Temple of Elemental Evil Design Diary: Illustrating a Classic
by Chris Arneson
Wow, The Temple of Elemental Evil! Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would get to work on such an iconic D&D module. When I heard that Goodman Games was going to do this as the next OAR book I flipped. I was filled with hope that I’d get to be a part of it but also worried that I might not. What a relief when I got my first art assignment!
As a kid I never got to play much D&D as I wasn’t really part of any group of friends that did; I did have the purple boxed set with Erol Otus’s amazing cover however. I was heavily into TSR’s Endless Quest books, art books, calendars, etc. During my freshman year of high school a senior friend of mine asked if I wanted to play one Saturday night with him and his friends. He was kind of the big brother I never had so it was pretty cool! It was also my first time getting to play an all-night game like that. We were down in the basement on their ping pong table, with seemingly endless Doritos and soda. And while I wasn’t familiar with the module, I certainly knew Keith Parkinson’s cover since it was used on my coveted The Art of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Fantasy Game book. I can’t remember much of the game and for some reason don’t think we made it very far into the adventure but it was a ton of fun. One of the things I do remember was our characters asking an old lady NPC something, whereupon our DM says she yells, “Oh, Henry!” and a huge guy with a giant two-handed sword came out… Somewhere in the middle of the night we went out to play kick the can and spent a fair amount of time looking for someone’s contact lens in the grass. Believe it or not we found it. Such a fun night.
Fast-forward to the Goodman Games’ Temple of Elemental Evil assignments and how I approach them and my art process. When I get the assignments I’ll read the write-ups and let them float around in my head for a while. Sometimes I’ll do some research online and skim through the original module for helpful details and inspiration—especially in the sections that pertain to my assignments. Then I’ll do some sketches on basic copy paper. Sometimes they’re large sketches, sometimes small, sometimes very loose initially. If I’m not sure on things I’ll scan the loose sketch, print it out, and make adjustments and tighten it up there. This was the process with the NPC Supreme Commander Hedrack. Once I’m comfortable with that I’ll scan it again, print if off on the size I feel I want to ink it, tape it to the back of the paper I’ll be inking on, and then start retracing it tighter with pencil on my LED light box. If I feel pretty confident I’ll just start inking it. Once I get my line-work done I like to scan it as a precaution before adding gray tones. Halfway through my Temple illustrations I switched from pencil shading to ink washes, which take a little longer and are less forgiving but have a nice look, permanency, and more of an old-school feel. Lastly I’ll scan them at 600 DPI and adjust them as desired. I only have a 9×12 scanner so when I do my 11×14 images I scan them in halves and piece them together using Photoshop’s Photomerge function. Finally, I’ll print a copy for myself for approval and then send off the final to the powers that be. On a rare occasion I’ll have to do a little censoring since these need WoTC’s approval. Once in a while I may even sneak in a little Easter egg…
Original Adventures Reincarnated #6: The Temple of Elemental Evil is now available everywhere. Check your FLGS for your copy today, or you can order it through the Goodman Games Online Store.