Craig illustrates the silly side of Tamriel with an assortment of cartoons highlighting his character’s adventures in The Elder Scrolls Online. Read about his process and inspirations in our latest Community Spotlight!
Tell us about yourself! How long have you been playing ESO and creating cartoons?
I'm actually pretty new to ESO. Just a few months so far. However, the game has really grabbed me and sucked me in. I love games, but I can’t remember being quite this addicted for some time.
Creating cartoons is a bit of a different matter. I've always drawn in my spare time growing up, and for the last 16 years I've also been lucky enough to have been working in the toy industry as an illustrator. I think if I weren’t drawing, I'd probably go stir crazy.
How would you characterize your artwork’s style?
Maybe badly drawn scribbles? I guess “cartoony” would be a good description. I have a corny sense of humor, and I think that comes through a lot in the art I do in my spare time. I grew up loving comic strips such as Peanuts and Calvin & Hobbes and later graduated to reading all manner of comics. I guess my style is sort of an evolution of exposure to those mediums.
The world of ESO can be a dark, dangerous place, but your cartoons are always very colorful and fun. How do you go about translating characters and scenes from the game into your signature style?
It's funny, but for me it seems such a natural transition. The world of ESO is so richly realized that it works as a sandbox for so many stories and styles. I find some of the quests and stories to be quite humorous, and I think it makes a great balance when also combined with some of the darker themes and tones in the game. Playing an Aldmeri Dominion character, I love the narratives that involve Razum-dar—he's just the best!
Do you have a favorite character that you’re currently playing?
I have a soft spot for my first character, a Khajiit Warden. He's kind of an unlikely hero thrust onto the greater stage, and he's my muse for a lot of the pieces I draw.
There's just something about the Khajiit that I just love. (I consider myself a dog lover and don't usually trust cats!) They have such great personalities and are really one of the contributing factors that make Elder Scrolls games so distinct and awesome. With my Khajiit, Khaanh, part of the appeal is having his loyal, yet slightly surly bear companion, Bruiser, who accompanies him on his travels. I imagine that Bruiser plays it a little straight as opposed to Khaanh's more slapstick antics.
What inspires you to create a new ESO-themed illustration?
I think because ESO plays so well as a single-player narrative experience (as well as a great MMO with friends), there’s always so much storytelling to help you craft and roleplay your chosen character.
I find once you have a character with a real sense of itself, then the ideas just flow after that. For me, all my art comes from a desire to tell a story (or a corny joke), so any medium that nurtures that is always great inspiration for the next drawing.
Is there something unique about the Elder Scrolls that challenges you as an artist?
Ironically yes. Drawing cats. I've never really drawn cats much in the past at all. Anyone that knows me will say they’re sick to death of seeing drawings of my dog, Oreo, or many other cartoony pups. But I’d never really taken to drawing cats ... until Khajiit. They are just such distinct characters that they almost demand to be drawn.
On a slightly more serious answer, I do also find that because the world of ESO is so well realized and rich, I also find myself pushing more to create a sense of place in each piece. It can be very easy when you're doing a gag piece to focus on the interaction of the character or characters. With ESO, I find I really want to try to show more of the environment. Places like Murkmire are so beautiful; I feel that their inclusion in a piece is just as important as the characters in the gag.
What’s your process from early drafts to a final complete piece?
Coffee.... Well cafes to be more specific. Living in Melbourne, we are blessed with an amazing cafe culture and that's where I do most of my “drawing for fun.” (EDITOR’S NOTE: I can confirm Melbourne has the best cafe and coffee culture.)
Nothing beats setting yourself up in a cafe with some good food, a warm beverage, and an abundance of paper and drawing utensils. It's also a great environment for creativity. I do all my sketching and preliminary inking whilst in cafes. It's funny how many people you meet and chat with as well when you do this. I think it adds to why I enjoy drawing so much.
The later stage of coloring (and personally I think I'm a terrible colorist) is done later in the studio once I scan the pieces in. I use Photoshop to execute the color stage, and I will usually try to grab a reference image that I can use as a basis and then sort of “cartoonify” the color palette a little from there. If I'm totally honest, the fact is if I had free time at home, I'd probably be playing games, so the escape to a cafe encourages me to indulge my passion for drawing and food.
Do you have any advice for artists who want to capture their favorite characters and scenes from ESO?
ESO is such a great world and it really encourages us to create our own characters and tales in it. Show the world renditions of your characters and it just serves to make the world of ESO even richer.
The ESO community is fantastic, incredibly passionate, and supportive. People love to see this sort of stuff and it prompts them to share stories of their own characters.
As artists, sometimes our greatest obstacle can be what to draw, yet with this game, it’s more a case of “What of five things am I gonna draw next?” I love seeing Elder Scrolls fan art, and I encourage anyone with the desire to draw something too. It'll certainly give me even more cool stuff to see in my social media feeds.
Where can we find more of your work?
Thank you to Craig for sharing his work with us—here’s hoping we get to see more of Khaanh’s wacky adventures soon! If you’ve enjoyed or crafted something amazing based on The Elder Scrolls Online, be sure to share with us it via @TESOnline, Instagram, and Facebook.