Behold, the Terror of Undermountain (and the Top 10 Honorable Mentions)!
Murky water oozes down the sides of a dark, cold tunnel. BOOM…BOOM…BOOM…you hear it before you see it. Long nails scratch the side of a wall as a creature covered in milky-translucent skin turns the corner. Behold, the Terror of Undermountain! The quest to find the most frightening monster has led us to a creature designed by Will Kalkanis-Ellis.
Contest winner – Will Kalkanis-Ellis
As a child, Will had hopes of becoming a comic book illustrator. He shares, “I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t interested in art in some form or another. I would spend a lot of time redrawing frames from Batman, X-Men, or Spawn comics.” After high school, Will’s mom was the one to suggest art school. In his junior year at Otis College of Art & Design, Will switched his major from Fine Arts to Digital Media. Skilled in traditional media, he had never used Photoshop before and it took him a while to get up to speed using the different digital tools. After hundreds of hours of work to improve his skill set and graduate with a degree in Digital Media, Will’s determination paid off when he reconnected with Phil Tippett, an Oscar and Emmy Award-winning Visual Effects Supervisor and Producer whose body of work includes Jurassic Park, Star Wars, and Twilight. Will explains, “Phil looked through my portfolio and decided to take a chance on me, offering me an internship at his studio.” He spent eight years working his way up through the ranks, doing a bit of everything from modeling to texturing to matte painting to concept art and illustration.
This provided him with a great foundation to create a monster for the Summon the Terror of Undermountain contest. He even used to play Dungeons and Dragons as a kid. “In elementary school, I played D&D with a friend of mine at a comic shop. We figured it would be a casual game, but didn’t realize how tough or hardcore the game actually is.” Although he hasn’t played since then, Will drew on his childhood experience for inspiration when creating his monster. Explaining his favorite part of the process, Will told us, “There was a lot of freedom to create whatever I wanted to because the prompt was simple and open-ended. Usually, I work with clients and execute other people’s ideas, so it was nice to be completely in charge of my own design.”
While Will’s creation won the contest, how would it survive in D&D? Will points out that, “Since it has no eyes, I think its vision would be a potential weakness. However, seeing that it lives in a dungeon, inside a mountain, where there is a lack of light and visibility, my monster could be good at navigating without sight due to its other heightened senses. While it would move slowly, its size allows it to be strong.”
When we told Will the good news, he was surprised but thrilled to find out he had won. He loved creating the monster but never imagined his creation would take him all the way to the contest finals. Part of Will’s prize is that he gets to visit the headquarters of Wizards of the Coast (WOTC). Regarding the trip, Will said, “I’m excited to meet the WOTC art staff and tour the studio. I hope to learn some new techniques I can implement in my own designs and build connections with other artists.” At home in his living room, Will has a few shelves dedicated to miniatures, models, and figurines, so his D&D miniature will be making its top-shelf debut there among his already-extensive collection.
Although Undermountain is only big enough for one terrifying monster, we were nonetheless very impressed by these 10 frightening creations who make up the contest’s honorable mentions.
The story continues…
While we found the world’s most terrifying monster, there’s still a world of other creatures out there waiting to be summoned. Continue to share your monster creations with us and keep on imagining, creating, and building your designs. Wizards of the Coast is always looking for talented artists to design magical realms for them! You can submit your artwork here.