In the course of researching fantasy art and digital painting I came across a spoof video on how to paint a fantasy mermaid, the video was funny and of very little use for my research, it was made to look like a serious art video on how to create fantasy art, however, in the comments alongside a lot of sarcasm about how puerile the drawing was someone wrote that they were very disappointed to find out that it was a joke video as they would like to learn how to paint like a long list of artists.

I looked at the list and sure enough, there were many well-known artists I have studied, but among this list were some I did not know this prompted me to look further and seek them out and along the way discovered some others that were new to me. This post is therefore my list of inspirational fantasy artists new and old as a reference for the future.

Frank Frazetta

Born February 9, 1928, Died May 10, 2010, was an American fantasy and science fiction artist, noted for comic books, paperback book covers, paintings, posters, LP record album covers and other media. He is often referred to as the “Godfather” of fantasy art, and one of the most renowned illustrators of the 20th century. He was also the subject of a 2003 documentary Painting with Fire.

Frazetta was inducted into the comic book industry’s Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame, the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame, the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame, the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, and was awarded a Life Achievement Award from the World Fantasy Convention.

Frank Frazetta is one of the big names in fantasy art, he made the covers of many of the books I read over the years and is synonymous with the genre.

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Jef Miracola

Jeff Miracola was on born October 10, 1971. He is an American fantasy artist, children’s book artist, and illustrator.

Miracola created illustrations for the children’s book, Welcome to Monster Isle, along with children’s author Oliver Chin in 2008. Miracola’s illustrations have also appeared in ImagineFX magazine, The Duelist magazine, Advanced Photoshop magazine, and on a Target Corporation gift card. In the gaming industry, he is best known for his work in the collectible card game Magic: The Gathering, the Shadowrun role-playing game and collectible card game, as well as the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game. Miracola also created illustrations for the Electronic Arts video game, Mini-Golf, available on the Apple iPod.

Jeff Miracola is responsible for some of the most iconic work in the world of fantasy art, his work on Dungeons and dragons and Magic the gathering is particularly wonderful.

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Jeff Easley

Jeff Easley was born in 1954 in Nicholasville, Kentucky he is an oil painter who creates fantasy artwork for role-playing games, comics, and magazines, as well as non-fantasy commercial art.

Jeff Easley has created art that I found very recognisable, he made art for Dungeons and Dragons and for Magic the gathering, as well as some iconic dragon images, I really love his work which has added imagery to my imagination for years reading and playing fantasy games.

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Justin Gerard

Justin Gerard is an award-winning illustrator from America who works in publishing, gaming and film creating fantasy scenes. His client list includes Disney, Dreamworks, Warner Brothers, Blizzard, Random House, Penguin Books, Harper Collins, and Sony. He has also worked in the game industry for Sony, Riot, Blizzard, Hasbro, Wizards of the Coast, Kabaam, Cryptozoic and Riotminds.

Justin Gerard is an artist based in Georgia specializing in fine art and narrative illustration. His work has been featured in Spectrum Fantastic Arts, the Society of Illustrators and the Illustrators Annual.

He began painting later in life after he found a Step-by-Step Graphics guide on Peter de Sève. Armed with this and inspiration from the works of Arthur Rackham and the Golden Age illustrators he began creating narrative-driven images to inspire himself and others.

Justin has a special love for the Golden Age illustrators. He has made a long and detailed study of their brains in an effort to distill their collective genius into a drink, which he might sell for millions. 

While Justin has always derived a great deal of inspiration from nature and human history, his favorite source of inspiration is story. The works of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis have remained constant sources of inspiration for him throughout his career. 

A fantastic fantasy artist creating many iconic images for Dungeons and dragons as well as many other well known brands listed above, he is married to Annie Stegg

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Michael Hayes

Michael C Hayes is a professional artist based in the U.S. who creates astonishing fantasy art paintings. There’s a wonderful timeless feel to Michael’s artwork, with a real sense of composition, lighting and structure to each piece. Beautifully painted in oils these fantasy paintings explore everything from historical heroines and heroes to the strange and macabre. The figure work and drawing that underline these paintings is absolutely superb and it’s no surprise the artist has been featured in the fantasy art publication ImagineFX. If you like what you see below a 44 page full colour A4 book of his incredible artworks is available to buy online called ‘Prologue: The Art of Michael C. Hayes’. For sketches and details of how these great paintings were created a must visit is his artist blog at and his excellent online portfolio on DA

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Linda Graves

Linda Graves graduated from San Jose State University with a degree in art/ illustration.

She has illustrated over forty books for children, as well as book covers, calendars, puzzles, cards, posters, and magazine illustrations. She also creates Fantasy Art, Paintings as well as sculpture.

She has been shown numerous times at the Eric Carle Picture Book Museum in Amherst, MA, in the Sanford Smith Fine Art Gallery in Great Barrington, MA, the Michelson Gallery in Amherst, MA.

She has also shown Fantasy Art at the World Fantasy Convention, NY, won numerous awards at the New England Science Fiction Association‘s (NESFA), Boskone in Boston, MA, Fantastic Worlds exhibition in Kenosha, WI.

She is a member of the Western Massachusetts Illustrators Guild, World Fantasy, Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists, and the New England Science Fiction Association.

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Greg Hidlebrandt

Greg and Tim Hildebrandt, known as the Brothers Hildebrandt (born January 23, 1939), are American twin brothers who worked collaboratively as fantasy and science fiction artists for many years. They produced illustrations for comic books, movie posters, children’s books, posters, novels, calendars, advertisements, and trading cards. Tim Hildebrandt died on June 11, 2006

Born in Detroit, Michigan, Greg and Tim Hildebrandt began painting professionally in 1959 as the Brothers Hildebrandt. The brothers both held an ambition to work as animators for Walt Disney, and although they never realized this dream, their work was heavily influenced by illustration style of Disney feature films such as Snow White, Pinnochio and Fantasia. They were also influenced by the artwork in comic books and science fiction books, notably the work of Norman Rockwell and Maxfield Parrish

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Omar Rayyan

Upon graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design, Omar Rayyan settled on the island of Martha’s Vineyard with his wife Sheila. The bucolic surroundings compliment and help inspire his “old world” aesthetic toward painting. He enjoys looking to the past for inspiration and guidance from the great oil painters of the Northern Renaissance and the Romantic and Symbolist painters of the 19th century. Having created illustrations for many publishers, including Simon & Schuster, Random House and Hyperion/Disney, Omar’s primary market was geared towards children’s and young adult’s magazine and books, doing cover and interior illustrations. He also illustrated several children’s picture books. Other genres he has worked in include the gaming market, most notably for Magic: The Gathering, where he has done card art and concept work. Omar was also among the talented artists who contributed concept art and created the look for the motion picture “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.” Currently Omar’s attention has been leaning more towards creating paintings of whim and fantasy made to indulge his own personal tastes and humors, doing work for private art collectors and galleries. Rayyan credits the “timeless scenarios” of Martha’s Vineyard with fueling his imagination and making it possible for him to forget what century he’s living in.

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Dorian Vallejo

Born into an artistic family, Dorian Vallejo’s career began when he started illustrating book covers as a student at the School of Visual Arts, in New York. As the field increasingly began to incorporate the use of computer-generated images, Vallejo felt the need to pursue other avenues with his art. His love of traditional media and the figure, drew him to portraiture and to focus on personal work, which he shows in galleries. These days Vallejo spends most of his time creating paintings and drawings for sale through galleries.


Artistically, I engage ideas that converge philosophically and aesthetically. I am fascinated by the process of individuation and its potential for archetypal expression. To that end, my paintings and drawings often suggest a symbolic narrative. This narrative is meant to represent our mediation between the limits of perceived reality and the quest for authenticity. I am also interested in beauty as a metaphor and the transient poetry of life. Increasingly, what I find exciting is paying attention to the visual stimulus life presents on a regular basis.  

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Boris Vallejo

Boris Vallejo (born January 8, 1941) is a Peruvian-American painter.

Vallejo works almost exclusively in the fantasy and erotica genres. His hyper-representational paintings have appeared on the covers of numerous science fiction and fantasy paperbacks and are featured in a series of best-selling glossy calendars. Subjects of his paintings are typically sword and sorcery, gods, monsters, and well-muscled male and female barbarians engaged in battle.

Boris is the grandfather of Fantasy art, one of my favorite artists, I have loved his work since I was a young teenager reading fantasy novels sporting covers he created, I have always considered him the master of this genera and one of the biggest influences on me as an artist.

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Annie Stegg

Annie Stegg Gerard has a special love for the 18th century Rococo painters who have had a large influence on her own method. She finds inspiration in their imagination, and the dreamlike palette and lively brushwork that combine to create a wonderful atmosphere of enchantment. She believes that they sought to transport us to different worlds and fantastic places though their works. In her own work, known for it’s beautiful, enigmatic figures and lively creatures, Annie strives to depict this same transportive effect to the viewer. Her work is an exploration of the small hidden worlds that exist in our own backyards and the drama that unfolds with their unseen inhabitants. The secrets that are waiting to be discovered, and the mystery in a hidden moment of time. Annie exhibits her work in galleries and has done notable publishing work for clients such as Disney, Hasbro, Wizards of the Coast, Easton press, Ballistic Publishing and more. Her work is found in private collections all over the world.

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Raoul Vitale

From his website:

I’m a self-taught freelance artist working professionally since the early nineties. My major influences have been 19th century art, Golden Age Illustration, the Bros. Hildebrandt and even the fantasy films of my youth.

For way too many years I worked as a stained glass designer but illustration was all I really wanted to do. So far I’ve had the good fortune to paint a large number of private commissions, some children’s book art, gaming art for Wizards of the Coast, sculpt concept sketches for various companies, advertising, and even some monument design.

My work has been featured in Spectrum Fantastic Art, Infected by Art and ImagineFX.

I’ve always been greatly affected by light and the various moods they produce and I hope to one day be able to convey them convincingly!

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Dave Seely

Extract from the About section of his website with an insight into his process:

About My Images… I almost always kick off a new piece from the ground up with photo-collage in the computer using Adobe Photoshop. I am an OCD level collector of images -an Image Junkie- and am constantly shooting photos of anything that I might use in my images. Pattern recognition = paradigm. Boston is an incredible resource for both “found” photo ops, or if I need to go shoot something specifically. My latest love is the Canon 5D mark III. I use Model Mayhem to find models, and will shoot for specific projects, or for collaborations that often turn in to images that grow from the spontaneity of a shoot. I find that the best laid plans are often supplanted by better ideas that intervene along the way. In addition, I own about 110,000 royalty free stock images that I keep in a searchable Extensis Portfolio catalogue.

I’ll start an image with a strong photo or two chosen for the assignment brief, or just because they inspire me. Images are composed by montaging 2 to 100 photos (usually small parts of photos) into a singe image. I’ll add parts and pieces in a Frankensteinian flurry, and distort, relight, repaint and overlay photos. I’ll rework figures and do sketches inside and outside the computer to reconcile anatomy and composition. Once my collage begins to gel on screen, I’ll shoot or search specific elements, and splice them in over roughly sketched areas, or I’ll sometimes add traditional media (paint and pencil drawings) imported digitally. I’ve also been building 3D images in Google Sketchup, and exporting jpegs to incorporate into images. I can take this process all the way to a finish, or I can bring this up to an “underpainting” level of 85% or 90% complete, and then print it on archival media, and finish it in oil paint. This allows me to produce a painterly finish on a piece composed in photographic collage. Depending on my client’s needs, I can produce a range of stylistic finishes from photographic to loose painterly. If time is tight, or if lots of changes are anticipated, I will use Corel Painter to achieve a painterly finish on an entirely digital piece.

Dave Seely is a facinating artist his process combines photography and other digital assets with digital painting and analogue painting on top of digital images I found the video on his website illuminating and inspiring I have never considered the blend of real paint ontop of a digital base brilliant!

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Marc Scheff

Marc Scheff is an award-winning artist based in New York City known for his unique dimensional conceptual portraits in layers of resin.


In my work (and my life) I seek to reveal unseen layers. Contrary to our subconscious, my layers in resin are fully exposed and vulnerable. I work to reveal the authenticity of what we all hide. Each work is a new set of risks and potential rewards.

I obsess over materials, pushing them to work in unworkable ways.

I live and work in Brooklyn.

Marc works by paintiong on layers of resin to create amazing images that have a three dimentional quality.

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Chris Rhan

From his Website:

Where to start… I was born in San Francisco and spent my first seven years in the Bay area. From there, my family abruptly moved to a small town in rural Washington state, I think a lot of my early interest in art came from being a being a city kid in a farming town and not really knowing what to do with myself. The one thing  that always drew my interest though was creating creatures and places that just couldn’t exist; monsters, mutants, aliens, etc. An early obsession with the Ninja Turtles is probably also to blame.

I drew and painted all through school and eventually realized that I wanted to pursue art as a career. After high school I decided on the Academy of Art (then College, now University) in San Francisco where I majored in Illustration and earned my BFA. This is the part where I thank Chuck Pyle, Kazu Sano, Stephen Player, Moxie Stoermer and all the other great instructors that helped and encouraged me along the way.

Since graduating I’ve been lucky enough to work with a wide range of clients including Magic the Gathering, Tor Publishing, Random House, Harlequin, Blizzard Entertainment and the Village Voice.

These days I live and work back in my little hometown of Dayton, Washington.

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Anne Stokes

Anne Stokes is a fantasy artist whose early work has appeared in role-playing games, particularly Dungeons & Dragons.

Originally from London, Stokes has had an interest in the fantasy genre since her father read The Hobbit to her as a child.

Stokes has been a professional artist since 2000.

She has illustrated for Wizards of the Coast, including Dungeons & Dragons. Her Dungeons & Dragons work includes interior art for the 3.5 edition books Monster Manual III (2004), Player’s Handbook II (2006), Monster Manual IV (2006), Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss (2006), Complete Mage (2006), Magic Item Compendium (2007), Monster Manual V (2007) and Rules Compendium (2007), and the 4th edition Monster Manual (2008) and Manual of the Planes (2008).

Stokes did the cover artwork for the One Minute Silence album Available in All Colours.

Morten Veland from the Norwegian gothic metal band Sirenia was surfing the internet when he found Stokes’s mermaid picture titled “Siren’s Lament”. He became interested and contacted her for the permits to use it as an album cover for Perils of the Deep Blue.

Anne Stokes has become one of the defacto artists in the world of Dragons vampires and angelic beings her work is found almost everywhere these days from scrolls for the wall to costers wallets and bags if you can print on it the Anne Stokes machine will put a dragon on it. Her work is quite beautiful and has been an inspiration to me for many years now.

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Rodney Mathews

Rodney Matthews (born 6 July 1945) is a British illustrator and conceptual designer of fantasy and science fiction

Trained at the West of England College of Art, Matthews worked in advertising for Plastic Dog Graphics before turning freelance in 1970, initially under the name Skyline Studios.

Matthews has painted over 130 subjects for record album covers, for many rock and progressive rock bands. More than 90 of his pictures have been published worldwide, selling in poster format,[ as well as many international editions of calendars, jigsaw puzzles, postcards, notecards, snowboards and T-shirts. His originals have been exhibited throughout the UK and Europe. He was a regular exhibitor at the Chris Beetles Gallery, in London’s West End, where he met English comedian, actor, writer and producer John Cleese.

Matthews has illustrated numerous books, including those by English fantasy and science fiction author Michael Moorcock. Their collaboration in the 1970s resulted in a series of 12 large posters, depicting scenes from Moorcock’s ‘Eternal Champion’ series. These images were also used for a 1978 calendar entitled ‘Wizardry and Wild Romance’.

In 1998, Matthews and the late Gerry Anderson completed Lavender Castle, a children’s animation series. It was produced at Cosgrove Hall Films in Manchester, England and purchased by ITV for the UK. Matthews has also contributed concept designs for the 2005 movie ‘The Magic Roundabout’.

He supplied conceptual designs for computer games such as the Sony/Psygnosis game Shadow Master and Haven: Call of the King, published by Midway. Matthews has produced some publicity and a logo for the UK’s pioneering green energy company Ecotricity.

He has also written lyrics and played drums on a music album influenced by his images; American guitarist Jeff Scheetz, John Payne (Asia) on bass guitar, Oliver Wakeman (Yes) on keyboards and Pete Coleman (composer and multi-instrumentalist)

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Michael Whelan

Michael Whelan (born June 29, 1950) is an American artist of imaginative realism. For more than 30 years, he worked as an illustrator, specializing in science fiction and fantasy cover art. Since the mid-1990s, he has pursued a fine art career, selling non-commissioned paintings through galleries in the United States and through his website.

The Science Fiction Hall of Fame inducted Whelan in June 2009, the first living artist so honored. According to his Hall of Fame citation

Michael Whelan is one of the most important contemporary science fiction and fantasy artists, and certainly the most popular. His work was a dominant force in the transition of genre book covers away from the surrealism introduced in the 1950s and 1960s back to realism.

His paintings have appeared on the covers of more than 350 books and magazines, including many Stephen King novels, most of the Del Rey editions of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series, Piers Anthony’s Incarnations of Immortality series, the Del Rey edition of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mars series, Melanie Rawn’s Dragon Prince and Dragon Star series, the Del Rey editions of H. P. Lovecraft’s short story collections, the DAW editions of Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melniboné books, numerous DAW editions of C. J. Cherryh’s work, many of Robert A. Heinlein’s novels including Friday and The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, the Ace editions of H. Beam Piper’s Fuzzy novels, and Tad Williams’s Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, Otherland, and Shadowmarch series and Brandon Sanderson’s The Stormlight Archive. Whelan provided covers and interior illustrations for Stephen King’s The Gunslinger and The Dark Tower, the first and last of his Dark Tower books.

Cover art by Michael Whelan has graced many music record albums including Demolition Hammer’s Epidemic of Violence, The Jacksons’ Victory; Sepultura’s Beneath the Remains, Arise, Chaos A.D. and Roots; Soulfly’s Dark Ages; Obituary’s Cause of Death; and every album by the Elric-influenced metal band Cirith Ungol. He painted original works for the covers of Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell and The Very Best of Meat Loaf albums and several of his older paintings illustrate the liner notes of the former. Recently, he painted the cover art for thrash metal band Evile’s album Infected Nations.

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Julie Bell

Julie Bell (born October 21, 1958) is an American fine artist, illustrator, photographer and bodybuilder. She is a fantasy artist and a wildlife painter. She is one of the main representatives of the heroic fantasy and fantastic realism genres. Bell has won numerous Chesley Awards and was the designer of the Dragons of Destiny series. She also has won numerous first place awards in the Art Renewal Center’s International Salon and has been named as a Living Master. Julie Bell married and later divorced scientist and writer Donald E. Palumbo. During this marriage she gave birth to two sons, Anthony and David Palumbo, who subsequently also became professional artists. Later, she married artist Boris Vallejo.

Julie has made a large contribution to the Fantasy and Science Fiction genre and her artwork has appeared on hundreds of book covers, comic books, trading cards, and various collectibles. Her work can be seen worldwide in major advertising campaigns, album covers, posters, and collectibles of all kinds.

Julie shares her life and her studio in Pennsylvania with her husband, Boris Vallejo.

Julie Bell has painted the cover illustrations of more than 100 fantasy and science fiction books and magazines since 1990, including more than 90 in the 20 years to 2009. In the early 1990s, she illustrated painted covers for video games as well as best-selling trading cards for the superheroes of Marvel and DC. A cover art image from the Sega Game Gear video game Ax Battler: A Legend of Golden Axe would depict the semi-barbaric world that the game took place in; thus being entitled Savage Land by Bell herself. She designed the award-winning Dragons of Destiny sculpture series, Mistress of the Dragon’s Realm dagger series, as well as the Temptation Rides sculpture series produced by The Franklin Mint.

She designed the cover art for Meat Loaf’s albums Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose and its first single “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now”, the album Hang Cool Teddy Bear, and the album “Crossroads”.

Julie sometimes collaborates on art with her husband, Boris Vallejo, and they have done many paintings for worldwide advertising campaigns such as Nike, Inc., Coca-Cola and Toyota.

In 2007, Bell and Vallejo illustrated the poster for Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters.

A yearly calendar of 13 paintings by Bell and Vallejo is produced by Workman Publishing.

Her personal fine art work would best be defined in the realms of contemporary imaginative realism, equine, and wildlife art.

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