Nail­ing the throne

Marc ex­plains how he drew Ge­orge RR Martin’s ini­tially very elu­sive but now very fa­mous Iron Throne for Game of Thrones

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Artist Portfolio | Marc Simonetti -

For me the Iron Throne was one of the ma­jor fan­tasy icons that hadn’t been nailed. I had the idea of a cor­rect shape, but it still didn’t work well with Ge­orge. What made it work was the mo­ment I de­cided to paint its whole en­vi­ron­ment first. In the books there are very few de­scrip­tions of the throne room. All we know is that it’s in the Red Keep, and that there were a lot of dragon skulls in it. So mak­ing a huge, beau­ti­ful, sym­met­ri­cal place very im­pres­sive but very reg­u­lar and bor­ing in its shapes, made the ugly and twisted Iron Throne work. Both of the el­e­ments were in­spired by San Pi­etro in the Vat­i­can. But one was clearly ma­jes­tic and re­gal, while the other one was clearly evil. This is just a com­po­si­tion tool that made the de­sign of the throne work. It was a big, big les­son for me.

art direc­tor can re­ally help make a great il­lus­tra­tion.”

Marc rents a small flat above his apart­ment, which he uses as a workspace. He sits at a big desk – two screens, Cin­tiq 27QHD graph­ics tablet – and works mainly in Pho­to­shop. He also uses Modo, ZBrush, 3D-Coat and Cin­ema 4D. An av­er­age il­lus­tra­tion project takes him be­tween two and five days to com­plete.

“My only rou­tine,” he says, “is to work ev­ery day, the whole day, whether I have a lot of work or none at all. To be train­ing or work­ing con­stantly makes the pro­gres­sion, and to get bet­ter ev­ery day is vi­tal. A per­fect work­day is the day I can fi­nally fin­ish a pic­ture that I love, then be­gin a new project that I’m very ex­cited about.”

cre­ative free­dom

Marc is cur­rently work­ing on two projects that of­fer the kind of cre­ative free­dom he en­joys most. He’s draw­ing in­te­rior il­lus­tra­tions and cover art for the Shan­nara tril­ogy by Terry Brooks and Frank Her­bert’s Dune Mes­siah. He al­ways reads the book he’s il­lus­trat­ing – not all artists do. He also does a lot of ex­tra re­search to en­sure these il­lus­tra­tions are ac­cu­rate.

As a work­ing artist, his goal is al­ways to please the client. But un­til the im­age is fin­ished, he doesn’t think about any­one but him­self. Whether work­ing freely or within a more strict com­mis­sion, Marc says that what comes out on the page is al­ways a prod­uct of what’s al­ready in­side him.

“There’s more free­dom il­lus­trat­ing a small sci-fi novel: I just have to be faith­ful to the text and make a beau­ti­ful pic­ture to sell the book. When I do con­cept art for games or movies, my goal isn’t to make a fi­nal prod­uct. It’s all about solv­ing prob­lems: how the mood should be, how to de­sign some props, how some parts could work. So I have to be faith­ful with the vis­ual iden­tity of the game or movie. I’m just a small part of a team, so all my as­sets have to be clean and crys­tal clear to make them us­able in 3D later on.

“I like con­struc­tive crit­i­cism, but I don’t know how to han­dle com­pli­ments. I’m per­fectly okay with peo­ple ex­press­ing them­selves. Not ev­ery­one has to like my stuff. But you can take any of my il­lus­tra­tions, keep the same com­po­si­tion, light­ing and colours, but change the set­ting – say, from fan­tasy to steam­punk – and it will still work. I try to adapt my­self to each book and each theme, but I can only work with my own per­son­al­ity, my own feel­ings, my own choices.”

My only rou­tine is to work ev­ery day, all day, whether I have work or none at all

iron throne Now the most fa­mous chair in fic­tion, it took Marc Simonetti over 50 it­er­a­tions to gain Ge­orge RR Martin’s ap­proval.

This is a fake cover art for Amer­i­can Gods by Neil Gaiman. Marc tried to do some­thing dif­fer­ent, more per­sonal too. Marc’s moody, at­mo­spheric piece for 2014 dark fan­tasy cal­en­dar pub­lished by Le Pré aux Clercs. The cover for Estelle Faye’s novel Les Seigneurs de Bo­hen fea­tures Marc’s spell­bind­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the story. This piece for Le Pré aux Clercs’ dark fan­tasy cal­en­dar shows Marc’s tal­ents for scale and space. Am er­i­can Gods Les Seigneurs de Bo­hen Th e Doors Th e Red Process ion

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