Fantasy Art

Friday, August 19, 2016


A few years ago there was a contest on a fantasy illustration website.  The contest was a conceptual design challenge to "Re-think the Owlbear".  Owlbears are a so called fictitious monster that is described in the Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual as a bear with the head of an owl.  People thought that sounded silly and wanted a different explanation for this creature and its nature.  Well it is silly.  Owlbears as I'm sure you know are quite common in the Prescott National Forest in central Arizona and are not a bear at all, but simply a very large flightless owl.   Which if you've ever read much about owls makes them a great deal more terrifying than a silly old bear.  The wings have evolved into a forelimb for walking, but are equipped with a rake of claw-like feathers which can do devastating harm to enemies or prey.

Wildlife painting can be dangerous at the best of times, but this piece was particularly hazardous to produce.  Nice hike though, you can see Thumb Butte in the background, a landmark of the Prescott area.

So did I win the contest?  Nope, I wasn't even considered.  The guy said to me "That's too many claws."  I said "They're not claws they're feathers"  he said "Yeah, but why so many claws?"
...I shouldn't enter contests.


  1. Now, I think that's great! It's a far more solid explanation than "let's stick the head of this one animal on the body of this other animal," and sounds EXACTLY like what they were asking for. You are severely underappreciated.

    1. There's probably a completely separate skill to participating in contests, a protocol or set of obvious behaviors that I'm somehow blind to. That's been my impression, I always hope I'm not just bitter. I'm bitter, but I hope I'm not JUST bitter.

      I did like my solution to the problem, but I could be biased.
      On the other hand some of my favorite mythical creatures are the classic centaur, satyr, Pegasus, platypus, which follow the cobbled together model. But I did think the D&D owlbear was a little forced. I thought that of a lot of things in the monster manual.