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Design Dept: Character development for Wrestling Trolls

Today we’re showing you behind the scenes on one of our new illustrated books, Wrestling Trolls, written by Jim Eldrige and illustrated by our own me, Jan. When illustrating a whole series with inside illustrations, it’s always important to do extensive sketching in the beginning, to nail the characters down. I usually find that I continue to “get to know” my characters visually the more I draw them, which is why you will often see an artist’s interpretation, and sometimes styles, develop over long-running series or projects.

Early faces of Big Rock

Early faces of Big Rock

Big Rock, the main wrestler in our troll series, is big, hard and with skin as if made of rock. But it was important to me to keep his face, and indeed his whole body, elastic enough to be able to express any emotion — and of course execute any wrestling move!

Big Rock in all his glory

Big Rock in all his glory

For the design of the trolls I looked at the Nordic tradition and master troll painters like my natives John Bauer and Hans Arnold. Their Trolls always have huge noses, warts, long hair, braids, jewelry and furs and sheep skins. My Big Rock had his nose subtly shrank but other than that he was pretty much there from the start. As for all the accessories, luckily Big Rock only wears a spandex suit, which is so much easier to draw! He’s like a very very cuddly superhero, and who doesn’t want to draw those?

BIG ROCK final

Did I say he was cuddly? Only if you deserve it!

Mudd, The Marsh Troll

Mudd, The Marsh Troll

One of the first trolls I drew were Mudd, who only features briefly in Wrestling Trolls 1, but that I would love to return to. He’s a great character, with muddy slippery skin and branches, mushrooms and moss growing from creases of dirt all over him. A good figther too, if you ask Big Rock.

Thud

Thud

And finally here is the first sketch of Thud. How he turned out? Well, funny that you ask. He received a hair cut, for reasons not to be spoiled, and here he is in all his glory, on the cover of Wrestling Trolls 2:

WT2

Wrestling Trolls, Match 1: Big Rock and the Masked Avenger is out on February 6th!