io9 has already featured 'making of' posts for my Eddard Stark and Bran Stark artworks for the 2012 George R. R. Martin / A Song of Ice and Fire Calendar. This week, I'm sharing how I created my artwork for Sansa Stark and the Hound.

One of the many great things about this job was George and Bantam let me make the first call on what images and characters I wanted to illustrate. So I made a 'wish list', and whittled it down to a final twelve. When I was done, George signed off on most of them, but he offered three or four images of his own that weren't on my list. He offered these for me to consider and I thought they were all terrific. So I nuked a few of mine and replaced them with his because it made for a more balanced set.

One of George's suggestions was Sansa Stark and the Hound (AKA Sandor Clegane).

George thought it would be fun to consider the scene where the Hound encounters Sansa in her darkened chamber while the Battle of the Blackwater rages outside. When I think about Sansa and the Hound, I think about Beauty and the Beast. I don't mean any specific incarnation of that storyline, but just a perverse version of it. However, if there was one version that did come to mind, it was Jean Cocteau's 1946 film La Belle et la Bête.

Another set of images that came to mind were the famous Arrow Dress Shirt ads illustrated by the great J.C. Leyendecker. Here are two examples. I was interested in a completely different emotional temperature than the Leyendecker art though.

I did a sketch heavily influenced by the Leyendeckers, fully knowing that I'd work out better versions of the characters if we chose this direction.

I don't even think that I finished this drawing before a completely different idea popped in my head. This one had a more simplified and iconic, close-up composition. I scribbled the new idea down. The composition almost leaned toward abstraction, which I liked because very few ASoIaF-related artworks straddle the line between realism and abstraction. They usually dwell almost exclusively in more literal, scene-driven territory.

Still — I figured, because of the relatively odd composition, it was a longshot that George would go for this. I submitted my sketches and ideas. He selected this one almost immediately.

I had a pretty decent idea of how to handle Sansa from the beginning, but the Hound's scars were gonna require more study. I asked a friend to model for me and I tried out some latex makeup on his face. I also looked at photography of spaghetti and meatsauce. The latex was a nice help, but as you can see in the pencils below, a lot of the scarring was discovered in the drawing. There's a wave-like, pseudo-"Starry Night" quality to Sansa's hair that wasn't planned at all when I was drawing. I really liked it when it happened, and tried my best not to overdraw and ruin it.

When it came time to figure out the overall colour scheme, the answer was super-simple, and I knew it even when I was doing the greyscale sketches.

What are the colours of the wildfyre as described in the passages of the Battle of the Blackwater? Sickly green and orange. That battle is raging outside Sansa's window when this encounter occurs. And what better than the month of Halloween for a face like the Hound? It was a no-brainer that this artwork would be October's. I look forward to seeing lots of scary, scarred Hounds roaming the streets on Halloween this fall.


John Picacio is a 2012 Hugo Award finalist for Best Professional Artist. Check out his work at and follow him on Twitter at @JohnPicacio. He's appearing in mid-June at DeepSouthCon 50 in Huntsville, AL, and will have some cool surprise art goodies for George R. R. Martin / A Song of Ice and Fire fans in attendance.