B is for Brienne, Maid of Tarth

I spent about three times as long on this week’s entry as I did on last week’s Ahab, and I’m about half as happy with it. But, here she is:

B is for Brienne, Maid of Tarth – From A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin

In the book, Brienne relates being mocked by a group of knights who would present her with roses, ostensibly to woo her. She never actually lops off one of their hands–but she probably should have. While Googling to find passages from the books that describe her, I was pretty stunned to find that the actress who plays her on the TV show is a model. There’s obviously a lot of room for interpretation when it comes to visualizing a character from the book, but there are two things that are 100% part of Brienne’s deal: she’s big and she’s ugly.

I’m wanting to use AlphaBooks as a way to really push my character designs and part of my disappointment with this drawing is that it’s pretty squarely in my character design “comfort zone.” I initially explored a more Olive Oyl-esque design (right, below), but sort of naturally drifted back to more familiar territory:

I also am wanting to use AlphaBooks to work on exaggerating pose and gesture. This pose isn’t terrible, but it’s still a bit stiff. I managed to get the shoulders and hips at opposing angles–which is a “must have” for most good, dynamic poses–but she’s got a pretty stiff spine which lends her a fairly static “line of action.” I struggled a lot with this gesture for sure, as you can see here (progressing left-to-right):

Additionally, I had to tackle chainmail, which I’ve never really dealt with (well, other than goofy childhood D&D drawings anyway). I found this great tutorial online which helped a lot. Curiously, the most successful chainmail in this drawing is my very first whack at it, under her arm:

It was a really good learning experience, though. If I have to draw chainmail again I’m going to (1) have the rows be wider, (2) rough in folds first, then have the mail rows follow the contours of the folds, and (3) use a different, stiffer pen for the circles–maybe a technical pen type thing.

Anyway, onward to “C.”

Brienne was drawn with graphite and colored pencils, digitally inked and screen-toned in Digital Manga Studio, and colored in Photoshop.


  1. bluemoonpaul says:

    Wow, you really put a lot of time and energy into this one, Ben. Great process post. I especially like seeing the gesture drawings.
    I’m trying to do mine faster for this series, or I wouldn’t be able to participate much or at all.

  2. Ben says:

    Thanks, Paul! I’m trying to to do mine quickly as well. I’m just not succeeding at it.

  3. Anii says:

    I like your chain mail a lot! Looks spiffy. I talked to a guy at Comic Con who did Wizards of the Coast stuff and as I was admiring how he managed chain mail, he told me that he had made a custom brush mod in photoshop. A light bulb kind of went off in my head.. i was like DUH… But at the same time, there is something a lot more to be said for hand-drawn anythings and the variations therein that can’t be photoshopped.

  4. Ben says:

    @Anii – Thanks! A custom brush, eh? That’s pretty clever. I’m guessing, though, that you’d lose the ability to have the mail look like it’s draped if it’s s consistent pattern. I didn’t do a very good job of it, but if you click through to that tutorial I link to, you can see that the artist there really does a great job varying the horizontal lines so that the mail appears folded and draped.

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