Random Art, One with Madmartigan from Willow

Willow Header

I’ve got some random recent sketches on hand, so I thought I’d just combine a couple unrelated ones into a single post. My favorite of the bunch is a drawing from the movie Willow. If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s a fantasy-genre movie from the late 1980s, starring Val Kilmer and Warwick Davis. It was directed by Ron Howard, and produced by George Lucas.

In my opinion, Willow is a really underrated movie. It’s an enjoyable adventure, with an entertaining cast and fun banter – especially between Davis’s Willow Ufgood and Kilmer’s Madmartigan character. I was a kid when I first saw the movie, and I remember some legitimately terrifying moments; a battle scene with a weird two headed dragon that grew from a troll, and the final wizard battle especially.

Madmartigan’s introduction came as Willow (a Nelwyn) was looking for someone to take care of a Daikini (human) child found in his village. Willow and his party find Madmartigan in a cage, imprisoned for deserting during a war. Willow wants to be a magician, and threatens him with a “magic” acorn. As you can see, Madmartigan was not particularly impressed.

I wanted to capture something of one of these first scenes between the two future friends. I started this sketch very casually, really not focused or intending on it turning into anything. It actually turned out better than I thought it would. When I started, it really didn’t look like Val Kilmer at all, but I think once I got some color and facial shadows in place, it became more faithful to how his character looked. Here’s the result:


Switching gears completely, we were hanging out at my wife’s cousin’s house this past weekend, celebrating some birthdays. A bunch of kids, including one of my own, were drawing with chalk in the driveway. Our youngest was sitting on my wife’s lap, looking extremely cranky about the entire situation. I picked up a piece of chalk, and decided to memorialize her grumpiness. I think I pretty accurately captured her mood:


And I final piece is actually a remnant from my series on Warcraft and video game sketches from a couple weeks ago. In one of them, I sketched an elf archer, but I had actually started by attempting that lady’s evil undead sister. I realized it wasn’t going well and, to make matters worse, I don’t even like the character. So, I scrapped it and went with one who wasn’t a zombie. But, I was going through some unfinished sketches the other day (I’m starting to accumulate a nice collection of unfinished ones), and decided to add some lines and color to that first attempt.

I think it turned out okay overall, despite the fact that some of her skulls look happy. She’s supposed to be sort of sinister and frightening I think, but is definitely more cartoonish. Happy skulls aren’t too intimidating! I didn’t actually finish the entire thing, as you can see there is no color and basic lines towards the bottom, and below that pretty much nothing but faint lines. I’m not going to go any further than that, because I want to move on to fresh subjects. But here’s where it ended up:


So, what’s next? Maybe some more video games, but a totally different game I haven’t drawn yet. Or, another movie perhaps – how about a full series from Willow? It might be fun to sketch Warwick Davis’s character, or possibly some of the bad guys.


  • War-chief Sylvanas! <3

    • Does she look about right to you? I really was going for something scarier and more serious, but the sketch turned out looking sort of like a cartoon villain.

      I think I’m just not very good at depicting “scary.” I had the same issues when I was trying to draw the antagonists from the Dark Tower series.

      • I think your assessment is correct. Overall I like the drawing and her proportions make her look exactly like Sylvanas. But if you’re going for a more thematic and scary depiction, the color pallete is too bright. The skulls look menacing for sure. I wouldn’t say cartoonish, though. If you want it to be more menacing or scary, going in with some darker shadows is probably necessary. Grittier styles usually shift the balance of highlight and shadow towards the shadow side. Scratchy markmaking and textures also accomplish a grittier effect.

        A dark background with a forward facing light source is a good template when thinking about an imposing figure, like this dark thing coming from the darkness and infecting the light if that makes sense. Darkening the purple from royal to a more muted tone would help a lot. Same goes for the skin and brown leather portions of the armor. Rendering over the pencil in some ink on the skulls and feathers would also give a more menacing impression because it accentuates the spookier parts of the armor.

        Kind of rambling, hope some of that made sense or was helpful lol.

      • Yeah you’re right on point there, I think. Shadows, scratchiness/texture, and less vibrant colors are probably the ticket to getting that to be more menacing. That lighter purple I used was too bright for the mood I was going for. In hindsight, it was really a Barney the Dinosaur purple, which is scary in a different way than I was going for

        Great feedback, as always! Thanks Bluebeard

  • Thanks for reminding me of that great movie! I am going to show my daughter Willow tonight! I love your drawing of Val. How did your youngest respond to her portrait in chalk 🙂

    • Thanks! Such great characters in that movie. I’m actually surprised it never got a sequel, particularly after Lord of the Rings showed that fantasy genre movies can bring in the cash. Maybe they could set one up with an old Willow and Madmartigan, adventuring with a now grown-up princess what’s-her-name. (I’m choosing to ignore that there was an apparently terrible sequel book that opened by killing off all the characters from the movie).

      As for the chalk thing, I’m pretty sure it just made her more grumpy! I don’t think she wanted to be outside…too much nature, not enough cartoons.

Leave a Reply