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

Detail is the Bane of my Illustration Life

Captain Bilgebell's Treasure Ship WEB - Leo Hartas


Captain Bilgebelly’s Space Pirate Ship

Another example from the children’s book I worked on during Brighton Polytechnic Illustration BA course back in the day. This was supposed to be the end paper design. The idea for a cut away went back to my love for cut aways in various Thunderbird albums I remember as a child. In fact as an 8 year old, or 10, I drew a huge submarine that had mechanical grabs, many floors of living accommodation and even a cinema. I dimly remember that it made it into an exhibition at a gallery near my school and I was photographed next to it for the local paper. If I come across the photo I’ll add it to the post!

The interesting thing about this drawing is that it was the start of the bane of my life as an illustrator. You see, you get paid the same however much or little detail you put into a commission. The problem is that the more detail you include the longer it takes to draw and the further south your earnings go. People love that I add a lot of detail, and I love detail too. As I draw I see more and more that I can add to the illustration, and at the back of my mind I guess I feel I am giving more value to the viewer. A quick sketch feels like I’m selling them short. I have tried many times to simplify my work, but to no avail. Below are a few enlarged details so you can see how crazy I am!

Captain Bilgebell's Treasure Ship Detail 4 WEB- Leo Hartas

Captain Bilgebell's Treasure Ship Detail 3 WEB- Leo Hartas

Captain Bilgebell's Treasure Ship Detail 2 WEB- Leo Hartas

Captain Bilgebell's Treasure Ship Detail 1 WEB- Leo Hartas

The Tower on Etsy

3_Tower_Leo_Hartas_Illustration web

Searan Tower Print

I’ve been updating my Etsy shop to make this drawing available to buy as a digital download to print and frame. Imagine having this fabulous detailed drawing ornamenting what would otherwise be a dull featureless wall in your house to intrigue and delight you and your guests.

Even if you don’t want to buy it please like and share it 🙂

Visit my Etsy Shop

The Phoenix Code

Pheonix Code


There hasn’t been a lot of news to post because I’ve been busy illustrating various books. For confidentiality reasons I can’t tell the world what I’ve been working on until the books are published. This is one such book I was illustrating before Christmas. The cover isn’t mine, but the interior black and white chapter motifs were. It’s a fabulous book by Helen Moss that is packed to the gunnels with action and adventure for 8 years upwards. Set in modern Egypt it follows the adventures of Ryan and Cleo as they unravel the secrets of the Valley of the Kings, reaching back through time  to try to solve the Phoenix Code.

It’s on Amazon here.

Find out more about Helen, The Phoenix Code and her other fantastic adventure books here.

I really enjoyed mixing modern images with ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. Here are just a selection of the 40+ illustrations from the book.


Searan Towers, gateway to the northern straights.

3 Legged Sea Tower

3 Legged Sea Tower

By the afternoon the wind had dropped to the merest whisper and a cloying sea fret slid over us so we strained to see our own bows. By degree the light started to fail as an unusually early nightfall gathered. Without warning a single gust tugged at our mist damp cloaks and the the white curtain was was drawn to reveal our destination towering above…

Another architectural fantasy from my sketchbook.