HarnQuest- Geldeheim in the snow.

By Richard Luschek
I am currently finishing up the December HarnQuest with only a few more illustrations to go. Till then, lets talk about the last issue. The royal city of Geldeheim in  Orbaal.

Geldeheim in the Snow, pen and ink-digital color, Copyright © 2015, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

“Geldeheim is the seat of Alegar II, King of Orbaal. The castle is on the south shore of the Geldesfjord, the most populous region of the kingdom.”

I had a lot of locations in the town to illustrate, so I went a bit overboard with the Sketchup model this time- but it was so much fun.

Here is a walk-thru of the model I posted on YouTube.

So, the various scenes are then used as reference for final illustration.


Used for the snowy view on page one.

The nice thing is that while a lot of the stuff done in sketchup is custom built, there is a nice online warehouse of prebuilt models, including a viking ship and a selection of medieval houses. You can also save components you build to use for later.

The Agrikan Temple had an exit below to the river that I wanted to show from the other bank. Getting things to scale without using this a model is challenging for me.

Agrikan Temple, pen and ink-digital color, Copyright © 2015, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

Not the exact view I used for the illustration, but this gives you an idea of the scale issues I needed to figure out.

Shipbuilder, pen and ink-digital color, Copyright © 2015, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

This one didn’t really need the model, but it doesn’t hurt to double check things. Here is a distant view of that scene.

I did a separate model for the Annwyn ruins too. I was not too sure what I was going to draw so the model helps me get some ideas.

Menekai Castle

HarnQuest: Menekai, Patrel, and the Salt Route

Written by Richard Luschek
The next HarnQuest is coming out very soon. I have all the art done (only about 2 months past due) but I had other Harn related stuff to do -so give me a freaking break will you!

Floating to Freedom, Copyright © 2015, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

Actually I will post about some of that other Harn / Gen Con related stuff next.

This issue of HarnQuest will contain Menekai, Patrel and the Salt route.

Menekai has never been illustrated. The rough looking Larga Gydsilen has been shown in Rethem, but the castle and its surroundings had not. I started with Sketchup model drawn over the maps by Oddgeir Drevdal.

Often things are found in modeling that helps us draw better maps. One discovery was that the north tower and walls are in mid construction. I had modeled them too high. Brent pointed this out and we realized the maps really should have scaffolding and some signs of construction. The corrections were made.

Here is the cool flyover animation I did of the model once I had something in mind.


Once the model is complete, I pick a view that I think will look best and gives a good flavor to the place. I wanted to show the metalworks, with the smelting furnaces going, and the charcoaler piles smoldering. I decided to show a boy fishing as a dead body floats by, probably from the slave quarters. I would imagine with the harsh conditions of this place, slaves don’t last long. A lazy guard may just decide to toss the body in the river rather than deal with it. I use Sketchups rough 3d figures as stand-ins.

Menekai Sketchup screen shot

After I do a sketch, I ink it, scan the image in photoshop and start coloring. I usually create some layers for the major units of the image. The inked layer is on top set to multiply. I had a sky layer, a water layer, a town layer, foreground layer, boy/body layer, and a water reflection layer -which was the town layer selected, filled with a gradient, vertically flipped and set to multiply over the water layer.

All this gets painted in broad strokes, working towards detail. I often add some multiply layers to get darker and add some mood.

I thought I was done.

Floating to Freedom (minus mood), Copyright © 2015, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

One of the writers pointed out the image was not dark enough in mood, and possibly in value. That the place should feel dirtier. After my attempts to get that person fired failed, I thought maybe I should consider this criticism.

I do like contrast in subject matter. So a sunny scene of a kid fishing with a dead body floating by had a touch of that. I figured a bit more mood could help, plus I keep forgetting my promise to myself to do more rain scenes. Harn is a wet place. Adding a rain texture gave it the miserable mood that was needed. I had to darken some things, like the kids wet clothes, add some splashes resulting in the image you see at the top of the page.


Look for a few more posts soon. I will try to keep up on this blog more. Let me know if there are any topics you’d like to see covered.



Tave Araka

HârnQuest Araka-Kalai

Ilvir’s Crib

By Richard Luschek II

A new reprint of Araka Kalai is about to be shipped to customers. It has been expanded and updated.

“Araka-Kalai is, according to legend and the doctrine of the Ilviran church, the dwelling of the god Ilvir. Located in the isolated Misyn region, the site’s dominant feature is a huge limestone sinkhole known as the Pit of Araka-Kalai. An ancient tower stands on a rocky island in the Pit, surrounded by a liquefied, fermenting sludge with a stench that puts to shame all other offensive smells.”

Wading through the Muck, Araka Kalai, Copyright © 2015, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

Hopefully the above image looks like it is a stinky place. The plan was to use much of the old art, but this is such a cool site on Hârn I could not help myself- I ended up redoing most of the art. I did a sketch of the tower with a guide presenting the tower, but it looked a bit goofy and touristy. I decided for a view in the pit of some pilgrims carrying a ladder to the tower so they can enter the holy site. I did do a SketchUp model since the old article had some scale issues if you compared the art to the maps. The stout scaling would make the tower look too stubby. Here is a video walk-thru I did of the model.

YouTube Video of Araka Kalai

We did an updated version of the cross section Eric Hotz did for the original article in 1987, but it ended up getting cut due to it not being “useful or accurate”. Showing the cave complex in any realistic way would be very tough to do. I like the image anyway and was sad to see it go, so I thought I would post it here.

Araka Kalai Cave Complex, Copyright © 2014, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek


The other illustration that I was glad to tackle was a old one I had done for the Tave, an unique Ivashu. I did it over 12 years ago and was never very happy with it. A few obvious issues are that it is not long enough as per the description and the scene is more comical than frightening. It also needed to be colored and shown in a cave setting.



Tave, Copyright © 2002, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

As this creature is an Ilvirian priest that turns into a snake (spoiler alert!) I wanted the face to have a bit more personality. I made the soldier look terrified and added a bit more action to the image.

Tave updated, Copyright © 2015, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek


Here is the final version colored.

Tave Attack, Copyright © 2015, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek


Everything’s Illuminated

Richard J. Luschek II

Finally getting caught up after my time in Indianapolis at Gen Con– the largest gaming convention in the world. It is something to behold really- 60,000 or so folks descend upon the city for gaming, imagination and full-on  nerd action- sometimes in outrageous costumes.

No, I was not in a costume.

A shot of the booth just before they opened the doors to the exhibit hall.

My goals for this convention, were to have an impressive booth for the Columbia Games and to have some nice looking, new products for sale. I feel it was a successful convention for us. Of those new products, (Orbaal and HârnWorld) we completely sold out. We definitely wanted to get a good intro product for introducing the 30 year old product to some a new crowd.

We also met a lot of Hârn fans and we are gathering a good list of people willing to help run games next year and at other Cons.

As we were publishing the new HârnWorld and HârnDex, I wanted to do some medieval manuscript images for the cover.


HârnWord Cover, Pen and Ink, digital color, Copyright © 2014, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

I have been trying to move the medieval art used in Hârn to a more accurate manuscript style for a world based on 12th -13th century Europe. I found an old manuscript image that I used as a template and built my covers on that adding Hârnic elements in the design.

The cover shows a creator of sorts mapping the Island. The medallion has the Hârnic script for the initials NRC for N. Robin Crosby.

Here is the initial sketch and test layout. I did a pencil drawing, inked it, used actual parchment and gold leaf textures to finish the final image in Photoshop.

For HârnDex I decided to keep a similar look, but wanted to show the beginning of an adventure heading off in the year 720.

HârnDex Cover, Pen and Ink, digital color, Copyright © 2014, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek


For the back of both publications I wanted to do something based off the standard for the back covers of most of our publications.

Here is the typical look for a back cover, which as been around for at least 30 years.


HârnDex back Cover,  Copyright © 2014, Columbia Games, Inc.

Here is the new back cover strongly based of the above but with a manuscript style.

HârnDex Back Cover, Pen and Ink, digital color, Copyright © 2014, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

Both will be available for sale on the website soon. HârnWorld will be available in hard copy in the typical binder.

The Dex is over 150 pages and is available as a PDF download.


Orbaal Kingdom

by Richard J Luschek II
I have finished the art for upcoming Columbia Games kingdom release. Orbaal was a big project for me, lots of hairy, and fur wearing Viking types to draw. I had to draw and paint over 50 images for this one.
The kingdom article is a few weeks away from being published as it goes through final review and editing.

This image is for the front page of the kingdom. I decided to illustrate something of the struggle going on in that northern kingdom; an invading Ivinian attacking a Jarin warrior.

Coming Ivinian Storm, Copyright © 2014, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

I thought I would post a few of the reference photos to show a bit of my process. Also I wanted to explain to any neighbors who may read this blog why I was posing like this in my yard last week while my wife took photos.

While the above image is full of rage and testosterone, – well, the reference photos are too.

The reference shots, while very helpful, are just part of the process for creating the final image. I had to outfit these guys with proper weapons and clothing, but I also had to make the guys in the final image not quite so handsome. I also had to remove my awesome van in the background and replace it with the rugged coast of Orbaal. There were ton of other photos for the hands and face to use for reference as well, as the pose required more action or a changes. I tend to assemble a reference in Photoshop, arranging various photos, then selecting various limbs, hinging them at the joints to move around like puppets until I get a pleasing arrangement.

Let me know what you think- I am more interested in your thoughts on the top image.


Orbaal Kingdom is Coming Soon

Excessive Facial Hair and Carpel Tunnel Syndrome

by Richard J. Luschek II

I am very close to being finished with the next big Columbia Games Kingdom release- Orbaal. Should be completely done sometime in July.
My strict Catholic upbringing has instilled in me a constant need to demonstrate just how much I suffer for my art and hopefully will result in all of you feeling guilty about my crippled drawing hand.
Orbaal has been a bit more taxing due to all the hair, fur and gruff line work needed to illustrate 39 hairy Viking portraits.
Here is a sneak peak at a few of the characters which will be raping and pillaging their way across Hârn.

King Alegar II, Copyright © 2014, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

Above is the King of Orbaal.

Valhakar Caadern Sardosk of Thursa, Copyright © 2014, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

The next illustration is based off of a fanon article, I tried my best to get the basic look of the guy.

Felan Weymyss of Pethwys. Copyright © 2014, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

We do try to look at work done on settlements by Hârn fans that may have posted articles online. I think I was pretty successful.
Just so you know, after typing out this blog post my fingers are a bit sore.


Hârnic Centaur

A repost from our Harn artist’s blog.

by Richard Luschek II

The next HârnQuest is about ready to ship. The Centaur article, which has been bouncing around for a few years finally is going to see the light. I don’t know about you, but when I think Centaur, the first thing that comes to mind for me is the SNL skit in which Christopher Walken interviews a Centaur for a job. The Centaur does not get the job.

So, all ideas for the concept of the Hârnic Centaur started there.

One of my first thoughts was to really go beastial with this creature. Not the typical Greek Mythology, fashion model torso stuck on horse look. So, the early sketches were an attempt to move away from that.

I knew the horns were pushing it, but we realized that Centaurs had been mentioned enough elsewhere and even illustrated previously, so this was probably too much of a change. I did some other sketches, but this pose was my favorite. I just needed to tame it back. I initially wanted more goat-like hooves, and hands that even mimicked hooves.


Here is the final image I came up with. I did a late evening background that unfortunately got cropped out of the final article due to space issues, so I thought I would post the full rendering here.

Dirty Centaur, Copyright © 2014, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

I went with  a more human look with beastie features. I thought of adding more clothing or equipment, but it sort of mucked up the simple natural look of the creature. They occasionally interact with the Gargun, so I thought a gargun-like weapon would be a nice touch, but fashioned to take advantage charge. I figure some simple hook weapons on the hind legs would make a kick even more nasty.

I just realized that the image in the article is a bit different- I made the head a bit smaller and adjusted the weapon into a more pleasing position.


For the end piece of the article I drew a hillside scene.

Centaur Herd, Copyright © 2014, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek








I may eventually ink up one of the other sketches for FFF style release.



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.