11 May 2011

My Top 5 FRPG Artists – Number 5 – Russ Nicholson

Amongst long-time fantasy role-players, I’m sure that Russ Nicholson’s work for the first edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Fiend Folio book is most well known. Many iconic D&D creatures were first portrayed by Nicholson, including the Slaad, Githyanki, and Githzerai.

Above is a recent picture by Nicholson depicting a Githyanki and Githzerai, taken from one of his blog posts.

Nicholson also illustrated many of the ‘Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks’, most of which were written by Steve Jackson (the British, not the American, one) and/or Ian Livingstone. The first book in this series was The Warlock of Firetop Mountain.

Here is the dragon from The Warlock of Firetop Mountain.

And here is the Warlock himself, ready to blast you to Hades!

Here is a ‘Gark’ from The Citadel of Chaos, the second book in the ‘Fighting Fantasy’ series.

I loved playing through these books as a young lad. They enabled me to get my ‘fantasy gaming fix’ when I couldn’t meet up with my friends.

Nicholson’s evocative black and white illustrations made a deep impression on my young mind, and very much influenced how I subsequently imagined my fantasy adventures.

Finally, below are two recent pictures by Nicholson. Both are taken from a recent blog post.

If you’re a long-time fan of Russ Nicholson’s art, or just discovering it for the first time here, I encourage you to check out his blog, aptly-named ‘Russ Nicholson’. Many more wonderful pictures can be found there.

It is great that Nicholson is still actively producing amazing illustrations!


  1. I like his take on the Invincible Overlord:


  2. I like his Invincible Overlord as well.

  3. Strangely, clicking on the first picture (the one with the Githzerai and Githyanki) will *not* bring up a larger version, unlike all of the other ones. I've had this problem a few times before with this blog, and am too much of a luddite to know how to fix it.

    Anyhow, if you want to see the 'full sized' version of the first picture, just go to the blog post at 'Russ Nicholson' (link provided below the picture).

  4. In my mind, Fiend Folio and Russ Nicholson are synonymous.

  5. Russ Nicholson is my favorite D&D illustrator. :)

  6. I feel very honoured by the 'placing'; thank you, and to all your comments which are very much appreciated :).

  7. Thanks so much for dropping by, Rus! And, more significantly, thanks for all your great work over the years. I look forward to seeing what you will create next! :D

  8. Russ is awesome -both as an artist and a person. If you ever find yourself with the opportunity to meet him in person, I suggest taking it.

  9. Blogger deleted the 9 comments on this post over the weekend -- including a very kind one from Russ Nicholson himself!


  10. Too bad about the comments, but Russ is indeed amazing!

  11. Ah, I see that all of the 'lost' comments have reappeared! :D

  12. Russ made the Fiend Folio. I used a lot of tepid beasts purely because of his illustrations.


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I'm a Canadian political philosopher who lives primarily in Toronto but teaches in Milwaukee (sometimes in person, sometimes online).