Quentin Marsollier - a 2nd year student at Brassart’s School located in Tours explains the processes used to create a vikings house, viking characters designs and viking landscape through a range of concepts art illustrations.

First Steps

The first difficulty was to keep the same graphic style, and also the same colour codes. In order to keep a coherent graphic style, you must have:

  • Identics brushes
  • An almost similar workflow
  • A graphic background and a coherent typography
  • A main color

In order to keep a link through my different concept illustrations, I often use the polygonal lasso.

The brushes that I frequently use belong to many artists such as:

Taknar Farm

The brief for this illustration was to create a house belonging to a Viking universe.
Softwares used: 3dsMax, Vray, Photoshop.

Moodboards Taknar farm 1

  • Colors atmospheres
  • Textures researches
  • Lighting

Moodboards Taknar farm 2

  • Accessories selection
  • Lighting
  • Global atmosphere
  • Textures researches

Sketches and 3D bases

There are many sketches types:

  1. The traditional sketch at the line
  2. The massive sketch

There is varied technicals ( traditional , watercolor, ink, pencil, tablet etc…). The sketch at the line is more traditional, it allows to visualize the image composition , to return at the details which are useful for the future. The sketch by mass, or massive sketch allows to quickly define and conceptualize uniques shapes.

Sketch Taknar Farm 1

Concerning the outside of the house , I decided at the first time to use the sketch by mass, in the goal to define many shapes concepts. Then I added a second shade of grey in order to add volume to the sketch. Later, I decided to realize a sketch at the line to return at the home details

Taknar farm 2 Sketch

Concerning the inside of the house, I decided to use the traditional sketch for the accessories. Then I used 3dsMax software in order to realize a 3D base and to have a perfect perspective.

The composition choice

The composition is really important to understand the concept art and the illustration. It’s a balance of a picture which will allow to this one to be watched with attention. A composition is as important as the execution of the picture.

Taknar farm concepts arts boards have been composed with large masses, medium masses and small masses, in order to keep a dynamism and to have a solid foundation of composition.

The graphic choice

The graphic background is identic for the both concept arts. This is important to keep a basic graphic background to not disrupt the viewer’s gaze. Indeed, the graphic background makes part of the composition of the concept art board. The colors are soft and unsaturated. The graphic background gives a unity to all the concepts arts.

The Execution - Taknar Farm 1

Colors bases: The colors bases allow to determine the firsts ambiances of the concept art and the illustration. In the outside board of the taknar farm, 4 colors are standing out:

  1. The blue of snow
  2. The brown of wood
  3. Warms colors of the interior of the house
  4. The red flags which target the entrance of the house

Shadows and lights

A lighting is determined with the help of time, of place, and of universe. In this case, here, we are located in a winter atmosphere, by snowy weather in the viking area universe. The shadows and lights will allow to give a volume at the different concepts arts and illustrations.

We observe a global cold atmosphere into a snowy weather, with slight warm hues in the windows in order to be able to tell a story to the research board.

Final render

Added of a graphic background with trees and mountains shapes in order to reset the board and makes it dynamic. Added details with accessories and little twigs of grass. Added fences. This allow us once again to situate the home’s place.


Taknar Farm 2

In taknar farm 2, we will begin to dissociate the objects with many colors:

  • Walls
  • Floor
  • Beams

For the props but also the integrality of the project, it was necessary to have a coherent color base compared to the first concept art, in order to stay in the same universe with red and brown hues for exemple.

Shadows and lights

In taknar farm 2, we globally observe an identic atmosphere compared to taknar farm 1. This is in order to show that the concepts arts are in the same place at the same time.

The hot light of the first concept art correspond to the small lit campfire in the concept art 2. We have a return of cold light with an other opening on the left of the concept art, which is reflecting on the objects in surroundings. I also chosen to represent small window openings near the chair.

Final render

  • Added of little orange lights in overlay
  • Added of little red lights in color dodge
  • Added of volumetric lights to give more volume at the concept art
  • Added of a little green hue for the props in order to give more details

Character design: Sigvar the merciless

Creation of a character which belongs to the same univers that the previous concept art. The documentation was very important on the character design subject, with the research of vikings outfits, vikings hairstyles, vikings profils, and vikings universe.

Software used:Photoshop

Moodboard Sigvar:

  • Colors atmosphere
  • Textures research
  • Lightings
  • Vikings outfits
  • Hairstyles
  • Weapons

The sketch

I decided to use a traditional sketch, in order to make the drawing dynamic. I don’t used The 3D bases in that case because I think it would have taken longer time that drawing the character by hand.

The forces lines

At the search of forces lines to continue to keep dynamism to the character. The force line is the same for the 3 characters. To energize this line, you have to give it a curve but also other small curves in order to give a balance.

The composition choice

The composition of character design concept art is basic, with the masses division depending on the frame of the characters and their arrangements.

Graphic background choice

The same as the others houses concepts for always keep the link to the chosen universe. The graphic background stays basic and doesn’t attract the viewer. The background stays in a bluish hue with texture, however, the background is darker in order to make bring out more the visuals.

The execution

The colors bases stay in cold tones, in order to stay in the same winter universe. I also used the red color code on the characters cheeks in reference at the first concept art.

Final render

I decided to realize the characters in a cold atmosphere, with a hot orange counter-light which allows to detach a character of graphic background and to give some volume at the concept art.

I added some details to affine my concept art:

  • Blood stains
  • Red overlays on the right side of each character
  • Some white brightnesses with in superimposition, a round brush
Sigvar The Merciless

Environment illustration: Ice mountains

Software used: 3dsMax, Vray, Photoshop

Moodboard Ice Mountains:

  • Colors mood
  • Textures research
  • Lighting
  • Glaciers
  • Vikings boats

The 3D bases

3D Modelisation: The modelisation was performed under 3dsMax software, these are giant cubes with the taper modifier which allowed me to give dynamism to the illustration. The taper modifier allows to deform 3D objects.

3D lightings: The 3D lighting was important in order to give the giant side at the icebergs. It is part of the image composition.  I took the decision to realize a cold lighting, cutting by a mountain outside the picture in order to put forward the right icebergs forces lines.

The sun hits the ground where the boats are passing, it is to put them in the light.

Composition choices

Where do we want to direct the viewer’s gaze? What do we want to tell? The composition is important at the picture comprehension. It exists an impressionnant number of composition, as well as :

  • The central composition
  • The third composition
  • The quarter composition
  • The rule of the golden ratio

In this case, I decided to use the third composition to dynamism the picture. My horizon is almost placed on the third. The boat is placed perfectly to the third of the picture. The viking is situated at the third of the picture with the face at the intersection of thirds. The icebergs lines are dynamics and dirige the gaze in direction to vikings boats bring out the mountains of the image allow to give a dynamic and a giant effect to this one.

The picture is composed through:

  • The masses
  • The lighting
  • The colors ambiances
  • The forces lines

An illustration is regularly composed of a dark foreground, a second plane in the light and a third plane which is much less saturated.

The execution

Details in shades of gray:This is an important step to well refine the composition and to know where to put the importants details of the illustration.

The colors bases

On color mode, I put the first color juice in the illustration to give a general atmosphere to the glaciers with blue color. Thereafter, I Added the first hot lights shades on the glaciers in color negative dodge. And I used the turquoise light to differentiate light from glaciers.

Using of birds

The birds allowed to give life to the icebergs and the illustration.

FX: The Fx allow to detail the image while telling a story, that's why I decided in this illustration to use the dynamism of snowflakes.

Final render

I used the color balance tool to redefine the shadows and lights color.

Ice Mountains

A long-term project that allowed me to discover new techniques.

The realization of the vikings concept art have taught me a lot about graphic coherence, graphic universe and, gradually, I discovered new techniques in my lasts ones. A big thanks to the rookies for this article that helps me to relay my passion through workflows. Hoping that the article will have taught you more and learned some small techniques.

I also want to thanks my illustration professor, Pierre-Oliver Malo, who have taught me to discover the graphic world with passion.  If you have some questions, you can find me here: Artstation |  Instagram |  Linkedin |  TheRookies