Monday, April 29, 2013

Cor Blok

Third and final of my three 'Share the Love' posts today is for Cor Blok and his amazing illustrations for Lord of the Rings.

Fifty years ago, shortly after The Lord of the Rings was first published, Dutch artist Cor Blok read the work and was completely captivated by its invention and epic storytelling. The breadth of imagination and powerful imagery inspired the young Dutch artist, and this spark of enthusiasm, coupled with his desire to create art that resembled a historical artefact in its own right, led to the creation of more than 100 paintings. Following an exhibition at the Hague in 1961, JRR Tolkien's publisher, Rayner Unwin, sent him five pictures. Tolkien was so taken with them that he met and corresponded with the artist and even bought some paintings for himself. The series bears comparison with the Bayeux Tapestry, in which each tells an epic and complex story in deceptively simple style, but beneath this simplicity lies a compelling and powerful language of form that becomes more effective as the sequence of paintings unfolds.

These are a really refreshing take on Tolkien's work, and much closer in style to Tolkien's own illustrations for the Hobbit. I love the current Peter Jackson movies, and the artwork of John Howe and Alan Lee but their more realistic depictions have come to dominate the genre lately. These are a nice step back in time, and retro is what we love here in Tower of Ur. Kind of reminds me a bit of Tove Jansen's Moomins illuutrations.

Steve Cox

Another british-based illustrator whose work I have recently discovered is Steve Cox. He's coming a little more from the children's book illustration arena, which I seem to be moving more into these days, so I was admiring his work from that perspective, but then I found he's done quite a bit in the fantasy arena too, which I thought was well worth sharing here.

Official Website: Steve Cox Illustration
Blog: Steve Cox Blog

From a trading card game called Lords of War:

Also check out this crazy Pop-up book project he did -- so much fun. I'd love to work on something like this!: Pop-Up Spooky Castle


Matt Dixon

So while I'm here, there's a few 'Share the Love' type posts I've been meaning to make. The first is for fantasy illustrator Matt Dixon, who's work I recently discovered. As you may already have guessed, it was a bit of an influence on my work for Battle Maerchants. I love Matt's comical tone and the fun subjects he chooses. I also love his color palette and his use of lost and found edges, and the general looseness of his style. Does the fact that he is British have anything to do with it. No, but I was pleasantly delighted when I found out that he is!

His Official Site:
His Deviant Art Page: MattDixon on deviantART

This was the first image of his that I found while I was researching orcs for Battle Merchants. The more I looked at it, the more I loved it:

Here are some others that are sure to appeals to the denizens of Ur. Although my guess is that you would probably enjoy most all of his work:

Ahh well, I could go on all day. He also does some very cool things with halloween-type characters such as witches and zombies and Frankensteins etc. Also cyberpunks and sci-fi. :)

Battle Merchants

It has been another age since life last stirred within the dusty halls of the Tower of Ur. But once more, those great doors with their intricate carvings creak open, and a lone wizard returns from his wanderings throughout the wastes of the universe. How much time has passed? Months... Years... Centuries... Eons? He cannot tell. But the rituals and rites of the Wizards of Ur remain steadfast and unchanging, the passage of time means nothing here....

So, I've got a bit of new Ur-worthy work to share. I've been off doing a lot of children's book illustration and suchlike of late, which you can always take a look at over on my website:

But I've been doing some stuff for a new board game called BattleMerchants for Minion Games, and here's some of what I've done so far.

Next I need to tackle the cover art, but here are the actually characters that grace the board. In the game you play a medieval arms-dealer selling weapons to the the local tribes of Orcs, Hobgoblins, Elves and Dwarves who are always doing battle with one another. Your job is not to care who wins, but to make as much profit as possible from their activities!

Here are the four merchants:

And here are the four races:

As you can see, I went with a bit of a more painterly style than I usually do. I've been doing a lot of cartoony stuff for children's books, which has been really fun, but I thought this project would be a good excuse to try my hand at something a little meatier.

Here's the current version of the board. The more astute wizards among you will not that I have made ample use of Wizard Nate's premium font 'Dwarvern Axe' from his site. I feel like this is the job that that font was born to do! It's absolutely perfect for it anyway ;) I still need to tweak the Logo quite a bit, haven't really done much to that yet, but you get the general idea.