• Opinion

Illustrating Game of Thrones

Above: Designs from the Beautiful Death series by Robert M Ball, source: https://beautifuldeath.com/

Whether you loved the new season or were left feeling a little disappointed, there’s no denying that Game of Thrones has become a worldwide phenomenon over the past decade. Naturally, such vast popularity creates the need for all collateral surrounding the show to live up to a certain standard, and boy does Robert M Ball help deliver on that expectation.

Robert M Ball is an illustrator, designer and comic maker based in London and creates the incredible ‘Beautiful Death’ poster series for the show. After each episode airs, a poster featuring one (or some!) of the important deaths from that instalment is released. Sometimes, they illustrate the act perfectly; a skull dripping in gold for Viserys way back in season 1, for example. Other times, the image is more symbolic, like a bleeding violin created for the Red Wedding.

What I find inspiring about these designs is the blend of a graphic style with an awful lot of detail. Using shapes of colour to build up shade and light, the highly detailed pieces are created with vibrant, bold colour palettes to bring out every facet. This helps hide certain elements in the posters; the more you look, the more hidden objects and messages you’ll see, allowing for every piece to contain layer upon layer of hidden meaning. To complete the designs, a chunky frame is placed around them to help unite them as a set and provide space for a matching quote from the scene and the sigils of the Houses involved.


Source: https://hbo.co.uk/news/limited-edition-game-of-thrones-blu-ray-and-dvd-2018-05-03


Ball is also responsible for a beautiful suite of limited edition Blu-ray sleeves for seasons 1-7. Released in June last year to celebrate the 8th and final season, each sleeve depicts a pivotal scene from the season inside an object of great significance. Once again, deciphering the hidden meaning from each piece keeps the design interesting every time you see it and means you almost always end up noticing something that you didn’t before! With their more limited colour palettes, these covers also have a slightly different feel to the posters, with their almost monochromatic approach giving each season’s sleeve a very distinct look whilst still being united by their minimal design.

Overall, Game of Thrones is a multi-faceted show stuffed with story and symbolism and the fact that Ball can weave so much of this into his illustrations is inspiring. Crafting such detailed pieces using a seemingly simple style is what makes these designs feel so modern and is what I think will give them lasting appeal, even to those who haven’t seen the show. For me, as a huge fan of Game of Thrones, I love seeing work that is so beautifully produced based on the stories I love and this project makes me want to experiment more with any illustration work I do, whether this is Game of Thrones themed or not!



To learn more about the Beautiful Death series, visit https://beautifuldeath.com/. To learn more about Robert M Ball, visit his website https://robertmball.wordpress.com/.