Last year, Mischief Management brought two crew members to Con of Thrones: Game of Thrones weapons maker Tommy Dunne and sound designer Paula Fairfield. This year, they brought in concept artist Kieran Belshaw! Belshaw worked on seasons 5 to 8.
As someone interested in learning about television pre-production, it is so cool to get to hear from other Game of Thrones team members and how they worked to put the show together. Kim Renfro of INSIDER moderated Belshaw’s panel, which took place last weekend in Nashville’s Music City Center.
So what is concept art?
As a concept artist for Game of Thrones, Belshaw worked in pre-production, doing set design, how the scenes look with the actors in there. This concept art gives the showrunners and producers an idea of what the scenes would look like. Belshaw explained how he would receive the scripts early and collaborate with them to discuss ideas and tweak the artwork.
Belshaw worked closely with Deb Riley, the production designer, who would give him sketches. Sometimes Belshaw used 3D software to figure out how the scenes could look.
The show got visually dark
Renfro brings up how the show got increasing dark, in story and in picture. She asked Belshaw if lighting came into play with his concept art. He explained that how with concept art, they got to dictate how the lighting looked and would receive feedback from the cinematographer.
Remember the Citadel library from season 6? Belshaw said that someone else had already designed the library. However, HBO stepped in and asked for another design since the previous art was more abstract. Belsaw said, “David and Dan provided some reference images of the sort of thing they wanted… that’s what we went for.”
“Battle of the Bastards”
For the episode “Battle of the Bastards,” director Miguel Sapochnik requested for concept art. Sapochnik wanted an idea of how big and how high the body pile would be.
“The Long Night”
Belshaw added that Maisie Williams’ eyes lit up when he showed her the concept art. Actors are not involved in the concept art process so it was a rare occurrence for Belshaw. But since she had such an important role in the episode, they brought her in to look at the artwork.
The Red Keep Tower
For “The Bells” episode in season 8, Belshaw played around with different versions of the staircase in the Red Keep Tower, where Sandor and Gregor Clegane fought.
Totally dug the look on Cersei’s face, BTW.
The Tin Horse
Fun fact: Belshaw also designed the toy tin horse that the little girl clutches to, as Daenarys destroys King’s Landing.
The Red Gate
Red Keep Gate, Dany’s View
Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss wanted the scene to feel like Daenarys was looking down at the city she destroyed.
In the details, you can see in the GIF that even Daenarys’ hair changed from being braided to letting loose. Snow is gradually added to the final artwork.
Was it snow or ash? We need to know!
Belshaw thought the idea of Drogon emerging from the snow was cool: “It was a fun image to work on!”
But was it snow or ash…? Sort of… Mixed together.
Renfro responded that we can just call it “snash”!
Belshaw created the concept art of the statues of the Starks in the crypt. Although we don’t see them in the season, the work was for the promo. Belshaw worked on Catelyn Stark’s statue first. After he finished this, the art was given to the sculpture team. He only had a day each to work on Sansa, Jon Snow, and Arya, though: “It was probably the most intense I ever worked.”
HBO wanted Belshaw to create concept art for the crypt statues to get people talking about the show leading up to the release of the eighth season.
Kieran Belshaw also worked on concept art for films, such as Allied, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. You can learn more about Belshaw and see more of his art on his official website.
Stay tuned for more articles recapping Con of Thrones!
Featured image credit: “Red Keep Gate Ruins, Dany’s Speech” by Kieran Belshaw