I finally got around to writing the first real art direction post, just had to wrap my head around which monster to choose for the very first post. As you can clearly see from the illustrations and title (obviously) I went with the Grimlock, one of the first pieces that were finished. I went with this very piece because it really sums up the artwork in this book, or so I believe.

And what do I mean by that?

Well, I mean that most of the pieces are quite dynamic, detailed, but still quite simple, and yes, most of the illustrations are monsters only, meaning no backgrounds. If I had had a bigger budget for the artwork, the first thing I would have added was some environmental backgrounds, but sadly, I’m working with a severely limited budget. There is also another way that this illustration sums up the overall feeling of the artwork; it is monsters that we know, and yet, not quite like we are used to seeing them.

The artwork for the Grimlock was created by Mario Zuccarello (www.zuccarelloartworks.com). Mario used the following description when illustrating the Grimlock; “The muscular humanoid stares at you with dark, eyeless sockets.”

First Impression

This sketch really captured the savage feeling of the grimlock. It may not be looking directly at you (like the description says), but it is certainly charging you or someone in your party, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to spare your life! This evil humanoid is a fierce opponent; it is both strong and healthy and then it wields a simple, yet lethal battleaxe. You could certainly take this creature, but not without getting a few scratches or perhaps loosing an eye. Imagine an entire tribe charging you head-on like this, and your chances may not be so great. Scared? Well, you ought to be!

The only comment I had for the artist was; “The battleaxe (in D&D terms) is just a one-handed weapon.”

Final Impression

I could have asked the artist to change the pose of the creature, so that it looks directly at the reader, but does it really matter? I didn’t think so, and aside from the size of the battleaxe, I found (and still find) this a very strong piece. It really captures the feeling that I want the reader to get when first meeting the Grimlock.

So what do you think? Does it look anything like you ever imagined a Grimlock? Does it need to be even more savage? More subterranean? More fierce and evil-looking?