Matt Lichtenwalner

Mobile mapper for TomTom - roaming the US and Canada constantly. Maybe a bit of art and/or writing here and there to spice things up.

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The folks at are kinda brilliant. They've built a website that makes it easy for any old schmo like me build a PDF with all the formatting of a Wizards of the Coast Official 5e Dungeons & Dragons manual.

You enter simple markdown into one window, the website interperets the markdown, and uses CSS to spit the content back out in a second window with all the formatting done for you. No need to learn about different fonts or spacing or... whatever.

I've seen a couple different incarnations of this kind of thing, but GMBinder seems to be the best of them - at least that I've been able to find. And it's 100% free - at least currently.

So when I first came across one of their competitors, the idea occured to me: "This would be a great way to promote and my illustration services. I'll make a short "D&D Book" that is filled with my art and talks about how to hire me to create the art for your D&D book!" It's kinda meta, and I think folks would like that. I've never heard of it being done before, and the name of the game when selling anything is 'stand out from the crowd'. So if I do this right, I can stand out from the crowd while demonstrating just how perfectly I fit in with the crowd.

Oh shut it, Westley - it makes sense to me, and that's what matters.

Anyway - if any of you would like to have a look, you can find it here.

The cover is just a rough sketch, but all the art in it is my work, and I'm already working on a revision which will expand the book, provide more samples, etc. But with that said, I would love any and all criticisms / feedback / reviews / etc. Please - beat it up. :)

1/20 '20 6 Comments
Very nice! As a remarkably minor quibble, would it look nicer or read easier if each tier was on its own page? More room for extra art, unless there's some reason to limit the page count.
Brian Rapp 1/21 '20
I'm struggling with that a little myself. I definitely feel like there needs to be more in the way of samples, but I don't want to load it so full that it loses its "This is a real WoC document!" feel. I've been working on a revision that includes more sections (what to expect from me, how I work, etc) and those will all have more art and then if I'm not satisfied there's enough, I would probably just create several pages at the end of the document that would be exclusively a gallery of sorts.

But to your question - I can't think of any real reason to limit page count aside from my desire to keep the file size reasonable so I can email it to folks.

I'll post future versions so you can see what I've done. I DO like the idea of keeping each tier on their own page if I can do it... properly. :)

Also - a heartfelt thank you for the feedback!
Matt Lichtenwalner 1/21 '20edited
Do you need one document that explains all of this minutia? Part of me is like TL;DR. I'd love to see a "short and sweet" one page slick, and then if they want more, give them something like this that explains the whole process and the benefits and what-kind-of-client-are-you.

Run this past Jerm-- he makes this stuff for a living.

(With that, I know DnD people are a different breed, a breed who still actually *reads.* But sometimes a one-pager with a stripped-down image for cheap, a more detailed one for less-cheap, and a fully-realized beautiful image for spendy hits you harder. Their eye will be drawn to the fully-realized one right away because it's the purtiest. But in the thing you have here, people don't see your best work until they're a few pages deep... and who's to say they'll get that far?

Also, I love you dearly, but that front-page image isn't pulling me in. I see what you're trying to do, but I think you put your most gorgeous work on the front cover... and maybe put thumbnails of the same image at different pricepoints/detail levels around it so they can see the options you offer.

Just a scream of consciousness reply here... sorry if I'm not totally clear.
Jill "xtingu" Knapp 1/21 '20edited
As usual, I feel like you're spot on. This is... call it an alpha version of the final document. I was thinking that I need a "tl;dr" page as Page 1. then people can proceed if the want to.

That said, I DO want to explain the minutia. For a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that people ALL perceive themselves to be on the Hobbyist level when it comes to what they're willing to pay for, but they want to use it for the Professional level of product. And here's the important part: They may still feel this way when they're done looking at my PDF, but _I_ will know that I gave them the relevant information and will therefor feel okay charging them in a way that I feel is appropriate. I know that you understand how difficult that can be for me.

As to the cover - you're right. As I mentioned in the OP, this is a rough sketch, and I'm working on refining it even tonight. It will eventually be a MUCH more refined and finished image.

I will absolutely run this by Jerm.

Lastly - the advantage to old friends is, I'm certain, that their perspective is very clear regardless as to whether or not they feel like they are being so. I read you loud and clear. :)

And, as usual, I'm being... overly verbose. I _may_ have had a bit of rum, so please forgive that. ;)
Matt Lichtenwalner 1/21 '20edited
Update to the cover image for those who are curious: I'm working on refining the sketch. That hand under the tablet is giving me some trouble.

I've got an idea for the finished image that I'm unsure if I can pull off, but I'm going to try. There will be magical effects coming up / off of the tablet to the glowing eyes in the shadows behind me. Along with these effects, I want to give hints of a sword in the hand with the stylus (pen mightier than the... yadda yadda) and a shield on the tablet arm. These should be subtle though - something you have to be paying attention in order to see.

The idea is to present myself as a guardian between the viewer and the monsters in the dark. I keep them at bay until the viewer gives the go ahead to release them.

That seems like a worthwhile symbolism to start the document.

I just had a rather fantastic encounter at my local coffee shop (Peet’s). I had settled in to do some catch up work on art stuff. I had just finished a commission for my buddy Krishna. His wife asked his daughter the age old ‘If you could have a super power, what would it be?’ thing. When they heard the result (a modification of Elsa, of course) K commissioned me to draw it up. The result is above.

Anyway - so I’d just finished up the image, and a family came in with a little boy who can’t be older than 8. I noticed the printer paper in front of him with... are those comic panels? And pencil drawings? Why yes. Yes, they are.

”Are you drawing a comic?” I asked.

He was a bit shy with the big hairy stranger, but with a glance at his mom (grandma?) sitting next to him, he said “Yeah.”

”Well that’s awesome! This is what I just finished!” at which point I turned the iPad to face him and clicked the play button on the time lapse video for the image.

His jaw dropped and his mom started Oooh-ing.

We proceeded to have a conversation about art and comics and I introduced them to software he could get for his iPad and of the very concept of ashcan comic books. He’d said that he was doing them and keeping them to himself. I explained that (if he wanted to) ash cans would let him keep the originals and still share copies with his friends.

The whole family seemed delighted.

For a while now, I have been in seventh heaven listening to the sounds of the little boy quietly narrating his comics to himself as he works. Both dialogue and (far better) sound effects keep coming while he’s drawing.

He’s not playing on an iPhone. He doesn’t have his own laptop here. He’s not watching Youtube. He’s drawing. With pencil and pen on paper.

That. Was. Me. When I was a kid, and it’s just so very good to see as an adult.

* * * * *

In case anyone’s curious, this is the text for the commission:

"Here is what M told me she said: "If she could pick any magic power she would pick being the princess of ice and snow mountains and being in control of fire. And she hopes one eye was clear and white and one eye was red and orange"."

And here’s a link to the time lapse video of the process -

9/23 '18 6 Comments
Gaaah! I can't read what M told you she said. It's in different text that doesn't wrap in mobile. I'm in potrait mode now, so it cuts off at

"she said: "I

When I flip my phone to landscape I get a few more characters, but they display off my display. :-)

Wondering if I should submit a bug report, or should I just reload the page requesting the Desktop Version™?
OK, I'm in DesktopMode now, and it shows a teeny bit more of the quote, but it still won't wrap... and it still runs off my window no matter my phone orientation.

(I'm using Chrome.)

Anyway, this interaction with the boy made me SO HAPPY. Go fuzzy guy, go!
Thanks for the heads up. It's because I used the 'preformatted' option to try to differentiate - like quote formatting in a book. I've changed it so you should be able to read it now.

I've also added a bug report for the OPW folks. :)
Oh! Thanks! I was gonna do that-- thanks for taking care of it!

And thanks for re copying/pasting the quote so'z I can read it now. Yay!
Oh, and Maj. Dickason's Blend from Peet's is the coffee of the house here. They make a half-caf version that we buy from Peet's online, and it's pretty awesome seeing the "Roasted on" date be the week prior to me grinding the beans in the kitchen. Damn tasty.

I have Patty to thank for turning us onto that blend. Peets rocks!

I'm home. I'm slacking.

I got mah hairs did, but I really should have taken care of updating my drivers license today, and I just didn't. Stalled until it would have taken forever and then just didn't. Tomorrow. That's the first thing.

Now? I'm sitting in a diner (not the HamFam - I didn't have the heart since it's not Mike's anymore). I had the perfect opportunity to end the evening, and as I rolled down the road, and should have turned to head to my folks' place, I just... didn't. The air is cool, and it's supposed to rain, but it isn't yet, so there's that electricity in the air that happens before storms, and it's making me feel...

What? Well, it makes me feel like I'm a teenager again and I want to gather my friends and go sneaking around the neighborhood again if I'm honest.

Except that I'm half way through my 40s. My friends are grown and have families of their own. None of the others sneak through neighborhoods anymore. (I still do, but only as a means of getting from one place to another, and fairly infrequently.)

So I turned to that old comfort: a building filled with chrome, mirrors, and greasy spoons dropped into mugs of bad coffee. It's Home - even when it's not.

Fuck it. I should get to bed. I want to make stuff happen tomorrow. I just really don't wanna dammit.

Here's the dude I was working during my travels yesterday. He's a work in progress and needs a LOT of work. I feel like the art tidal wave is slowing down. Don't want that.

4/5 '17