Friday, January 14, 2011

Tim Hildebrandt's Ultra-Detailed Fantasy Art

Tim Hildebrandt (1939-2006) was half of the Brothers Hildebrandt team of twin artists best known for this:

The Hildebrandt brothers' web site is here and their Wikipedia entry here.

I of course remember that famous Star Wars poster, but had lost touch with their work until I stumbled across

this book at a used and remaindered bookstore in my end of town. It originally dates from 1991, thereby leaving out a good deal of Tim Hildebrandt's work which evolved somewhat since publication.

Hildebrandt's style in the 1970s and 80s was both "tight" and detailed. These characteristics appeal to some folks, but not usually to me.

He normally painted using acrylics on gessoed masonite board and very fine brushes except when blocking in large areas. His palette made use of a moderately large selection of colors: four blues, two greens, a purple, three yellows, three reds, an orange, the usual four browns (sienna, umber), white and Payne's gray. A good deal of attention was paid to warm-cool color relationships, light sources and reflected light -- all this virtually formulaic, but understandable for a commercial illustrator trying to hit deadlines.

What struck me most was how different Hildebrandt's style is than those for fantasy art contemporaries such as Frank Frazetta and Jeffry Jones -- let alone current fantasy art that's mostly done using a computer. Below are a few examples of Hildebrandt's work.

Poster art for Barbarella with Jane Fonda. Click on the image for a larger, sharper view.

Concept art for a proposed theme park.

"The Elven Fortress" -- calendar art, 1983. Click on the image for a larger, sharper view.

"The Mountain" -- more calendar art, 1985. Click on the image for a larger, sharper view.

Cover art for "Fang the Gnome," 1988. Click on the image for a larger, sharper view.


Unknown said...

Hi, Donald! I stumbled upon your blog/post while hunting around for some of Tim Hildebrandt's books. He was like a dear uncle to me, I grew up with he and his brilliant wife as extended family members. I also studied with him in his studio during my high school and early college days. He was equally brilliant and generous, humble and yet self-possessed...and unique and wonderful artist and person. I was the model for the painting you posted above, the book cover for Fang the Gnome, as well as many other paintings he did. It makes me happy to see people recognizing his work, he was one of a kind. Take care! Peace~ Brigid Glynn-Young

Donald Pittenger said...

Brigid -- Thank you for finding this five-year-old post. Also for the inside info about the Fang art.