Noron’s Keep- Harn Classic Updated

The recent set of Harn Classics have just been released. Columbia Games has recently changed the model for these releases. The point of these Classics is to get old articles, some close to 30 years old, back in print. They are being re-edited with new maps. Now we have decided to add more color to Harn. The page one art work will either be a colorized version of art from the old article, or an updated image if we think it needs one.

I have wanted to draw Noron for a while.

Of course we needed to show the keep but feature Noron front and center- well, slightly off to the right.


Noron’s Keep, pen and ink and digital. Copyright © 2012, Columbia Games, Inc., Richard Luschek

I had the map and the old illustration by Eric Hotz to work off from. I dropped the map into Google Sketchup and built a quick digital model. I was then able to swing around the model getting the placement I wanted. As you can see the drawing does not follow the model exactly, but it was a helpful aid in determining sight lines and basic perspective.

Rough Sketchup model


From the model I did a pen and ink drawing. Excessive ink likes can be too busy with the color, so a bit less inking saving some of the shading for the color to be added later. I scan the image, open it in photoshop, and then paint it digitally. I am not completely comfortable painting this way  but I am learning- and it is great fun.

The next stage is making sure what I see on the screen approximates what will come out of Columbia’s printer. This may take a few publications to perfect that process.



Noron’s Keep, pen and ink, Copyright © 2012, Columbia Games, Inc., Richard Luschek

The other thing changing in Harn Products is a switch to a new Harnic Drop Cap (the decorative capital letter that starts off each article). Before we were using a pretty basic one that I thought was bit anachronistic. I thought it might be fun to go with a more medieval / Celtic feel, and when I could- use the Harnic Bestiary to make the initials.

Copyright © 2012, Columbia Games, Inc., Richard Luschek


For Noron, the obvious choice was the Harnic beast, the Nolah. As I make my way through the alphabet, look for a whole set to be available. Let me know what you think and feel free to offer suggestion of Harnic creatures you would like to see for the Harnic Alphabet.





Coloring in the Lines of the Classics

Recently I was asked to update some art for the Harn classics- Old articles, some over 20 years old. We are getting them back in print with updated layout, maps and some new art.

One of the recent classic on a wilderness settlement called Kustan had a great image by Eric Hotz. His art was one of the things that first attracted me to Harn. The work by Hotz had a wonderfully gritty look, was realistic, not just in execution, but in believability. His warriors were not typical fantasy game fair, they looked like real people. The beasts had a quirky simplicity that felt more medieval than sci fi. When I started illustrating I did my best to emulate the work of Hotz and he is still a big influence on how I illustrate Harn.

Kustan, By Eric Hotz, 1984, Copyright © 2012, Columbia Games, Inc. and Eric Hotz


CGI is trying to update the Harn line with more color, so we thought it would be a great idea to use the old Hotz image, but it would need to be colored.

Using a high res scan of the image I opened it into photoshop and colored the image digitally. I am starting to get a handle on working digitally. Part of it has to do with settling on a few digital brushes that I like and doing my best to work in a similar fashion to how I work traditionally. I do enjoy working with layers, but most of my mistakes involved me not saving enough and in the proper fashion, or mismanaging my layers.I usually am painting pretty directly with as few layers as I can manage.


So here is my colored version. The lines in the sky were to much with the color, so I erased them and tried to replicate the design in color. Select areas of the line layer were erased if it hide too much of the color.

I did my best to keep it simple as the budget did not allow me a lot of time to work on this. Also after I was done we realized the image did not fit the new layout as well and had to be cropped at the top. It affected the design so I just selected the clouds and squashed them down a bit. I was pretty happy with the final image. Though unlike B&W one never knows for sure how it will look printed.

Hope the fans like the updated image. I also hope Hotz is happy with my work on his fine image.


Kustan, by Eric Hotz, Colored by Richard Luschek

Copyright © 2012, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

Now that I think of it, this type of tastefully done skull arrangement would look great at the end of our driveway. Would probably work great at keeping the solicitors away.


End of the Expedition

Khalkhikus is a dragon mentioned in the most recent HarnQuest release. I tried to keep one of the fabled Harnic creatures named in the article in mind when I was illustrating each of the the beasts in this HQ.

For the page one image I wanted a dragon shown proud on high mountain ledge having just exited it’s lair. An unfortunate party of  soon to cooked adventurers is easing along a narrow shelf to “ambush” the creature.

End of the Expedition, (pen and Ink, Oil and Digital) Copyright © 2012, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

I started by just doing a pen and ink image.

End of the Expedition, pen and ink, Copyright © 2012, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

I printed this image on heavy water color paper, seal it with a clear fixative and then did a quick paint over in broad shapes in oil paint.

End of the Expedition, oil on paper, Copyright © 2012, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

It did not scan as well as I had hoped, but it got me started and gave a nice texture with which to play off of. I placed the scanned oil painting in photoshop under the scanned  ink image and set it to multiply- meaning the two images immediately above add up to equal the final image in the article. It did take some work to get the two images to line up. A few more layers were created under the ink and above the color layer. On these layers I painted digitally. These were also set to multiply so the texture of the scanned oil image would show through. The lines in the sky were distracting so those were erased. A few contrast adjustments, drawing refinements and the image was ready. The layers are flattened into one layer- the final image.


A brief word about the story, here. I chose this dragon which is rumored dwell somewhere among the southern Rayesha Mountains, in an abandoned salt mine near Rethem. I know the setting does not exactly scream salt mine, but really wanted the mountain top view. Is this is the entrance to a tunnel that eventually leads down to a salt mine? I would say that if you were running a salt mine and you tunneled into an opening that lead to a dragon lair….well, that would explain why it was abandoned. Is this lair located just above the salt mine? What a great thing for your players to find out.

The articles says “Both the Red Shadows of Herpa, an Agrikan fighting order, and the commander of the Imrium Cohort have offered a reward to any who can bring them proof of the dragon’s demise.”


The group of men about to die, have obviously found the answer to that question. It’s still alive.

The knight leading this quest has called a halt to the party….as if that will help. You can almost imagine hims saying,”Shhhhh.” He is leading a few members of  the mercenary group, the Warriors of the Bloody Mace. Among them a Kuboran warrior is shown, spear ready. He was probably captured by the Agrikans and forced into service for this disastrous expedition.

I wanted the dragon to have the appearance that one could almost wonder if the dragon even sees the expedition below on the side of the mountain, but I will let you in on a secret- It totally sees them.


Please let me know what you think of the updated article. Feel free to offer comments or let me know if you have any questions about this image.



Meredragons- A New Look for the Ilme

Ilme nest, Copyright © 2012, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

I am going to do a few posts about the newest HarnQuest release. The latest publication has some cool new articles with greatly expanded text and art for some old friends- though “friends” maybe an odd choice of words for a set of articles that will most likely get your player characters bitten, set on fire, or hit upside the head with a mace– that may also itself be on fire.

This HarnQuest has some expanded articles on two Agrikan Orders,  Dragons, and Ilme- the Meredragon, a creature unique to Harn. These articles are an attempt to give new life to creatures with ideas for your game offering many adventure possibilities.
Also on this HarnQuest, CGI decided to start adding color to the first page of all new articles. This decision came after much of the work was done. So while I was excited about the decision, I had not planned for it and had to rework stuff that I had considered finished.

When I started with Harn one of the things that stood out for me was the look of the product. Of course there were the great maps, but the art of Eric Hotz was what really attracted my attention. It had a simple and gritty realism. When I started illustrating for Harn in 2001 I did my best to continue that trend. I learned a lot trying to emulate the standard set by Hotz. I think I have since developed my own style, but it has definitely been influence by the work of Hotz.  So, for the page one art for Ilme I thought I would pay homage to the original Hotz image- 28 years later. In preparation of this article I had been studying and drawing dinosaurs in an attempt to create a more realistic beast by improving on the anatomy and setting.

Copyright © 2012, Columbia Games, Inc.

So as you can see in the above image, my image has a very familiar layout with some direct references to the original Hotz image. Hotz did a great job making his work very simple with clear reading subjects.
Honestly, my image could have used a bit more of that, so when I got the opportunity to color the image, that was the main goals, to make the subject read more strongly in this complicated image. I took the scanned pen and ink image into photoshop, colored some of the lines so they were not so black, and then painted color on the layer under the line work. I flattened the image and then painted highlights on top of that.
I would be curious to know what you think of the image, and my nod to the original from 1984.


New HarnQuest- Herpa the Mace

It has been a busy month for me.
I just finished the next HarnQuest for Columbia Games. It has been a long time coming. This set of articles includes Dragons, Lesser Dragons, Mere Dragons (Ilme), and two hot Agrikan Orders.
I posted about the start of this HQ in February. I can’t believe it has been that long.

In the mean time I also worked on CGI’s fancy new website which was unveiled on Free RPG Day. While I had nothing to do with the building of the site, I helped with the look and did all of the icons for the main page. I wanted the site to look much like a medieval manuscript. I am very proud of the art for adding things to your cart, and checkout. You see? it is a medieval cart. Clever huh?


There were a few hiccups along the way for this release, but the exciting thing that held this up is CGI’s decision that all new articles for Harn will have at least one color image. Though Dragons is lucky enough to contain 3 color images. I will discuss the dragon art in an upcoming post.

First is the color version of the image I posted about in the February post, now in full color- well at least some red, yellow and orange. Harn has for years been know for it’s gritty pen and ink illustrations. Those will still be in most of the publications, but the page one color images will add more life to Harn. I tried a few different methods to color the pen and ink illustrations. I used oil paint, digital painting and a bit of water color. For this particular image I used a few methods. The first was to do a very rough water color wash on a new sheet of paper. I did a fast and loose painting which I scanned and laid it under the pen and ink image in photoshop. I then did the rest of the painting digitally.


Copyright © 2012, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

“Hârn is home to many clerical orders devoted to Agrik, the dark god of war and violence, but none is more mystical than the Order of Herpa the Mace, whose priests are known for their ability to foresee the future with remarkable clarity.”

The above is a description of the article had lots of fodder for illustrating- and most of that fodder I threw in a big pile and set on fire.

Copyright © 2012, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

The above image shows a priestess divining using a deck of cards. I am lucky to have a writing team that trusts me and leaves me pretty free to draw what I want. I get some suggests in the empty spots where the art goes, often they are fairly vague or just suggestions. So, in sense I get to tell my own stories- riffing off the text that I am given. I try to use the space to “say 1000 words“. For the Agrikan fortune telling image I got to make up the look of the cards, the lay of the cards and even added a scroll that shows various spreads for different situations. The spread on the table is the ‘Mace’. You can see on the scroll two other spreads, the ‘Octagon’ and the ‘Comet’ card arrangement. None of these details are mentioned in the text, but I think they add to the story. It would be exciting to see some fanon written about the Agrikan Tarot cards.
I am looking forward to hearing what the Harn fans think of this Harn Quest. I am pretty excited about the results.

If you are not a HarnQuest subscriber, What you are waiting for?!!-
Click here Now!



I have just finished a bunch of images for the new CGI Block Game. I drew 15 new blocks for the games pieces that will be reproduced at 3/4″ square. I drew them at 4″, inked them by hand and then colored them very quickly and simply in photoshop.
I am no expert on the WWII machinery, so I had to stay pretty faithful to old images or museum replicas I found. I tried to create simple images that could be easily read on the small blocks.
Below is the inked and colored images of the German flamethrower and Artillery units.

Copyright © 2012, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek
Copyright © 2012, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek
The Working title for this is K.I.S.S., though that is likely to change. 

Price: $50.00
Release Date: 2012-05-15
K.I.S.S. Preorder (signed edition)
DESIGNERS: Leonard Coufal and Tom Dalgliesh.

K.I.S.S is a fast-paced World War II squad level game, employing our wooden blocks. The game system features innovative and interactive rules for Fire Combat, Close Combat, Morale, and Leaders. The game is sophisticated, yet very playable.
You command a German or American infantry company, composed of three infantry platoons and a heavy weapons platoon. Expansion sets will include British, Soviet, Italian, and Japanese companies.
Unit types include:

  • Leaders
  • Rifle Squads
  • MachineGuns
  • Mortars
  • Anti-Tank
  • Tank

Here is how the images will look on the final block layout. Both of the following images have been reworked for the final game.

The United States wins the war in the end.

Please be sure to comment or ask questions. Be sure to get your order in now!


Heading East (Ancient Kings)

Thought I would post some new work I just completed for the new Columbia Games block game Ancient Kings that will be shipped at the end of the month (March 25th).

As most of my illustration work is black and white ink drawings, this is a bit different for me, but I really enjoyed the process. As a great admirer of Japanese prints with their wonderful design and subtle color relationships, I thought it would be nice to incorporate some of what I like from those prints into these images. The final images are to be printed as 3/4″ square sticker which will be placed on wood block game pieces. That is pretty small. So they have to be strong silhouettes which are easy to read in game play. I drew them out at 2″x2″.  I decided to ink them by hand, scan them into the computer and color them in in Photoshop. I used a few texture overlays and gradient fills to get that Japanese woodcut feel.

Please ignore that I misspelled Cavalry as Calvary. There is not going to be a crucifixion game piece.

I had draw the Monk with a hat I liked better, but I was asked to draw it a bit more historically accurate as shown above. Here is a look at my first attempt.

In hindsight I wish the group of images were more consistent in style. While I feel they work pretty well, I wish a few were a bit more stylized. I also probably got a bit carried away with the detail, but I had great fun doing these- I could not help myself.

The most difficult one to do was the ship. It was hard to find good references for a Samurai ship. I wanted big sails so I could design the image with a light in front of the dark sky, and the darker ship over lighter water. I found a lot of non-military Junk type ships and a lot of warships without sails. It is a combination of a few references. In the end it is one of my favorites of the group.

Let me know what you think of the group of Samurai. If you do not comment, I will be forced to commit ritual Seppuku.

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Art Musings

The fine folks at CGI have invited me to post on this blog. While I feel like I am part of  the CGI family- I am not sure I will having dinner at the Dalgliesh house on a regular basis (hint), I will be posting updates about  past and upcoming products in the Columbia Games line of products.

I first wanted to introduce myself to those following this blog who may not know me.

I am the Illustrator and Art Director for all of the CGI Harn releases. I have also recently been working on some of the block game products, my first being the Samurai group of blocks for Ancient Kings.  I will post some of the art for that in a few days.
I started playing D&D with my 7th grade teacher in an after school thing in 1981. While looking for a more realistic system, we tried and loved Dragon Quest. Using those rules we began playing in the Harn World in 85. We were attracted to the system like most were by the great maps, thorough world view , and the illustrations of Eric Hotz. We eventually converted to HM core, which we still use- with occasional pieces from HM3 and house rules.
I am 42, I have a biology degree and a fine arts degree from University of Cincinnati, neither of which are of any use to my life now. I eventually learned to draw and paint in New Hampshire studying with Paul Ingbretson. After 3 years there I returned home to Cincinnati where I  have a huge 100 year old house I am always working on with 8 tenants living above. I have a studio in a local park where I paint still life, landscape and portrait. I do teach landscape classes in the warm months and offer private instruction and drawing and painting classes in the winter. I have a painting in the Cincinnati Art Museum’s permanent collection and in various collecting in town and on the East Coast. I like beer, Martinis shaken not stirred and like to watch movies with my wife of 13 years.
You can see my work, both paintings and illustration on my website.

More to come……