I looked over the list of potential illustrations and "Albino Apes with Cybernetic Type Implants" caught my eye. I introduced bionic chimps and orangutans into my Mutant Future campaign (War Chimps and Warangutans) and they were a big hit with my players. I have had soft spot for great apes with cybernetic implants ever since. Once I claimed that picture as mine, Michael sent me the following details:
"Experimental apes are double-sized albino gorillas that have two additional arcanitech arms grafted to their bodies below their natural upper limbs. These magical/mechanical arms possess great strength (equal to that of an ogre). These arms also deliver a powerful electrical shock. Any target struck by either of the arcanitech limbs must make a save vs. spells or suffer an additional 1d8 points of damage. Experimental apes are conditioned to be fiercely loyal to the Plated Mage and the Mage-Engineers, and seldom flee from combat. Attempts to charm them rarely succeed and experimental apes gain a +4 bonus to all saving throws against mental domination."
This presented an interesting challenge to me, as the easiest way to depict something as albino is to show it in bright light as mostly white, but I wanted to do a more shadowy drawing since the apes would be encountered underground in a dungeon environment. I first did a few gorilla studies to get in the mood and shake off any rust from my art muscles.
I wanted to use pen and ink but kept struggling with the fact that I really would need a nice white ink pen and dark paper to draw the image I saw in my head. Then I hit on the idea of drawing the image with black ink on white paper and reversing it in PhotoShop. I reversed the larger sketch I had done so far as a quick proof of concept. Of course the image looks like a negative because the shadowing is in reverse (particularly obvious in the face), but I mostly wanted to see how the fur/hair looked and I liked the effect:
To avoid the appearance of a negative image once I reversed my final piece, I wanted to create a negative image to use as a reference point for my original drawing. In other words, I would draw a negative image in the first place, so when it was reversed the shading would be correct but all the pen work would be white and the background would be black. I spent some time collecting various pictures of gorillas, standing gorillas, crouching gorillas, leaping gorillas. The whole time I was looking for a good reference picture that I could easily insert bionic arms onto, which made the choice a bit more difficult. I finally settled on an action shot to use as a reference image for the drawing that looks like the gorilla just took a swat at something:
One slight stumbling block was that the left arm of this gorilla was cut off; I could have just winged it, but at this point I had such a large collection of gorilla images that I picked a different image of a different gorilla with its left arm out in a similar fashion and literally just Photoshopped the other gorillas arm over the arm in this picture. Here is the 2nd gorilla image I used for its left arm:
I ended up adding a lot more fur detail than was visible in the original reference image in the chest, stomach and rear leg. I went back in with a pencil in addition to the pen, to lighten up the ape in relation to the background. Even the most shadowy areas got at least some light pencil fur added. Several times I called it done, scanned it in and reversed it and decided I still needed to add even more pen and pencil work. Finally, I decided I had done all I could do and was running the risk of muddying up things if I kept adding more fur. I added some more pencil shading to the robot arms and scanned it one more time to reverse it and do some more touch up work in Photoshop. For reference, here is the original (un-reversed) scan of the final drawing and then the reversed image at that point. I found it very interesting how the entire time I was drawing from the negative image the head just didn't look right, but the second I reversed it, it looked awesome! My mind had a hard time looking at the original (unreversed) drawing and processing where the eyes were I think. I just had to trust that I was following an actual negative photo of a gorilla face and as long as I faithfully shadowed where I saw shadow everything would work out okay once I reversed the image.
|Original *unreversed* Drawing (pen and pencil)|
|Negative of the final drawing - before separating the bionic arms out and leaving them unreversed|
I have to say though that I am very pleased with the end result - and I can't wait for Stonehell 2 to come out! Maybe some of you will get to sick one of these bad boys on your players (or meet an untimely demise at their robotic hands if you play on the other side of the DM's screen!). Final image:
|Experimental Ape - Carl Nash 2015 - Pen, Pencil & Photoshop|