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Kalin Kadiev on art directing for RuneQuest's The Pegasus Plateau

Posted by Michael O'Brien on 21st May 2020

We spoke to Chaosium's staff artist Kalin Kadiev about his role as art director for The Pegasus Plateau, the latest release for RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha:

Three Winds Festival by Dimitrina Angelska

Q: Tell us why art directing The Pegasus Plateau was a significant milestone for you?

Kalin: While I have done the art direction for various pieces, some of which we will see in future products, this was the first book where I did all the art direction by myself. With that said, I did have help – both Jason and Jeff helped me immensely by taking on the maps in the book, so I could focus entirely on the illustrations.

Q: What where your creative goals with the art direction for this book?

Kalin: My main goal was to ensure all the art felt like it belonged in the world of Glorantha. For me, what makes an illustration or a piece of art truly Gloranthan isn’t really a specific aesthetic or art style, but in the details. There are, after all, plenty of wonderful and gorgeous paintings and drawings of the Bronze Age, both historical and fantastical. But most of them do not feel like Glorantha. 

Q: How do you work with the artists to make sure an artwork 'feels' Gloranthan?

Kalin: I let the artists take lead in things like composition of the piece, but I made sure to always check that the details seemed right. The statues in the Three Emeralds temple, the jewellery that people wear, the tattoos that both feel sensible (like something a real person would have as a tattoo), yet always making sure that the Runes and other Gloranthan symbols are present and incorporated in them.

Q: Had your artists illustrated for Glorantha before?

Kalin: A lot of my art team were either brand new to the world of Glorantha, or only had some surface-level familiarity with the setting, so the commissioning process was very important. For example, Dimitrina Angelska, who did the majority of the portraits in the book was a newcomer, yet after only a few pieces where I had to provide her with multiple references for facial features, hair, eyes, tattoos and such, she quickly got to the point where I can simply describe a character as a “young Sartarite man, shoulder length hair, large nose” and she would provide someone who fits perfectly with all the other characters we’ve seen!

Q: What are your favourite pieces from the book?

Kalin: These are my particular favourites:

Dimitrina Angelska’s wonderful depiction of the Three Winds festival in the "Pegasus Plateau" scenario (shown above). It is colorful, full of movement and life and conveys the bustle and energy of a large festive gathering.

Dominik Derow’s piece in "The Pairing Stones" chapter showing Yanoith’s meeting with the Dark Troll Zhoulshia and her retinue (below). I think it does a fantastic job showing just how strange the Uz can look when juxtaposed to a human.

Meeting Trolls by Dominic Derow

Dimitrina’s portrait of Jongor and Delenda from that same scenario (below). It’s rare to see characters in an RPG just looking at the viewer and smiling. For that alone it’s one of my personal favourites.

Jongor and Delenda - from The Pegasus Plateau

Antonia Doncheva’s several excellent pieces of spot art depicting items and artifacts from the world. Whether it’s the piece of Truestone, the skull of a dragonewt, or the Storm Bull's Ear (below) I feel those small pieces often add to the visual experience just as much as the big and showy illustrations.

Storm Bull's Ear - Antonia Doncheva, from The Pegasus Plateau

Naomi Robinson’s depiction of the Sun Lord Jardarin in the Pegasus Plateau scenario (below). An excellent character piece that also shows off the splendor and colorful nature of Rune Lords/Rune Priests, which I feel is important to drive home the point that these people are significant in their communities and in the setting.

Sun Lord by Naomi Robinson

Kalin also got some of the artists who worked on the book to tell how us the process looked from their end:

Naomi Robinson: “Working on The Pegasus Plateau has been a wonderful experience. The art direction is always so focused with an incredible attention to detail which just makes working on this project a joy, you really feel like you are bringing a very well crafted world to life. I particularly enjoy creating the environment pieces such as the 'Tarshite Fort Encampment', the chance to depict the world all these characters live in is always an exciting journey of exploration.”

Antonia Doncheva: Drawing items and environment for The Pegasus Plateau was a nice change for me - there is a directness to them that is lost in the more complex illustrations. Having the opportunity to use actual watercolours after all the time on he tablet was a wellcome lot of fun, too.

Dimitrina Angelska: “It is great to see the book as a finished product! The world of Glorantha is rich and diverse, so the different styles of the illustrations fit well with the setting. The feedback I received along the process was helpful and encouraging. My favorite of the illustrations I did is the celebration at the Three Emeralds Temple.”

The Pegasus Plateau Cover

THE PEGASUS PLATEAU & OTHER STORIES
Seven Ready-to-Play Adventures for RuneQuest.
160 pages, full color.
Available from
Chaosium
—and DriveThruRPG.

*Buy the PDF direct from Chaosium.com now and get the full price of the PDF off the hardcover print version when it is out later this year.