My brother spent ten years writing an epic fantasy novel. I loved it. I did quite a bit of art for it over the years, and when he asked me for a series of sketches which could become a calendar, I was delighted to oblige.

The well-known story archetype of the “Hero’s Journey” has been done dozens of different ways in pretty much every genre – though it might be best known in the world of fantasy.

My brother set out to write a hero’s journey, but it led to some surprising twists along the way – twists I feel give the story a fresh and shining aspect which others of its kin might lack. The character depicted below is one such twist. He has yet to quite ascend to the full power and position of his kingship… but the ghost of a crown can be made out in his shadow’s outline.

Ralhad and the Six Stars

At this point in the sketch series, I had learned how to quickly and neatly do straight lines and curves in my draft, and as such was able to imply enough of the architecture of the palace to suit my brother. I created a brush for the column shape – one which I have used several times since.

Part of the natural progression of a career with Adobe’s Photoshop – or, I expect, any digital art platform – is that through your sweat and toil you can come to possess a vast array of tools that you have created. This city was not nearly so hard to do as the one under the stars… because I stole the one from under the stars to use here. Modified, multiplied, mirrored, but they are functionally the same lines. It must have cut down the time I would have otherwise spent on this piece by probably 30%.

But my favorite detail of the whole piece, the bit I was proudest of… gotta be the tassel draped on the floor.The banner was made so quickly (I hypothesized) given his rise to the monarchy, they didn’t measure how long it needed to be with the tassel. It’s a cheeky little thing, but it makes me incredibly pleased.