is: for all his talk about how in D&D "everything matters
    so you paint everything" Elmore was far more devoted to clear and clean and legible than to really transporting you to another world.

    Most people wouldn't notice that so many of the shadows and details have been left out, but you can -feel- it.

  13. My favorite Elmore picture. It evokes "D&D" to me like nothing else. This is what I felt when playing AD&D 2nd... never got the same feeling out of the recent art.

  14. Like killin' a cat.

    Here's my pic:

    A pale human-shaped figure is strung from a tree. It has several pitbull mouths in its body. The female elf is dead, the wizard is bleeding out holding his gut. The fighter is exhausted, kneeling. Everyone is pale, tired. They strung it up because they thought it was dead once and paid for it . . .

  15. @Zak S

    Well, the different colors part of a sunset does tend to happen in the direction the sun is located in, since what we're seeing is the opposite side of the sky away from the sun, I think it's believable that it'd still be blue if it's early enough.

    The dragon's arm seems to be casting a shadow against it's belly, which is more or less in keeping with the angle of the light.

    That angle could also possibly cause the dragon's shadow to fall past the big guy and be hidden by the shadow of the other tree that's shading the foreground, including the elf and thief's legs.

    Then again, you're probably right that Elmore was fudging for clarity's sake, which isn't the worst instinct an illustrator can have.

    I will admit that the philosophy of "everything matters, so paint everything" is... interesting (I wasn't aware that Elmore espoused this.) but makes for rather dry images, f'yask me.

    That dryness is kind of why I respect Elmore for his technical skill both don't count him as an artist who's work I'm passionate about.

  16. Anonymous12:36 PM

    Well, a hatchling green dragon would be a 7 HD monster with AC 3, three attacks (1d8/1d8/2d10) with a +1 to each roll due to age, plus a breath weapon of gas (2d6+1) in a cloud 5-' long, 40' wide, 30' high (anyone in the cloud can save for half damage). It's also cruelly evil and kills anything it cannot enslave.

    There are no obviously flashy weapons etc. depicted in the party, so if this is a first level group without magic weapons, do you really think it's such an easy kill? And if nobody is allowed to be challenged by hatchling dragons or are considered "mean" to kill them, then why are they in the books to begin with?

    Yep, I happen to think this is a great thing to have put in the front of the player's handbook, right before you make your own character and set out to have adventures of your own. It was clever to illustrate the fact that yes, lower level PCs do fight and kill even young dragons, and they are not pushovers.

  17. Anonymous12:37 PM

    Make that "50' long" in the above description. :)

  18. Anonymous6:09 PM

    The cleric, if you look carefully, is clearly Billy Joel.