Elden Ring Malenia Radahn Artwork
Apparently Amdall Gallery is turning into an Elden Ring fanart site, because I just couldn’t move on yet without getting into some of the interesting bosses (also called “demigods” in the game). Specifically, I wanted to draw a couple of the ones I find most fascinating: Starscourge General Radahn and Malenia the Blade of Miquella. The huge battle between the two of these demigods was one of the major plot points that shaped the backstory and what your player character encounters in the world. Fair warning: There will be extensive plot-related spoilers here as a natural offshoot of this discussion.
Malenia and Radahn feature prominently in one of the pre-release trailers for Elden Ring. If you’re interested in the backstory, whether you’ve played the game or not, it’s definitely worth a watch. The trailer’s narrator is another interesting character named Ranni, telling the viewer how the world came to be in the state it is now, with the Elden Ring shattered and several demigods holding pieces of it, fighting for power. Most of the major characters are related to some extent, which definitely feels like George RR Martin’s influence at work. Everything kicks off with Godwyn the Golden’s death at the hands of some assassins, after which something happens to his mother Queen Marika. The family tree is sort of complicated, and I’m not sure everyone agrees on certain details, but a couple of users on Reddit built some handy references (Links: 1, 2).
Radahn and Malenia, who are cousins (and also cousins of the departed Godwyn I think), are referenced by the trailer as the “mightiest to remain.” The trailer gives you a glimpse of the two rivals during their massive clash, but you also get to see the aftermath of the battle during the course of the game. Eventually, your travels take you to the ruins of Caelid, which was covered by Scarlet Rot. During the battle, perhaps realizing she could not defeat Radahn, Malenia unleashed a massive blight that destroyed the entire region. She took herself out, but also turned Radahn into an insane, dying shell of his former self. When you find him, he’s wandering the desolate battle field, gone mad from the Scarlet Rot. Although I haven’t come across her yet in the game, Malenia survived as well thanks to a loyal knight surviving and carrying her back home. Essentially, Malenia forced a draw – I guess everyone losing is one way to remain undefeated eh? Before a patch reduced his damage, trying to defeat Radahn as a player is one of the most difficult fights I’ve ever experienced in a game. From what I’ve heard, Malenia is similarly challenging in the game.
It’s also fascinating to see how polarizing the two characters are; Elden Ring fans seem to split themselves into camps on this topic. I think this may have been FromSoftware’s intent from the start, as neither character fits into classic tropes you might expect. When I first saw the trailer and other pre-release images, I just assumed the agile warrior lady with the prosthetic arm was the “good guy” and the menacing guy with massive swords was more likely a villain. But that initial guess was entirely incorrect. In fact, prior to being blighted, Redahn was highly respected and loved by his people. And when you come to his castle as a player, you’re asked to participate in a tournament celebration of sorts; he must be defeated, but also honored. Malenia is responsible for the Scarlet Rot that blighted this entire land and no doubt killed untold numbers of people; she essentially used chemical warfare just to keep Radahn from becoming Elden Lord. But Malenia is also not neatly categorized as a villain, as she clearly cares about her brother Miquella, and her knights are similarly loyal to her despite being cursed with Scarlet Rot. Regardless,
As you can see from the recent blog posts section, I’ve been doing a ton of Elden Ring drawings. I just can’t help myself I guess – I’m still captivated by the game itself and the world Hidetaka Miyazaki and George RR Martin have created. Anyhow, above you can see this sketch of the Radahn vs Malenia showdown. I based this one on the trailer itself, but I wanted to rotate Malenia a bit to show both characters from the front. Kind of a tricky thing to do when you’ve got two people facing off, but I sort of made it work. Naturally, I think the original animation depictions are significantly better from an artwork design perspective. But this is not a bad compromise I think in terms of positioning.
In my sketch, I tried to take a couple of additional liberties with these designs. The first, which did not work out well, was I had hoped to show more of Malenia’s face while still keeping her cool looking helmet on. That was not successful, and you can see from the progression time-lapse I’ve embedded further down the page that I ended up reversing course and restoring the helmet to fully cover her eyes. Unfortunately, this detour really left me with a poor compromise – the shape I ended up with doesn’t pass the eye test in my opinion (I think more protrusion/facial protection would have looked better). Generally, I feel like the pose itself turned out sort of awkward too. She looks like she’s just strolling by, rather than a warrior poised for combat. For Radahn, I wanted him to have a more normal looking face, and look less like a version of Gannon from the Legend of Zelda. I think that change turned out fine overall.
For this one, I wanted to fully commit to doing all of the background scenery. The battlefield itself is fairly important to what’s going on in my opinion, because in the trailer/video it certainly seems like Radahn and Malenia are the last ones standing. It’s a massive battlefield, so there may be fighting off on the margins, but I think the scene is supposed to look desolate. Basically, a hazy battlefield and a sundown on this land (literally and figuratively). Bizarrely, I almost feel like the background turned out better than the subjects! Definitely not used to feeling that way. The overall result is not amazing, but I’m glad I attempted it…although I did chew through quite a lot of 90% Warm Gray pencil to do it.
As for the usual time-lapse, I tried something a bit different this time. Instead of going only for a progression .gif image or a YouTube video of the complete drawing process, I actually sort of did both. I took photos as I went along, then strung them together into a video with fade-out frames to help highlight the transition. I think this actually achieved a decent balance of less work for me and more impact for the viewer. But I’m curious what others think – how do you like this style of time-lapse? Although the drawing itself maybe isn’t my best effort, finding another time lapse option might be a nice unintended consequence/silver lining.
I never thought I would top the sheer amount of fan art I did related to The Witcher series, but Elden Ring is sure threatening to take the title. Now that I’ve done four separate sketches, it’s interesting to look back at them. I really think the first one featuring the Tarnished and Melina (not to be confused with Malenia) ended up being the best. Or if not the best, at least my favorite. And the one that I planned out the most, the Spirit Summons, might be the weakest of the bunch. I guess personal preference runs the gamut, but it’s surprising looking back on it.
Although I am probably not completely done with fan art related to this great game, I know I am at least done for now because I’ve already almost completed something unrelated. While traveling with the family this past week, I ended up drawing something during the plane ride. I went back to my old standby of sketches based on stock photography! Along with drawings of my family, I think random stock images are probably up there in my “most drawn” list, with Unsplash, r/RedditGetsDrawn, and The Onion articles being some of my favorite resources. Drawing on an airplane actually worked surprisingly well; I was able to prop my phone up and draw on 9″ X 12″ paper fairly easily. More to come on that shortly!
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Also, a small side note that I found interesting. One of the Spirit Ash summons I drew in another sketch, Black Knife Tiche, is actually one of the assassins who took down Godwyn the Golden. So, she’s actually one of the people responsible for kicking off all this chaos! I’m not sure if the game delves into this at all, since I haven’t reached the end, but I wonder who was pulling the strings? What’s the motivation and who really wanted to shatter the Elden Ring? Hmmm…
More on Tiche’s background here: https://eldenring.wiki.fextralife.com/Black+Knife+Tiche+Ashes
I just realized I made a small mistake – looking at those Reddit family trees, I think Radahn and Malenia might actually be half-siblings rather than cousins. Since they share the same father and all. I guess my first hint should have been that distinctive red hair!