Elden Ring Art – Tarnished, Maiden, and Grace
Like many people, I’ve been completely transfixed over the last couple of weeks by Elden Ring. The game is basically like wild mashup of Dark Souls, Zelda, and the Witcher 3. As it was developed by From Software, Elden Ring has all of their usual fare; unforgivingly difficult enemies, well-designed combat, and a leveling and currency resource that can be lost by design. But it also benefits greatly from being set in a massive open world. You are free to explore almost from the start, so if you run up against something you can’t beat, you can roam elsewhere and get stronger. It’s a unique beast in its own right though, as the interface is massively stripped down compared to most modern games. There are no mini-maps, quest logs, or guidance messages. At the same time, the attention to detail throughout the game is incredible. The beautifully detailed world combined with a minimally invasive interface works together to keep your attention on the game itself, which is pretty brilliant in my opinion and fairly unique.
I won’t go in more depth on the gameplay, because I actually already wrote a full review over at Armdog Reviews (link embedded on this post). But I will say that, even after just two weeks of playing, this game is a masterpiece. Over the course of my life, there haven’t been a ton of games that I have lost myself in. When I was a kid? Final Fantasy I, II, and III (U.S. numbering), Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, and Earthbound. As an adult, that list is similarly small, probably including only Skyrim, Dragon’s Dogma, Kenshi, Pillars of Eternity, Dark Souls, and the Witcher 3. I can already say with some certainty that Elden Ring will be joining that list. From my perspective, this is a rare game that has captured my interest in a way that less than a dozen games ever have.
Aside from the above listed games being on my personal hall-of-fame list, they have another thing in common; many have become subjects of drawings shared here on Amdall Gallery. Some were more in the realm of rough sketches rather than polished “artwork,” and some were very early in my learning process. But I was inspired by my love of these games to draw something from them. Interestingly, I have often felt the pull to draw more game-related pieces, but have felt limited to some extent by my talent level. What I mean is, I’ve had something in mind, but have been unable to make it happen on paper. As I’ve slowly improved over the last few years, I finally think I’m getting to the point where I can create some of these scenes. It’s a good feeling!
In keeping with this tradition of drawing tributes to these special games, and since Elden Ring is showing itself to be at that level, I was inspired to give the world of The Lands Between a try. The game’s plot details are a bit unwieldy, but the broad context is that the all-powerful Elden Ring is broken, and it’s shards are held by, and have corrupted, some big bad bosses who rule the world now. Those bosses are all in conflict to obtain the other shards from each other. You play as one of the Tarnished (one of many) who seeks to repair the Elden Ring and become the next Elden Lord. The Tarnished also require guidance from a “Maiden,” who acts as some sort of guide; NPCs derisively call you Maidenless at times, which I guess is a way of saying you have no guide. There is also something called “The Two Fingers,” which I don’t fully understand, but may be a deity or something connected to being the Elden Lord. There is also a hunched over old person (or creature) named Finger Reader Enia who serves as an interpreter.
Like I said, some of the finer points get pretty confusing, and I have had to do some Googling to even understand this much. But I figured a good starting point would be drawing the Tarnished hero and the Maiden Melina. After that, I still had that spark to do more, so I tried a scene with the Tarnished speaking to the Finger Reader. I didn’t want to draw The Two Fingers creature/spirit/thing mostly because it’s a bit creepy looking. Anyhow, here’s how they turned out:
I’m really happy with first one featuring the Tarnished and Maiden Melina. I wanted to include a Site of Grace (resting point like the old Dark Souls bonfires) too, since the Maiden appears at these locations and is integral to what happens at them. I thought this would be a fun opportunity to include a strong, colorful light source, which is a challenge I don’t often attempt. It’s not a masterpiece or anything, but I like the end result quite a bit. I captured the character I made pretty well, and likewise for Melina. I decided to push forward and draw some scenery too, which is a victory simply in the fact that I didn’t ruin the drawing! Overall, this was a positive enough experience that I jumped immediately into another one.
This one turned out pretty well too in my opinion. Again, not something to be framed or anything, but a good effort for fan art! This is my same Tarnished character, a bit further in the game with better armor, visiting The Two Fingers and Finger Reader Enia. This was a bit tricky because it’s supposed to be a dark room, but I didn’t really want to fill the entire page and eat up so much pencil. So I used some focused areas of background detail, which interestingly enough, I have tried to learn from Calvin and Hobbes cartoon strips. Bill Watterson was quite skilled at that, which is something I’d like to practice more often. My first “final version” of this was a bit awkward in terms of shoulder hunch placement. But I went back later and made some updates.
I also managed to cobble together a couple of progression/time-lapse videos on these. Unfortunately, they did not turn out to be the best quality. Honestly, even after using it to edit 44 videos (a total that surprised me), I still haven’t mastered the ins-and-outs of iMovie video compression. Sometimes when I speed up videos to really high speeds, the video quality absolutely falls apart. Then other times seems fine after I’ve done all those speed increases. Most of my projects are similar speeds in real time – right around an hour and a half of actual drawing. In trying to eliminate any inconsistencies, the only thing I can think of is the availability of natural light. Bright and sunny days beaming onto my desk seem to help to some extent.
As for these videos, the first one was actually early in the morning without direct sunlight. It turned out okay, but definitely seemed to degredate after speeding up. I could only get it down to 3 minutes or so without it looking terrible, so I had to stick with a longer time period than I’ve been using. The second video really became a mess as the sun started hitting my desk. It didn’t light the entire area up, so there was a bright beam over just a corner that moved across. I actually had to remove more than half of the recording because I just couldn’t make it look okay. I’m actually surprised I was even able to save enough footage for a video at all.
So, that’s it for Elden Ring! Well, certainly not in terms of me playing the game, but at least for this write-up. If you want to read more, feel free to check out that full review on Armdog Reviews. Obviously, I highly recommend the game to anyone who enjoys games like Skyrim and the Witcher. Especially if you have a taste for a higher difficulty curve!