Friday, January 30, 2009


This is a little advert I had put in a magazine a while back. Nothing fancy.
PLEASE...feel free to share it around, pass the word, cross-post or otherwise give it to every Tom, Dick and Harry who could possibly want artwork.

These days it's a struggle to keep the work flowing. While I have a few publishers I work with regularly (and they are a gift from the gods) more is better! My goal is to keep myself booked to the gills for a month or two in advance.

Pass the word folks!

Galleries here:
Team-Preston Online Portfolio
Flickr backup Gallery
DeviantArt backup Gallery

Check out my LinkedIn page for wonderful references!

The motto: Team-Preston: Quality Illustration on time...Every Time is not a joke. I make my living by putting out good work and making my my deadlines. I live or die as a freelancer by being dependable.

I'm easy to work with, fast on communications, flexible, dependable and professional.

Email me!

Character Portraits

I’m going to be doing character portraits for individuals again.

A little extra income these days makes all the difference in the world. My hope is to sell a BUNCH of the $25 images, not so many of the more expensive ones. This may sound counter-intuitive, but really, I want to get my art out there, to anybody that wants art, not just the wealthy folks who can afford to drop $100+ on a D&D Character. The prices are approximate, based depending on complexity of the image.

This artwork is going to be for individuals, not publishers. When people order character portraits it is with the understanding that the work will be done but will never be published for any kind of profit (publishing scans on their website, blog, etc is totally cool…I just don’t want my work re-sold) For these images I am retaining full copyright and ownership of the image and all derivatives. Why? Because sometime down the road I may need to sell it to a publisher.

Per usual, the person making the request gets to be involved in the creative process. It’s their character, their idea. They’ll get to approve the thumbnail sketch before I move forward and do up the pencils, inks and later Photoshop.

When submitting requests for Art, have an idea of what is needed VISUALLY. The character sheet is all fine and good, but I need VISUAL cues:

Facing, posture, clothing, scars or tattoos, weapons, gestures, patches, and any kind of pose they are in.

Any references like pics from a movie, comic, anime/manga, game, from the internet or anywhere else…if you have em, they are a HUGE help in getting from your mind, to your words, to my mind, hand and on to the page.

Once I have all of these, I’ll crank out a thumbnail sketch. This is an approximation to get us on paper and at that point, the requester can help shift me more towards what they have in mind. This could take a couple tries.

Once we have an approved thumbnail sketch, I’m locked in and moving forward. Payment upon completion.

The whole process can take anywhere from 8 to 16 work hours from start to finish depending on complexity.

Example galleries: Local, Flickr, DeviantArt

Email me at

The Quintessential Wizard: A Review

As I was currently playing a Wizard in a D&D 4E campaign, I figured that when the opportunity to review The Quintessential Wizard came up it was serendipity. When I created my character I was a little let down at the lack of options and flavor for building my arcanist. The choices available in comparison to the other classes seemed a bit…bland, or maybe un-unique. Same-ol, same-ol. The Quintessential Wizard goes a long way towards rectifying this.

One note: the book was designed by Italian studio Asterion Press, and there are a few instances where the translations show. Nothing major, the work they did was exceptional and I seriously doubt any of us could do better on an Italian published book. When reading, be a bit forgiving of a few awkwardly worded sentences.

One of the things I enjoyed the most was the way the book was written for the roleplayer, with interesting notes on relations between wizards and other classes, how the wizard fits in a party and ways these new powers, paths and feats can be used to fill a RP niche. For those players interested in just the crunch, these sections are easily skipped over, but I’m glad they are included for the player interested in a little depth.

The limited origins within the PHB are resolved here: seven fresh new origins for your spell-slinger! There is a lot of breadth to these: serious variety in the direction your spellcaster can come from and ultimately go.

There are a ton of new feats, powers and rituals. Over a dozen new Paragon Paths are introduced. There are also new implements added: Dragonmask, The Hat of Wizardry, Safeguard Shield and Unreal Mirror. Also included are of course the hordes of magical toys to play with (including ones with “upgrade slots”)

Now delving in to the nuts and bolts of all of these I did find a couple that were questionable: a metamagic feat that used one healing surge to regain 50% of the HP.

People are going to raise questions about the Power Creep. I do think that a number of powers listed in QW are a bit “better” than the original ones in the PHB. Better as far as having more bang for the buck. Not a lot, but enough that some folks may complain. This is the first of these books, and as the Ranger and Warrior and Warlock get theirs, they will also get a bit of a “bump”. I think this Power Creep is inevitable: as long as more books are published, more powers are revealed; those character classes will get a bit of extra “power”. The way I see it, the Wizard needed a bit of a “bump” anyhow.

All of these powers etc. are nice examples of what can be done with the D&D 4E system. Any of these powers, feats, and origins can easily be strip-mined and tweaked to fit other classes. Many of the effects are hot-swappable. A creative player or DM will have a lot of fun with this book; it’s a good resource for both.

Of course it has to be said that with any supplement it needs to be approved by your DM first. There is going to be some material that at first glance a DM will freak about: Chronomancers anyone?

That said, good DMs should be able to use the same book and create interesting challenges for these new characters. Actually, I’ve always felt that every time a new book like this came out that I was opening Pandora’s Box: while I get to use a small part of the book for MY character, the DM gets the whole book to make a fun-house from The Nine Hells for the NPCs, monsters and for us, the PCs to enter.

The Quintessential Wizard is 144 Pages long. Softcover, Perfect-Bound. It’s a solid printing; no loose pages. It should easily hold up to many years of gamer use and abuse. The cover is full-color and the interior is grayscale as far as the artwork goes.

While a couple of the images are a bit wonky, overall the artwork is very good. I really liked the work of Maichol Quinto and Emiliano Petrozzi. There were some other images I really liked but wasn’t sure who produced them. The layout was well done; this can easily sit beside any of the WotC books and be used without excessive hair-pulling. No index, but it has a good Table of Contents. The Quintessential Wizard costs US $24.95 (print) or $17.47 (eBook). This is par for the course.

Overall I enjoyed the book. The material is extremely useful, largely balanced, well laid out, and pleasing to the eye at a reasonable price-point. Definitely worth picking up!

Production Value: 4 out of 5 Dice
Playability: 4 out of 5 Dice
Overall Score: 4 out of 5 Dice

Thursday, January 22, 2009

So my evenings and weekends are booked up...

July 5th 2005 I took a fall, flew ass-over-teakettle and landed on a upstanding sheet of heavy plywood across my lower spine, effectively folding me in half...backwards.
I grunted, groaned a bit and kept on doing what I was doing until after three months of "muscle pain" I actually went to a doctor (thanks to my wife's demands) and had an x-ray done.

Lo and behold...guess what? I broke my back. Fractured a vertibrae (L5) and pushed out three disks.
The bone was healed by then but the pain was largely due to the pressure on the tissue, a bit or nerve damage and inflamed disks.

I don't do much physical labor anymore. I don't do martial arts or SCA fighting anymore either. There's 18 years of vigorous physical activity down the tubes.

So what do I do?
Prior to being an Illustrator I was an IT Nerd, an Airborne Infantryman and an IT Nerd again. Since my injury it's been IT geekery and Illustration only. IE: sedentary.

The cold and wet of the winters really kill me. Like today, I'm largely frozen in-place, hobbling about on occasion.

I do get some physical activity. Aside from regular stretching and minor workouts I shovel snow in the winter and mow the lawn in summer.

Other than that?
I'm a gamer nerd.

We live in BFE. Half hour from the west side of Madison (well...30 min to the beltline) and with fuel prices and all that, we travel little.

So I end up a home-body most of he time. I work at home. A play at home.

What do I play?
Well, I have played several things on the Xbox 360. Call of Duty 4, Fable and Fable 2, stuff like that. It's okay.
I do tend to be more of a PC gamer.
Neverwinter Nights and NWN2 to get my D&D fix.
Dawn of War.

World of Warcraft.
I did play WoW 4 years ago, briefly. We moved 4-6 months after getting the game and we never reinstalled. Just another expense we could cut. We have played CoH/ CoV as well. I tested out DDO for a week or so when I was in Seattle.

Currently I'm largely on the Kilrogg Realm nights and weekends when I don't have deadlines pressing.
I'm clanned up with Liz Danforth and her Crusty Blades. Unbelieveably awesome people. Seriously. Coolest people I've gotten to play with ever. Bar none. Kay is playing too (though she does diversify her hobbies more than I do, crossstitching as much as WoW'ing.)

I have the following toons:

Feiltessa- Night Elf Hunter. She's my primary badass, DPS toon.
Malithe- Blood Elf Warlock. Entirely too much fun.
Aganazzar- Dranei Paladin. New toon for playing strictly with Kay.
Magdalyn- Human Priest. I've been soloing her and it's tough.

Kay has the following toons:
Caernn- Night Elf Warrior
McGann- Human Warrior
YoSafBridge- Blood Elf Rogue
Sookee- Dranei Mage

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration musings...

Watching CNN this morning I have had several thoughts come to mind.

My first thought was honestly one of fear: there is so much hope built up behind this man. Not just the hopes of a nation, but the world in general. Billions of human beings looking to one man as a symbol of hope for the future.

My fear is that something will happen to him. Remember when our last King was slain: John Fitzgerald Kennedy. He was in my opinion the "Last Good King". A saint? Not by any means. I do however believe that he had the drive and will to do the right thing for America. He wanted Vietnam to be short and sweet, in and out...not the prolonged affair it became under his successors.

Prior to Kennedy I see Franklin Roosevelt as the high point of Americanism: the United States of America at its height. FDR was Julius Caesar, Truman...Octavian.

Starting with Truman we saw the US evolving from an independent superpower, strong in its borders and helping the world without...but starting to flex its muscles in infiltrating the other nations of the world, especially the middle east. It was a covert shift. The development of the American Covert Machine was behind this. We started sticking our fingers in to everything. Now we weren't just heroic liberators but became conquerors (literally in Germany) and connivers...retaining our superpower status.

An American Republic No More...Now we were the American Empire.

In a way it was expected: a response to a new Soviet Empire.

Then we had the cold war. The Empires vying for power by supporting puppet wars, insurgencies and coups across the globe. Some of our emperors were more altruistic than others. JFK, I see him as maybe Marcus Aurelius, maybe Hadrian.

The empire has been in a downward spiral ever since Kennedy's foul murder. I think The Establishment had too much to lose financially under Kennedy and the Praetorians and a cabal of Senators had him eliminated.

Reagan is in my mind Theodosius. A mixed bag: many great accomplishments and behind the scenes many horrible infiltrations. While the Cold War ended for the most part between the felling of the Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Empire, our...the American Empire's influence through puppetry continued. The Need for an American Empire diminished, yet we have driven on, attempting to retain our status through sticking our collective fingers in every global pie in one way or another. Instead of giving the empire back to the people, becoming a republic again in practice instead of just name we have manipulated nations globally to secure OUR future. Is that evil? Is that wrong? No. I don't think it was necessary to remain Das Superpower and keep meddling in global affairs: we could have become part of the global community, working with the UK, Germany, France and the UN as a whole...a PART of the community.

GW Bush, I see him as Julian. Last of the pagan emperors. He was something of a fanatic, driven to bring back the old ways of the Empire: POWER, Government enmeshed with GOD.

Where does this leave us?
The collapse of the Roman Empire. Historically the Roman Empire fell due to many factors, not the least of which was spreading so far that they had to delve in to manipulation of the barbarian kingdoms, playing the Vandels and Goths against each other in order to retain their power. Much like we've done in the Middle East and elsewhere. Same as Britain and France did in Africa, and Asia, same as the Soviets did in Asia, Africa and eastern Europe. Same as Germany attempted in the late 30's and 40's by physical force.

So what about Obama?
Obama is Flavius Stilicho (a vandel). A regent for Honorius and Valentinian (old school patrician Romans). Left holding the bag, keeping the empire together, doing the best he could with what he had.

The outlook historically is grim. Stilicho was eventually ordered to surrender himself and he walked head-high to his own execution. Stilicho was a Vandel, a barbarian. He had much in common with the barbarian cultures that made up the majority of the Roman Empire. His understanding and ultimately race was part of what made him successful with keeping them Empire together. Much like Obama is an African-American, a "minority" who really has more in common with the vast majority of Americans. The patrician power structure would not allow a vandel to lead, regardless of whether he was better at holding it all together or not.

After the death of Stilicho, Rome fell fast. Honorius gave away the western Empire and lost Rome itself. Valentinian held on to Constantinople but the Western Roman Empire was history.

So now what?
Will the patrician power structure willingly diminish in order to facilitate the survival of the empire?

Ave Caesar?

Friday, January 9, 2009


I told you I would get around to it...eventually.
So I checked it out and downloaded every M20 thing I could find.
It's smooth.
Very simple. Actually...almost too simple.

I'm thinking of taking it for a spin and maybe fleshing it out just a hair more. I do mean a hair more. Not much needs to be added IMO. Couple minor adjustments only.

Now I wish I hadn't waited so long in getting a round twit.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Some political/ Art fun earlier this year...

Sarah Palin...Throwin' The Horns!
(Or not?)

Now that the political crap is more or less over...I'll show you a bit I did for fun:

No, this isn't Sarah Palin.

It's a lady off the internet somewhere:

...with Sarah Palin's head on it.

Just a bit of Photoshop Wizardry.

Yeah, a bit of Sarah Palin throwin the horns was amusing. Nothing distasteful or anything.

I like to fiddle with photographs on the side. Little bit of photo-editing is fun. I had the original image blown up HUGE so the blends would be natural and down to the tiniest level.

Anyhow, it was fun.

I'm Nominated!

Published Artist of 2008.

Apparently I got written in a few times as well. I have like 4 listings. The top one is likely best (without the www).

Interviewed on Flames Rising!

I was recently interviewed by Matt McElroy of Flames Rising.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Road of the Patriarch- Review

Road of the Patriarch is the third novel of the Sellswords series by R.A. Salvatore. The hardcover edition was released in the US on October 24, 2006.

“To her, to her dying breath, you were the untouchable one, the one whose flesh her dagger could not penetrate.”


A cold and emotionless killer for whom every soul has a price, even his own, embarks on a path to find out just how high that price can be.


A dark elf of limitless guile dares to challenge a king, and carve for himself a place in the inhospitable World Above.

ILNEZHARA and TAZMIKELLA are ancient dragons of great power, accustomed to easily manipulating the humans around them. But not all humans are so easily led. When they pushed Enteri and Jarlaxle into the heart of the Bloodstone Lands, not even they could have imagined the strength of the human assassin’s resolve, or the limitless expanse of the drow mercenary’s ambition.

Previously when I reviewed the earlier books in this series I said the following:

“Here's what I wish to see from R.A. Salvatore:
I'd like to see his protagonists actually get in over their head sometimes. I'd like to see Jarlaxle not have a magical item for very occasion for a change.”

Well, I got what I asked for...for the most part.

The protagonists in this tale are the drow mercenary Jarlaxle and the assassin Artemis Enteri; characters whom were originally a part of the tales of the drow ranger Drizzt Do’Urden and Company. These characters were apparently popular enough to have a spinoff series starting with Servant of the Shard.

This spinoff series The Sellswords started with Jarlaxle and Enteri and their attempt to establish themselves in the surface world using The Crystal Shard: Crenshinibon, an intelligent artifact that plays upon it’s bearer’s own desires for power. I say “their” attempt but really it’s about Jarlaxle; Artemis Enteri is largely a pawn, caught in a delicate but deadly web of deception amongst the drow of Bregan D’aerthe. Artemis Enteri was already well established in Calimport and all along The Sword Coast, and the opportunist drow intended to use that for all it was worth.

Servant of the Shard ended with Jarlaxle and Enteri leaving their lives on The Sword Coast behind after several misadventures.

Promise of the Witch King picked up where the previous book left off: two Sellswords seeking adventure in a far away land: Vaasa and Damara. Lands that were until recently under the sway of the Witch King Zhengyi. In the employ of a couple Dragon-Sisters they started collecting items left behind by the great lich and in doing so made a great name for themselves.

Road of the Patriarch begins with another of Jarlaxle’s brilliant and entirely self-serving plans: to establish for themselves (himself) a domain on the surface. Enteri and Jarlaxle are caught in a web between The Citadel of Assassins and King Gareth Dragonslayer, Paladin of Ilmater. Of course, Jarlaxle wants to find the best way to manipulate the situation to his benefit, working both sides towards each other.

This doesn’t go so well as Artemis is tired of being manipulated. His mind and heart opened through the repeated use of a magical flute he was gifted (yet another manipulation by Jarlaxle). Without giving too much away, it’s awful nice to see Jarlaxle’s plans foiled, especially by Enteri.

Both of the protagonists get in well over their heads…and in ways the reader doesn’t really see coming as clearly in previous books. For once, the super-heroic team-up of Jarlaxle and Enteri are outclassed…mostly.

The very best part of this is that from the very start we get to see the origins of Artemis Enteri. Through the manipulation of Jarlaxle, who really is simply interested in seeing how people tick, Artemis Enteri has begun questioning himself, his past and considering for the first time…a future.

Readers who read about Enteri from the beginning knew him as a passionless killer, who never thinks of the past or the future, simply the next job, and being the absolute perfectionist when it comes to his “art”.

Not so in this series. Artemis Enteri is cracked open like an egg.

Enteri, with Jarlaxle and Athrogate the Dwarf in tow, return to the home place of the assassin: Memmon, a coastal city between Calimshan and Tethyr. Memmon is a nest of vipers and of stark contrasts between those with gold and those without it.

It really is well written…again resulting in a long night of reading. This is easily Salvatore’s strongest book in this series. I’d say it’s stronger than several of the Drizzt books. Largely because of the reasons I hoped for in the previous review: surprise! Fandom of a series will only get you so far. This book really does come through strong: good solid story, surprises, character depth. It has it all.

In summary, Road of the Patriarch is a helluva fun ride!

The Promise of the Witch King-A Review

The Promise of the Witch King is the second novel of The Sellswords series by R.A. Salvatore. The hardcover edition was released in the US on October 25, 2005.

The book was hidden well.

Its pages promised the power of the Witch-King himself.

And now that it’s been found, even the fact that it kills anyone foolish enough to crack its cover won’t stop people from fighting over it.

Welcome to the Bloodstone Lands!

Human assassin Artemis Entreri and his dark elf companion Jarlaxle have come to the demon-haunted wastelands of the frozen north at the request of their dragon patron. It doesn’t take long for them to find themselves caught in the middle of a struggle between powerful forces that would like nothing more than to see them both dead . . . or worse.

But Entreri and Jarlaxle aren’t just any wandering sellswords, and the ancient evils and bitter blood-feuds of the wild Bloodstone Lands may have finally met their match.

The Sellswords Series has my attention. Largely because while it's not Drizzt, Bruenor, Regis, Cattie-Brie and Wulfgar...but it's set parallel to those stories.

Artemis Enterei is an interesting character because of the internal struggle that is growing within him. Yes, he's a badass. He's also getting older (about 40 at this point). He's also now learning to grow beyond that hard shell he built around himself...seeing his own life as shallow and meaningless. Part of this is due to a magical ...more
The Sellswords Series has my attention; largely because while it's not Drizzt, Bruenor, Regis, Cattie-Brie and Wulfgar...but it's set parallel to those stories.

Artemis Entreri is an interesting character because of the internal struggle that is growing within him. Yes, he's a badass. He's also getting older (about 40 at this point). He's also now learning to grow beyond that hard shell he built around himself...seeing his own life so far as shallow and meaningless. Part of this is due to a magical flute he's been gifted. This is partly due to the interaction with the Drow Jarlaxle.

Jarlaxle himself is mildly interesting. More later...

Here's what I wish to see from R.A. Salvatore:
I'd like to see his protagonists actually get in over their head sometimes. I'd like to see Jarlaxle not have a magical item for very occasion for a change.

Promise of the Witch King almost provided a couple of those, which was amusing. Salvatore does certainly describe violence well. Coming from a martial background I can follow most of it pretty well. I think part of what I enjoy is that the scene has shifted from the Sword Coast to Vaasa/ Damara and described a part of Faerun that isn't fully fleshed out yet. The book makes me interested in using the region as a setting for MY games in Faerun...which I guess is the point of game fiction from the perspective of the publisher WotC.

I do enjoy the tension between Jarlaxle and Entreri as well. While I do enjoy seeing Entreri change and develop, I know that in order to remain "interesting" there needs to be some sort of conflict, and retaining a bit of distrust and ambiguity between the protagonists is great. Granted, there are times when I can feel the urge to reach through the pages and throttle Jarlaxle. He is a cocky, arrogant little bastard to be certain: but then...he's supposed to be. In my mind, that is the result of the writer doing his job well...eliciting an emotion response from the reader.

Salvatore has done a good job in keeping Jarlaxle...alien. He's a very ancient being, full of centuries of knowledge and perspectives that we as humans (the readers and as seeing in to the perspectives of Entreri and others) cannot fathom. Jarlaxle's reasons for things change with the wind direction, almost at whim...or do they? I think what his writing does is to force the reader to second-guess himself as far as Jarlaxle goes, which is appropriate.

Overall, I enjoyed Promise of the Witch King. The last half of the book was a whirlwind of an all-nighter read! It has flaws of course, but balancing that are some pretty interesting bits that make the book quite enjoyable.

S&W Whitebox Released!

This is a free PDF from Mythmere Games.

“Light your torches, don your helmets, sharpen your swords, and prepare your spells.”

Swords and Wizardry: Whitebox is an OGL adaptation of the original 1974 fantasy role-playing game, created by Gary Gygax, that started it all. Based on the swords and wizardry: core rules, the whitebox version takes the game even further back, because it only uses the first three books of the original game—no material from the supplements at all.

Inside this book, you’ll find everything you’ll need to embark on a fantastic adventure:
The 4 Classic Races: Dwarves, Elves, Halflings, and Humans
The 3 Original Classes: Clerics, Fighters, and Magic-users
Over 90 wondrous spells and tens of monsters to use them on
Hirelings, 10 ft poles, and 1d6 damage

Consider this book the gateway to an earlier style of gaming. The rules herein are open, flexible, and allow for a great deal of freedom. For enterprising souls, the contents of this book represent a foundation from which to build the ultimate gaming experience. All that’s required is this book, some polyhedral dice, pencil and paper, a good group of friends, and an imagination.

Imagine the hell out of it!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Numbers for Q4

One Bad Egg, LLC Products.
All D&D 4E Supplements. Really beautiful stuff.
All PDFs and inexpensive as hell. (Mostly $1.99, one at $4.99 and one at $5.99 which is huge)

Take a moment, check em out and support your local artist!

OBE1001: Apelord: 7 copies sold (Find it on our store)
OBE1002: Unbroken: 12 copies sold (Find it on our store)
OBE1003: Half-Dead: 15 copies sold (Find it on our store)
OBE1004: Death-Mother: 6 copies sold (Find it on our store)
OBE1005: Gods of the Shroud: 14 copies sold (Find it on our store)
OBE1006: Shroudborn: 30 copies sold (Find it on our store)