Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Dungeon & Dragons Monster Manual - Ankheg

One would think that since I am all about the monsters that I would have already started posting my work done on the monsters of 5th Edition D&D. To be honest, I just didn't know where to start! I designed 18 monsters for this new edition of D&D and illustrated 5 monsters that appeared in the Monster Manual (4 of my own design and 1 that I did not design). This was also the most personal work that I produced for a client last year. You don't have to look too hard on the blog to see that I have spent a lot of time redesigning the monsters of D&D for myself.

With all that in mind, I decided to start with the Ankheg. It is a monster I have always liked. I illustrated it for the Monster Manual 2 for 4th Edition, redesigned it for myself, redesigned it for 5th Edition, and finally have illustrated it for the new Monster Manual. You could say the Ankheg and I have some history. What better place to begin than with a monster I have gone full circle with? Here is my Ankheg for the 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons...

Ankheg - Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual
© 2014 Wizards of the Coast

As part of the assignment the Monster Manual, we were asked to create an additional series of detailed sketches that would be used in the design of the book. Not all of the drawings got used for all the monsters, but they were part of the process. Here are the detailed sketches that I created for the Ankheg...

Ankheg - Detail Sketches
© 2014 Wizards of the Coast

Some cropping aside, the Ankheg ended up in the book nice and big with a couple of detailed sketches hanging out. Here is a lousy photo of the Ankheg page I managed to take at Gen Con...

The handy dandy book version of the Ankheg for all your RPG needs!

While we are on the subject of Ankhegs, how about I talk about the process of designing it! I worked on monster designs in waves, a handful at a time, from start to finish. If my memory serves me, I worked on the Ankheg in the second wave. I was really getting into it by the second wave, and I wished I could design ALL the monsters and that this assignment would never end. Maybe under other circumstances, that could have happened... but that is neither here nor there. With all the monsters, I started with some thumbnail concepts...

Ankheg - Thumbnails / Concepts
© 2014 Wizards of the Coast

They wanted something beefier than the previous design. The Ankheg needed to feel like it could really tear through the ground with its forelimbs and be a monstrous threat. I looked at a lot of mole crickets, like a LOT of them. One of my thumbnails made the cut on the first pass, option 'B,' and I was ready to work up a more finished drawing...

Ankheg - Version 01
12 x 9
Pencil on paper
© 2014 Wizards of the Coast

I REALLY liked this design. Unfortunately, upon additional review, some changes were needed. Since most of the design was working, I moved forward with the revisions digitally over my original drawing...

Ankheg - Version 02
© 2014 Wizards of the Coast

Once these revisions were completed, I could see why I was asked to make them. This is a much more straightforward concept and not as busy. There was also concern that the appendages I added on the end of the thorax would give the impression that they could be used in battle, something the Ankheg could not do. With the design, all approved it was time to work up a color comp to assist the artist that was going to illustrate it for the book...

Ankheg - Final Concept
© 2014 Wizards of the Coast

Conveniently, I became the illustrator, so I was very familiar with the new design and color scheme. I was also familiar with what had been the incarnation for the Ankheg for the previous five years during the 4th Edition. By sheer randomness, coincidence, or the aligning of the planets, I was asked to pretty much depict the Ankheg in the same way I had for the Monster Manual 2. I took this opportunity to improve upon myself and "do it right" this time. Here is a comparison of my Ankhegs created five years (almost to the day) apart for Dungeons & Dragons...

Ankheg - The circle is now complete: 2008 - 2013
© 2014 Wizards of the Coast

A HUGE THANKS to Jon Schindehette for all the monsters and direction during the design phase of 5th Edition (and for including me in the process, to begin with!) and Daniel Gelon for the art direction on the illustration!

That is all for another exciting Wednesday on the blog. See you back here on Friday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability, head over to my website:


  1. D & E man, why didn't they pick D & E?!?!?

    Another great job, the action the horror, the east to read silhouette, should I go on? Thanks again for sharing your schweet work Chris!

    1. Because D&E look too much like a Rust Monster I would imagine. And B is the best one.

  2. This is so cool