Elden Ring Art – Millicent, Hewg, Alexander, and Turtle Pope

As I’ve discussed quite a bit, I am a big fan of Elden Ring by From Software. The challenging and deep combat of Dark Souls, combined with a massively engaging open world along the lines of The Witcher 3, have already elevated this game to my all-time favorites list. I’ve discussed the minimalist storytelling Elden Ring employs, but I haven’t talked much about the incredible cast of supporting characters you come across in The Lands Between. The lack of an actual quest log can make it difficult to keep track of what’s going on with these side stories, but I’ve found it to be well worth following through with the interesting characters I’ve met along the way (even if I did have to lean on Google a bit). In this post, I’m going to discuss a few of my favorite supporting characters and their stories and share some related artwork. Spoiler Warning: There will be extensive story spoilers for side quests, including how they end.

With spoiler warning out of the way, let me start by saying – if you’ve played previous From Software games, you probably already know that tragedy is a common theme with many characters you encounter. Named NPCs in these games rarely seem to have happy endings, and I’ve found this to be true again with Elden Ring. The questlines and characters are very well done, but it seems like more often than not, my assistance ultimately leads to their end. It’s a testament to the game’s creators that they’ve designed characters whose fates the player naturally grows to care about like this. The fates they experience certainly adds to the overall melancholy tone From Software strikes with these games, melding well with the larger in-game world. But…throwing in a couple of “ride off into the sunset” endings instead of “ultimate doom” would be nice for a change.

One of the best questlines involves a character name Millicent. You come across her in the blighted lands of Caelid, dying from Scarlet Rot. With the help of her father, you’re able to save her life and get her a prosthetic arm. She vows to help you in battle, which she does in a couple of fights. Eventually, you help her access Miquella’s Haligtree, a late game dungeon that is one of the most difficult in the game. You learn that Millicent is likely the daughter of the infamous Malenia, and you have the option to challenge Millicent or help her fight her sisters. I chose to help her, which resulted in victory…but also in her death. Millicent decided to let the Scarlet Rot take her; that she would rather die as herself than turn into Malenia. As Malenia is the final boss of the Haligtree dungeon, I was hoping Millicent would help me defeat her and earn herself a happy ending. Perhaps even leave it open, encountering her again in a DLC/expansion? This seems like a wasted opportunity for an interesting character with many possibilities; she could have even become what she most feared. Instead, it’s inglorious end in an isolated place, with only the player to mark her passing.

Another character who I took a great liking to was Iron Fist Alexander, the Warrior Jar. He is one of the few genuinely kind and friendly characters in Elden Ring. In your first encounter, you help poor Alexander become unstuck from a hole in the ground. Later, Alexander and few others help you overcome General Radahn at his tournament. The Warrior Jar becomes committed to becoming as strong as the player, and eventually he shows up to help you defeat a near-end game Fire Giant boss. After the fight, Alexander ends up being transported with you to Crumbling Farum Azula, which is some sort of ancient place outside of time. Alexander decides the only thing left to do is challenge you to battle, I suppose to test himself. Another sad finale when our buddy shatters.

The last tragic end I’ll mention is that of Smithing Master Hewg. You meet him earlier in the game, and he serves as your go-to blacksmith in the game’s central hub/home base. At first, he seems to be trapped at Roundtable Hold and forced to help. Later in the story, you learn he was tasked by Queen Marika to create a weapon that would slay a god. As the hold is burning towards the end of the game, he chooses to stay, eventually forgetting everyone as he fades. I also included another who doesn’t meet such an end. The “Turtle Pope” Miriel, another of the rare legitimately kind NPCs, fortunately lives on. He doesn’t really have quests or his own side story like the others, but I did enjoy his dialogue. Hopefully, the Turtle Pope gets some love in any future DLCs or expansions. Anyhow, here’s the drawing with all of them together:

Some of the excellent side characters in Elden Ring, most of whom met tragic ends. From left to right: Turtle Pope (Miriel), Smithing Master Hewg, Millicent, and Iron Fist Alexander.

This drawing actually started as an assortment of characters on the page, rather than an intentionally cohesive scene. That’s not something I usually do; most often, I aim for a specific scene or just solo portraits with minimal backgrounds. But I had in mind that I wanted to try a sketchbook style collage of doodles, which is something I really haven’t done since I was in high school. I thought I’d just throw some of my favorite side characters onto the page together. But as I got into it, I couldn’t just let them exist in a haphazard fashion. I’m not sure why, but I was compelled to try to make them fit together.

An example of the scattered/unrelated arrangement of characters I used to sketch back in high school. These are based on an ancient Nintendo Power article on the Secret of Mana.

As I started, I imagined character travels when the player isn’t around. Iron Fist Alexander and Millicent each traveled quite extensively based on where they started and ended up, so perhaps they came upon the Turtle Pope at some point and sought absolution? Hewg certainly shouldn’t be there, but hey maybe he decided to leave the burning Roundtable Hold after all. So, I somehow made this make sense, at least loosely.

Now to the drawing itself. I really like the end result – in fact, I think it’s my favorite of these Elden Ring inspired drawings to this point. In hindsight, I think a couple of them have been sort of poorly done (particularly Malenia vs Radahn and the Spirit Ashes). Previously, the first one featuring the Tarnished sitting at a Site of Grace was probably the best one, but even that wasn’t anything to write home about. But this one I actually like! I am really happy with how all four characters turned out. All of the details fit the characters well. I was even a bit surprised with how well the Warrior Jar’s color and patterns came together.

One interesting aspect to this drawing is that I was pretty sick during the initial stages (fever, chills, etc). In fact, I hardly even remember working on the Turtle Pope at all. With that in mind, it’s seems kind of silly to nitpick over anything here. But if I were to talk about what I could have done better, I would say character proportion in one thing. For instance, Iron Fist Alexander should be almost as big as the Turtle Pope. But, as I said before, this started as an informal collage of unrelated sketches, so not such a huge deal. Also, I still haven’t figured out a good approach to drawing grass. But it’s better than some previous efforts.

Above, I’ve embedded a short 1 minute slideshow-style time lapse video. As I’ve mentioned in recent posts, I have started utilizing these simpler progressions more often because they are so much less time-intensive than recording actual video. I’m glad I tried the previous videos, but they seem like too heavy an investment at this point for something that doesn’t add a ton of value. Better to keep it simple for now I think. Someday, I would still like to figure out how to make a much higher quality video, but as a hobbyist, that’s a bit out of reach for now.

This post somehow became much longer than I originally intended – I even had to cut some content! I guess once I get rolling, sometimes it’s hard to stop. Especially when it’s something I’m so interested in. I do have one more Elden Ring drawing left to share, this time featuring Ranni the Witch and her pals Blaidd and War Counselor Iji. I’m not sure what to write about yet; the storyline for Ranni is very interesting, but perhaps less so to people who aren’t invested in Elden Ring. I’m sure I’ll come up with something! After that, I still need to finish the portrait from the last giveaway, then I’ll probably try to figure out something else I might want to enter into some forthcoming art shows. So definitely some interesting stuff on the horizon.

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