View Full Version : Norse Gods

10-16-2001, 12:13 PM
Here are a couple of older pieces I did (early '90s) for a portfolio on Norse mythology I was planning. I was on an Alphonse Mucha roll at the time and wanted to try and merge traditional Scandinavian and Celtic designs with art nouveau.


These are mixed media. The line work is pen and ink, the coloring is water dye, and the border design work was cleaned up digitally for a recent set of reproductions.

Normally I work from photos when figure drawing, but these older figure illustrations were entirely sketched from my head. Individual ornaments were researched from mythology texts and books on Scandinavian costume.


10-16-2001, 12:33 PM

Man these kick ***!!! I love the glowing Mjolnir hammer, and the stances are great, comparing the two I can tell you stylized them and that makes them even cooler...

Is this the only pantheon you ever did? I bet you could make a killer Egyptian set, just a thought for ya, and maybe a wish come true for me...

This "water dye" can you explain that further? Is it Dr. Martin's? And how do you work with them, is it much like watercolor, cause I see no hard edges from premature drying here, unless you work "that" fast... If you could scan a piece partially finished, it would really help to understand how you did these... (Course if these are state secrets, I totally understand)...

The Mucha effect is terrific, I am a big fan. Don't have the patience to design my own patterns but I think after this I will just about force myself... please keep posting, would love to see some recent stuff... that is stuff not covered on your awesome website;)

your fan,


10-16-2001, 01:53 PM
I did all the figure work coloring with Dr. Martins. I added highlights with a mechanical eraser (a standard technique, I learned it from a Sorayama book.) I also added some texturing to the stone work with salt.

A lot of the flat color in the pieces is digital. I did these two at about 17 inches in height. This didn't leave me room to do nice detail work on the borders (Mucha worked BIG.) I scanned them and reworked the borders, cleaning up the muddiness of the watercolor edges and flattening the colors. I also cleaned up Heimdal's chain mail.

I'm pleased with the response I've had from these pieces. Although they're older work, they've generated some nice response from viewers (Walt and Louise Simonson stopped by my table at a recent show and talked celtic knotwork!)

Most of the work on my site is produced digitally or is pen and ink.

10-16-2001, 06:35 PM
God, I love celtic knotwork.

Can we see a closeup on the chainmail?

These are sweet.

10-16-2001, 07:33 PM
The chainmail is not very exciting, but I did try and catch the real look of mail. Usually I'd fake the effect, rather than drawing lots of loops. The fact that it was a digital cleanup made it possible to put a lot of pattern repetition into it, athough it was still time consuming.

As requested:

10-17-2001, 05:35 AM
hmmm how do you type the sound of your jaw hitting the floor....?
You are amazing! I am so glad that you have come to join us here at WetCanvas... there are a lot of people hiding in the forums that would get a kick out of seeing these... lots of closet history fans :D
I love all things ancient, and Vikings are near to the very top of the list! (only behind Egyptians and Mayan/Incans!)
Did you do any of the other gods?
Please post more of your work anytime you feel like it! :D

10-20-2001, 10:00 AM
oh, my, GOD!
My jaw not only dropped, it fell right off!
Ok, I don't have enough adjectives to describe this. AWESOME!

10-20-2001, 10:20 AM
There is a lot to like here! Aside from the great detail and colorwork, what really strikes me is the power exuded in the poses, especially Heimdal. I can almost see Bifrost under his feet. Good stuff!


10-22-2001, 04:11 AM
wow....I'm jelous now...

what a good job you did!!!


10-31-2001, 07:34 AM

You should do a whole deck of cards with the Norse Gods - they'd sell like hot cakes!! Wow ... you are SO good!!

One question ... what are Dr. Martins? I thought those were like ... boots or something? Please grace this poor lowly student standing in the presence of a master with an answer :)

10-31-2001, 09:18 AM
Dr. Martin's is a brand of water dyes. Basically, they are pre-mixed water colors in bottles. They dry a bit smoother than conventional water colors. Prior to digital coloring, almost all comic books were colored with Dr. Martin's. Many colorists still use them.

I don't use them anymore, since I work digitally now (see my "Deadwood" post in the digital forum.) When I was transitioning from pen and ink to color I experimented with them quite a bit.

11-04-2001, 06:13 PM
Holy Mother of God......these are awesome!!!!!! I finished designing a tarot deck two years ago. Well, sort of finished. I still have all that digital clean up work to do on them, and no clear idea of how to do it, so it's stalled for the time being. (And I've fallen deeply and hopelessly in love with my oil paints since then, which keep me too busy to get back to the quoache illustration stuff......) Anyway, point being, that I did alot of knotwork and similar design work on that deck that you did here. It's terribly time consuming (though very satisfying), I know.
Everything about these is so good, I don't really know where to start. The detail is incredible. The poses are great (and from your head, no less!!!!!!! That's tough!) I would love to see more of these!
What with and how did you "clean" them up? I've got Photoshop, but I think I'm missing something when I try to figure out what to do to clean up the curves in the knotwork. I'm sure there must be a trick to it that is completely beyond me.....

11-04-2001, 09:57 PM
Wow, good questions, Aurora. The digital clean up was the most tedious part of the process. I'll try and give you some quick insight into what I did.

For starters, since I worked fairly small and used water color my detail work on the border tended to bleed. Also, while the water colors gave me some nice texture on the figures, I wanted a flatter set of background colors than I could achieve with a brush. In Photoshop I masked off a lot of areas and used the airbrush tool to help smooth them out. I would add a little noise (Filters/noise/add noise) to make the flat color maintain the grainy quality of the scanned painting. I carefully went around the edges of the border details and cleaned up fuzzy edges (I used the clone tool to copy painted areas of color to make sure the clean up matched the original.) Some details I completely reworked, copied, flipped horizontally, and retouched to match the other side.

To clean up the knot work you can either use the line tool and carefully draw out the curves with line segments (cleaning them up freehand as needed) or you can draw the curves out using "paths" and then turning the paths into lines using the stroke option. This is so tricky and it was so long ago I can only tell you to research it in the manual. :( It gives you perfect curves, though.

However you do it, you only have to do one repetition of the knot. In this case I needed one straight section and a curved section. Then you can copy and paste sections to make the border. That gives you a perfect guide that you can add personality to (cracks in the stonework, etc.) Mostly it helped me clean up what I had already painted, but I would probably do this part entirely digitally if I did another one of these.

I know that's a sketchy overview, but I hope it gives you a starting point to the process.


11-05-2001, 08:12 AM
Hey Chris!
Thanks for taking the time to answer some of my questions! I'm still pretty Photoshop-ignorant, so I didn't even know about "paths." Will check it out!
All I need now is some nerve, and some patience, and some (gulp) extra time! LOL!
Thanks again!

turpentine soup
11-07-2001, 01:36 AM

what surface did you use by the way?



11-07-2001, 01:16 PM
Strathmore 600 Cold Press illustration board. I think they've discontinued it. Rather than having a paper surface mounted on board, or even on both sides of a board, the 600 series was made of the same paper all the way through. You chould dig into it with an electric eraser or an x-acto knife and reveal a perfectly white surface. You could even correct a mistake made in india ink by erasing away the top layer of the boards's surface. I used it a lot back then.


11-07-2001, 05:40 PM
Why on earth would they discontinue THAT? Sounds like wonderful illustration board. You know, that's just my luck.....once I discover something realllllly cool, it's gone. :( It's like all of the ideas I've had for inventions that someone else invents.....

11-26-2001, 06:13 AM

11-26-2001, 09:23 PM
Hey chris & aurora, are you sure it's strathmore 600? Dick Blick has a 500 series, but not sure of the weight, it's worth a look if you're off by 1 number :D, just trying to help... Bobby

11-27-2001, 01:41 PM
Being a fan of the Norse Mythos, I had to reply. Great job! I think these illustrations are some of the better incarnations (for a lack of a better word) of the characters I have ever seen.


11-30-2001, 08:49 PM
COOL! I especially like the colours and textures in these.:clap: