We're already into November now with winter approaching quickly. As I mentioned in the last post, I've been working on a series of tutorial videos for Youtube explaining my process for doing 2D design work. You can find the first one here:
This first set of videos will walk through the basics for creating images using the various curve commands. For those that are interested in trying the program out, I've linked the download page in the video description. Keep in mind the downloadable demo should include all of the features of the program and will allow you to use those commands for 90 days. At the end of that trial period, you lose the ability to save your work but I think all the other commands remain functional. If anyone decides to take up Rhino seriously, I recommend getting a student license. It's much more affordable than the full retail license and you only need to provide proof of student status. I obtained a student version many years ago and I'm still using it to this day.
That's it for now. The second and third parts of the tutorial are going to go up consecutively each day. I'll probably do supplemental shorter "tips and tricks" videos in the future based on the response, especially if people have questions I didn't address in the videos themselves. I might also do some normal speed drawing videos with voiceover commentary.
As of today, the countdown even draws to a close. To summarize all of the pieces, I've put together a short compilation video of all the masks in the "Faceless Summoner" series.
It was a pretty interesting project to work on. All of the production work getting the masks done combined with learning filming and video editing was a new experience. I think it was worth it and the response has been quite positive. I've already started planning for next year's event which will have to be more complex. I did get capture footage of the drawing process for each of the emblems for the masks and I will be posting them at random times going forward to keep up the content.
As far as upcoming content goes, I will be posting some footage of a new pumpkin I've been working on. It got sidelined a bit while I got the Summoner content up but I do intend to finish it as a sort of post-Halloween celebration. There will be a post here and a spotlight video once it's finished, most likely some time in November. I'm also working on a new dragon trophy which will probably get posted in the next few months.
Starting on November 2nd, I will begin uploading the Rhinoceros Tutorial videos on Youtube. These videos are meant to be an introduction to using Rhino for 2D design work. I've set up capture footage of myself walking through the program with voiceover commentary. The first part of the tutorial series is broken up into 3 parts and should go up consecutively each day.
That's it for now. Thanks to everyone that stopped by during the countdown!
Here is the last entry in the Halloween countdown.
This is the Nightmare Stalker Jhagan. As is the tradition for each entry, here's his lore.
finally worked up the courage to confront Ardelrius. After descending the
skypeak where the Naetherspawn city was built, the traveler continued south. It
was on this path where I revealed myself and sought an audience with Ardelrius.
I explained that I was from the village plagued by Tirradol. Of course the
featureless face of the robed traveler was unreadable. I went on to tell
Ardelrius that I had been following on the numerous stops we had made and had
witnessed the defeat of all those creatures up to this point.
listened to my tale and then spoke to me. It talked in that hollow rasp of a
voice making its gender impossible to read. The faceless summoner told me that
my life would be in great danger if I continued to follow on its journey. I
begged the traveler to let me continue the journey as a way to help repay the
debt for saving our village. Ardelrius made no discernible response and then
turned back to the path.
introduction out of the way, the two of us followed the Artann Road south. At
day’s end we made camp near the outskirts of a large human settlement. A large
outcropping of rocks served as a good hiding spot while I built a small fire. I
was curious to see if my mysterious traveling companion slept or ate.
us sat watching the fire in silence as night covered everything in darkness.
Ardelrius stood and walked over to a large clearing in front of the rock
outcropping. Using the end of the tree-like staff, the robed creature began
drawing an intricate runic mark in the dirt, eventually etching a circular
symbol. I asked about the drawing but was met with only silence. When it came
time to sleep, I unrolled my bedding near the fire while Ardelrius sat in the
center of the rune. It wasn’t long before I drifted into unconsciousness.
to say that my sleep has been uneasy since I started this journey. There was a
constant fear of danger that kept me from sleeping more than a couple hours at
a time. This night I slept soundly and dreamt for the first time in weeks.
dream, I followed Ardelrius along a flattened path through a field of blood-red
grass. The sky was an unusual purple above and everything seemed to pulse with
an otherworldly aura. We stopped at the edge of the path and the summoner
stared up at the sky in front of us. Before I could ask what we were doing, the
same circular rune suddenly appeared high above, transfixing in the sky. A
black shadow seeped out from the seal, dripping down like viscous oil. It
coalesced into solid from and took shape before us.
immediately reminded of the fear I felt in the Abyssal Temple. The creature
that faced us now was a nightmarish beast that towered above. Two beady eyes on
one side of the face were a sharp contrast with the single large dark eye on
the opposite side and that eye was lined with a purple scar. The beast had a
mouth that split the right side of the face and was brimming with sharp fangs.
After taking note of its surroundings the creature introduced itself as
“Jhagan”. I shrank away from the monster’s visage while Ardelrius prepared to
again the battle did not last long. Ardelrius dodged the strikes of his enemy
with minimal effort. This time, my traveling companion summoned raging
firestorms not unlike the breath of the dragons. The licking flames kept
Jhagan’s movement pinned down. Despite its apparent ability to phase out of
its surroundings and hide itself, eventually Ardelrius cornered Jhagan and
struck a finishing blow with the tree-staff. Like the others, the demonic
creature was consumed by light and then absorbed into the artifact.
the next morning to see the sun shining. The events of last night’s dream were
hazy but remained in my mind. Ardelrius was still sitting in the runic circle,
those unblinking eyes staring off into nothing. The traveler wasted no time and
rose, stating it was time to move on. I hastily packed my things, the vivid
dream still haunting me. Did the summoner claim another defeated foe? Did that
battle actually happen? We started off on the path again and I made no attempt
to question my companion. If I continue to follow this faceless summoner, would
it eventually come for my soul? What was the point of all these battles? What
was that impending catastrophe this creature was preparing for? I feel like I
have more questions than ever but I must continue this journey and find the
As the last of the designs in the series, I think Jhagan might be one of my favorites. I went for something dramatically different here focusing on asymmetry for a more chaotic look. This was one of the only designs that I didn't sketch out before making. I knew I wanted a creature with a large mouth full of teeth so that's the first design element I built from. This is also the only mask to have glass taxidermy eyes. I decided to add those, sacrificing visibility on that side of the face. When wearing the mask, that doesn't impair vision too much but it is harder to see. The lighter glass stones were arranged randomly on the face to add to the chaotic look. The forehead crystal and teeth glow in the dark as well.
For Jhagan's color, I was trying to make sure the palette didn't look to close to any of the other pieces in the series so far. This resulted in me doing something I've never done with a mache piece. Since I was painting Jhagan at the same time as Caeliphera and Thalgre, I had containers of their colors with leftover paint. For Jhagan, I mixed all of the shades together in a couple of batches and then applied the tones over the whole mask. The lighter purple highlighting was done at the end. At the end, the final result was a somewhat blended palette that still looked distinct. I think this is pretty symbolic since Jhagan was sort of the culmination of all the techniques I used on the masks up to this point.
Here's the final piece of concept art. I think it does a good job showing the main design elements of Jhagan. The painted primary is an interesting take on what the entire monster itself would look like. I hadn't even thought that far ahead so it works for me. I like the lower right sketch. I think that pose actually looks more fearsome than the final colored piece.
That's it for the masks in this wave of the Faceless Summoner series. I started this project with the intention of making it ongoing and I'll be doing another wave of faces for Ardelrius in the future. It may or may not be a sequential event like I did for Halloween but I feel like both the concept and the lore behind it are worth expanding upon in the future.
I'll be making another post tomorrow to wrap up the countdown. It's been interesting putting out this much content consecutively but I think it was a good experience. I'll also talk a bit more about the design content that's going up in November.
This is the Skyborne Hellion, Thalgre. As usual, here's the lore article.
crossing the forestlands past the territory of the ogres, I followed Ardelrius
west in the direction of the coast. The traveler took a turn south, heading up
toward the Kuradel Steppes, a series of mountains that reach above the lower
cloud layer. It seems the wandering traveler’s current target is the pathway
through the skypeak which will lead back towards the cities farther south.
winding mountain path cut through the skypeaks, a perilous journey for any
person.Still keeping my distance, I
kept on Ardelrius' trail. Fortunately, our passage through the ogre settlement
had yielded more provisions and I was able to keep going while keeping out of
the traveler’s sight. At last, we came to the gates of a great city built into
the sides of the mountain.
azure stone gates barred entrance to what appeared to be a demon city. Two
massive guards descended, stopping Ardelrius. They had plated scaled blue skin,
sharp claws, horns, and large feathered wings. Remembering back to the tales
told to me when I was young, these must be Naetherspawn! Fragmented documents
from the lore tomes speak of monstrous creatures that were born on another
plane like the Ones of the Abyss and found their way to our realm through a
rift. These creatures are similar to the demons but appear to be much more
intelligent. As far as I know, the Naetherspawn live secluded lives in their
cities far outside normal reach of humans. They prefer to keep to themselves
watched Ardelrius speak to the guards before they opened the gates. Emerging
from within was a large Naetherspawn warrior. He looked to be a commanding
officer of their armed forces as he was clad in plated armor and brandishing a
curved blade. I heard the great beast introduce himself as Thalgre of the
Skyborne and it appeared he knew Ardelrius. The robed traveler spoke of an
approaching calamity and referenced several names I hadn’t heard before. It
sounded like he was asking this Thalgre for his aid. In response to this
information, Thalgre issued a challenge to the wanderer. If Ardelrius could
best him in combat in their arena, he would agree to offer his help. Of course
the traveler agreed and followed the creatures into their city. I climbed
around the rocky cliffs near the city walls to get a better look. Fortunately,
there was a rough path that helped me get to the top in between two of the
combat arena happened to be a couple blocks from my position atop the wall. I
could see down into the paved square clearing that was bordered by sloping
stone benches. It was here Ardelrius and the Naetherspawn warrior fought. The
fight didn’t last long and eventually the robed traveler emerged victorious. Thalgre was
left kneeling before Ardelrius, his body wounded from the various attacks.
others before, I expected the blue monster to curse his enemy and deny his
loss. Instead, the massive winged creature rose and acknowledged his defeat to
Ardelrius. After agreeing to lend the summoner his aid, Thalgre stood while a
bright white shined forth from the tree-like staff. When the light faded, all
that remained was a stone statue of Thalgre, a perfect preservation of his
image. Apparently this is what happens when these Naetherspawn lose their
souls. Having claimed another, Ardelrius prepared to depart the city in the
Thalgre started off as a very different design. The original foil shell I used a base was smaller than the rest and I wasn't sure what kind of creature I was going to design. Eventually I settled on a shape that was similar to Grahl but had some more defining features. The large curved horns were original going to point outwards but I angled them back to make the design different from Grahl. I also used the glass stones on Thalgre's forehead, choosing colors that would compliment the red horns.
For Thalgre's color palette, I had the idea of a sky demon in mind and knew the overall scheme was going to be lighter. Since K'taerthos was the only blue monster so far, I decided to go lighter for Thalgre and used a mix of light blue and turquoise for his skin. The bright green patterning around his mouth was blended for contrast and I think it adds variation without looking too much like lipstick.
Lastly, here's the concept art for Thalgre. I do like in the rendered image how the teeth are angled outwards and numerous just like the original piece. The color scheme translates well here and I like the contrasting horns and gems. It should be noted that based on the lore, Thalgre isn't supposed to be an evil creature. I feel like this is hard to get a cross given his species and I'm glad the sketch in the bottom left wasn't used. The huge mouth of teeth does a good job in capturing that design element but it would've ended up looking too sinister I think.
That's it for this entry. There's one more mask to post tomorrow and then we'll start wrapping up before Halloween.
This is the first insect-type mask, Caeliphera. Her lore is included below.
the Blight Empress: Sacrifice
rites are transcribed for any that take up the cause of our glorious cult in
the future should our numbers dwindle. We are the Envenomed and we pledge our
undying servitude to the great Blight Empress, Caeliphera. Ever since she first
descended to our mortal plane, our followers have carried out her will and done
everything in our power to further spread her influence. The Grand Temple of
Sacrifice lies in the west, past the forestlands inhabited by the ogres and
near the coast. It is here and the surrounding settlements where most of us
gather. We meet on the final night of the month to honor our great empress and
hear her wishes. When she calls for it, we bring a sacrifice as well.
are a new acolyte to the ranks of the Envenomed, perhaps you are unfamiliar
with the form of the empress. Far exceeding the capabilities of a mere human,
our leader is of the Plague Eater tribe, a small race of sentient insect
demons. Her kind is said to reside on another plane altogether and I don’t
believe any others have been observed on our world. Empress Caeliphera’s regal
form is a site to behold, fitting of her commanding presence. Those that have
seen her in a rare instance of combat know that her rending claws and corrosive
venom are capable of subduing even the mighty dragons. It’s said that even the
Sealed Ones of the Abyss cannot withstand her strikes.
the subject of sacrifices. On the night where we honor the Blight Empress, it’s
critical for only the most powerful of subjects to be brought forth. Our leader
demands great sacrifice and we, her loyal followers would earn her wrath if we
presented an inferior specimen. No, the strongest of humans, demons, or even
ogres must be selected. When we cast our sacrifice into the Jade Portal, there
can be no question that they are worthy for our empress.
Last week, a strange
traveler arrived at our temple grounds. It was a black-robed figure with a
featureless face. I suppose it was a human, perhaps one cursed by one of the other
deities of this world. Anyway, the traveler asked to see the inner sanctum of
our sacrificial temple with the intention of becoming empress Caeliphera’s
newest sacrifice. Such a thing has never been asked of us but our leaders took
considerable interest in the walking staff of that traveler. They agreed that
the artifact itself would be of value to our leader and so they led the
traveler to the Jade Portal. The leaders must have been excited to present this
impromptu sacrifice for they didn’t even begin the greeting rites and simply
cast the traveler into the portal. Since then, we have not heard any new orders
from the Blight Empress. The last night of the month draws near so we will
gather once again to hear her wishes.Perhaps she will shower us with a greater blessing than normal for
providing an extra sacrifice…
I went into this particular design with a theme in mind. The original concept sketches I made were of a bug-like creature and I went with the poison theme since it seemed to fit. This mask has a different shape than the others as a result. The mouth section consists of those pointed mandible-like extensions which is a bit of a departure from the other more straight-forward designs. I added the long antennae on top to complete the insect-like look. This mask is also unique since it has actual eyes. The open spots in the middle are actually supposed to be breathing vents. I felt that the piece needed visible eyes to really sell the design. Caeliphera is probably most inspired by praying mantis insects.
For the color scheme, I had to be careful not to make the colors too similar to Tirradol. I knew the green primary color was going to be perfect for reflecting the venomous color scheme and I blended the shades with lighter greens and yellows to keep it from getting too dark. The mouth parts turned out pretty well with the darker purple shades and they stand out well. The off-white stones set in the forehead and chin help with the contrast.
The concept art for Caeliphera is pretty straight-forward. Her design translates pretty easily into drawn form. The painted primary sketch of her body was the artist's interpretation. I think it's fitting. Caeliphera's whole lore setup is that she's some sort of greater insect demon and she would need to have a commanding presence. That's it for this piece. We've got two more entries left in the countdown. See you then! ~Zan
Here's entry number 6 (face #5) in the Halloween series.
This is the Gluttonous Ogre, Voracion. Just like the all the others, here is Voracion's lore.
been two weeks since I left the coastal temple. I continued to follow Ardelrius
north along the coast. The robed traveler passed through the ruins of a
destroyed city called Heisath. From the way it navigated the battered streets,
it seemed Ardelrius had been here before. After an hour of crossing the central
square of the ruins, Ardelrius stopped at an open clearing. Burned into the
ground near some rubble was a large singed black outline. I watched the
creature stop and stare at the marking for what seemed like an eternity.
Finally, it made a gesture with its staff and then continued on.
the Heisath and took a turn west toward the forestlands. This was the territory
of the ogres, great beasts of a separate species from the demons we knew. They
had constructed numerous crude dwellings within the forest and Ardelrius headed
straight into the most prominent settlement. Fortunately, the dense clustering
of trees made it easy to keep myself hidden while I followed. I kept my eyes
out for the ogres as well. I’ve heard they can smell humans from a considerable
mysterious stranger had only gone a short distance into the ogre settlement
when he was surrounded and accosted by a squad of the brutish beasts. They led
the intruder into their town square and waited. While the wanderer stood with the
ogres pointing their spears on all sides, a large form appeared before them
atop the platform in the village square. It was the leader of this ogre
village, a massive creature named Voracion. I’ve heard ogres are stupid and
barely capable of forming sentences but Voracion seemed different. He didn’t look
at all surprised to see the stranger and also didn’t appear to be threatened by
its presence. After gloating about his recent razing of Heisath and the
apparently invincible nature of his army, Voracion demanded that the stranger
hand over his walking staff. There was an awkward moment of silence, the robed
wandering making no sort of response.When one of the guards walked up to take the staff, Ardelrius turned,
made a single gesture, and turned the ogre to dust, armor and
all. This seemed to spark a reaction in the ogre leader and he descended from
the platform to face Ardelrius.
fight between the two was brutal but quick. Voracion was a savage fighter and
he fought with the ruthlessness and cunning expected of a leader. He was unable
to defeat his foe and it seemed clear the fight itself was little challenge to
Ardelrius. After dodging many crushing blows from the enemy, the wanderer
raised his tree-staff and summoned what looked to be blades of stone from the
ground! They struck up in a line in all directions, cutting Voracion through
his armor and dropping him to his knees. The injured commander bellowed for his
troops to aid him but they didn’t come forward. All of the armed beasts shrank
away from Ardelrius’ gaze. While his fallen foe spat curses at his betrayal and
his enemy, the traveler walked forth and held his staff out. A blinding yellow
light consumed the area and when it had faded, the massive ogre leader was
gone. The destroyed pieces of his armor sat on the ground but the beast himself
was nowhere to be seen. It was at this point the other troops broke rank and
took off into the forest in a panic. Ardelrius made a slight bow towards the pile
of armor and then set off through the village and back into the forest. It
seems the tree-like staff is some sort of artifact that’s linked to the
disappearance of those defeated by Ardelrius. I feel like I’m closer to
discovering the truth…
This mask was interesting to make. I did the construction of each in waves and Voracion was part of the second wave I made. Going into the initial design process, I knew I wanted a demonic looking creature with a huge mouth and lots of teeth. What began as an almost feline look on paper slowly evolved over time to get the more ogre-like shape in the final piece. From the front, Voracion looks almost like a gremlin which I suppose is fitting. I wanted to make sure to add the sharp spiky protrusions around his face while not making them whisker-shaped. After I had glued the glow in the dark teeth in, I had an idea. Several of the previous masks have glowing teeth but Voracion has those two crystal things above his eyes. Those glow as well and you can actually a creepy grinning face when the lights go out. That just might be one of my favorites design elements of all the masks so far. I'll revisit that idea again later.
For Voracion's color palette, I wanted to make something lighter that would set itself apart from the darker color schemes so far. Grahl, K'taerthos, and Calderyn all had darker shades in their color scheme so I initially went bright yellow with Voracion. I blended in some darker colors and made the shading darken more around his face and eyes. After adding the blackwash, this made the colors stand out a bit and I'm pleased with the effect. It still creates a neat contrast with the teeth and brow crystals. I also experimented a bit more with the coverage and placement of anchor magnets for this one. Note the head covers more of the top of Ardelrius and the chin has a plate that extends back. This allowed me to make sure the anchor magnets on the face had plenty of room to align with the ones set on Ardelrius. The end result is a snug fit and this mask stays in place pretty well.
Here's the concept art. I feel like some of the more feline sub-elements come out here. It's probably the ears and big grin on the rendered image that do it. I wanted to make sure to have Voracion drawn with a larger build like the other monsters. He's also a commander like Grahl so I felt this should be prominent in the drawing. If nothing else, there should be some hints at his gluttonous nature. The bottom left sketch is a bit more comical than the others so far. Perhaps the ogre is looking at some food...
That's it for this one. Tomorrow we will be back with another piece that's going to be a bit more of a departure design-wise from the ones posted so far.
This is the fiery dragon, Calderyn. The accompanying lore writeup is pasted in below.
world is full of monsters, demons, beings of the ethereal and plenty of other
creatures besides humans. Included of course are the dragons. Regal, illusive,
and worthy of their reputation, the dragons have long since been cemented in
the lore of the realm. While mostly keeping to themselves and having little to
do with what they consider “lesser species”, enough interaction with the
dragons has been recorded to document their legacy.
dragons make their home in areas that reflect their elemental affinity. Fire
dragons prefer volcanic regions, water dragons live in the oceans, sky dragons
roost in the high mountains and so on. As a result, it’s not common to see a
dragon yourself unless you do something to anger it. This is especially true in
the tale of the Cinder Drake. In times where a dragon enters a pact with
another being, it’s not uncommon for them to become guardians or protectors.
The powerful female fire dragon, Calderyn is one such case. Documented accounts
of the western Heisath kingdom tell of a heroic knight that found the fallen
body of the great fire dragon near the base of the Torun mountains. Dragons
frequently make their home on the skypeak and this one looked like it had been
attacked for it was near death. The knight who was never named in the scrolls
apparently tended to the wounds of the dragon and helped it recover. After she
had regained her strength, the dragon named Calderyn told the knight that her
kind had been forced from the mountains after being attacked by a pack of demons.
They had apparently been fighting with the northern territory packs and in
retaliation they struck the dragons where they had been living. Calderyn
survived the fall from the skypeak but would have died had the knight not
helped her recover. To show her thanks, the beast offered to become a guardian
of Heisath. The kingdom itself was frequently the target of raids from nearby
demons and lawless humans.
scrolls also tell of a great battle that burned Heisath to the ground.
Following a tremendous quake that decimated the city, a detachment of ogres
from the west laid siege to the battered kingdom. Many of the knights had been
out helping secure territory across the continent and thus Heisath was not
prepared to fend off the ogres after the quake. They leveled the buildings,
slaughtered hundreds and left the once prosperous city in smoldering ruins.
Calderyn herself fought bravely to the end but could not drive the hordes of
ogres back. The final scroll recovered from Heisath tells of her last moments once
the armies had moved on. As she lay dying once again near the city gates, a
form appeared before her. Witness accounts describe a featureless creature
shaped like a human clothed in a black robe and wielding a tree-like staff. There
are no further records of what this figure did but it’s rumored that it
absorbed the soul of the dying dragon, for no trace of the great beast was ever
found. A single scorched outline was found etched into the ground at Heisath
but nothing more.
For this mask, I knew I wanted to go back to doing a dragon-like design. Those that followed the last mask I did might recognize the plated mandible extensions on Calderyn's face. That's because she's the same species of dragon as Ignir from the Trinitus mask. I do want to create some connected themes as I'm building this world these creatures inhabit.
When I was doing the design elements for Calderyn, I wanted to have a the horns but their layout and shaped changed a few times during the constructions process. I think the long curved horns worked out fine though it does make this mask much wider than the others. This mask needs to sit on a certain branch of the tree so it doesn't cause problems with the rest. Finally, the color scheme is pretty straight forward. I went with darker reds for the fire color scheme but also mixed in the yellow highlights and darker purple horns for contrast.
Here's the concept work for Calderyn. This one turned out to be interesting. I told our artist that I didn't have any specific things in mind for Calderyn's body. I just laid out the facts that she's a fire element dragon and let the artist interpret the rest. The end result is what you see here. I'm happy with the fully rendered design and the painted "primary" sketch near the top is definitely in line with what I would envision for this type of creature.
Here's the fourth installment in the daily countdown to Halloween:
This is Abyssal Horror K'taerthos. As usual, I've written up the lore for this mask. It's a bit more of a read this time.
been one month since I left our village. I traveled north since that was the
logical path of the mysterious traveler. The route would take me toward the
demon territories but that didn’t matter. I had to learn the truth. After the
incident with Tirradol, the mysterious of the visitor plagued my mind. When one
of our trade caravans mentioned seeing the black-robed figure on the northern
path, I knew it was my chance. I had to find the traveler and learn the truth.
If nothing else, I had to thank the wanderer for saving our village and driving
away the monster. Our crops returned in full so I can only assume the visitor
killed or forced Tirradol to flee.
able to cross the demon territories in two days. The massive gates of Draesadir
lead into the largest of their territories, a place ruled by a greater demon
named Grahl. I thought I’d have to sneak through the city to pass but upon my
arrival, there was nothing. The houses and huts looked abandoned and there was
not a single demon to be found. The entire city was a tomb and looked to have
been deserted quite some time. Either way, I was thankfully able to move on and
secured some provisions along the way.
temple was built along the coastline to the north. The stone monument was set
into the cliff sides above the waves. As I followed the path towards the water I
saw the shape of mysterious traveler! Either it had taken some time to rest or
my haste had allowed me to catch up quickly. Ardelrius looked to be making for
the temple so I followed after, keeping a safe distance in case danger was
nightfall by the time Ardelrius reached the entrance to the temple. A single
stone pathway cut into the cliff was the only way to get to the temple’s
opening. I’m no mountain climber and the path down was dangerous. Still
maintaining my distance, I followed the traveler into the temple.
that built this temple must have been part of some sort of cult. All across the
walls were verses of some text in arcane prayers. I could read them since they
looked to be written in our language. Anyway, I watched Ardelrius reach the
center of the temple. A flat stone sacrificial alter was adorned with carved
statues and more of the text. The traveler produced an object and dropped it
onto the altar. At first I couldn’t tell what it was. It looked like a large
piece of meat from an animal. Looking closer, I could see that it was severed
arm of a demon! I recognized the claws and scarred purple hide.
after the blood began to soak into the altar, I saw the great torches lining
the chamber burst into blue flame. The same light began to illuminate these
arcane rune symbols painted on the walls. From the far wall behind the altar,
the stone began to warp and distort. A black portal appeared, resonating with
the symbols as Ardelrius stood, unmoving. What appeared from the portal I wish
I could unsee, reader.
I’ve heard tales of
the ancient horrors. In past times when creatures greater than the demons
roamed our realm, it’s said that the most fearsome were subdued and sealed away
to prevent widespread calamity. They tell these stories to children but what I
have witnessed is no fairy tale. A beast from the darkest shadow appeared in
the temple that day. It had two glowing eyes, numerous crystalline fixtures on
its head and a circular mouth with rows of teeth. Countless tentacle appendages
pulled it through the portal and it faced Ardelrius who was dwarfed by its
mass. I really contemplated fleeing then as just gazing upon the monster made
me feel like I was looking at the physical manifestation of insanity. I’m still
not sure what happened. A fierce battle was waged in that temple and when it
was over, the abyssal horror was gone. Once again, the traveler was victorious.
As Ardelrius departed the temple, I was faced with the choice to follow or turn
back. Part of me wished the return to the safety of our village but another
part was still desperate to know the truth. What was the goal of this
mysterious being? It may cost me my life but I must know the truth…
I followed the same set of processes for creating K'taerthos as I did for the last two entries. One major difference for this one is the overall coverage of the mask. You can see in the side shot how the top and fin-like parts go back over the Ardelrius main mask as opposed to just the face area. That combined with the pointed protrusions on the face itself make K'taerthos one of the heavies of the masks in the series. The curved teeth are all made of the glow in the dark Fimo and they light up great in the dark. You see nothing but an eerie circular maw of teeth.
For the color scheme I wanted to go with a darker somewhat aquatic scheme that still had some contrasting elements. The green stones set in the face turned out to be perfect for this and they almost seem to glow strong light.
Lastly, here's the concept art. I really had to think about how I envisioned the rest of K'taerthos' body. I knew it had to be bulky and armored and I do think the addition of many tentacles would be fitting for a creature of the abyss. Some might draw some parallels to the C'thulu mythos and I did keep some of those design elements in mind when designing the character. I haven't read much of the literature but I do like the thematic aspects of C'thulu. The idea of otherworldly creatures tied to themes of chaos and insanity definitely fit with K'taerthos' lore.
Here's the third entry in our Halloween countdown event:
This is the demon, Grahl. Here's the lore article for this piece as well.
in an era of war and bloodshed. Humans are just another frail, inferior species
here to be the food and slaves for us demons. Our pack, the Fanged Conquerors
are legendary in these northern territories. We’ve ruled the peons that live
here with brutality for years and it’s all thanks to the leadership of our
commander, Grahl. Demons are born into this realm every day but none possess
the battle prowess and iron will of the commander. When the armored humans of
Valengard tried to drive us out, he slaughtered three flanks of their lancers
by himself! When the dragons of the skypeak burned our fields, he led the
extermination force that drove them off the mountain! Lord Grahl is a ruthless
but fair leader of our pack. He acknowledges and rewards those with power.
Someday I hope to serve in his detachment.
week a strange traveler appeared on the borders of our territory. It looked
human in shape but had no familiar human features. The garb of this visitor was
nothing more than a black robe and its face looked like a human’s with all the
notable bits burned off. I was there when the strange traveler walked through
the outer gates. Where were our guards? Did they just let it pass with no
questions? After walking through the rows of huts, the traveler stood before
Lord Grahl’s keep and calmly waited.
the other advanced guard roused our leader and he appeared at the keep’s
entrance to greet the stranger. Lord Grahl must have shown interest in the
peculiar staff the traveler carried because I saw him gesture at it from where
I was watching. I think that stranger issued a challenge to commander Grahl
because the two promptly left the central grounds of our territory and vanished
into the nearby wastelands. It’s been three days since they left. Where did our
I decided to go for a different theme when I started working on Grahl. Compared to the more insect-like shape of Tirradol before, I knew this one was going to be a sort of demon. The shape of the face evolved over time and I went with flat plating behind the head to make it look like armor. The color scheme itself started off more purple but slowly blended darker as I mixed in more shades. Just like the last mask, the raised textured "lines" you see on the head are hot glue sticks. I think this is the last time I used those on the masks but I'm definitely happy with how they enhance the skin texture. Finally, I added lighter blue and red highlights for contrast. Grahl's teeth are Fimo clay but they don't glow in the dark like some of the others. Once again, a rare earth magnet in the top and bottom of the inside of the mask help secure it the main face.
Finally, here's the concept art piece for Grahl. I do like that the overall purple color scheme is preserved here complete with the lighter highlights. I thought long and hard about how Grahl's physical build would look. Being a demon commander, it makes sense to draw him with a heavy frame and I think that's communicated clearly here. My mental picture would also have war armor fit for a commanding leader too. I wouldn't getting some full drawings of these pieces done at some point.
Let's get right to it. Here's the second entry in the "Faceless Summoner" Series:
This is the "Subterranean Killer", Tirradol. As shown in the spotlight video, this is another papier/cloth mache mask that can be attached to Ardelrius and worn. Just like the last piece, I've drafted up some lore for Tirradol.
For three seasons our crops withered. Our village is
small and without food from our fields we were soon faced with starvation.
After the third failed season, a group of our villagers set out to investigate
the fields and the surrounding area. On the second night of their
investigation, the group mysteriously vanished without a trace. We searched for
them but no trace was found. Finally, a larger party was formed, armed with
weapons this time. They set out for the fields and discovered traces of an unfamiliar
creature that led down into a set of nearby caves. The hunting party again
vanished after that first night.
Two days later, a lone survivor of the hunting party
arrived in the village. One of the armed men, he returned in a state of sheer
terror and panic. We tried to calm him down but he could only recount what had
happened in fragments. Apparently some sort of beast was to blame for our crops
withering and the hunting party stumbled upon its underground layer. The
creature could move beneath the dirt and it ambushed the hunters, pulling them
beneath the ground. What resulted was a mass slaughter of all except the
lone survivor. He claimed to have laid eyes on the creature once as it killed
his friends. From his panicked description we pictured a spindly insect-like
monster with rough armored skin and blade-like claws. The man also claimed that
the beast spoke to the hunters as it killed them. He could only hear one word, “Tirradol”
so that must be its name. We couldn’t risk sending more of our people out to be
slaughtered so we waited while the elders tried to find a solution.
One week after the attack was when the traveler
appeared in our village. Nobody knows where it came from but it appeared out of
the fog one evening. I saw it walk through the village outskirts toward the
elders’ quarters. Man or woman I couldn’t tell as its body was obscured by a
black robe and it carried a gnarled tree-like walking staff. The face of the
creature was bizarre and unsettling to say the least. It had no discernible
features save for two eyes and a narrow mouth. Its skin was a mottled
orange-brown and streaked with black markings. Several of us followed the traveler
and watched it knock on the doors to the main elder’s house.
It seemed like this mysterious traveler was not an
enemy. We could hear it speaking to the elder in a hollow toneless voice, again
making its gender unclear. The creature listened to our story from the elder
and then asked where we had last seen Tirradol. Last I saw this so-called “Ardelrius”,
it was venturing towards the caves. Nobody knows what happened after that but the
following week our crops began to return and we never saw Tirradol or the
mysterious traveler again.
On to the mask itself. Tirradol was the first design I initially sketched when I started working on this project. As you'll see later, I've created 8 unique faces for Ardelrius each with their own distinct features and lore. The daily posts in the countdown will go into the specifics.
As for Tirradol's creation, I knew I wanted a vaguely insect-like shape so I emphasized the flat elongated crest. This mask also features a new technique I haven't in my mache pieces up to this point. The textured straight line highlights that are yellow are actually hot glue sticks that have been attached along the skull crest. After applying the skin, it creates a pronounced ridge that helps make the design stand out. I've used this on some of the other pieces as well. Tirradol's color scheme is supposed to be a dirty almost earthen palette. The blue stones long the center of the skull work with the yellow sections to create some contrast.
The defining part of these masks is their ability to attach to Ardelrius. I did this by inserting rare earth magnets in between the skin layers on Ardelrius. There's one large magnet on its forehead and one under the chin. Similarly, each face has a magnet built into the back of the head and chin to align with the ones on Ardelrius. The end result allows the face to snap securely in place and it's pretty sturdy. I can walk around and move my head without shaking the mask loose.
Here's the next piece of concept art. When I asked TyvridKizuna to do some basic concept pieces, I intentionally left out the specifics for each one aside from the photos. I wanted to see what someone else's interpretation of the creatures was just based on the design elements in the mask. For Tirradol, you can see the insect-like shape combined with what looks like shell plating which is fitting given it can move underground.
That's it for this entry. The next one goes up tomorrow per the schedule.
Halloween draws ever closer. I've been working on a large mache project for this year that's a bit more ambitious than things I've attempted in the past. With our recent launch on Youtube, it seemed like the perfect time to branch out into other kinds of media. That said, let me introduce the latest entry in my line of wearable masks.
This is the "Faceless Summoner", Ardelrius. As I did with Trinitus, I have prepared some lore to go with this post.
Legends say the creature was once a man. Unfortunate enough to be born in a realm of brutality and monsters, this man must have sought power. Desperation drives many to extremes and it pushed this man to seek out the ancient relic. He found it deep within a secluded temple long forgotten, the ancient binding runes worn away with time. At the temple's center was an alter with a single object piercing its platform. The object resembled a thin, skeletal tree adorned with glowing "eyes". Hanging from the tree was the mask itself. Not much else is known but after that, a man ceased to exist. Instead, a creature began to roam the land. It was human shaped, cloaked in a black robe and carrying the tree-like staff. Appearing throughout the legends, the creature simply called itself "Ardelrius" and was rumored to be in search of those wielding great strength. What power did the "Tree of Souls" it carried possess?
Ardelrius is the second attempt I've made to create a wearable mache mask using Dan Reeder's techniques. Unlike Trinitus, this one is meant to be a much more simplistic design. It's almost featureless, lacking a nose, ears or any other distinguishing characteristics. My intent was to use the design and its erratic color scheme to create an unsettling image. The face is expressionless and that's sometimes more fearsome that something that's outright monstrous.
As shown in the spotlight video, Ardelrius was created using a simple foil head impression as a shell. I added a first layer of cloth and glue skin in order to give it a rigid structure to build upon. I then added the minimal features using paper, tape and glue before adding a final skin layer to seal it all together. The paint was done quickly and intentionally messy which is why the black markings aren't symmetrical. The blackwashing brought the colors out and ended up giving the mask a sort of burnt flesh look. I used a simple robe and black nitrile gloves for the outfit.
The Tree of Souls was a late developing idea. I had sketched out Ardelrius' design a long time ago but the staff became necessary as you'll see later. Creating it was very simple and started with a metal broom stick. I built out the trunk using newspaper, thick gauge wire hangers, and copper wire to bind everything together. The "Eyes" are glass stones and the final layer of skin was sheets with glue again. I'm happy with the texturing of the staff. It looks and feels like dried bark which is what I wanted.
Ardelrius' spotlight video also includes a piece of concept art drawn by TyvridKizuna. He has graciously agreed to create a concept sketch for each piece in the "Summoner" series and you can see the individual drawings on his page. I've also given him permission to paste the accompanying lore segments into his posts for the concept art.
So that's pretty much it for this design. The Halloween event will continue until the end of the month. Each day there will be a new video in the series and an accompanying post here, on Youtube, and on Deviant Art. At some point in the future, I will be uploading short Speed Drawing videos of each emblem I designed for this series as well.
October is turning out to be a busy month. In addition to working on this year's Halloween project, I've been trying to get some more Youtube content together for our channel. The latest video upload is the first in the ongoing Speed Drawing series. These will be short to moderate length videos of captured computer footage of me drawing my 2D emblems in Rhinoceros. Check out the first one featuring the Scarlet Seer design below:
I'm also hoping to launch our tutorial series on using this software in November. In the meantime, there will be more Speed Drawing videos and a whole bunch of papier mache videos for Halloween at the end of the month.
Fall is well underway now and we're into October, my favorite month! I've started working on making content on Youtube. I had been planning on doing so for a while and finally got some projects together. The first official video to launch our content is a short video of Trinitus Megiddo. While brief, it serves as a sort of abridged compilation of the WIP phases that went into the mask, a preview of what I've talked about here over many posts. This was also a good opportunity to test out my video editing techniques with my software and camera. I'm working on a large mache project for Halloween and its reveal will happen parallel to some additional videos on Youtube.
In non-mache related news, I'm also working on some more design-related content. I've got some interesting ideas for showing a more behind the scenes look at how I do the emblems. I'm also looking at starting a tutorial series though that might not start up until November since I'd like to have all the Halloween stuff out this month. I'm going to be consulting some outside help for content this month so you can expect to see updates here, on DA, and on Youtube as well.
This project has been delayed for too long. I've actually had this piece completed for a while but I didn't have an ideal set up to take pictures of it. I attempted a few photo sessions earlier in the year but wasn't satisfied with the results. Finally, I used my camera's tripod and a backdrop to take some pictures of the mask.
This is Trinitus Megiddo. Using Dan Reeder's papier mache techniques, this is my take on a wearable mask. As shown in previous screen shots, this piece is a combination of three faces, a main demonic shape with two monsters grafted onto the sides.
Lore-wise, the greater demon, Megiddo was a monstrous warlord that reigned over a large territory. At his side were two guardian beasts, Ice Serpent Hyouga and Ash Drake Ignir. Legend chronicles the bloody rule of Megiddo for many years before a rival faction rose up and overthrew him. Mortally wounded along with his guardians, the demon used the last of his strength to merge their souls together using an arcane ritual. Upon completion of the ritual, the being that emerged was an Arch Demon with three demonic faces. It wielded the power of ice and flames and obliterated the rival faction with little effort. Renaming itself Trinitus Megiddo, the reborn tyrant vanished into the ether to seek greater challenges.
The Face of Frozen Judgement, Hyouga
The Face of Burning Wrath, Ignir
The color scheme for Trinitus was an interesting thought process. I already had the fire and ice color scheme of the two side heads when I put the final layer of skin on the central head. I wanted a neutral color that was dark yet still contrasting with the other two. I set the orange stones along the forehead for additional highlighted colors. The teeth on all three faces glow in the dark and it makes for an eerie effect when the lights are out. I also tried to take some shots wearing the mask to illustrate how it sits on the head.
One of the advantages of mache as a medium is it's very lightweight. Even after attaching both heads and covering them with cloth skin, Trinitus Megiddo as a headpiece is not heavy. It can be a little wide due to Hyouga's tusks but it doesn't put unnecessary pressure on the neck. I wore it around at work for Halloween last year and it was pretty comfortable. It does get a little hot though. I used my dress shirt and suit coat in the pictures for added effect. The canon design of Trinitus would have war armor but I don't have any of that to wear at the moment.
Overall, I'm pleased with how this piece came out. Dan Reeder detailed some very useful techniques in his Youtube series so I recommend checking it out if you're interested in making something like this for yourself. I've been working on another wearable mask that will be an interesting take on the style. I'll probably post some WIP pictures of it as we get closer to Halloween. I do want to make an 2D emblem for this monster so I may post that as well.