C is for Conan the Cimmerian

This week’s AlphaBooks drawing came out pretty well, I think. I’m having some misgivings about the semi-dopey “old newsprint” effect that I’ve been doing with these, but I guess for consistency’s sake, I’ll stick with it. I can always post an alternate gallery of the unaltered images once the series is done.

C is for Conan The Cimmerian – From Conan The Conqueror by Robert E. Howard

I’m not sure where the common pop culture “always shirtless Conan” came from, but in the Robert E. Howard books, Conan is usually clothed. This particular image is loosely based on Conan from Conan The Conqueror, during which Conan is the King of Aquilonia. Here’s a description of him from the book:

… a tall man, mightily shouldered and deep of chest, with a massive corded neck and heavily muscled limbs. He was clad in silk and velvet, with the royal lions of Aquilonia worked in gold upon his rich jupon, and the crown of Aquilonia shone on his square-cut black mane; but the great sword at his side seemed more natural to him than the regal accoutrements.

I took a bit of “artist’s license” here and made the lions on his jupon inverse blue and green, rather than the gold described in the text.

Process-wise, this drawing (thankfully!) went a whole lot smoother than last week’s Brienne. I began with a quick sketch in a few iterations of colored pencil (desaturated here via Photoshop):I then brought that into Sketchbook pro for “penciling.” I like Sketchbook Pro a lot, but I don’t use it much because turning on the “allow canvas to rotate” option causes it to grind to a near-halt. I’ve been meaning to shell out for a new, decent graphics card. Maybe I’ll see if that helps. Anyhoo, here it is.  The layer that has the original sketch from above has been turned off, but you can see one layer that I did in blue first, then the final orange layer on top:I then “inked” the image with Digital Manga Studio and colored it in Photoshop. Here’s a close-up of the un-color halfoned image. If pressed, I could point out a few obviously digital strokes here, but this is looking to me pretty close to my hand-inked work.

Next week… “D”.

You can find all the AlphaBooks entries to-date at the AlphaBooks tumblr: http://alphabooks.tumblr.com. You can also follow many of the entries as they’re posted in real-time by following the #AlphaBooks hashtag on Twitter on Mondays.


  1. Ted Hobgood says:

    Thanks for showing your process! I love seeing how people go through their drawing steps.

  2. Ben says:

    @Ted Thanks! I try to do process posts whenever time allows for exactly that reason : I also love seeing other artists’ processes. I’m using this project to experiment a lot more with digital tools than I usually do. I’m generally more used to traditional ink and paper.

  3. Isaac says:

    …So the dudes in this alphabet have four-fingered hands and five-toed feet?

    I like this Conan a lot. He’s obviously bored with the (puny) throne and ready to go crack / cleave some skulls.

  4. Ben says:

    @Isaac – I think I’m going to convert to five fingered hands for the rest of the series. The three fingered thing works with the cartoony characters in Oyster War, but look kinda weird here.

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