Drawing Goblins

I had a bunch of the little critters drawn in my sketchbook before I started writing the Sneaky Goblins story. I loved their proportions the nose, the chin, the big head and big hands. That said, my goblins don’t have the big hands, and they’re more civilised than the goblins in my original sketches.




I liked the idea of the little guy so much, I had a go at modelling him in Maya.

Image converted using ifftoany      Image converted using ifftoany

My first ever attempt to make a cg model. Unfortunately, his mesh is so full of holes, I can’t even rig it.


My story started with a very simple synopsis: a goblin and an orc teaming up to battle and sneak through insurmountable odds. I developed that into the scene where they need to get past a garrison, and the goblin has to convince the orc to help him.



I liked the idea of these 2 creatures, of contrasting sizes, helping each other out. It was a bit like the goblin trader in Warcraft who rides around on the back of an ogre. There’s a power imbalance there, and its the small crafty one with the advantage.


Goblin Story

As the story developed in my mind, though, Dank began to be more sympathetic. It’s hard to have an unsympathetic main character. Tolkien represents goblins more as more a force of nature than characters with individual stories. Off the top of my head (in my very limited experience), Warcraft was one of the rare stories that really developed goblin lore. To research the world of goblins I rolled a goblin character in World of Warcraft and explored the starting zones.




The characters were mostly greedy, crafty, egotistical and oblivious to the needs of others- exactly what I expected! On the positive side, they were industrious and creative. Playable goblins were introduced in the Cataclysm expansion, which was released soon after I began playing the game. Prior to this, they were NPCs: merchants and questgivers. The quests usually had to do with exploiting nature or blowing things up.

The Cata expansion not only made goblins playable, they changed all of the goblin models. They all went from having a rigid maniacal grin, to having a more sophisticated Italian mafia movie vibe. (Other races in the game had to wait another 4 years for their update.) Goblin voices went from a staccatoed screech to an obnoxious Brooklyn accent.

One of the biggest differences between Warcraft’s goblins the ones that feature in my story are their use of technology. In WoW, the goblins are all about technology. They are the Horde faction’s counterpart to the Alliance gnomes. In my story, the purist assassins shy away from devices (although they will use smoke bombs when practical). Dank gets caught up in a goblin mob who just can’t afford firearms or other technology. So they go after a means of disrupting it.

Since writing Sneaky Goblins I became aware of a series of books by Jim C. Hines with tiles like Goblin Quest and Goblin Hero. These books also present goblins in a sympathetic light. The premise is something like: ‘What if those despicable goblins in our role-playing games were actual characters with feelings?

When I started writing about goblins, it was more about the interesting shapes and the proportions in the drawing. As the story developed, it became useful to have these creatures who had a proud culture but could be almost viewed as outcasts in their town. They could have doubts, show compassion, have a relationship with parents, just like humans!



This post was mainly an excuse to show early pictures of my characters. Thanks for reading!