Making warriors, dragon slayers and mythical beings spring into action is Jon Hodgson’s skill

Scotland-based Jon Hodgson is one of fantasy illustration’s leading names. 

“I never set out to draw people as much as to draw stories,” he explains. 

Of course, since stories usually involve people, they make up the majority of his output. 

He has created work for the likes of Games Workshop, as well as the BBC, Hot Animation and Mongoose Publishing, among others. 

His tools of choice tend to be Ambient Design’s painting tool ArtRage, as well as the ubiquitous Photoshop. 

“It doesn’t try and do as many things as Painter does,” Jon says of ArtRage. “It’s a neater package, it has stunningly good oil paint emulation, and because it’s trying to do less things, I think it does them better.”

His painting Dragon Warriors Core Rules is the cover for Magnum Opus Press’ Dragon Warriors Rulebook, for the publisher’s role-playing game. It’s a reissue of a game from the 1980s; the cover features a knight, a barbarian, a mystic and a wizard. 

“They’re pretty big archetypes of the fantasy world,” Jon chuckles. 

Strike a pose
Their importance in the story dictated both their poses and positioning in the composition. For example, there’s the knight and the barbarian. 

 “He’s advancing, he’s the brave guy,” Jon explains of the knight. “The barbarian is more wary. He’s out of his comfort zone, he’s underground, he’s not used to being in buildings.” 

The slightly side-on, sword-raised barbarian contrasts with the shield up, but relaxed knight. And then there are the supporting characters.

“There’s a little bit less room for posing the guys behind,” Jon adds. “You’re not seeing as much of them, but you’re kind of seeing their more supportive roles within the party. They’re not where they are by accident.”