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Gunnlöð, guard of the mountain Hnitbjörg
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Gunnlöð, guard of the mountain Hnitbjörg

According to the Nordic myth, Gunnlöð was the daughter of the giant Suttungr, stationed to guard the mountain Hnitbjörg. Here he had hidden the mead of poetry. The mead transforms the drinker into a "skald or scholar" with infinite knowledge and wisdom, a treasure attracting the envy of Odin.

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Update - 1 May 2020

Final submission- still nowhere near finished, for various reasons I ran out of time but I hope it gives an idea of where I want to go with it. It's been a blast to paint!


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Update - 1 May 2020

For better or worse, I've started painting out the final piece without Gunnlod at first, focusing on the lighting and colour balance. Some of the forms might have to be moved around to make sure the guardian is the focal point.

Update - 26 Apr 2020

Reference board for Gunnlöð clothing and props (third party images).

When it comes to the Vikings there are so many iconic motifs to choose from. I banned myself from the standard horned helmet look, however – apart from the issue that almost everyone now knows that it wasn’t the Vikings who wore horns, I wanted to see if I could come up with something fresh that would look just as intimidating.

Gunnlöð character sketches

Gunnlöð would be prepared with everything anyone would need, no matter how giant they are, if asked to guard a tasty beverage with magical powers in a mountain.

I tried out a few different combinations of weaponry and garments, but was sold on the idea of a big fur cloak early on.

The idea for a dog came when I was looking for a more dynamic pose with some movement. Then I found out that there is a giant wolf in Norse mythology name Fenrir. It’s a bit of a leap in the lore but I thought if Gunnlöð somehow tamed Fenrir to do her bidding, well that would be some well-guarded mead!


Update - 25 Apr 2020

Mood board: forbidden land environments (all third party images)

I was really inspired by the sense of magic from photos of Skellig Michael, a craggy island off the coast of Ireland once inhabited by monks in the middle ages.

The dramatic rock formations reminded me of Norwegian fjords and that brought to mind the Vikings, I hoped I might find a fitting story in the rich mythology of the Norse pantheon and their reputation for pioneering voyages into the unknown...

I decided to paint out a number of my initial thumbnails to see what kind of mood they wanted to give off when the forms were developed and colour added.

I was looking for a balance between alluring and ominous, like the urge to explore an abandoned building mixed with the nagging paranoid feeling that intruders will be found out.


Update - 25 Apr 2020

Thumbnail sketches

Greetings! I hate to start with a blank canvas so I started blocking out some composition ideas soon after reading the brief.

I have a very back and forth process but have tried to lay everything out as chronologically as I can! At the same time as doing my exploratory thumbnails, I was collecting reference images from the far corners of the internet.