The Pit – from start to finish

I’ve been working on a new piece and documenting my process with my shiny new camera! I’m learning the camera/editing as I go, so some of these are a bit low-quality, but here’s a good look at how I paint:

Here’s the final image:

I’ve got 3 top-secret assignments to do in the next couple of weeks, but stay tuned for my next personal painting, a cover for my sample comic “Upstream”!

The completed map!

Hello everyone! I have completed my map of a fictional island. I had so much fun creating this, I really wanted to paint a place that I would like to explore. While working on it, I found it helpful to imagine the story of a character from the trading town of Cold Harbour who goes on a journey through these lands. It was a fantastic exercise in design and painting environments, and I would love to do more maps in the future.

First, some process videos:

You can see more process shots on my instagram, @smalyon

And here’s the final! Click for a higher res image:

serena malyon illustration map fantasy rpg

Thanks for checking out my work! Not sure what my next personal work will be, but I’m hoping to do more information design. Maybe something educational next time, we’ll see!

Little Jack Frost

I haven’t updated this blog in a little while, but I’ll post a couple more updates with all of the exciting news and progress shots that I’ve accumulated. I’ve been working on a time consuming commission this past month, but I’ve started doing little paintings in my spare time. This is going to be a series of original paintings that illustrate fairy tales and myths, the paintings will be up for sale in a couple of weeks. This guy is “Little Jack Frost” and will act as my holiday card.

serena malyon illustration childrens book jack frost fairy tale winter christmas

Witches’ Sabbath

serena malyon illustration witches sabbath month of fear 2015 devil demons witches

This one nearly didn’t make it! I another commission to work on last week, leaving me just 3 days to do this! It was really rushed, and a lot of this was designed on the fly. I jumped straight from the thumbnail to the final drawing; I hadnt planned on painting a goat-like devil, it just sort of happened. Originally it was a ghost, but I suppose a coven of witches summoning Lucifer was more dramatic. I think its kind of funny that I’m quite a cheery, mild-mannered person, but if you look through my portfolio you’ll see all sorts of dark or creepy paintings.

This painting is best observed while listening to Ghost’s “Ritual“.

Month of Fear week 1: Wormtongue

month of fear serena malyon illustration grima wormtongue lord of the rings

The lovely Kristina Carroll has invited me to take part in this years Month of Fear, where artists do a painting a week based on a topic. This weeks topic was “Villains”; I chose Grima Wormtongue from The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Originally I was going to do a portrait of the great and powerful Saruman the White (which still may happen one day), but then I remembered Wormtongue.

Over the years I’ve regarded The Lord of the Rings’ Grima Wormtongue as one of the most intriguing characters of the series. Grotesque and unloved, weak and cowardly at his core, he betrays his homeland for the promise of power. Upon seeing the Uruk army at Isenguard, a tear runs down his cheek – Is it awe or regret? When he kills Saruman – Is it revenge for how he’s been treated, or is it his attempt at redemption?

So this is my take on Grima Wormtongue. Pathetic and sniveling while dooming the world of men.


The Bear and the Maiden Fair

Last year I got the opportunity to work with Fantasy Flight Games on one of their projects: The Game of Thrones LCG! Its been a dream of mine to work on something for Game of Thrones, a goal that I didn’t think I would reach so soon. The card I was assigned was “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”, a song that appears several times throughout A Song of Ice and Fire (see lyrics below). Fantasy Flight Games wanted something that looked like a tapestry, so this piece is a little more medieval-y than some of my other work. Lots of fun to work on, I learned a lot while studying medieval stylization. I’ll post a few more pictures when I receive the physical copy in the mail. Here is the product page on their website.


bear and the maiden fair game of thrones lcg fantasy flight games
Thanks to the lovely team at Fantasy Flight Games for the opportunity!


“A bear there was, a bear, a bear!
all black and brown, and covered with hair.
The bear! The bear!
Oh come they said, oh come to the fair!
The fair? Said he, but I’m a bear!
All black and brown, and covered with hair!
And down the road from here to there.
From here! To there!
Three boys, a goat and a dancing bear!
They danced and spun, all the way to the fair!
The fair! The fair!
Oh, sweet she was, and pure and fair!
The maid with honey in her hair!
Her hair! Her hair!
The maid with honey in her hair!
The bear smelled the scent on the summer air.
The bear! The bear!
All black and brown and covered with hair!
He smelled the scent on the summer air!
He sniffed and roared and smelled it there!
Honey on the summer air!
Oh, I’m a maid, and I’m pure and fair!
I’ll never dance with a hairy bear!
A bear! A bear!
I’ll never dance with a hairy bear!
The bear, the bear!
Lifted her high into the air!
The bear! The bear!
I called for a knight, but you’re a bear!
A bear, a bear!
All black and brown and covered with hair
She kicked and wailed, the maid so fair,
But he licked the honey from her hair.
Her hair! Her hair!
He licked the honey from her hair!
Then she sighed and squealed and kicked the air!
My bear! She sang. My bear so fair!
And off they went, from here to there,
The bear, the bear, and the maiden fair.”

IMC 2015 / Updraft

I attended the Illustration Master Class this year. It was an intense week of illustrating among some real superstars of the illustration world.

I went into this not knowing much about it. In 2014 we attended Spectrum Live and everyone knew each other from IMC; when we asked what it was, everyone enthusiastically told us about it and told us to take it. We caught a ride from Boston with our friend Britt Snyder (who you may remember as one of Muddy Colors’ other rising stars), and he told us stories about his times at the master class. We knew we were in for a fun but stressful week, full of knowledge and growth. Below: the workspace for Nathan and myself.DSCN0789

The first few days were really scary for me. I’m extremely shy and I was faced with dozens of students who were very skilled and who already knew each other, so I basically only spoke to Nathan for the first couple of days. I was nervous around the teachers at first as well. IMC hosts some big names, like Ian McCaig, Mike Mignola and Greg Manchess… Having only met a handful of them at Spectrum Live, I found myself tongue-tied and hesitant to talk to any of them who I didnt know. I regretted this later in the week when I finally talked to every faculty member, and they were all extremely helpful and welcoming. Next time I’ll talk to you, I promise!


By the end of the week I knew most of the students and faculty and could start focusing my nervousness on the painting I was working on. Two days into painting, I made a terrible mistake and let my washes become very muddy. I abused the paper for a few minutes, scrubbing desperately to try and remove some of the pigment, to no avail. Now, I usually go in digitally and fix things like this, but here I was trying to complete a totally traditional painting in front of a group of other artists. Scary! Luckily I had some gouache with me, and painted much of the painting in opaques to cover up my terrible mishap. Problem solving takes a lot longer in traditional media! I took this picture minutes before ruining the background entirely.


By the end of the week I was pretty happy with the experience. I think next time I’ll put less pressure on myself and try to relax around others. It turned out that most of the people that I was too nervous to talk to were feeling the same way. I made some really great friends, and I hope I get to see you all again soon.

Here’s the final piece:

serena malyon illustration master class updraft sci fi fantasy