The Temple of Flame Game Book Kickstarter part 1

The Temple of Flame Game Book Kickstarter part 1

Last September Megara Entertainment approached me to colour the special edition release of The Temple of Flame, in the Golden Dragon Game Book series, written by Dave Morris and Oliver Johnson, that I had illustrated in the early 80s. It was the first project I had done that required me to do some research and find visual reference about the Mayan civilisation. I remember Dave sent to a book with a handful of drawings in it of Mayan art and temples, and I remember going to my local library in Seaford to dig out more. At just 19 I knew nothing of Mayans and it is one of the wonderful aspects of illustration that for various jobs I had reason to learn about new subjects. Of course I would get distracted and end up straying into other books on the very limited shelves of the local library.

That distraction is now a major issue that requires an iron will to resist in the age of the internet. Although I now have the mind blowing resource of virtually all human knowledge, and every possible visual reference on any subject at my fingertips, I have to struggle all the time to avoid endless distraction.

I coloured them all using Clip Studio Paint.

Here for your delectation are the first 6 illustrations to Temple of Flame. I’ll roll out the others over the following weeks.

Crypt of the Vampire Now in Colour

I have been very tardy with blog posts over the past year, a situation I’m going to try and change, at least until I go back to being tardy again! I just saw that my last post about The Crypt of the Vampire was way back in May last year. It was announcing a Kickstarter to have the black a white illustrations to Dave Morris’ Crypt of the Vampire book coloured and reissued in a deluxe hardcover edition. Crypt of the Vampire was the first book I ever illustrated back in 1984 when I was just 18 and the year before I started my art college degree. It was the first book for Dave too, and the beginning of a friendship that has lasted ever since, most recently culminating in the Mirablis: Year of Wonders comic.

The first Kickstarter by Mikael of Megara Entertainment, the micro publisher, was withdrawn for various reasons, but was set in train again later in the year. I am happy to report that it was fully funded and even exceeded it’s stretch goal to have new chapters and illustrated by me. Mikael paid for my colouring of the original illustrations in advance, so that he had examples to help market the Kickstarter, and I completed the work before Christmas 2015. At first it felt very odd working on drawings I have done over 30 years years ago, but I quickly realised that the quality of that early work had stood the test of test time, and I reveled in a happy nostalgia for the heady days of game book’s high water mark.

I coloured them digitally in Manga Studio on my trusty Microsoft Surface 3. Back then when I was 18 I couldn’t imagine that such technology would exist in my lifetime. Here is a small gallery of some of the coloured finals. btw. The Vampire gallery image. The 2nd portrait to left is my Dad! He wanted to feature in my first illustrated book even though he wasn’t a vampire, I think!

If you missed the Kickstarter the book will be available to buy from Megara Entertainment later in the year.






The first book I illustrated is now a Kickstarter.

Wight - Crypt of the Vampire Gamebooks - Leo Hartas

The Wight

This was one of the first commercial illustrations I did back in 1983 for the book Crypt of the Vampire by Dave Morris. It was for a series of choose your own adventure game books that were very popular back in the day. I’ve coloured the version you see here for the new Kickstarter campaign run by Mergara Entertainment who are looking to re-issue this classic as a full colour deluxe collectors edition. If the project hits it’s target I’ll get to colour up all of my original drawings and paint a brand new cover.

If you love classic game books and/or my work please consider backing it.

Crypt of the Vampire Kickstarter

Fighting Fantasy. Same Place – Different Maps

Leo Hartas - Fighting Fantasy Isles of  the Dawn Leo Hartas - Fighting Fantasy Isles of  the Dawn

Two maps from the Fighting Fantasy series of game books that I painted in 1989 and 1991 that I found recently in a long forgotten folder. The series was started by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone and went on to become a cult success before computer games took the attention of adolescent boys. In many of the books a colour map was printed on the inside cover which became a regular job for me before I even started art school. These two maps were late on int he series when I was becoming more sophisticated with framing and decorative ideas. I was usually only ever given a very rough map scrawled by the author on the back of an envelope and virtually no other information about the story let alone a chance to read the script. From my point of view, pure heaven! I was left to my own devices, and it shows. The lower map was painted in my usual way with watercolour, but the top map, the one carved on a floating rock was my first attempt at painting with acrylics mixed with a glossy medium. You cannot see it in the scan, but the original has a lovely depth and richness.

Fighting Fantasy – Titan

Titan - Fighting Fantasy

Titan – Fighting Fantasy

Titan – The Fighting Fantasy World, subtitled The Ultimate Guide to the Fighting Fantasy World – No adventurer should be without it! The Ultimate Fighting Fantasy Handbook! Published by Puffin in 1989.

I thought it would be interesting to show a couple of illustrations I did for the above game book title back in the fag-end days of the choose you own adventure book phenomenon. I’d clean forgotten I ever did them, but for the detective work of Florent Haro manager of the AFF game in French (, by Scriptarium ( Many of these game books are finding a new life in the digital realm thanks to iPads and other devices where the format works very well. I always throughly enjoyed any fantasy illustration work, but sadly the print genre was superseded by computer games and the old fashioned drawing has been somewhat lost.
Foolishly I never kept a database or spreadsheet of all the illustrations I have done over the years, which must now number in the thousands. Fortunately the web seems to store all of this information, put together and updated by fans and bibliophiles.