by Ramanan Sivaranjan on September 08, 2021
Patrick and Scrap are currently running a Kickstarter for the follow-up adventure to Deep Carbon Observatory, Demon-Bone Sarcophagus, so now seems as good a time as any to talk about their work. I like seeing them succeed. When I first reviewed Deep Carbon Observatory I had the following to say about Scrap’s work:
Scrap Princess’ illustrations contribute to the overall tone of the book. I find her work is so frenzied and terrifying. Maybe that’s not the right word, but there is something about how she draws that I find really visceral. I don’t know anyone else that draws like her.
All these years later, I still don’t know anyone who draws like her. How does she even draw?
My pinned tweet on Twitter is this picture by Scrap Princess, from the Kickstarter for Deep Carbon Observatory Remastered. I like it because it manages to be both funny and creepy simultaneously.
A few years later she would draw another favourite picture of mine, a picture of madness from Veins of the Earth. (Such an incredible book.) The picture feels like an evolution of the giant. I asked Scrap if that was her intention and she said, “Nope. (Other than its horrible and in a cave?)”
People will often denigrate Scrap’s art as scribbles. Which, on the one hand, sure, but there is clearly more going on. I don’t scribble this good. These eyes are piercing. The line work of her drawings feels frantic. It has an energy that feels charged. On Twitter, Warren D summed things up nicely: “I always emotionally respond to Scrap’s art before I finish consciously visually processing it; ‘feel’ it before I ‘see’ it. Most WotC art I see quickly and feel nothing.”
Fire on the Velvet Horizon is likely peak scribbling Scrap, but maybe also highlights what you can capture in such minimalist drawings. The history of that project is interesting. While Vein of the Earth was stuck in the miasma of layout and production, Scrap and Patrick worked on this monster book. Scrap mailed Patrick drawings and sketches, and he would turn them into monsters.
The thing about Velvet Horizon that gets overlooked, constantly, is that I chose a wide range of drawings to send to Patrick, and that variety included extremely loose sketches, more developed drawings, stuff I thought was bad, stuff I thought was good. Then whatever he responded to , he responded to, and that drawing would then go into the book. However there’s like a few entries where what he responded to was such a bizarrely small and brief drawing that I chose to draw a new drawing to go on that page, but I believe in every case the responded-to drawing is also on there too. There’s a few where the drawing responded to was something in the margins or on the back of another drawing, and I hadn’t even expected those scribbles to be up for consideration. That was all part of the experiment of that book.
I asked Scrap if she was like Picasso and could draw perfectly but decided that was boring. She laughed in my face. (Well, virtually.) She then went on to say:
Trying to get the hang of basics does inform my scribble style. It’s been an ongoing process of trying to draw conventionally or at least do the basics, turning out bad ugly drawings, but in the process of improving that skill, my gestural style improves as well.
Why does she draw the way she does? We can just ask her:
What has made my drawing looking like how it does is that I really struggle with the basics, especially anything informed by methodicalness and close observation. At some point in high school me and a friend were drawing our own illustrations on a print out of fairly broken fighting game rpg someone had downloaded from the early internet. I was trying to draw conventionally and it was turning out bad, and he was just going for it doing these crazy scribbles and they turned out amazing. Even when they didn’t look like what they were meant to , they still were hilarious. It was at that point that I realized if I just cut loose and scribbled and then tried to turn it into something , it would have much better results.
Veins on the Earth and her later books feature a bigger variety of types of art, but everything she does is always more abstract and impressionistic than your typical RPG drawing. The Blink Dogs and the Anitpheonix from that book are a couple of my favourite examples of her not-scribbling style.
Scrap isn’t active on social media, but that doesn’t mean we should Forget about D.R.E. This post mostly exists to share some of her art, and maybe introduce her to people who weren’t around on G+ when she was more active in “the scene”. To get back to where we started, enjoy this picture from their latest Kickstarter.