Saturday, May 22, 2010

Painting Humanoids: Do Your Goblins Look Like this?

I've always loved this image. The goblins appeared different from other representations in D&D, or are they? I'll return to this in a moment.

I'm slowly creeping to the point where I've prepared all my Otherworld monsterous humanoids for painting. now I need to start making decisions about how I want them to look. The default seems to be "green" for most, although that doesn't really distinguish the various types once they are on the table, and it sure doesn't provide much variety.

So, I surveyed the AD&D Monster Manual for descriptions, trying to find ways to make each group look unique. The above image from The Forest Oracle seems spot on from the description, but I just don't know if I can go through with it! What do you think regarding the descriptions below?


“Goblins range from yellow through dull orange to brick red in skin color. Their eyes are reddish to lemon yellow. They dress in dark leather gear, and their garments tend towards dull, soiled-looking colors (brown drab, dirty gray, stained maroon).”


“There is a great resemblance between gnolls and hyenas. Gnolls have greenish gray skins, darker near the muzzle, with a reddish gray to dull yellow mane. Eyes are dull black and nails are amber colored. Their armor is of horn, metal plates, and leather; like their fur capes and vests, it is shabby, and the latter are moth-eaten and dingy, being brown, black or grayish pelts.”


“Orcs appear particularly disgusting because their coloration – brown or brownish green with a bluish sheen – highlights their pinkish snouts and ears. Their bristly hair is dark brown or black, sometimes with tan patches. Even their armor tends to be unattractive – dirty and often a bit rusty. Orcs favor unpleasant colors in general. Their garments are tribal colors, as are shield devices or trim. Typical colors are blood red, rust red, mustard yellow, yellow green, moss green, greenish purple, and blackish brown.”


“The hairy hides of hobgoblins range from dark reddish-brown to gray black. Their faces are bright red-orange to red. Large males will have blue-red noses. Eyes are either yellowish or dark brown. Teeth are yellowed white to dirty yellow. Hobgoblins favor bright, bloody colors and back leather. They keep their weapons polished.”


“The skin of bugbears is light yellow to yellow brown – typically dull yellow. Their hair ranges in color from lusterless tannish brown to brick red. Their eyes are greenish white with red pupils. The odds and ends of armor they wear, as well as whatever cloth, skins, or hides they drape themselves in, tends to be ill-kept, dirty, and dingy.”


“The hide of kobolds runs from very dark rusty brown to a rusty black. They have no hair. Their eyes are reddish and their small horns are tan to white. They favo red or orange garb.”


  1. I like giving each type of humanoid its own color scheme. If you're going to do it right, it's gotta be the AD&D monster manual descriptions!

    I'm curious to know which Otherworld minis you got, you must post pictures once they are at the primed (or painted) stage!

  2. Hey, awesome! I've never seen that adventure. I'd post pix of my gobs and orcs, but not sure how to do that here. :] My gobs are mostly orangey-reddish, and orcs a grayish green. I don't have gnolls or kobolds, though (too many sentient bad guys for my campaign).

  3. If you've never read it the webcomic has a number of different goblin characters all of which are noticeably different colors (mostly the ones that from the quote above but there's a white clan too). If you haven't read it I suggest you check it out. It's quite good even if it doesn't give you any ideas for colors.

  4. I figure any color besides green is a welcome change after all the pollution GW's orcs and goblins have put on the miniatures industry as a whole.

  5. Does anyone else think that Tim Kirk's painting "The Road To Minas Tirith" from the 1975 Tolkien calendar might have had something to do with indestructible 'orcs = goblins = greenskins' trope? A lot of people saw that pic at exactly the wrong time.