Game of Thrones Jones homage?

The trailer has been released for the new season of the HBO series Game of Thrones, and I couldn’t help but take notice of the final shot. Around ten years ago or so, Jeffrey Catherine Jones created 72 wonderful illustrations for a deluxe limited edition of A Game of Thrones. The cover illustration itself is one of my favorites Jones pieces, and it seems someone else must like it, too – there seems to be a clear homage to the painting at the end of the new trailer.

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Spectrum Time!

It’s that time again – the deadline for submitting artwork for the Spectrum 19 jury is January 27th! Last year, I didn’t feel I had anything really worthy to submit (although I sent in two pieces anyway). This year, I have several that I’d feel good about sending – it’s deciding which ones to send that is tough…

I took the website’s advice and printed out all my top candidates, and laid them out on a table. I was  surprised at how that changed my opinion of certain pieces.

The winnowing process continues, but Éowyn and Lady Macbeth are definitely going:

“The Nautilus and the Devilfish” WIP

I’ve been re-reading Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Seas lately, and have been sketching out possible Captain Nemo portraits. More on that to come, but I’ve also been thinking about trying a “crowd scene”, and the Devilfish attack seemed a perfect candidate. I sat down with the iPad to sketch out some little colour scenes. I went a bit over the top at first, I think, with a really ambitious, wide-screen battle scene:

Nemo is in there, and Ned Land lining up a harpoon cast… still, it seemed a bit messy to me – which I supposed a giant squid attack can be. I decided to crop in closer to clean up the tentacle chaos, and to open up a highlighting area of light behind Nemo:

It’s a bit better, but I still felt removed from the people. I finally decided to really zoom in, and get some faces visible, and I ended up here:

Ned isn’t in this group, and the brave Nautilus crew are the focus. After sketching it out, I posed for the various figures. I researched the possible look of their clothing, what boarding axes of the period looked like, and the possible look of the deck of the Nautilus. It’s fairly murky at the moment, which is a typical issue when producing on the iPad – the device screen is very bright and sharp, and images typically look much duller when I bring them to the desktop.

I’ll keep working on this piece, and post the final when I get it sorted.

“Éowyn and the Nazgûl” Alternate Ideas

In the middle of last May’s “Éowyn and the Nazgûl” challenge at The Art Order, I was still playing around with alternate setups for the scene. I took two of these ideas to color comps, and I felt that they were interesting in their own ways – even if I ended up staying with my original setup:

My friend Annica kindly helped me by modeling in partial costume, including a real chain mail shirt, and a full cloak. I had bought several other props to help things along. The prop shield was real wood and metal, and was quite heavy. I think the true weight helped with the poses.

The first alternate approach was to portray the scene from Merry’s point of view. The more I re-read the scene, the more I came to believe that it was actually his scene. From the moment Merry and Éowyn are thrown from their horse, the entire scene is told from Merry’s point of view. Éowyn desires to die in battle, and is truly about to do so. It’s Merry’s brave act that saves her, and gives her the chance to defeat the Witch King (note that after the battle, Éowyn is still depressed that she survived). Without Merry’s finding of his courage, the whole thing would go pear-shaped.

With this in mind, I made a comp from Merry’s point of view, down on the grass of the field. Annica modeled two of these poses. There were some aspects of this setup that I really liked, but I kept thinking “Giant Hobbit threatens Gondor”, so ultimately I decided against using it.

Merry, Éowyn and the Witch King of Angmar

The other alternate idea was to use a less unconventional composition and get up more in Éowyn’s face, and to only show the Witch King as a reflection in the boss of her shield. Again, an interesting approach, but it didn’t quite have the drama – or perhaps I didn’t know how to invest it with that drama. Several things I liked: the large swath of relatively empty space in the picture, and that I managed to get a feeling of weight to the chail mail. Having a model right there actually wearing a mail shirt really gave me a sense of how mail acts, how it drapes. It’s an example of how good reference material can really bolster a painting idea.

Éowyn Faces the Witch King

Finally, here’s a peek at one of the reference shots we did. I used bits and pieces from several shots, but this shows what we were up to. I don’t really have a proper setup to do this kind of thing, so we just made do with the conditions in the studio that afternoon and shot with an iPhone camera. I used these photos mainly to check things like the draping of fabrics. Annica was a lot of fun to work with, and had good ideas of her own.

Photo shoot reference image.

I hope you enjoyed this look at some of the unseen work behind my challenge entry. I had a great time with the challenge, and want to thank Kate, Annica and Rasmus for their support, advice and help!

Shaun Tan in Stockholm for ALMA

Oscar-winning illustrator/author Shaun Tan was in Stockholm last week to accept the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award – from Crown Princess Victoria, no less! Posters were up along the streets, and when I was at Hötorget monday, I snapped this shot of the banners draping the front of Konserthuset, where the award ceremony took place. Unfortunately, I had to miss the book signing at Sciencefictionbokhandeln.

The statue in the foreground is Orfeusgruppen by Carl Milles.