Wednesday, May 23, 2012


-By Jesper Ejsing

A couple of weeks ago I was offered a rather strange assignment. A set of Lord of the Rings cards all painted by John Howe was missing 2 pieces of artwork. They asked me to do a test illustration to see if I could come up with something that was close to Howe so that the portrait didn´t stand out too much from the rest of the illustrations. I thought “Sure, no prob. I can paint like Johnny Boy”.

Turns out I couldn't.

They just told me that they were not going to use my illustration since it was too far from the look of the rest. I had that feeling too. Actually, when I started painting I realised that I couldn't paint like someone else. I was too stuck in my way of doing things. The way I build up layers of skintones and add strokes and texture. How could I have imagined that I could do in a day what took John Howe decades to learn?

Anyway. I really like the portrait of Elrond that I ended up with. It is Elrond in his younger days, when he was herald for Gil-galad. Well right after anyways, since he got the ring that used to be Gil-galads.

Also I made a sketch for the mouth of Sauron that I am really sad I did not get to finish. Perhaps some day I will.


  1. Great Post Jesper, and nice interpretation of Elrond.

    Thanks for talking about an assignment that fell through and the lessons learned.

    I am curious, when you get a request like this and they decide not to use your artwork, do you still get paid? Is this a business contact where you get so much for the concept work, and then so much for the finished peice if used, and so much if not used?

    Thank you for your time,


    1. ...meant to say "...Is this a business contract..."

    2. Hey Mike

      Yeah I got paid. they were very nice and told me beforehand that they woul dpay even if they did not use the artwork. But still, this was never a money job. I am a great fan of Tolkien and would have loved nothing better than being a lotr illustrator.

    3. Money is a funny duck when it comes to doing something we love vs. putting food on the table and supporting family.

      I've never explored a concept, idea, or made a painting or drawing with the thought of doing it for money, still trying to figure out if I ever want to. Though making money has to be a consideration...

      Back to LOTR, I'm curious[again], how much of your painting was influenced by Tolkiens Words? Even though this work was supposed to be a John Howe type piece, when you've wanted to do a Jesper Ejsing piece, after seeing other artists work of the same topic have you struggled with finding your own "expression" or "vision". If yes, how did you overcome the influence of other peoples work to create your own? I hope that question makes sense... Thank you,


  2. Wow, this looks great. I love the "painterly looseness" of this one. Makes me wanna try acrylics again

  3. That is a good and fair minded client. Always a tough task to try and mimic another style. Do you have any of the original images (if you can share them) that you were trying to get close to?

  4. I'm glad they paid for the "test".
    I do find it odd when AD's think an artist with a very pronounced style (like yours) can just "turn it off" or "change it". Stylized artists can sometimes "turn it down" but there will always be something that is part of that artists style that remains.

  5. Right out of Art School I was approached by Fantasy Flight games to do a few card illustrations for a board game in Jesper Ejsing's style. I thought “Sure, no prob. I can paint like Jesper Boy”.

    Turns out I couldn't... although I didn't end up getting paid for the work. And it is probably a good thing I can't find the final art, because it was bad, very bad, like nothing even close to your art style. I guess it's all part of the learning process.

  6. Awesome work Jesper love the textures on Elrond and the Saron Drawing.

  7. The Mouth of Sauron sketch looks super cool. I'd like to see that one completed.

  8. Oh, the Mouth of Sauron scetch is awesome-so dark \m/ You add that tone and the highlight digitally to your chetches right? They r always rly cool. There is some additional evilness in the monohromatic scetches that is somehow lost when all the colours are added, I love going through the pre-work, all the ideas are there yet so many posibilities lay ahead and your mind plays with all of them ,entertaining indeed :D


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