There are monsters in the forests of Katahia, and not all of them are human…

Creating the branding: Typography

Savage Oaths is, first and foremost, the brand name of the IP created by Andrew Aston for his upcoming book series. These epic adventures will take the reader across the far corners of the world of Guien and are not for the faint-hearted.

As such, the logo had to convey the right emotion straight away. I needed to find the perfect typeface I could use not only for Savage Oaths but for all the book titles. After long deliberation, we decided for Aviano Flare. A tweak here and there till everything felt in place, and for the final touch, I added the sword – Moontalon.

Moontalon plays a pivotal role in the saga and was subject of many conversations amongst us. It made complete sense to have it on the main title.

Illustrating the cover

To find the right style - in search of a soul.

The Hobgoblin’s Herald marks the beginning of the journey. It all starts with Mallory, a poacher’s daughter. She saves the life of Gulukh, a hobgoblin chieftain, and gets drawn into their twisted world.

I wanted to portray all that in a single image. I went for a traditional fantasy style. I find the moments of pause and solace perfect for showing a character’s personality. Action scenes tend to be full of rage and have distracting elements all around.

The colour palette was muted and sombre. The Hobgoblins are lurking behind, bright-eyed and mischievous.

Overall, the illustration ticked many of the boxes and still, it was missing something.

MOBILE SECTION STARTS HERE

Creating the branding: Typography

Savage Oaths is, first and foremost, the brand name of the IP created by Andrew Aston for his upcoming book series. These epic adventures will take the reader across the far corners of the world of Guien and are not for the faint-hearted.

As such, the logo had to convey the right emotion straight away. I needed to find the perfect typeface I could use not only for Savage Oaths but for all the book titles. After long deliberation, we decided for Aviano Flare. A tweak here and there till everything felt in place, and for the final touch, I added the sword – Moontalon.

Moontalon plays a pivotal role in the saga and was subject of many conversations amongst us. It made complete sense to have it on the main title.

Illustrating the cover

To find the right style - in search of a soul.

The Hobgoblin’s Herald marks the beginning of the journey. It all starts with Mallory, a poacher’s daughter. She saves the life of Gulukh, a hobgoblin chieftain, and gets drawn into their twisted world.

I wanted to portray all that in a single image. I went for a traditional fantasy style. I find the moments of pause and solace perfect for showing a character’s personality. Action scenes tend to be full of rage and have distracting elements all around.

The colour palette was muted and sombre. The Hobgoblins are lurking behind, bright-eyed and mischievous.

Overall, the illustration ticked many of the boxes and still, it was missing something.

MOBILE SECTION ENDS HERE

Looking back to my roots.

Safe. The artwork looked too safe to me. It was lacking a dose of epicness. I wanted it to be punchier and bolder.

One thing in common with Andrew is that we grew up reading the British 2000 AD comic books. And that was such an influence in developing my style. Bold colours, clean lines, it pulled no punches. Just what I needed – to look back to my roots.

Also, whilst I was working on the first version of the cover, Andrew’s novel had evolved. Whereas originally the story revolved around Mallory and Gulukh, we now had 5 story arcs developing from the very beginning.

So, I went back to the drawing board and created the final look and feel for the series, and I’m glad I did.

The Hobgoblin's Herald | Cover
The Hobgoblin Herald Cover

A Hero's Journey:Bringing the main characters to life

Having decided on a style, I just needed to start bringing the characters to life. The first step was to nail the protagonists and to describe them, nothing better than a text from the author himself:

“A Poacher’s daughter, exiled from her home, finds common cause with the monster she found lurking in the woods. She promises the beast a herald, as the two traverse a country tumbling into war.

A weary knight and his wilful squire seek a sword to save a kingdom, but with their prize comes sacrifice, suffering, and the awakening of forgotten horrors.

And far across the sea, a Sell-Quill with a secret is spared the blade, on the promise of writing the legend of a crusading king seeking the demise of the Lord of Travesties. All of them will soon learn – mercy is a dangerous thing and treachery abounds, when savage oaths are made.”

Gulukh | Watercolour, ink & pencils
Savage Oaths Portrait | Gulukh

Gulukh

The heavily scarred and sickly grey-green flesh of Gulukh tells a tale of a long and violent life lived all in the dark. A cunning brute, savage warrior and natural born survivor, Gulukh has moved from one warband to another through the years, outwardly subservient, yet always managing to escape a death richly deserved.

His true motives he hides from his own kind. Perhaps even from himself…

Mallory

A poacher’s daughter, reviled and belittled by the so-called decent folk of her village, Mallory has made a living from defying the laws of her feudal lord. Foul-mouthed and acerbic, there is only one person she loves in all of Guien. With a mind like a steel trap, Mallory is clever beyond the peasant bounds played upon her by the social norms of Katahia.

One day she will break those bonds, and go where she pleases. Little does she realise how soon that day will come, and the terrible cost she will pay for it.

Savage Oaths Portrait | Aethed

Aethed

A knight of Katahia, and one of the King’s own chosen men. Honour is a cage Aethed has proudly worn all his life. His fiefdom was earned by his father fighting for the old king Whinlan, and as such his line lacks the long and proud heritage of other noble families.

An unpretentious man, most of his ambition is focussed upon giving his wife a good life, and honouring the many oaths he has sworn to family, to king and to kingdom. This love and honour will drive an otherwise unremarkable knight from a minor household to feats none thought possible.

Savage Oaths Portrait | Rhana

Rhana

Born in one of the ever-warring city states of Tibari, Rhana has known danger all his life. Born a daughter of sorcerous exiles, he has spent many years developing his skills as a scholar for hire, phenomenally well-read, yet state-less and independent of outside influences.

But his independence will not last, as he is inevitably drawn into the court of the crusader king Aaren of Katahia. Not even the wildest histories read about in the grand libraries of Tibari can prepare him for the wonders and horrors he will encounter on his own journey into the wilderness.

Savage Oaths | Portrait: Yoland

Yoland

Aethed’s cousin, and loyal squire. Confident, handsome and charming where his cousin is abrasive, earnest and hard as a cliff face, the young nobleman’s life was destined for one of comfort and privilege.

With the male scion of House Sealance without an heir, he dreams of being the future of the House and siring heirs of his own. But Guien is not kind to those who presume their place within it, and one fateful decision will change his life forever after.

Sketching Savage Oaths' Factions

There are myriad factions in Savage Oaths. I’m planning to illustrate as many of these as possible. And I want to do it in a way that serves as a homage to the old D&D Monster Manual.

The idea is that these are annotations on a scholar’s field guide. An old, worn out and blood-stained record of the world and its inhabitants.

Below you can see an example with 3 of the hobgoblin’s tribes.

Painting Skylines

Andrew has crafted a rich world full of detail. There are so many fantastic cities, towns, and ruins scatter all over Guien. I want to capture some of the remarkable landscapes like the one shown below of the peninsula of Westpur.

Savage Oaths | Westpur Peninsula

An Old Map for an Old World

My involvement with Savage Oaths started when Andrew showed me a map he drew himself to keep track of the events and locations on his novel. I’m not a cartographer, but I offered Andrew to redraw the map as I thought it should look.

I decided I had to approach this traditionally. I underestimated the number of details and my eyesight, so I had to use some magnify glasses – talking about feeling old!

At the moment, the map is drawn as line art. I made it look weathered and frayed digitally, but I would like to explore other options. I’ll come back to it later on.

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