Thursday, February 10, 2011

Game Art and ICE MERP Layouts

I started working for ICE as a freelance layout artist sometime around 1994 right after Middle Earth Role Playing 2nd Edition came out. My timing was pretty good in that regard since I got to work on most of the 2nd edition series of modules that followed. The first module I did layout illustrations for was the Palantir Quest or Minas Tirith and I did layouts for most of the major site specific modules that followed like Moria, The Shire, Mirkwood, Laketown, Dol Guldur, Southern Gondor, the Kin Strife and the Northern Waste.  I also did space ship layouts for their Silent Death space combat miniatures game, trade dress for the Rolemaster Standard System rule books (stone spell runes), firearm pictures for Weapon Law, the castle layouts in Castles and Ruins (also Rolemaster) and some other promotional drawings as well.

I am available for commissions if the right opportunity presents itself. My specialty is buildings, city and town maps, dungeon maps, larger scale maps in black and white and all manner of fortresses and fortified cities. I can do either hand drawn illustrations in ink or CAD drawn illustrations both with an emphasis on crosshatching for greys and high contrast black and white.  I'm not really interested in doing color drawings at this point. I have a design degree in architecture and a minor degree in architectural history and my minor thesis was written about the development of the medieval tower keep in England.

You can contact me for inquiries about future layout illustrations at:
Castledrafts@ArktekLLC dot com

The Lugash watch tower
Part of the reason for starting this blog was to have a place to share some of my original artwork with others both as a portfolio page for self promotion and also for game masters that might find some of these drawings useful for their ongoing RPGs.  I have a boatload of drawings both hand drawn and in CAD format that were done over the years for quite a few MERP products that were published, some of which I will post here.  Anyway, I had fun drawing these and I hope they can be useful to someone but I only ask that you don't publish any of these images for copyright reasons without contacting me first.

Click on the game art page link above to see more illustrations.  I will add more illustrations here on a fairly regular basis so check back in every now and then to see more drawings.  I'll probably also post some images from the other ICE product lines I worked on and even some computer artwork I did for the Kesmai Corporation as well, although most of those drawings wouldn't be very useful for game masters with a few exceptions.

What is interesting about this is that I started off drawing dungeon plans as a kid when I was playing D&D, and eventually went to school to study architecture at UVA which is in Charlottesville.  Iron Crown Enterprises was also based in Charlottesville and given my gaming background it was only natural that I ended up working for them for a while, both since I have a great love for drawing dungeon and castle illustrations and because I was always a big fan of their Middle Earth products.  So you have to ask yourself - which came first, the architect or the dungeon designer and the real answer is of course, the dungeon designer!


  1. I own some of those MERP products (Palantir Quest, Kin Strife, Minas Tirith, and Mirkwood), and really love them to this day. I'm thrilled to discover this blog.

  2. I have recently scanned illos I did from Palantir Quest, Minas Tirith, Moria, the Shire, Lake Town Southern Gondor, and Mirkwood in addition to the ones already posted and will post them soon. I also did a layout for the fortress of Barad Morkai but can't figure out what module that was from. I thought it was from the Siege of Morkai but if so, it may not have been published unless it was from another module.

  3. Moria! I loved those maps. Which ones did you do?

  4. I did all of the large scale maps from the 2nd edition MERP version. I re-traced the old maps from the first edition module and but put the stone rendering on them including the borders. They are still fairly schematic because it is such a huge city but it was supposed to look like it was a road map chiseled into the wall somewhere within the complex. I also did the map for the mines of Khulakal and the sections through the whispering hall and the bell hall.

  5. I saw your post on the Cartographer's Guild. I rarely contact people, but I had to say, your work is absolutely fantastic! I still have all the MERP materials in a box (in storage) along with all my other role-playing games. Out of curiosity, do you do any gaming via Skype with MapTools? I miss the old days... (1974) Thanks for sharing your talents!


  6. Thanks for the compliment. I too only recently pulled all of my old Merp stuff out of storage (the books are worth a lot now) including the original drawings which I have scanned and posted. I'm in two games at the moment and don't really have time for a third.

  7. Thanks for sharing all your MERP / ICE posts sir. I've only recently discussed the incredible content of these magazines and being a LOTR freak your work is simply wonderful to discover!