Category Archives: D&D

Drawing the Monster Manual #13: Grell!

#13 in my quest to draw the entire 5th Edition Monster Manual: The Grell!

Lucky number 13, and I couldn’t have rolled a cuddlier little guy. What the hell is this thing? A beaked brain with barbed tentacles? Gross. But also undeniably awesome. Of course it’s from the Underdark!

I’m struck by how many D&D monsters are just a weird combination of different animals and different body parts. Hey, don’t mess with what works, right?

Drawing the Monster Manual #12: Goblin!

Number 12 in my quest to draw the entire 5th Edition Monster Manual, the Goblin!

An even dozen, and (finally? Already?) we come to the ubiquitous Goblin. I don’t know why, I love these guys. They’re so standard that everyone knows what a Goblin is supposed to be. They’re perfect low-level generic bad guys that you can always find a reason to put in, and at least in my estimation, they have a hilariously selfish and chaotic culture.

On the other hand, this guy came out looking pretty heroic. Maybe less of a Monster Manual Goblin, and more of a Volo’s Guide. I’d play that Goblin! (In fact I think I’ll put him on the list: Slerk, Goblin Barbarian. Nothing fancy, but I’ll bet he’d be fun.)

I’ve been experimenting with a new coloring style lately, and I think it finally started to click on this piece. More “painted” than the cel-shaded/comic book look I’ve always used. Until now, these experiments have been an uneasy combination of old and new. Here, I feel like it all started to click as a unified whole. I’ve got a new feeling of inspiration here, so I’ll bet the next entry in this series will come soon!

Drawing the Monster Manual #11: Bronze Dragon Wyrmling

#11 in my quest to draw the entire D&D 5th Edition Monster Manual: The Bronze Dragon Wyrmling!

So this whole pandemic/lockdown kinda threw me off my game for this project. Funny how that works — you’d think with all the extra time at home, you’d get so much done, but in my experience and observation, it’s worked out quite the opposite. (Must be that creeping existential terror!) But anyway, I’m back on the case now!

This is the first dragon of any kind that I’ve drawn for this project, but certainly not the last. I’m playing with some new coloring techniques — more of a painted style of rendering, rather than the “airbrush cuts” comic book style I’ve typically used. We’ll see how it goes!

Drawing the Monster Manual #10: Doppelganger

Number 10 in my quest to draw the entire 5th Edition Monster Manual: The Doppelganger!

Doppelganger is kind of a weird one, because the whole point is that it’s a monster that takes on the appearance of other people. Its true form is apparently a kind of nondescript, slightly melty purple dude. Different art depics it in different ways — the 5th Edition Monster Manual has it as a very humanoid figure. Other sou rces depict it in a stranger way, often with big “grey alien” eyes, or with an overgrown, misshapen shoulder girdle, and spikes growing out all over.

Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m planning on producing paper minis out of this series. I’m looking forward to using this guy in my game soon!

Drawing the Monster Manual #9: Fire Giant

Number 9 in my quest to draw the entire 5th Edition Monster Manual — the Fire Giant! I got a nasty flu last week (and hiccups for almost a week besides) so it’s been a while since I’ve released one of these, but I’m back at it! Can’t stop this train! I’ve actually been sitting on the sketch for this one for months, and it kinda got lost on my tablet. Finally got around to finishing it up. I struggled a little with the armor design — the Fire Giants in the book, and most of the ones you can find on the internet all have that dark, monochrome armor, and I felt like it was a tough to make it look good. To that end, I added a little bit of red cloth, which helped. I guess I don’t have a lot else to say about fire giants. Never used one in game — still far too early in my DM career to be using such high CR creatures. But like I’ve mentioned before, I plan to format all of these as paper minis eventually, and I would like to use it one of these days!

Drawing the Monster Manual #8: Noble

Number 8 in my quest to draw the entire 5th Edition Monster Manual: The Noble!

What’s that you say? A noble isn’t a monster? Well, you’re right about that — arguably. This is D&D after all, and I’m sure many of the nobles that appear in our games are downright monstrous! (In fact, this guy is roughly based on Lord Urien Dumay, an NPC in my game who’s a real piece of work.) But this isn’t a project about drawing just the monsters from the Monster Manual — this is about drawing every damn thing in the book. So I’ll keep rolling dice for page numbers, and drawing whatever comes up!

Drawing the Monster Manual #7: Mummy

Number 7 in my quest to draw the entire 5th Edition Monster Manual: The Mummy!

I’ve been trying to get through at least one of these a week, but I had an extremely busy week on a personal level, not to mention the fact that for some reason I struggled with this guy. I guess I had trouble finding a way to do the wraps that I was happy with — and with a mummy, if you don’t have the wraps, you don’t have anything! But then I remembered that one of the points of this project was to not be too precious with it — with over 200 creatures in the Monster Manual, I just can’t afford to! So I knocked it out and moved on. But ultimately, by the time I got the color on there, I think it came out alright!

 

Dark Sun party hanging out in the tavern!

Here’s another recent D&D commission. This party is hanging out in a tavern in the Dark Sun setting — a classic D&D setting (as-yet unreleased for 5e) of a blasted world ruled over by warring sorcerer kings. I think seeing D&D ads featuring Brom’s Dark Sun artwork in comic books in the early 90s is probably one of my strongest old D&D memories. Very cool stuff, if a bit on the S&M side?

Drawing the Monster Manual #5: Thri-kreen

Number five in my quest to draw the entire 5th Edition Monster Manual — the Thri-kreen. I don’t even know what to say about this guy. A large majority of D&D monsters are either taken directly from traditional folklore/mythology/horror sources, or are at least inspired by the same. These guys are just crazy desert-dwelling bug people. I believe they come from the Dark Sun setting, which is a sort of gritty fantasy post-apocalypse sort of thing. I actually recently completed a commission of a Dark Sun party that featured one of these guys, so I had already figured out how to draw them, which made this one easier!

Drawing the Monster Manual #4: Banshee

Number four in my quest to draw the whole 5th Edition Monster Manual: The Banshee! According to D&D lore, a Banshee is the spirit of a female elf who, in life, used her beauty for evil ends, and in death is cursed to roam the place of her demise, weeping and wailing, reliving every moments of her life with perfect recall. In the Irish mythology that the Banshee derives from, she’s called a “fairy woman”, and the possible reasons for her curse are more diverse.

Drawing the Monster Manual #3: Griffon

Third in my series of creatures from the D&D 5th Edition Monster Manual, we have the Griffon! It’s interesting how many monsters are just mashups of different animals! I guess that is pretty monstrous. I used to be terrible at drawing animals, but somewhere along the line, I guess I got to be pretty alright. A couple years back I illustrated a children’s book about an island full of tiny people who ride seagulls, so I really had to dig into how to draw birds, which came in handy here!

Drawing the Monster Manual #2: Medusa

Second in my series of randomly-rolled-and-drawn monsters from the D&D Monster Manual, we have a Medusa. I had a minor obsession with Greek mythology as a kid, and I always thought Medusa was so cool. She was the only one of the Gorgons that ever got any press, really. I guess this one’s not necessarily THE Medusa. (And funny enough, in D&D, a Medusa is a completely different thing from a Gorgon, which is a kind of metallic bull.)

 

I plan to start formatting and providing these for use as paper miniatures once I’ve got a decent stack of them. If you use, or are interested in paper minis, and you have any thoughts or suggestions for me about what you want in a paper mini, please let me know!

Drawing the Monster Manual #1: Hellhound

I’m starting a series where I roll a random monsters from the D&D Monster Manual to draw, with an eye toward providing printable paper minis once I’ve got a big enough selection. Hopefully I can eventually do the whole thing! Here’s a Hellhound. I haven’t had the pleasure of running one of these guys yet, but my main group just hit level 3, so it might be time to throw a bad doggie at them!

Here’s a very challenging D&D piece I completed recently. The commissioner was a DM running two campaigns for two parties respectively, and he wanted both in the same scene, but with wildly different backgrounds — the desert sandstorm of White Plume Mountain, and the underground tunnels of Forge of Fury — with the DM conjuring a dragon in front of both parties. What’s more, he also wanted two additional versions with just one party and the DM. That required some additional drawing, as well as a lot of planning and experimentation with my coloring process especially, to separate it all out in the end. So like I said, a big challenge! But a very welcome one, which made this piece very interesting to work on.

Traveling D&D Party

 

Hoo boy, this one was a challenge! A lot of characters, a lot of character details, a lot of “business”, like the water genasi warlock pilfering a magical D30 from the dragonborn paladin’s pouch.  Just a lot of stuff to fit into in the image. Very challenging, but worth it, because I think it came out very nicely, and the clients were very pleased.  Most of the D&D party commissions I do are either an action scene of some kind, or a “group photo” where everyone just poses and looks cool. And those are great! But it was a nice change of pace to depict a quiet moment of travel, so often glossed over in our games as well as in our art!

Here’s a really fun D&D commission I did a couple months back. The commissioner’s group was putting their regular game on hold for a Halloween session where their characters would encounter a fantasy version of a stereotypical Italian restaurant — a CANNIBAL Italian restaurant, run by the evil Tony Linguine and his staff of drunken goblins — and the PCs are on the menu (literally)!

Thanks for looking, and if you want to see more, you can check out my website at http://www.brandonpalas.com!