Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Rumours of this blog's demise...

Well that was something of a long pause between posts, eh?

So what's been happening? The One Ring is out. I have been most neglectful in not posting at least the highlights of the artwork here, but it is all over at my DeviantArt account, and indeed on my website. We went immediately into production on several supplements, so there's been no let up on the Tolkien front. Can't complain about that. I love it.

Battles of Azuran, the Facebook game I've been doing loads of art for is nearing full release. We're on the last lap there. In more general freelance I've been busy for Paizo, and D101 Games.

Shadows Over Scotland came out for Cthulhu Britannia, which was a major victory for Cubicle 7, and I'm extremely proud of the artwork the team put together for that one. It was a big book, fraught with challenges. But we did it, and it looks beautiful. Living here in Scotland I really couldn't let it be anything less, loving this country as I do.

The big news however is that on the 1st of October this year I went in house at Cubicle 7, full time, to do art direction and produce illustrations for The One Ring. There's so much art needed for the game that it made good sense to take me onboard more or less exclusively. I am still free to freelance for other companies, provided I can fit it all in. I plan on taking on a couple of things a month just to keep me fresh, which will benefit everyone.

If I can find the time I'm hoping to write up a couple of longish articles about my 12 years of full time freelance. I learned a lot of stuff, and whilst I may well return to that at some point (hopefully not for a couple of years at least), I'd like to mark the end of that particular era with some reflections on what I learned and what I did.

The sense of relief at having a confirmed income every month, and being able to focus on painting and art directing to the best of my ability without the distractions of running a business is quite a thing. I think it was time for that particular change to happen. Despite enjoying some real career highlights in the last 12 months, I've also encountered more chain-yankers and non-payers than ever before, and it has really ground me down. Whilst I don't have any regrets about being freelance for so long, I think it had reached the point where psychologically it was paying 100 cents and costing me 99.



I guess it would be wrong to make a post without some art, so here's a couple of my favourites from The One Ring:

Descending the Misty Mountains:
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Greatspider of Mirkwood:
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Wednesday, 29 June 2011

The One Ring - Characters

Hey! It's been a while, eh?

So more art has been released for The One Ring, so I can share here:

Barding:
So these fellows are broadly based around a hopefully credible mixture of late Romano British and vikings. All the mannish cultures within The One Ring have a hefty dose of Northern European feel to them, as is appropriate to the material. You won't find any plate armour in what I produced for example. So given the nature of the Bardings as a wealthy and expanding trading culture, and that that are, within the scope of territory the first set covers, the foremost culture with the strongest bloodlines, it felt right to give them that slight feeling of distant Roman-ness. But it's limited to Romano Britain, rather than a truly mediterranean/classical feel. Their closeness to the dwarfs gives that norse feel, and whilst the two cultures don't ever really merge in this way in real history I felt it was something that could be pulled off. And is about as fantastical as I allow myself to get in designing the mannish races. If I recall correctly the idea of using the Romano British influence came about due to the mail of the Bardings being noted for its strength, and using that shoulder reinforcement in the style of the Romano British seemed to fit, and then things flowed from there.
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Dwarf:
So the dwarfs to me are almost straight vikings. Short grumpy vikings, but vikings, Highly influenced by norse culture. Actually quite straight forward to do these guys, very little to worry about here.
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Woodwoman of Mirkwood:
The woodmen were probably the culture we struggled with the most, and didn't gel until right at the end of the creation process, where we found a kind of Frankish, Merovingian feel for them, which seemed to suit. The point at which the character below was created we were still working to more directly Germanic themes, which do fit, but are not quite as fully developed as the ideas came to be later in the process. We also played with Welsh and Finnish influences.

These are a mighty tough people living within the shadow of Mirkwood. But I didn't want them to feel primitive - for one that is more the domain of the Beornings, and for two I tend to see a lot of simple sophistication in cultures that inhabit inhospitable places. And so whilst their resources are limited and under constant threat they are a proud and crafty people, able to use what comes to hand with great skill. Finding these kinds of strands of character was an essential part of the process. Whilst we shied away from massive stereotyping of each playable culture, you do need some hooks to hang a character on, whether your character is typical of their origins or atypical, you need something to grab onto. And it's the same for the visual look.

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In other news I have overhauled my website again, adding several new pages showing my youtube videos - both art walkthroughs and video editing work, and a whole new commercial illustration section. Take a look: http://www.jonhodgson.com

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The One Ring: Misty Mountains Goblin

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(c)2011 Jon Hodgson

More art made for The One Ring, the new Tolkien table top rpg coming soon from Cubicle 7 and Sophisticated Games.

With the orcs/goblins I've designed I've really tried to make them threatening and frightening. Orcs in Tolkien are unique, often ancient, spiteful, merciless and cruel creatures. I really wanted the illustrations to reflect that.

Artrage, Painter, Photoshop



Middle-earth, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and the characters, items, events and places therein are trademarks or registered trademarks of The Saul Zaentz Company d/b/a Middle-earth Enterprises and are used under license by Sophisticated Games Ltd and their respective licensees.

Monday, 2 May 2011

The One Ring: Smaug Descends the Lonely Mountain

Appearing in SFX magazine this month:
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Like much of the art I have made for The One Ring, the design of Smaug is taken directly from Tolkien's own paintings, with a hopefully appropriate update to match the times and the style of the other game art I have made. It was very important to me that Smaug show his (highly dubious) character, and be clearly capable of speech. The idea of him somewhat gleefully hosing fire into Erebor through pursed lips seemed to fit that idea.




I have also taken the opportunity to update my website with some new images: www.jonhodgson.com

Middle-earth, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and the characters, items, events and places therein are trademarks or registered trademarks of The Saul Zaentz Company d/b/a Middle-earth Enterprises and are used under license by Sophisticated Games Ltd and their respective licensees.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

The One Ring: Dol Guldur

So this is a very exciting time for me. For the last 2 years or so I've been working on artwork for a new Lord of the Rings role playing game, to be published by Cubicle 7 in partnership with Sophisticated Games.

At last some previews of the art work are being released, and so I can share this one, which went live on Friday: Dol Guldur, home of The Necromancer in Southern Mirkwood, later revealed as Sauron. Click to embiggen:

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Art: (c)2010 Jon Hodgson

You can learn more about the game here: http://www.cubicle-7.com/
Middle-earth, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and the characters, items, events and places therein are trademarks or registered trademarks of The Saul Zaentz Company d/b/a Middle-earth Enterprises and are used under license by Sophisticated Games Ltd and their respective licensees.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Duel Above the City

Long time no post. Mea culpa my friends.

Here's one I saw today is on the cover of the preview mag from Ulisses Spiele. I can't say much more about it than that!

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