The value of honor is constantly questioned in GoT. Here, as part of Create for the Throne, four artists explore the idea of honor across four different props and numerous characters. Robert Ball, known for his Beautiful Death series, takes on telling the story of Ice to Oathkeeper in one piece; Lena Danya details how she beautifully captured the Unsullied’s journey; Eva Eskalinen describes capturing all of the Starks’ stories in one unifying painting; and Laurent Durieux illustrates the process behind her Longclaw creation.
Artist: Robert Ball | Digital Artist | London, England
“Before I put pen to paper, I boiled it down to what I think is the most interesting, simple aspect of the Oathkeeper story — the compelling story here is that Ned Stark's sword, Ice, has found its way back into the service of the Stark family: it’s as if it has a will of its own. Then, I thought to bring to life Oathkeeper's most notable onscreen moment — the execution of Stannis Baratheon during his failed siege of Winterfell. I tried to achieve this through symbolism, and the opposing colors of ice and fire, blues and reds.”
“There are details to help the story along: I've turned Oathkeeper's lion head pommel into a wolf, for instance, and included the red comet which was seen as an omen of victory for the Lannisters. This image allowed me to look at a story that spanned a few seasons, and bring elements in right from the start of Season 1 — and even before that (the fire takes on the shape of dragon's wings, referencing the forging of Ice).”
“The challenge was really balancing all the elements so that it works as a striking image if you don't know Oathkeeper's story, but there are layers there if you do. I had to exaggerate the pommel of Ice so that it could be seen ghosted behind Oathkeeper. I also had to make sure that Ned was recognizable, holding the sword without dominating the image.”
Artist: Lena Danya | Painter Bradenton, Florida
“I wanted to incorporate water, ships, the Unsullied, the three dragons and Daenerys. I also rewatched some episodes from Seasons 6 and 7 to better observe the Unsullied armor and the Targaryen fleet — I referenced about eight separate scenes. I created a digital version of the painting by splicing together my references and digitally painting on different elements to map out where everything would go on the shield. After prepping the shield, I drew out the shapes and outlines in chalk and proceeded with oil paint.”
“Working around the shape of the shield was a challenge I anticipated. I'm so used to creating paintings on completely flat surfaces, where light reflects evenly. The shield was curved and had a protruding center point, so when it came to painting the top of the shield, too much light reflected off those areas and it was hard to see values accurately. With painting the bottom of the shield, not enough light was reaching certain areas, causing them to appear darker. To combat this, I had to shift the position and height of my easel constantly, as well as my lighting set up.”
“For most of the shadows in this piece, I used a lot of blues. I wanted them to fade and fuse with the sky and seascape — like a distant memory. As they sale to Westeros, I imagined the sea offering a moment of peace along their journey between battles. I wanted to include this moment of stillness as well, using subtle pinks, yellows, oranges, and greens to create the the warmth of setting sun they're sailing off to.”
Artist: Eva Eskalinen | Painter | Vancouver, British Columbia
“For most of my work, I sketch digitally. It is easier to make different iterations and fast adjustments that way. I had a digital template of the original Stark shield design and I started sketching on top of it with digital drawing tools.
“I listed out things that came to my mind: the family members, the Wall and beyond, the direwolves, the Godswood, and the Three-Eyed Raven. Thematically I wanted the design to represent the Stark family and their story: who have we lost, who still remain and what kind of supernatural powers are at play in the North and how are they connected.”
“In the Stark shield, wolf emblem takes a lot of the shield surface; instead of trying to hide the design I decided to use it for representing the most peculiar direwolf of the litter — Jon Snow's Ghost. He has red eyes and a white mane, which dictated my graphic palette of white, red and black on neutral grey, to make the colors pop.”
“Being from Finland, I believe that the harsh nature and climate shape people, like the Starks — the individual grit, perseverance and the strength of the pack that are needed to survive. The Starks are all quite stern and serious in my illustration; the snow and the dark forests are there as well. The style of the illustration is rather graphic, borrowing inspiration from medieval art and Scandinavian design — which I hoped will bring out the rawness and bareness I associate with the North.”
Artist: Laurent Durieux | Illustrator | Woluwe-Saint Pierre, Belgium
“I start by drawing some quick rough ideas on paper. Once I have something I think works, I colorize it. When the concept is solidified, I start gathering all sorts of references and documentation in order to be as accurate as possible. Then I start the black and white drawing and final composition. The next step is the coloring and rendering with my digital cross hatching. I delete the black outline by colorizing it. It’s very tedious and time consuming but the final result is worth it.”