Adding Jazz Hands to an Illustration

A repost from our Harn artist’s blog.

by Richard Luschek II

Reworking some old art of my own is often a very wonderful experience when I get the chance- especially when I get paid to do it.
On the upcoming HârnQuest I one of the articles I had to rework was Taztos.

“Taztos is a fort maintained by the Ramala Legion of the Thardic Republic. It sits on the Salt Route that links the western Hârnic realms with the kingdoms of the east.”

The next HârnQuest will include:

  • Kelestia (10 pages)
  • Fort Taztos (12pp)
  • Gardiren #10 – Jug Inn (6pp)
  • Cherafir D5 – Clothier (2pp)
  • Shiran E14 – Bull Ring Tavern (2pp)


The early draft had the original art done by Eric Hotz. I thought of redoing it, but I like this one. I had to color it anyway, so I thought I would just tweak it a bit to give it a bit of a dynamic layout.
It does feel a bit sacrilegious to rework art done by another artist, but being a fan of Hotz, I do what I can to show respect to the original. Basically, I use the Hippocratic Oath when working on old Harn art.
Here is my final treatment.

Taztos, Copyright © 2014, Columbia Games, Inc., Eric Hotz and Richard Luschek

Below is the original by Eric Hotz as it was in the original Hârn publication in 1987- The year I graduated from High School.

Taztos Original- placed in article, Copyright © 2014, Columbia Games, Inc., Eric Hotz and Richard Luschek

I did not change it too much. I imagine if you did not see them side by side you would not even notice I had done anything.
I thought it would benefit from a better angle. The original is a bit static and straight up and down and looked a bit “peace symbol” like. The river bank was too much like what you might find in a manicured theme park. So I roughed that up a bit as well.

Taztos updated B&W, Copyright © 2014, Columbia Games, Inc, Eric Hotz and Richard Luschek

One other issue was that the keep and the plans did not exactly jive, so I had to make a few adjustments so it more accurately matched the maps. I was a bit tricky keeping all the parts in the right place. I had to cut the art into pieces, skew the background and then place all the parts back in the new background. A few things needed to be added and adjusted, but basically it has the flavor of the original.
This is waiting for review by CGI and should be shipping fairly soon.


Kanday is Updated

A repost from our Harn artist’s blog.

by Richard Luschek II

I got kind of a lucky break being asked to do art for Columbia Games way before I was really ready. My initial offerings were barely passable, but I learned tons while getting paid to do so. Early on I felt so luck to be part of publishing for a game I had started playing when I was 13, I pretty much just shut up and did the work to the best of my ability.


A few projects I have worked on have been around enough that they are now due for an upgrade. I wont name them all, as I am not sure when I will get to them, but one that particularly made me cringe has been Kanday. Much of the art in that publication was done for other jobs that never saw the light, were already old, and kind of got forced into inappropriate spots. As you know CGI has been updating and expanding the product line with new color products. This gives us a chance to revisit old work and continue to improve the quality. Again with excellent editing and layout by Brent we have a wonderfully updated Kanday. It is not completely laid out yet, but will be available soon.

The download is available now on RPG Now.



Blessings of Larani, Copyright © 2014, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek


Below is the image I am replacing. There are are a few things wrong with the following image. I liked idea, so I basically redid it. It is more appropriate to the kingdom of Kanday and has a bit more energy and life. The orc shown in the image are not much of a threat in Kanday. I figured a soldier from Rethem would me more accurate. Thankfully I have gotten a bit better in the 13 or so years since I did this image.

Blessings of Larani, Copyright © 2001, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

I recently purchased a used Cintiq from a friend (technically- I haven’t paid yet, but I probably will).

It has taken some getting used to. Already I cant believe I have not been using this all along. I think it is calibrated better than my monitor, so that has been a help as well.


In the end for Kanday, I colored 5 of the images, updated, fixed or redrew 20 of my old illustrations. I started with the King. The old image did not seem very kingly in addition to being kind of weak overall. The trick was to redraw him, get the same likeness yet improve upon the old illustration. This one did get colored too, but I just wanted to post the B&W versions.

King Andasin- Before and After, Copyright © 2014, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek


I have never liked realistic images of dead characters in times before the invention of the camera. It is just too anachronistic. The only way they would be known visually is through painting or sculpture. I love medieval painting. I of course based this off of medieval icons- maybe too much. I even used some gold leaf texture in the background and painted the image over this. I have been trying to put more appropriate medieval art in Harn publications.


The Murdered Queen, Before and After, Copyright © 2014, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

A few of the images were a bit miss placed. One image showed a man that looked about 30 years too young. So I aged him and put him in more appropriate clothing.

Constable Fodin, Before and After, Copyright © 2014, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

This one had a bit of text that indicated the Baron is suffering from wasting disease, yet the image showed a robust individual. So, some tweaking remedied this.

Baron Daffyd, Before and After, Copyright © 2014, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

Some of the images were just plain terrible in every way.This was not just a weak image, he looked like a commoner. I reworked this one the most of any and am much happier with it.

Constable Elaris, Before and After, Copyright © 2014, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

I can now page through Kanday Kingdom without crying in embarrassment.



Harnic Shield Painters Unite!

By Richard Luschek II

Just a quick peak into a day in my life. Here’s a photo of a typical day writing my blog, shown in a cafe just pouring my heart out to all my readers. My squire is getting pretty good at taking photos don’t you think?

After having to catch up a bit after the 4 days at Gen Con I finally got the latest HarnQuest finished (can you believe I honestly thought I would get some drawing done while I was there?).

I was very happy with how it turned out. My deadline was end of August and I proudly sent off my last illustration at 11:45p.m. on August 31st. So, technically I made my deadline. Right?


I will do a few posts about a few of the illustrations I did for this very Laranian HarnQuest.

It contains Order of Hyvrik (Larani), Order of the Checkered Shield, Dyrisa Laranian Temple, and an updated Classic article Chyrefal Castle.


This was a fun HQ for me as I have always liked the Laranians. The articles did a good job of giving these guys some depth, with in-fighting and religious differences. It made them more believable and realistic.

One of my favorite pieces was in the Checkered Shield article.

I did a few versions that I thought I would show for fun, before settling on the final one.

To the Pits!,Copyright © 2013, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

There was some discussion about whether or not the shield should have the full heraldry of the order, or just be a checkered shield. While I tend to fight for what ever looks best, I think the end result made the most sense.

At first I drew a version with the full chapter symbol- which shows Mendiz- the red winged lion with the shield.

To the Pits II!,Copyright © 2013, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

While technically that is the chapter’s symbol, they are called the Checkered Shield. We decided that while this symbol is the badge and may be sewn on the tunic of some or all the knights,  the shield, like the name, should just be checkered. Hotz had set this as canon on the Dead Winter cover years ago. I also did a look around on the web and found some fanon articles that showed the same opinion. So, the simple shield was used on the opening page.

Of course photoshop makes it very easy to make these changes and experiment with different looks. Something about the idea of a battle field full of checkered shields that just seemed more bad ass to me.

I suppose both work as long as the Agrikan is cast into the Pits!


1994 Plymouth Voyager with Harnic Shields

Of course the other reason for the decision was that I had just painted some some shields for decoration for the Gen Con booth and I was not going to change it.


The Deadly, Cute and Fuzzy- Harnic Weasel

By Richard Luschek
I primarily illustrate for the “Fantasy” RPG published by Columbia Games called Harn. It is a realistic fantasy world roughly modelled off medieval 12th century England. There are some Viking like elements, Kingdoms with Roman like political areas, and add a bit of fantasy creatures and monster reminiscent of Tolkien.

While most of the illustrations needed for Harn are realistic and mundane medieval images, I love it when I get to draw creatures. The bigger, uglier, and scarier the better. They should be covered in scales, bony protrusions, breathing fire and dripping with slime.

So, when I was asked to illustrate Weasels, I can’t say I was terribly excited. But, it is a good article and has serious game play uses for the imaginative GM.

While I am not a writer, I like tell my own stories through the art in these articles. I try to not just illustrate, but enhance the article. You know what they say, “a picture is worth a 1000 words”, which is a good thing- unless you are getting a text message from Anthony Weiner.

I thought I would offer some insight to the stories I drew for the Weasel article.


Stoat and Wolverine with Sarajin, Copyright © 2013, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

The above image is a winter scene, which I rarely if ever have done for Harn articles. This camouflaged stoat is scampering past an Ivinian stone illustrating the myth of Sarajin fighting a wolverine. I was thinking this beast could be one of the lesser known Pradeyalkri and may even have many myths associated with it. The Runic is translatable if you want to give it try. The runes at the top are some added graffiti, by some visiting warrior that wanted to leave his mark.

Peoni Protects, Copyright © 2013, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

I was not familiar with the horrible blood sport of badger baiting. If you are not either, don’t look it up-it is pretty terrible. It is a real “sport” and has been illegal since 1835, though it is apparently making a comeback.

Shown in the illustration is a young Peoni priestess smuggling away a badger to safety before it is thrown to the dogs. I could easily see this being a adventure hook for a GM. –The Lia-Kavair has hired the PC’s to find out why their badgers keep disappearing. or-The fleeing, priestess runs into the arms of the PCs asking for assistance. or -A PC has trapped some Badgers and would like to sell them at the market, but is approached by a seedy underworld type with an offer.

Maybe Harn even has it’s own version of Weasel Stomping Day.

There are tons of possibilities. Throw in the fact that the badger itself may not make its rescue easy and you have the makings of an interesting game session.


I would love to hear some stories of GMs using these beasts in their game sessions.




Two Page Locations- New type of Harn Article

The next HarnQuest will contain the first of a new series of articles that I am pretty excited about. These 2 page locations will be short articles on specific location through out Harn. We have a long list of them on our To-Do list, and a pile of them developed to some degree.

Basic idea of these two pagers is to develop specific sites in already published material. These will develop guilded occupations(Apothecary, Weaponcrafters, etc.) , non guilded (Artist, Baker, Fisherman,etc.), Religious sites (Temples, shrines, and graveyards), Wilderness locations (Caves, Trader huts, and barbarian sites), and Lairs for any manner of beasts.


The next HQ will have 3 of these sites: a Thay Jeweler, Clord Woodcrafter and the Seven Brothers site in Taelda territory in the Sorkin mountains.

The front page of these articles will have a portrait, information about the location and the individual, The back will have plans, location information and some adventure hooks. Below is the the Taelda guardian of the Seven Brothers. Also in this upcoming HQ is the article on Weasels of Harn, so I gave this barbarian a badger friend.

Tluk, Taelda guardian of the Seven Brothers,

Copyright © 2013, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek



View from the Docks

By Richard Luschek

The recent Cherafir publication by Columbia Games offered me the opportunity to draw a misty afternoon scene. As has been my recent way of working, I take the maps into Google Sketchup and do a quick model (not really, but lets pretend I do this fast)- especially with some of these complicated views.Actually, luckily for me a few fans had modeled some of these areas already, so I just had to tweak and adjust.

Cherafir Alienage, foggy morning

Copyright © 2013, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

I thought it would be interesting to paint a view with the docks veiled in thick fog. I knew I wanted the Palace of the Golden Dome in the background- a corner of the docks with traders and fishermen unloading their wares.

Here is the model I used as reference. The great thing about sketchup is the warehouse of models already made. So I can search for a medieval barn and find a few to load into the model. While it may not be exactly what I want, it is probably close enough.

Below is the basic view-point used for the image. The one thing I was worried about was that from this view the space of water between the dock and the Seaman’s guild disappears, making it almost look as though the building is right off the docks- but of course it just looks that way, especially if the water is a few feet below the dock.

I also got to draw a little Sarajin Shrine set up outside The Bronze Anchor. I tried a few sketches do decide on a look.

I thought it would make the most sense to have it be a wooden totem, with a shelter. I liked the idea of it having a roof over head. I really liked the idea of it being a boat part, so I settled on a totem with a piece of a damaged ship overhead. The writer suggested the female Elkyri called Alaryr, to whom the drunken sailors would pray to before their journey.

Here is the final image. There is a small prayer and even some graffiti carved near the altar. Translate it if you you are interested. Could even be a clue for your players to find.

Prayers to Alaryr

Copyright © 2013, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek




Building a Better Mouse Trap

By Richard Luschek

A while ago, about 3 years in fact, an article was written on the Small Mammals of Harn. It was to be released with the Hunting and Trapping article rules. Well, CGI decided it wanted the article expanded, and the groups of animals to be fleshed out a bit more.

I like drawing beasts and creatures, but usually prefer that they be snarling, nasty, and huge. Also, it would be nice if they are firebreathing.

So, with a list of animals that one would consider pretty mundane, my job was to come up with interesting images, that are useful for game play and are fun for me to do.

When it came to the intro page for Rodents, I got the idea that it would be fun to paint a medieval manuscript page image as it might appear in a Peoni illuminated manuscript on the saints. Just so you know, I will be doing these instead of the woodblock images I have done in the past for Harn articles.

St. Vusa and the Mice

Copyright © 2013, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

I chose a peaceful religious image of a saint dealing with a plague of rodents damaging crops (I know, it has been done). I got to thinking, this could be a miracle or even an example of a Peoni invocation at work. Maybe a prayer is said that will drive out pests from a field saving the villages crops. For the text I chose, “Saint Vusa of the Garden Drives out the Mice”. We looked at the Harn Religion Team page for info on the Saints and I thought St. Vusa fit the best. Special thanks to  Rob Barnes, who I have do all my translating into Harnic. I  use the Harnic Font to type the text and then draw over, twist and pull it to give it a more natural look.

Fanon Opportunity!

I want to offer this image up for use in any fanon Peoni invocation article that someone may want to write for this illustration. The image is a story all its own that could use a good imagination and some text to flesh out. Anyone? Comment or email me if you are interested in using this image in your fanon article. I thought a single page invocation on this, the saint and possibly the book it is found in would make a good little fanon addition. Could even be used for a Peoni temple article if the manuscript is in the library. Maybe this invocation is on a scroll found stored away that is found by the players. Anyway, someone do something with this image?


The other image in that article I was particularly proud of was the Harnic Squirrel. The text was changed after I drew the image to include info about them being ‘pack rats’ that collected shinny things. This little gray squirrel could result in an entire adventure hook. Say a player spotted a squirrel in a tree with something that looked like a gold coin. Or…. if a party buried a chest of coins in the woods only to come back to a dug up and nearly empty box, as a PC sees a squirrel scamper up a tree with coin in its mouth. What fun having to scour the woods for your hard earned treasure. What a great way for a game master to torture their players.

The Hoarder

Copyright © 2013, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek


I hope you enjoy this article and can find some interesting ways to incorporate it into your game- even though rodents are not your typical fantasy game beasts.


Moving Brick and Mortar

by Richard Luschek

For the recent HarnQuest release for Columbia Games, I had to color a very old illustration of Kiban. I believe this was first published in the original HarnView in 1983. Wow, 30 years ago!

Here is the original image as it appeared then.


Copyright © 2013, Columbia Games, Inc.

I had to color the image and update it for the recent expansion of this Harnic Castle. The original is by Eric Hotz and I believe the inspiration is taken from a real world castle in England called Bodiam Castle

Along  the way, a map was drawn for the fictional Harnic version. As I started updating the image, I realized that the mapped castle and the image did not quite match up. So I started tweaking it. Also I thought some of the castle above looked a bit like a building in ruins rather than a living breathing fortress.



Copyright © 2013, Columbia Games, Inc.

If you compare you can see, towers were moved and adjusted. The tops of the castle were cleaned up, and a lot of the windows had to be shifted around to match the floor plans in the article. Once everyone agreed on the adjustments I started in on color. I try to use digital coloring like water colors, doing washes over the line work- well, technically in photoshop, the color is done under the line layer.



Copyright © 2013, Columbia Games, Inc.

I usually erase any lines in the sky and just paint the clouds in. After I was done one of the writers pointed out that the front window was still wrong. It was not one big single window on the floor plan, but two smaller ones.

The same eagle eyed writer also commented that on the map the bar of land in front of the castle was mostly stone and would not have grass on it. I of course ignored this comment as we all know rocks in a stream can and will accumulate silt and allow river plants to grow at the edges of the rocks- So Shut The Hell Up!


But in order to try to appease I offered this image as a possible solution. The knight covered the window and takes care of the grass.


Copyright © 2013, Columbia Games, Inc.

This image was rejected for some reason by Tom at Columbia Games as being “inaccurate”.

HarnQuest in your Easter Basket

Columbia Games News
HarnWorld edition
March 27, 2013


RabbitsRabbits originate around the Venarian Sea. The Jarin and later Lythian settlers brought rabbits with them to Hârn as food animals; over time, they escaped into the wild and have spread throughout the island, although predators generally keep their numbers in check. Hares are relatives of rabbits; however, they do not live in burrows and instead rely on speed to escape. Rabbits is a bestiary article. It describes the habitat and physical attributes of Hârnic rabbits and hares, with full HârnMaster stats.

Download your FREE copy now.  Click here.


You can still join the HarnQuest subscription today and save money these items.

Imrium Castle Kiban Castle Rodents
Imrium Castle stands on a rocky crag in the shadow of the Rayesha Mountains, The castle is held by the Imrium Cohort of the Thardic Republic’s Gerium Legion and protects a town made wealthy by its role in the salt trade, the source of much of the republic’s income. 

The Imrium Castle article describes the settlement’s history, government, religion, and economics, with special attention to the lucrative salt trade. Detailed descriptions of craftsmen and other locations in the settlement are included, as well as full-color GM and player maps and complete floor plans for the castle, the residence of the district legar, the ruined temple of Agrik, and the Cave of Avathos, where surplus salt is stored and, legends say, an ancient crypt is hidden.

Kiban is the second largest settlement in the Kingdom of Kaldor and the principal seat of Clan Dariune, the Earls of Balim. Kiban was a small agricultural castle town not many years ago but is now an emerging center of trade, especially in weapons and jewelry from the dwarven Kingdom of Azadmere. Earl Troda Dariune is Kaldor’s Chancellor of the Exchequer and a cousin of the king. He has powerful allies, including key clerics, as well as many enemies. 

The Kiban Castle article describes the settlement’s history, government, religion, and economics, and provides details for some of the craftsmen and other locations. Includes full-color GM and player maps as well as complete floor plans for Caer Kiban, the earl’s castle.

Rodents are the most numerous of all mammals. They are very adaptable and are found in practically every environment on the Misty Isles. Some species, especially mice, voles, and rats, survive at the bottom of the food chain by their sheer fecundity. 

Rodents is a bestiary article. It describes the habitat and physical attributes of Hârnic rats, beavers, and squirrels, with full HârnMaster stats. Also included are rules for rodent infestations.


Melderyn- The Wizard’s Isle

I just finished the art for the Columbia Games new release of the Melderyn Kingdom module. It should hit the presses very soon for  HarnQuest subscribers.

This one was tough for me. For some reason I had an easier time getting into the mind set of the Rethem Kingdom module- not sure what that says about me. For one thing, Rethem is anything but subtle. Melderyn is a bit more mysterious and subtle with influences from many sources on Ketheria and beyond. I did my best to sneak in those influences without it being to high fantasy and over the top.

I am having a great time adding more color to Harn releases. The following image from page 3 of Melderyn is one such example.

Bringer of Storms, pen and ink and digital.
Copyright © 2012, Columbia Games, Inc., Richard Luschek

I did a very rough sketch in the space left to me just to test out the idea.

Melderyn page 3 layout sketch, Copyright © 2012, Columbia Games, Inc., Richard Luschek

After refining the sketch, I then shoot some reference shots. I thought this character needed to be very handsome and powerful, so I posed for it myself. I did find the bald spot to be a bit upsetting. Thankfully, I don’t get to see myself from that point of view very often.

I did not have a wind blown cliff overlooking the ocean on which to pose. Since Columbia Games was too cheap to fly me to Ireland for accurate reference shots, my wife’s dressing room worked just fine.

The great actor and illustrator- Richard Luschek

I am pretty excited with how the kingdom came out- probably my new favorite. Of course I say that almost every time don’t I?  We even changed the settlement pages with a color heraldry symbol on each page. This was done in Kaldor using the full heraldry symbol- though it was in B&W. This idea was dropped in Rethem to make room for text. This time by using only the shield part of the coat of arms- and some artful layout design by Brent Bailey, we were able to fit the art, heraldry and keep all of the text.

Get yourself a HarnQuest subscription now!


Melderyn page 61 (Zuilos),

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