Check it out on the new Kerkerkruip blog.
A new monster card for Kerkerkruip, the Wisps of Pain. These have varying degrees of influence from cells, viruses, microscopic images of pollen, Jack Kirby’s energy fields. The font is Perpetua, a 20th century face by Eric Gill. The background is a microscopic image of algae, courtesy of Flickr user Learn 2 Teach, Teach 2 Learn (CC BY-NC 2.0).
I needed to create a deviantArt account recently, so I decided to put these Kerkerkruip images up there as well.
A new entry for Kerkerkruip‘s Rogues Gallery: the Minotaur.
The minotaur marks a shift in the framing of subjects that I will likely follow for many of the remaining entries in the series. While all of the previous rogues gallery cards show full portraits of their subjects, for the minotaur I decided that I wanted to be able to show more detail, particularly in the treatment of the fur and small details like the reflections on the earrings or the knot in the wood of the axe handle. It was a bit difficult to fit the elements I wanted to show–head, fur, muscles, axe–into the frame, and I toyed with a number of different compositions before I found one that worked. I’m happy with the way that the figure pushes at the edges of the composition.
Kerkerkruip‘s minotaur isn’t trapped in its labyrinth, like the Knossos creature was; instead, his labyrinth exists in some alternate dimension, and he brings his enemies there to disorient and terrify them. It is thus worth noting that, unlike many images of minotaurs you will find on the web, this one does not wear a ring in its nostrils like a common bovine. Instead, he wears the rings in its ears, as you might expect a free creature with its own labyrinth to do.
The font used is Cochin, a typeface created in the 1910s that I’ve always found interesting for its curious combination of sharp angles, solidity, and graceful curves. The fur in the illustration is drawn mostly from the italic, while the body is mostly from the roman. For fun, I’ve included below another typographic illustration that uses Cochin.
Kerkerkruip 8 has been released. If you don’t know Kerkerkruip, it was recently cited as one of the most important representatives of the roguelike genre of video games 🙂 This latest release brings new content, including five new rooms, new items, a new monster, new combat actions, and the addition of “blood magic” to Kerkerkruip’s dungeon.
Kerkerkruip 8 also marks the release of the new graphic/animation content that I’ve been working to bring to the game using Glimmr. Here’s a quick summary of the Glimmr stuff that’s now in Kerkerkruip!
Before the animated titles appear, a silent animated narrative plays out. There are currently three of these, each 4 to 5 seconds long, and more will likely be added over time. Composed of typographic symbols, they depict–with a touch of humor–situations that can occur in Kerkerkruip, each one prefaced by the typed command that brings it about. Here is a less than successful > ATTACK against the swarm of daggers.
2. Main title
Following the mini-movie, the game’s main title screen appears, highlighting a typographically constructed dagger (see other examples of such daggers here). The main menu options appear as well, and for players who have not yet defeated any of Kerkerkruip’s monsters, the title is followed by a blinking instruction explaining how to begin a game.
3. Rogues Gallery
A player who has defeated some of the denizens of Kerkerkruip, on the other hand, can wait at the main menu for the Rogues Gallery to appear. This is a succession of trading-card like depictions of each monster defeated, along with stats that summarize the player’s history with that enemy (for more on the cards, see my previous posts).
Unfortunately, not all of the planned monster cards are completed. Placeholder cards mark the missing spots for now:
Kerkerkruip is a game in which your strategy depends on navigating the spatial arrangement of your enemies. Who to attack when–and in what order–to be best prepared to take on the evil wizard Malygris? Kerkerkruip 8 adds an isometric map that I find very helpful in planning my path to victory.
5. Information panels
The final feature I want to highlight doesn’t involve Glimmr or graphics per se. However, it does provide a visual organization of Kerkerkruip’s copious amounts of information. From your inventory of weapons and items to your character’s vital statistics, attributes & situational combat bonuses, to the powers you have absorbed from your enemies, the new information panels put it all at your fingertips. I’ve found that having combat information at the ready, in particular, has really changed the way I play the game.
I hope that you’ll try the new Kerkerkruip. You can download it here.
I was able to steal a few hours here and there this week to work on another illustration for Kerkerkruip, the mindslug. This giant slug wins not only for its bulk, but also for its psychic/psionic/telepathic abilities. Most notably, it can exert its titanic will over other sentient creatures, turning them into pliant mind-slaves. When we meet it in the game, the mindslug is defended by two such zombis, in the persons of a pair of famous heroes of the sword & sorcery genre.
That’s fun, but I did struggle for a while to figure out how best to portray a psychedelic slug. My initial idea was to borrow the iconic trait of the mind flayer and show the slug rearing up to reveal a ring of squid-like tentacles around its mouth. Cute, I guess, but physiologically nonsensical–the connection between the tentacles and psychic powers is nil, and anyway a slug’s mouth is on the underside of its head where the tentacles would be utterly superfluous.
Later, I thought of the baroque defensive plumes and wild color found on many of the nudibranches (often referred to as sea-slugs). I was especially drawn to the flaming neons of this specimen:
Just a quick progress update, in the form of a couple more “monster” cards for Kerkerkruip.
The swarm of daggers is on a background of textured, cream-colored paper. The daggers are collaged using Galliard, a typeface that was quite popular as a text face in the 1980s and 1990s, but harkens back to Dutch designs of the 1500s. (The name refers to a vigorous, leaping dance of the 16th century.) Galliard has lots of daggery-looking glyphs, with sharp angles and calligraphic strokes, so it seemed appropriate.
The Ravenous Armadillo, which happens to also have the clubbed tail of an ankylosaurus, is pictured on greenish canvas. (A giant armadillo with a clubbed tail is certainly more frightening than the standard hillbilly speedbump we’re used to here in the US.) The armadillo is rendered in another font with Dutch origins, Proforma. The markings on an armadillo’s armor are interesting and I didn’t want to lose them in collaging the beast into type, so I’ve experimented with color-gradated textural glyphs in addition to the main outlines.
One of Kerkerkruip’s saddest missed opportunities is not allowing for the Ravenous to roll up into a ball as the three-banded armadillo can do:
On the other hand, we’d get the same effect from a Giant Pillbug; wouldn’t that be a great addition to the game? 😉 If you’re not sure what a pillbug is, you may call this real-life arthropod a roly-poly, a potato-bug, or a pill woodlouse–but it’s known to entomologists as Armadillidium vulgare. (Click through for pictures.)
OK, swerving to a new topic: I am considering setting one of the characters from Kerkerkruip in a non-Western face. Perhaps Malygris in Arabic? Suggestions of typefaces and characters to match them with are welcome!
I have been working a bit on the illustration for Kerkerkruip’s swarm of daggers, a collection of airborne daggers animated by some vile intelligence and able to act in concert to shred wayward adventurers.
Animated by some dark magic, a swarm of small daggers is flying through the air like a flock of birds, their sharp points eagerly seeking your flesh.
The game’s description of the daggers mentions only an implied uniformity–they are all “small”–but I have decided to depict them as a widely varied collection, perhaps found in some hoard and only then ensorceled. This makes them far more interesting to draw! Here are some of the daggers I’ve done so far (I’ve also put up a few photos for inspiration at Pinterest):
Since every dagger can be different, it also gives me an opportunity to invite your participation: Please contribute a dagger for me to include in the swarm! This would be a quick, low-commitment way to try your hand at type collage. If you like the technique, maybe you’ll go on to provide some larger illustrations for Kerkerkruip!
How to go about creating your dagger(s)? Well, the font to use is ITC Galliard. I’m using the roman, bold, italic, and bold italic weights. Having the bold weight available makes it possible to balance “color” even when you have to scale some elements down much smaller than others. If you make the smaller elements bold, the apparent weight will match the larger but not-bold elements.
I use Adobe Illustrator to compose these, and it probably is the easiest program for this kind of thing. There is a 30-day free trial available, or you could use comparable alternatives such as the open-source Inkscape or Xara Xtreme (Corel Draw might also work if you happen to have access to that). You could use Photoshop or Gimp, but the vector editors I’ve mentioned are likely to be a lot more convenient! If you’re new to the software you choose, try googling “introduction to adobe illustrator” (or whatever) to find a selection of getting-started tutorials.
I like to start by creating a palette to refer to. I type out all of the most important characters in the roman and italic weights, also included useful symbols such as the integral sign (used quite a few times in the examples above), the pound currency sign, ampersands, non-English letters such as the cedilla or the thorn, and so on.
I look over these palettes to decide what to place next. Maybe I see a letter that will help limn a real-life object, or maybe I get an idea for a neat pattern for something more fanciful–or maybe I’m just experimenting. Then I just build things up, letter by letter, using the tools provided by Illustrator to scale and rotate the individual elements. Another useful tool, particularly for these daggers, is the “reflect” tool, which mirrors a symbol across a given axis. This allows for the kinds of symmetrical oppositions that you see in the handguards of the bottom five daggers on the left from the image above.
If you like, you can place a photo or other image in your working document (locking it on its own layer is a good idea, so that it doesn’t get in your way) and use it as a guide for placing your type elements.
You may notice that some of the daggers in my selection above are pretty complex, while others are more simple (one of them is just three characters). This is because I plan to have three levels of depth in the illustration, with more detailed daggers in front and less detailed ones in the back. Feel free to submit whatever level of detail you like!
I’ll set the window for contributions for about two weeks, trying to wrap things up by November 4. This is an informal thing, though, so there’s nothing ironclad about that date. To submit your dagger(s), send me your Illustrator (.ai), PDF, or SVG file via email, ek dot temple (funny at sign) gmail dot com. Contributions will be credited, of course!
Looking forward to seeing some daggers!