Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Another AR3 sketch

Just something in progress. Being able to make the brushes larger than 100% is handy.

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Tuesday, 15 December 2009

ArtRage 3 sketches.

Just a mini post today. ArtRage 3 came out yesterday/today and I've just downloaded it and had a play. I hooked up with some other UK illustrators - Scott Purdy and Andy Hepworth to record a chat whilst we opened our AR3 boxes, and compared notes on the new edition of the art software people either love or hate. Should form part of a NM podcast at some point soon.

Here's a couple of little studies I made with the new version:

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Nothing too earth shattering, but I thought my fellow AR fans might like to see. If you have any questions about 3 drop me a comment and I'll do my best to answer.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Fantasy Art for Beginners Intro Part Three

The third part of my video intro to my book Fantasy Art for Beginners is up here:

This time we get into the real substance of the book -the six thirty to forty step walk throughs:

Thursday, 3 December 2009

DSA Shaman

Hey all! An image I completed last week for my friends over at Ulisses Spiele for Das Schwarze Auge:

***Images removed after polite request from client after change in plan from the marketing dept****

Monday, 30 November 2009

Dragonmeet Report

So I'm back from London and Dragonmeet, and trying to get back into the swing of work.

The convention was as much fun as expected - that is to say "a lot". I gather footfall was lower than last year, but I couldn't say I noticed a pronounced difference. Not that I was went looking for one.

Travel was easy, as my old school friend Stuart was kind enough to put me up and even drive me across town to the show. Mega-Kudos to him, since I was able to stroll in to the hall in good time, completely un-hassled. Which was a boon. Of course the train journey from Scotland to London was a chore, but with plenty of good books and some films on the ipod I was fine. Seemed to go quicker than last year.

Sales of prints were good, though (as ever) not the stuff I personally thought would sell. Some really busy flurries of sales, which is always nice. Interest in my art-book was high, and I wish I could have carried a few more copies down with me. However carrying any amount of paper products soon racks up the weight, and I've made the mistake of taking too much stuff before and lived to regret it! Financially, despite reports to the contrary from some of the other traders it was well worth my time to make the trip. Which was a relief!

Had a good old laugh being half of the guest artist section with Linda Pitman, who is always very friendly and easy to get on with. This year I did my utmost to stay put behind my stall, as I felt somewhat guilty last year having been taken out to lunch by Magnum Opus Press, and then couldn't sit still! This year however I behaved myself and enjoyed it just as much as a boozy lunch in Kensington.

It was a curious experience meeting people from Deviantart, or listeners to the Ninja Mountain Podcast in the flesh. They feel like they know me, and of course I don't know them very much, if at all. All nice chaps and chappesses though.

I singularly failed to chat to Erik Mona, despite setting out to do just that, and catching sight of him on several occasions. Cons are always busy for the publisher guests, and I didn't want to interrupt his conversations with the gamers. Still frustrated I didn't catch him just to say "hi" in person.

Did meet Jeff Richard from Moon Design, and was impressed by his passion and clear dedication to what they are doing. Nice chap.

There's a whole bunch of people I know online who it was good to see face to face. The Collective Endeavour chaps, Angus and Dom from Cubicle 7, Jonny Nexus, Warren, Darran, Jim from Postmortem... couple of gents from teh Scottish scene who I haven't had a drink with in far too long - the indubitable Gregor Hutton and John Wilson. Lunacy to see them so far from home. Note to self: get out more.

Big thanks to Angus Abranson for the invitation and looking after me so well.

Monday, 23 November 2009

A bit of fun!

Gosh it's been a busy old time! As a reminder if you're desperate to keep up with what I'm up to week to week I have a Facebook page here:

So here's a fresh(ish) one I can show straight off the bat. I was asked by the fine folks over at Ordo Draconis mag if I would consider reworking an image for them to use on their next cover. I found some time over the weekend to finally finish up alterations from this:

to this:
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This is a feature I really love about owning the rights to some of my work these days. I can customise this stuff as much as I like. And I'm slowly improving the background and so on every time I go back to it.

Monday, 16 November 2009

FAFB - Video Deux

Hey All,
It's been a busy old time of late, hence the lapse in posting, but I'm still here, working away. I managed to find time this morning to put together a second video about my book "Fantasy Art for Beginners":

Here's some Amazon links to the book!:

UK chums:

US chums:

Canadian chums:

Monday, 2 November 2009

Pathfinder Monsters


The Bestiary for Paizo Publishing's Pathfinder RPG is out, so I am at liberty to share some of the monster art I made for it.
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(C)2009 Paizo Publishing

Friday, 30 October 2009

Dragon Warriors Elves

So I gather copies of Prince of Darkness for Dragon Warriors are making their way into the eager hands of the punters. Which is always good! So for this book I got a true treat - to make the first images of elves for the new edition. Elves in Dragon Warriors are something of a conundrum. The game's 1980s roots demand elves as a player race in line with D&D. But the authors were never so hot on that idea. The elves of Dragon Warriors are the Shi, the Tuatha de Dannan, the people of the Otherworld, The Erl Kings, rather than the shield-surfing pointy eared uber munchinkins we've all become a bit too familiar with.

The original elf drawing by Bob Harvey in the first Dragon Warriors book was, whilst a typically masterful pen and ink piece, a little... odd. The elf noble pictured seems to be wearing speedos. Looking at it just now, I actually appreciate it a lot more than I did as a kid, when it made me feel a bit repelled. I was a proto-hippy even aged 11, and basically wanted to be an elf. I didn't really picture that involving black swimming turnks with a big belt. Maybe that was Bob's take on the other-worldly quality. I have no idea how the art direction went back then, so maybe he was just doing what Corgi Books told him to do? On the very slim chance Bob should ever read this I should just add I have been consistently in awe of his work since I was yea big, so I hope my mild mickey taking of his elf doesn't offend. I can rest safe in the knowledge that my interpretation of DW elves will get worse, no doubt.

Anyway. Every now and then I see a film and think "Dammit!" as an idea I had already had gets used on the big screen, and is then completely lost to me. When I was a kid running roleplaying games we always had our elves as these terrible, otherworldly creatures who were bleached white like those earwigs you find in ancient blanket. And when I saw Hellboy 2 some 17 years later I felt (happily) robbed. Their Tuatha De Dannan were precisely the elves from my imagination, right down to the bronze age influence in some of the costuming.

So some of that went into these. I reclaim it, or at least my share of the common idea floating in idea-space that we all tap into. Tackling elves is always a difficult one. But without breaching any confidences handling my beloved DW elves did at least prepare me a little for a much bigger, more daunting elf-related task that was to fall into my lap some months later...

Enough talk.

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(C)2009 Jon Hodgson and Magnum Opus Press.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Jewel of Empire cover

Hey! Here's a recent cover - Jewel of Empire for Victoriana by Cubicle 7 Entertainment.
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(C)2009 Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd

Something of an experiment in stronger colours.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Twitter Madness: #EPICBLOGRT

Hey everyone. Over on Twitter a few of us started a thing called #EPICBLOGRT. Wherein if you tweet your blog with that tag, everyone else involved will retweet your blog, and you retweet theirs. Its spreading like wildfire, is wildly out of control, is being taken up by complete strangers, and fills my heart with joy to see artists and photographers (so far) joining the dots and engaging in unfettered mutualism. So if you're over on Twitter join in! And of course repost this or something similar on your own blog!

I'm jonnyhodgsonart on Twitter. Feel free to chuck me a follow, and I'll probably follow you right back!

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Dragonmeet 2009

I'll be there. Check it out! I sound awesome! HAHAHA

Hope to see some of you there too!

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

H2DFA: Sneak Peek One!

The first sneak peek at my instructional artbook for beginners, which hits the stores on November 1st:

Stay tuned for more sneak peaks in the run up to release!

"Fantasy Art for Beginners" is full of non threatening, easy to follow ways to draw and paint your favourite fantasy fings! The first half is gently introduced theory, aimed at absolute beginners, and then the second half is a series of step by step walkthroughs of 6 paintings of favourite fantasy subjects. All in an easily approachable art style for beginners. Rather than me just letting rip at it in my usual manner...

Here's some Amazon links!:

UK chums:

US chums:

Canadian chums:

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Dragon Warriors Internal Art

From the forthcoming "Friends or Foes" from Magnum Opus Press. After a long break from black and whites I really enjoyed these a great deal. And I think it shows a little bit.

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Images (C)2009 Magnum Opus Press and Jon Hodgson

Fantasy Art for Beginners

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On the First of November my book on creating fantasy art for beginners hits the streets. It is full of non threatening, easy to follow ways to draw and paint your favourite fantasy fings! The first half is gently introduced theory, aimed at absolute beginners, and then the second half is a series of step by step walkthroughs of 6 paintings of favourite fantasy subjects. All in an easily approachable art style for beginners. Rather than me just letting rip at it in my usual manner...

Here's some Amazon links!:

UK chums:

US chums:

Canadian chums:

Monday, 28 September 2009

Career High Point.

So whilst on holiday I happened upon a bottle of ale for which I painted the label art, (over another unknown artist's pencils). I was never sent samples by the client, so I snapped this one up. Last in the shop!

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Scotch Corner prize arrives

So I don't know if you've been following Scotch Corner - a group blog put on by a group of Scottish/Scotland based artists? In August we ran a contest to win a print of my "Dragon Rein" image. The winner was Brian, who works in the Ukraine as part of the Peace Corps, teaching kids there English. He felt such a print might inspire his kids to read more. What could we do? Of course he was the winner, and the print, along with some bonus extras was duly despatched. We recently heard that the parcel had arrived, and here's the kids with the work!

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Great stuff.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Faces in the Smoke

Another cover for my friends over at Cubicle 7, this time for their rather good Victoriana line

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And you can click this for a bigger view:

Monday, 31 August 2009

Mountain Boy Prints

So I'm offering a limited run of ten of this print:

The prints come on heavy 230gsm stock, and measure 120mm x 40mm. £50 including postage and packing to anywhere on people world.

Each print will be signed and numbered. I've already taken some orders (awaiting confirmation so can't give precise figures right now), so if you do want one, don't wait. Drop me an email, or a comment here for more details on how to get one.

Edit: The first batch arrived. That's a big print!
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Thursday, 27 August 2009


So Paizo are using one of my quarter pagers as a cover here.

Here's the original.
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(C)2009 Paizo

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Done for the day

Done for the day:

Work in Progress

A new big landscape piece. This will have a character in there eventually, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to have a massive widescreen mountain backdrop available for emergencies and variant versions.

I also have some plans to make a series of these for gallery usage. But it's very early days for that plan.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Moar AR

Here's another AR quickie, just for fun.

Someone else's thought for the day

Very well observed ponderings on illustration:

I'd like to credit the person who showed me this, but it was a secret person in a secret place! How exciting! Shhhhhh!

Edit: Oh! I was also messing around with stencils in ArtRage late last night. Extremely powerful feature which I highly reccomend. Under it's slightly wild and yet modest exterior ArtRage is a cheeky little powerhouse.

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Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Thought for the day

Everyone is self taught. I/someone else can show you some tools, point to some of the obstacles, but at some point you have to do it for yourself.

Yes indeed, this does come off the back of being asked again what brushes I use in Painter. When I answered the response was a request for finer detail - what settings?

Perhaps a suggested goal should be to learn Painter so well that you don't have to ask which brushes a fellow artist uses. You will be able to tell by using your eyes?

Tuesday, 11 August 2009



Here's some work I've done this year which I have received permission to show!

First up two covers for burgeoning company Cubicle 7. Both for their upcoming Cthulu Britannia line.
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(C)2009 Cubicle Seven Entertainment
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(C)2009 Cubicle Seven Entertainment
Next up is a cover for my friends over at Ulisses Spiele:
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(C)2009 Jon Hodgson

Two images for the Eberron Campaign Guide published by Wotc for D&D 4E:
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(C)2009 Wizards of the Coast

Thanks for looking in!

Monday, 3 August 2009


And check out the contest Scotch Corner are running just now!

Making ideas from fresh air...

Here's a thing for a Monday morning as I settle down to a heavy schedule. With a preamble. Whenever you say anything on line you can come across as assuming some kind of authority. This is true even of the simplest things like opinions on films or books or fruit or makes of car. If this were not the case there wouldn't be the millions of flame wars we see about such inconsequential matters. The net is not necessarily the best place to put across an observation or opinion in the neutral way one can in "meat speech".

I feel this particularly keenly on something like our podcast, Ninja Mountain. We record off the cuff with a minimum of planning. There certainly isn't a script. Of which if you have heard the show you will be painfully aware...

There's a real danger when you say "this is how I do it" or "this is what I perceive" that someone will hear or read an invisible "and all other opinions or observations are wrong or invalid". I mentioned the other week on the 'cast that I used to provide tutorials on rpgnet Freelancers forum. And I stopped doing those for precisely this reason. I always felt uncomfortable that someone much more able than me would look at them and think I was assuming some kind of authority which I did not actually possess. These days I much prefer the term "walkthrough" to "tutorial", and that's generally what I do. As an aside I was actually somewhat horrified to read someone mention a test walkthrough I did (it's here, for what it is worth!: as a tutorial.

Anyway, that's been buzzing round my head this morning as I thought about offering some stuff that helps me come up with ideas. I was in conversation with a bunch of aspiring artists last week (along with some pros who's abilities way outgun mine!) and the topic as it often does turned to coming up with ideas and how difficult that can be. Here are retyped and expanded some of my thoughts on the matter:

Big ideas are made up of little ideas.

Grouping together little ideas can make a painting. A painting can actually be about something quite small. The way the light falls, the colour of the leaves on a tree, a formation of rocks, a detail of landscape or atmosphere. A general colour scheme. Any of these small things can kick start a painting.

By trying to dream up a finished painting in its entirety before you begin is a recipe for "Artist's block".

Some ways I think up new ideas for paintings:

Take a mental walk round somewhere familiar. What small details could spark a painting?

Even better take an actual walk with a sketchbook and a camera. Remember that scale is only fixed in reality. Small things made big, big things made small are keystones of fantasy. Matter out of place is a keystone of horror.

What can other disciplines or crafts teach us, what ideas can they spark? I think about things like... olympic swimming. How could that relate to a fantasy painting? Swimming is something you don't often see. Underwater? The rigourous training swimmers do could be a jump off point for a painting. Adventurers training? How? A youth learning to use a sword? Tutored or self taught? What's the story there? What about a race? What are the psychological features of a race that we could use as an allegory in a painting? Or what visual allegory could we use in a painting to reflect those psychological features? What about some other random stuff? The guys collecting the rubbish in the street? Go on a mental wander based on the idea of urban refuse. Fantasy bin collectors? Hmm nope. Open sewers in the streets. Interesting. Sewers under the ground. Even more interesting. How would you get into one? What would be down there?

Working your perspective is always useful. Looking up, looking down - these things come with psychological effects.

A painting is all surface when considered a certain way. And sure, you do need to concern yourself with costume, character, and location design. But these things become a lot easier when you know why they exist. What the underlying narrative is. And don't confuse narrative with "story" in a vulgar sense. A narrative can be a very small thing. Just a small moment which infers other moments. Rather than some dragging procession of moments compressed onto just one canvas. Let the viewer carry some of that weight by just hinting at the story.

Big themes are also good inspiration. Small fights big. We humans love that story and its variants, from David and Goliath to an X Wing taking on the Death Star. Fear of the dark is another big human story. Friendship, loyalty in extremis, duty, love against the odds, impending tragedy, tragedy that has struck, victory... Urban myths are worth exploring since these stories contain elements of the classic human stories.

What is it Pete Waterman from Stock, Aikten and Waterman fame says? There are only 4 types of pop song? "I love you", "I hate you", "I'm leaving" and "I'm coming back"? Something like that. There's a bunch of paintings right there. Having written that down I now need to paint "I'm coming back".

Other tips I've used:

Remembering pictures I loved in childhood and thinking about why I liked them, or trying to reimagine them now. Something even as simple as stealing the idea and making it my own.

Illustrate your favourite song. What's the story, what's the best moment in that story? Draw it.

Shakespeare: Rob him!

The classics like Homer. All the big human stories are in there.

And remember you don't need to tackle a big story whole cloth. Just use it as a spring board. Sure you could pick some moment from the Iliad, and paint the whole scene. But equally you could just draw a character. How does a dude look when he's had that level of adventure in his life?

It is important to develop an understanding about originality. See Apocalypse Now? Its just Heart of Darkness (look this stuff up on Wikipedia if you don't know what it is) retold. But its certainly none the less for being that. In fact it is arguably more. The original story is a springboard. Standing on the shoulders of giants and all that. Don't worry too much about doing something new. You most likely never will. IN A GOOD WAY!!!

"Inpsiration" or "the muse" is a wonderfully romantic idea. When it comes to approaching something as work (such as earning a living from art) chucking out romantic ideas with the other trash is often a good plan. Taking a non-authoritative stance (your truth is as valid as mine) I personally think inspiration is where you unwittingly do some hard brain work by accident. You can create "inspiration". The mental muscles that create "inspiration" can be worked like any other muscle.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Post The Third

Hey all,
Frenzied work and crazy personal life roller coaster means new posts in this neck of the woods are sporadic. But I'm doing my best!

The cover for a role playing games supplent, Friends of Foes. This book will provide extra material for the recently reissued classic Brit rpg Dragon Warriors.

I had a mare with the palette on this one. Which is pretty funny when it turned out in my usual earth tones. But I came to that predictable conclusion via a very different route than normal, so I felt some progress was made! And that grey green is pretty different for me, and for added otherworldly atmospherics the whole scene being in quite unnatural colours. Local colour out the window!

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(C)2009 Jon Hodgson and Magnum Opus Press

To see it bigger have a bit of a click on this one:

This is the sixth or seventh cover (I lose count!) I've provided for Dragon Warriors, and a narrative is building surrounding several iconic characters. In this scene we see our heroes after a dismal defeat that occured in this one:

A mysterious female knight has resuced/captured our iconic knight (he laid over the mule back there) and now our barabrian chum is negotiating his release in his own inimitable fashion... Meanwhile the locals get busy earning a crust off the rich adventurers.

This one was made with ArtRage, Painter and Foatyshop.

Thanks for looking!

Friday, 12 June 2009

Thought for the day

Sometimes the illustrationist's skill is to take the short film that is the brief and draw a single frame that implies all the others.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Hey All.
Whilst I already have a blog over on LJ, I decided it was high time I actually created something over here on Blogger, since I'm following a bunch of blogs here, either via the blog roll on my google account, or via bookmarks, and so it seems to be where the artz peeps hang out.

The main draw back right now is that I don't have very much that's new to show. I'm a couple of months into what I hope will be a career defining project which is understandably wrapped in a tight blanket of secrecy. Luckily I do have a fairly high turnover of other things too, so hopefully some of them will be replacing this very boring piece of text as soon as.

Meanwhile here's a picture of a monster.

And here's an image from a long term project I've been working on called The Gentleman Cannibal.

Both images as I sure you understand Gentle Reader are (c)2009 Jon Hodgson.