Tuesday 12 July 2011

the illustrated dungeon

A quick look at 2 great illustrators of dungeon environments, Ian Mcraig and Steve Levine.

Iain Mcraig Deathrtap Dungeon | Skeleton | via Turn to 400
Iain Mcraig Deathrtap Dungeon | Entrance | via Turn to 400
One of the things I love about Ian Mcraigs illustrations for Ian Livingstones Deathtrap Dungeon is how used everything is. It's all old, slightly knackered looking, probably repaired, perhaps with a bit of moss or mould growing on it. The other thing is that there's a wealth of incidental detail - like the manticore on the skeletons chair, and the gawp-mouthed demon idol standing by the entrance. They look like clues for something, a secret guide to surviving the Walk - ah the manticore is on the left - so don't turn left here! There is also a sense that the rooms have been used for something else before, with strange little windows, odd cavities and grilles, weird faces carved into the walls bearing ominous expressions, beckoning you to reach into their gaping mouths to find a gem, or more likely a deadly flesh eating grub!

Ian Mcraig has gone on to be a conceptual designer for the movie business, designing the iconic Darth Maul for Star Wars, amongst many other things.

Stephen Lavis | Sir Dunstan| The Tasks of Tantalon

Stephen Lavis illustrations for Steve Jacksons Tasks of Tantalon are uniformly superb, mixing Froudian goblins, Arthurian grandeur and fairy-tale whimsy, and skulls with eyeballs and rats on. Unlike Mcraigs Deathtrap Dungeon illustrations, these really do contain the clues to solving the game. The lever-pulley puzzle above particually satisfying to my 10 year old mind tracing the rope around. working out the turns and spins and counter-weights, then dropping the poor knight into the fondue anyway, but at least knowing know it was the other number that was needed.

Stephen Lavis created covers for the Narnia series of books in the 80's and is a childrens book illustrator.


  1. Thanks for that, a lovely reminder of some fantastic artwork from two great artists.

  2. I always wanted to get 'Casket of Souls' with McCaig's wonderful artwork, after reading a feature on it in WD back in the day. I think I might finally get round to buying it off t'internet one of these days.