Saturday, 7 April 2012

The Art of Russ Nicholson Dicing With Dragons Part 2

As mentioned in the previous post and others, Russ Nichsolson art style had formative effects upon my perception of fantasy worlds and gaming in general, notably his illustrations in Warlock of Firetop Mountain and Citadel of Chaos, which is apt to mention because it's 30 years since those interactive gamebooks first raised the standard of  solo dungeoneering.  AD&D fans will know him better from Fiend Folio  -in which his black and white ink work truly shines.  Gamebook fans have also been treated to his work yet again in the re-released of the Fabled Lands books, which like, a handful of Fighting Fantasy titles are available to play on the iPhone and iPad (Fighting Fantasy is also sold in Kindle formats).  

Incidentally, I still have some particularly early Puffin copies of Warlock of Firetop mountain here.

One of the original reasons for wanting to post my scans of Russ Nicholson most fabulous drawings from Dicing With Dragons (by Ian Livingstone, 1982) was to share with the current generation of Fighting Fantasy readers images from what was the forerunner to Livingstone's Eye of the Dragon , published in 2005.  Since many of the younger readers of Eye of the Dragon may never have seen a copy of Dicing with Dragons, I felt that this would be a good opportunity to share some of the similar scenes taken from a different artistic perspective to the stylishly realistic dark sketches of Martin McKenna.  Nicholson reminds me of Grimm's fairy tales grown-up, as if drawn by Beardsley with a touch of Rackham with a peppering of the Pre-Raphaelite. Wood grain and gem work abound, enemies dressed in swathes of cloth suggest the exotic and alien.  The caves feel dirty and dusty.  The gremlins, goblins and orcs always have a sinister cruel aspect - the teeth and curved knives feel sharp.  

Clickable thumbnails. :)


Russ Nicholson is still a very active artist - his blog can be found here.
(Permission was given by the artist for the images to be used in this post)


  1. Thank you Billiam, you have summed me up very well.

  2. I did not remember all these illustrations in Dicing with Dragons - a great re-introduction!

  3. Russ's illustration on page 5 always summed the RPG experience up for me =)

    Nice blog you have here btw!

    1. MIND GAMES! *shatter!*

      Hey, your art is great too. :)

  4. This is fantastic. I love the artwork, it's so evocative and nostalgic!