Friday, March 2, 2012

Artists: Keith Parkinson

Cover image for the novel Eye of the Hunter

The late Keith Parkinson's work is some of my favorite stuff. His images, along with those of Larry Elmore, were integral to my early gaming years. But where my exposure to Elmore's work was solely from D&D products, Parkinson's pictures came to me on other gaming products as well, such as the cover image from the original Rifts core rulebook:

That rulebook also contained some beautiful full-page paintings by Parkinson, and his work graced the covers of many of the Rifts sourcebooks.

His work was also featured on many a fantasy novel, and could even entice me to pick up the work of Terry Goodkind! ;-)

Keith's cover for Goodkind's Stone of Tears

To me, his work gave a good sort of reality, a solidity, to fantastical situations. It made the wondrous seem more possible. His work had a depth to it, and when I say that I mean that his images made me feel like I could step into them. But for all this feeling of the real, there was still something dream-like about them. His paintings have a vibrancy and level of detail that make you notice that detail and marvel at it:

Of course, when it comes to D&D, who could forget his famous Forgotten Realms boxed set cover:

And Elmore wasn't the only one to do a good turn at depicting the Dragonlance world:

Lord Soth and some of his good friends!

So, thanks Keith, where ever you may be, for the inspiration!


  1. Mr Parkinson makes Mr Elmore look like a kid with fingerpaints.

  2. Parkinson was an amazing talent. Nice post btw is unappreciated somewhat in OSR circles.

  3. Parkinson is my favorite of the "realist" artists of this period of RPGs. I particularly enjoy his undead and his detailed landscapes.

  4. Cool post! Color me uninformed - I had no idea Mr. Parkinson had passed away. That sucks.

    I've noticed a general lack of appreciation for the work of Parkinson, Caldwell, and some of the other guys that came around in the early 1980s. It's like it's just become cool to say that Erol Otus and Jeff Dee were THE BEST ARTIST EVER!!!!!!!!! and ignore these I these other guys.

    To be honest, back when I was a kid getting into th game, I always thought that the original artwork in most of the rule books was amateurish and lacking in technique. Otus' stuff okay because he definitely had a certain style he was going for and he stuck to it. Same with Tramo. But some of those other guys... Just not my cup of tea, I kind of felt like TSR couldn't afford good artists.

    Then I saw Parkinson's stuff and thought it was awesome.

    Thanks for the post and for the tribute to his work,