Friday 12 August 2022

Lion Rampant: Second Edition

My contributors copies of Daniel Merseys Lion Rampant: Second Edition arrived earlier this week, and it's due for general publication next week so took the book outside into the blazing solar heat of the ecopocalypse, to have a quick look through.

Epic front cover by Mark Stacey

As the Daniel states in his introduction to the book, Lion Rampant isn't a "detailed and scholarly simulation of combat" but rather "favour(s) abstraction and stylisation", taking influence from popular-culture representations of the broad historical period of medieval combat -incuding imaginary kings who pull swords from stones and vikings with mohawks and eyeliner. So for this set adopted my 'high medievalist' approach, drawing on the traditions of the medieval illuminated manuscripts with it's formal stylisation and idiosyncratic quirks of the scribe, as much the Arts and Crafts medievalism of Beardsley, Morris and Gill as our anonymous monastical scribbler.

12th C Frankish Archer

13th C Frankish Knight

13th C Mongol Mounted Archer

12th C Frankish footsoldier

12th C Mounted Saracen

10th C Foot Viking

The labels are my own, rather than Daniels or Ospreys -  Frankish being short-hand for 'occidental' covering the broad types from which the characters are drawn, much like Saracen covers multiple diverse cultures and periods. Like all medieval illuminators inevitably do, I brought in various elements of flora and fauna to embellish the work, but rather than purely decorative, used them to reflect the material and literary cultures of the characters. 

The 13th C Frankish Knight is accompanied by a squirrel and fox echoing popularity of the folk hero Reynard the Fox in the period, and have them on an Oak bough, with it's associations of.  The 12th C Mounted Saracen, tulips and peacocks both long held motifs of turkish art. The 13th C Mongol mounted archer rides along the birch used in construction of the recurve bow, the 12th C Frankish footsoldier a small hedgehog perhaps reminiscent of a spear formation, standing on the ash of the traditional ashen spears.  Beside the 10th C Foot Viking are two ravens, sent by Odin, no doubt, perched on the white pine the vikings hew their shields from. The 12th C Frankish archer, inevitably featuring a small bird offering advice and standing on the yew from which his longbow is made. Slightly whimsical quality that perhaps lends them something of the peculiarities and universality of medieval manuscripts.

There is much more art in the book than just my linework - theres a lot of full colour miniatures photography from the author, Daniel Mersey,  Henry Hyde and the Wargames Illustrated team, featuring models from Perry Miniatures, Gripping Beast, Crucible Crush, 1st Corps, Claymore CastingsBad Squidoo and many others. 

Miniatures from Bad Squidoo

And quite a lot of gorgeous full colour artwork over double-page spreads that make the book quite the visual treat, including painted work by Angus McBride, Graham Turner, Johnny Shumate and others. On a personal note, it has to be said, having my work in the same publication alongside that of McBride - whose work I've admired since boyhood is really quite something.

Back cover with my linework in blue

And no word of a lie, at this point my phone overheated, refused to take any more pictures, and shut itself down for my own safety.

Lion Rampant: Second Edition is available to order from the publishers, Osprey Games and all good bookshops.


  1. Very nice work, Zhu. I'm excited for you that you were able to get your illustrations featured in such a prolific wargaming publication!

    I particularly like the knight with the squirrel and the fox. This is slightly tangential, but that particular illustration reminds me of the fact that Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (1st Edition) has profiles for woodland creatures on page 244: otters, frogs, squirrels, foxes, owls, stoats and rabbits. I've often been tempted to run an Animals of Farthing Wood skirmish using those profiles.

    Love the word 'ecopocalypse', by the way.

    1. Thanks Douglas. Glad you liked the Knight. Don't know Farthing Wood that well, but a non-anthromorphic animal Warhammer RPG sounds like fun, until they start nibbling on the toxic waste output by the profiteering Reikland Water Co. and it all turns into 16th Century Mutant Ninja Beastmen.

    2. I've never read the original Farthing Wood books from the 80s, but I was an avid follower of the animated TV show from the 90s. It would make a good background world for violent clashes between woodland creatures!

      By the way, I meant to say "high profile", not "prolific" in my first comment! I hadn't realised you'd also done some illustration for Frostgrave.

  2. A big congratulation, Zhu! What an accomplishment. I can't wait to get my copy and see your work with my own eyes.

    And I'm especially pleased that you're sharing some billing with Angus McBride.

    I hope this means you'll be doing more work with Osprey. They have been producing some stupendous games lately, and it would be nice to see them reach the next level when it comes to art.

    1. Hi Matthew. Thanks for the kind words. Lion Rampant is the third book I've worked on for Osprey Games after Romance of the Perilous Realm, Frostgrave 2nd Edition. The team there are very good to work with and I'm sure if my particular talents suit a project we'll work together again.

    2. Well you've given me one more reason to pick up the 2nd edition of Frostgrave. I am really happy that your work is getting wide distribution.

  3. Well done Zhu! Your drawings (and the book) look great!