Elden Ring Art – Ranni the Witch, Blaidd, and Iji
I’ve finally beaten Elden Ring, which feels like quite a milestone for someone who isn’t a particularly skilled gamer (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve accidentally rolled myself off a cliff). Since I’ve finally beaten the final boss, or really “bosses” to be more accurate, it’s given me some space to reflect on the full experience Elden Ring has given me. I can’t measure its value only in time spent playing the game, because I’ve also consumed tons of internet articles, memes, posts on r/EldenRing, and even done quite a few sketches of various characters. Over the past two months, Elden Ring has been a wealth of entertainment in more ways than I expected.
Since I’ve done so many sketches related to Elden Ring already, and I finally made it to the endgame, it’s probably a good time to wrap the art side of it up. And what better way to wrap it up than with one of the most popular characters in the game, trailer narrator and mysterious trickster Ranni the Witch? If you spend any amount of time browsing Elden Ring content on Reddit, Twitter, or other places, I’m sure you’ve come across a ton of fan art related to Ranni and her cohorts. I won’t tread over any new ground here, but I’ll still toss my contribution into the pile. First, I’ll talk a bit more about her role in Elden Ring’s plot, then get into the sketch. Spoiler alert: if the above hints weren’t warning enough, there will be story-related spoilers from here.
I discussed in some depth in my last post how great I think many of the supporting characters and questlines are in Elden Ring. Iron Fist Alexander the Warrior Jar and Millicent being a couple of my personal favorites. But I didn’t discuss the Ranni the Witch questline in that post; it’s just as impactful, but the scope is on an entirely different level. The path you take on Ranni’s behalf is surprisingly long, and ties into the main quest in fairly significant ways, making it almost a companion quest of the main plot. Yet it’s entirely optional, which feels strange; you would miss some rewarding parts of the game by skipping Ranni’s requests. Unlike the supporting characters I discussed in the last post, I would consider Ranni to be one of the main characters in Elden Ring.
You first meet Ranni at the beginning of the game – she gives you the means to use spirit summons. If visit her tower later in the game, she is surprised to see you again, but introduces you to her (mostly) loyal team. Eventually you learn that Ranni is an Empyrean; related to the demigods currently battling it out to become Elden Lord. The details are complex, but essentially she has plotted out a way to rid herself of the Outer God who is behind the Elden Ring and the Golden Order. Part of that plot, if I understood what I saw correctly, was to kill her body and move her spirit into what is essentially a doll. So, what you meet wasn’t even her true self! It’s a sort of puppet possessed by her spirit. She facilitated all this by sending assassins after her step-brother Godwyn the Golden and completely wiping out his spirit, which served the dual purpose of preserving her spirit and hurting the Golden Order/Outer God’s plans.
Although Ranni’s plan seems to have been successful, it does have tragic repercussions. Her loyal friends since childhood, the Half-Wolf Blaidd and War Counselor Iji, both meet their ends. Part of your questing involves teaming up with Blaidd, who is incredibly likable. But it turns out that Blaidd is Ranni’s “shadow”, which is sort of like a bodyguard for Empyreans…who also has a failsafe. If an Empyrean turns on the Golden Order, that shadow/bodyguard then turns on them, regardless of what they want. After Ranni implements her plan, Blaidd’s failsafe triggers and Iji imprisons him. Ultimately, you end up fighting a crazed Blaidd outside of Ranni’s Tower…and Iji is killed by assassins. The ending I received after beating the game was a bit confusing and shorter than I expected, but I guess Ranni ultimately took the Elden Ring’s power for herself. I’m not sure what the implications of that are, but she certainly seems more benevolent than some other options.
Anyhow, circling all the way back around to the fan art topic, I decided to do a Ranni, Blaidd, and Iji sketch to wrap up all this Elden Ring artwork. Having beaten the game now, with my ending involving Ranni, this seemed like an appropriate way to go. Much like my previous drawing featuring some favorite side characters, I started this one as sort of a random scattering of figures. I was thinking of just plopping the characters on the page, but of course my compulsivity wouldn’t allow that. So, after starting with Ranni, I ended up trying to cobble together something cohesive. The problem I ran into, though, was poor use of space – I didn’t have room to fit the other characters! Which you can see in the end result.
As far as the “how did it turn out” conversation goes, I think overall it’s solid. This one somehow seems a bit more “sketchy” than some others. Perhaps I left it more unfinished, or it’s a bit less focused/more casually done? Not that such a state is a bad thing; an informal and sketchy drawing based on a video game seems to work just fine. I based these on the actual in-game characters, which I think are more or less on point with how they should look. Figuring out how to shade a blue face probably isn’t something I’ve ever attempted, but I navigated it well enough. Generally, this seems a faithful representation!
One aspect I had some difficulty with was Ranni’s unusual phantom face situation; in the game, she has a second face that is sort of glowing/ghostly looking. Interesting side-bar: Ranni and Melina (the Maiden from my first drawing) have mirror image eye injuries, which makes me wonder if they are supposed to have some association I haven’t figured out. Maybe this phantom face is some other aspect of her, like with Queen Marika and Radagon splitting (Radagon is probably Ranni’s father so maybe it’s a family thing). All that aside, I’m not sure I did the best job on this “phantom face.” You can definitely see something in my drawing, but it’s no where near as cool as some of the digital artwork from other people I’ve seen.
As usual, I’ve got a brief progression video here to show how the drawing came together. It wasn’t an especially long one, and really wasn’t a heavy lift in any sense. Which is probably part of the reason why I’ve enjoyed these Elden Ring sketches so much – there’s really no pressure at all for these to turn out in any particular way. That’s always kind of nice. I haven’t talked about this in a while, but sometimes I think I put too much internal pressure on myself when I draw. Basically, that I have a goal for a certain amount of realism, or that I try to compare myself to artists who excel at certain levels of realistic portraits. And then when I can’t get to that goal, I start beating myself up. For some reason though, this sort of random video game doodling just lets me relax and push out some easy-going material.
So, there we have it! I actually beat Elden Ring, which is an incredible rarity for me (I think the last game I actually finished was Dragon’s Dogma). I think I got one of the better endings, which involved our pal Ranni the Witch stopping the Golden Order’s dominance in the Lands In Between, and possibly my character helping her rule. Since it’s From Software, there was of course tragedy that impacted most of the characters. But it certainly could have been worse. And to celebrate, I’ve capped it all off with this Ranni-related artwork. I think it’s time to finally move onto to other topics! I’ve got a couple ideas on tap, including an interesting topic I’ve pondered for a while. More on that soon hopefully.