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Hunting Shadow Illustration by LordDonovan Hunting Shadow Illustration by LordDonovan
This is the second illustration I've done for Mysteries of the Yokai, an upcoming tabletop game.

Unlike the cute kodama of the first illustration, the Hunting Shadow is definitely a monster in the classic RPG sense, which is to say, both fantastical AND a vicious killer - definitely the sort of encounter where combat rolls are going to happen. Also unlike the kodama, its origin isn't Japanese myth and legend, but rather it's an original creation. So whereas actual legends can have all sorts of highly conflicting accounts to sift through, this one had a nice and clear, yet not overly specific description to follow, which works great for me. Specifically, it was stated to be light-hating yokai with four arms, six eyes, and dark violet reptilian skin, which stalked its victims while cloaked in the shadows. I don't actually post a lot of evil monster types here, but the truth is I do quite like scary, bloodthirsty (or in this guy's case, soul-thirsty) monsters, I simply don't really get commissions for those much. As such, long with my well-established fondness for darkness, this illustration was the obvious choice.

Of course, the description left a lot of specifics up to me, and I personally believe a good monster illustration doesn't just show the monster itself but sets the overall sort of scene it's likely to be found in. Plus, I'm a regular GM myself who makes all his own monsters and I possess an overall interest in designing stuff for games. (Ideally video games, but I'm terrible at coding and don't know anybody who wants to do such things in their spare time, but I digress.) The point is that once again I went overboard with a full background, and added ideas to the illustration that may ultimately have no actual application. For example, I added the shininess as a way to balance its ability to cloak itself in shadow. Sure, it's near-invisible in the dark, where it hunts by seeing the warmth of its prey, but when it's out in, say, moonlight, its shiny body can give it away as long as people are paying attention. But even with a light source on-hand, its foes would need to be very careful. It has many glinting black spikes along its body, but the true danger is its black claws, and they reflect no light at all. Thus, in game terms, there would be specific aspects for players to learn about, or useful tips to result from knowledge checks, and that sort of thing. Characters who know about the whole "spikes distracting from the claws" thing could get a bonus/avoid a penalty to dodging its attacks, if it were a game running. If you ask me, stuff like that keeps tabletop game combat fun, so I stick such details in wherever I can. However, this isn't a game I'm running or a system I have any input on, so I doubt any of that stuff will actually be in the monster write-up. But, those ideas are there in the illustration, at least. And a few more.

On the technical side of things, as usual for really dark stuff, I could never quite get the low-end contrast right on my main monitor. Try as I might, the black and nearly-black just never gelled right. Still, since my main monitor is newer and differentiated dark colors better, I assumed it was more correct and adjusted for it. My beloved cintiq is getting old, but a new one is as not-cheap as ever... I need more money. It'd be nice if I could get a good Patreon going, but the stuff I'm doing right now just doesn't get nearly enough interest. Guess I need to draw nothing but super pretty girls, right? People love to throw money at that stuff, unlike scary purple lizardmen.
Arkatox Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2016
At first I thought it looked like a Pokémon. Then I realized it looks a little too cool for that.
LordDonovan Featured By Owner Oct 29, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
Too cool for a pokemon? That's high praise indeed, thank you.
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Submitted on
September 7, 2016
Image Size
986 KB


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