I can’t believe that this book is finally out. When George Martin asked me way back in the winter of 2001 if I wanted to illustrate one of his books I never thought that it would take quite this long. But, after years and years of stop and start work, the limited edition of the third volume of George R. R. Martin’s fantasy epic, A Storm of Swords has finally landed. This rather lengthy gestation can only be blamed on me and my desire to make a beautiful book. Storm is so damn huge (almost a thousand pages in length without the art!) that the publisher decided to divide it into two volumes, each with it’s own dust jacket art and both contained within a lovely foil stamped slipcase. All told, I completed almost 70 b/w illustrations, four interior color plates and the two cover paintings for the project. That’s a lot of drawings!! But It looks great and it feels splendid to at long last hold the book in my hands. Here’s the art for both dust jackets.



And here are a few of the black and whites:








This is the title page art for the second volume of the massive tome.


And here is the second of two endpaper designs:


There were four interior color plates, this is one of them.


Working on such a massive project as this takes a lot out of you as an artist. Perhaps the most difficult aspect of such a project is the need to remain consistent with your artistic voice. You certainly don’t want any reader to be saying to themselves, “Oh well, Vess really wasn’t interested in drawing that scene!” Another concern is my desire to collaborate with that same reader in a sense and allow them to visualize certain aspects of the book however they would like, so I had to pick and choose which scenes I drew with care. Retaining all the myriad details of each characters appearance, conceptualizing the vast geography of Martin’s landscape as well as sustaining your artistic interest over such a long run is fraught with pit falls. I found that I had to escape every once in a while to execute the occasional one-off cover painting or some other short term project. The lure of being able to begin and end a project in a relatively short space of time is very tantalizing when faced with the years that it took to complete the Storm book. I always found that when I returned to the project I could approach my drawing with a fresh sense of excitement. Fortunately for me (and for you!) Martin’s writing is compelling and his storytelling abilities are excellent so it was always easy to dive back into his world.

I’ve been informed that there are now only 60 copies of the numbered edition left, so you might want to pay Subterranean Press a visit:




7 Responses to “”

  1. Casey Jones says:

    We were thrilled when our copy arrived yesterday — we love it! Congratulations on such a beautiful book, Charles. It’s some of your finest work.


  2. Jouniac says:

    Beautiful pictures, Charles. I LOVE the one with the huge tree…

  3. Scott Conner says:

    It’s out already? Gah! I need to start paying more attention! ;-). This is *really* good work, Charles.

  4. isobel says:

    you know, I just finished the illustrations for my first book, and what I felt was that at the ending so many things have changed from the very first page. I was compelled in re-doing lots of little stuffs, but there’s always a deadline, and I couldn’t re-do a hole page. And it was contradictory, ’cause I was really really tired of looking at the work, seeing every little mistake.
    So I think I can see how vicious a work can be. And if there’s no deadline it can take months and years, and still “in page 9, i’d like to…”
    This is a gorgeous work, hope I’ll see it in my hands someday. :)

  5. danielm says:

    Charles, what tool do you use for the texture on the trees? Is that brush or pen?

  6. Charles Vess says:

    I use a pen with a Hunts Crowquill #102 nib for almost all my inking. Call me crazy, but I use the same process even for big areas of ’solid’ black. For those I allow a blob of paper to gather on the nib and flow the ink on in larger strokes. This method allows for lots of tiny bits of the white paper to be left open. I like the way those tiny white accents activate a large field of black.

    But really, everyone’s arm/wrist puts down ink lines differently so you have to experiment with a lot of different pen nibs to find the one that does its magic just for you.

    Good luck and good hunting,

  7. sethos says:

    Hi Charles, I’m a long time fan, and I was wondering if these incredible illustrations will be made available in an artbook or portfolio: the price of this set of books is just too high for me, and I’d love to be able to look at these drawings in greater detail.

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