Fantasy Art: Warriors & Heroes by Russ Thorne (book review).

Now this is why it pays to look at different publishers and the books they put out and check their back catalogues. If they allow us to review them, then we reveal books you might otherwise have missed. Without those other books, I wouldn’t have come across this one released in 2014, ‘Fantasy Art: Warriors & Heroes’ by Russ Thorne that is still available as a first hand copy.

Fantasy Art: Warriors & Heroes by Russ Thorne
Front cover: Solitaire by Ken Kelly. © Ken Kelly

There’s a whistle-stop trip through the history of fantasy art with various sample and several artists, like Alan Lathwell, Mikael Léger, Nacho Molina, Jason Juta, Rob Shields and Ming Fan amongst many others that I haven’t come across before. In many respects, many of these artists have moved from book covers to working in the role-playing game fantasies which is their natural home today.

Fantasy Art: Warriors & Heroes by Russ Thorne
p14 – The Bat by Daren Bader. © Daren Bader (
p15 – Cover of Weird Tales, May 1934. Art © Margaret Brundage. (Optional info from caption: ‘Queen of the Black Coast’ was one of the original short stories about Conan the Cimmerian by Robert E. Howard.)

This book covers many aspects of this style of fantasy art and appeal because it also shows how many of these artists put their paintings together which must surely widen its appeal. It’s always a good sign when artists are generous with showing their techniques. Although I suspect some neo-artists will copy, the most styles they see and learn from, the more likely you will develop your own style than rely on one favourite.

Fantasy Art: Warriors & Heroes by Russ Thorne
p30 – Blood Tsunami by Alex Horley. © 2013 Alex HorleyTM. All Rights Reserved. (
p31 – My Crushing Master Stroke by Alex Horley. © 2013 Wizards of the Coast. All Rights Reserved. (

It’s hardly surprising that the history of various fantasy books, characters and series is more extensive before shifting in some discussion at the end about painting in acrylics, oils and digital. In many respects, this book compacts a lot of information into 192 page. As a primer for new readers its handy to have around. For the seasoned or at least fairly knowledgeable art lover, more than enough to satisfy and, after lockdown, leave on the coffee table for your friends to peruse and urge to buy their own copies.

Fantasy Art: Warriors & Heroes by Russ Thorne.
pp38–39 – Against The Odds by Dan Scott. © Dan Scott (www.danscottart.

If there is something to be critical about is a discussion of the significant fantasy artists but nary a sample of their art to match the text. Although I suspect this might have been a problem of cost, it is a serious omission but I hope if publisher Flame Tree see a significant mass purchasing from you folks out there, maybe they’ll consider another book with said artists in a future book. This is nothing against the fantasy artists they have here already and should potentially make stars off if they choose to make separate volumes for them.

Fantasy Art: Warriors & Heroes by Russ Thorne
pp184–85 – Brave Invincible by Xue Duan. © Xue Duan (

GF Willmetts

January 2021

(pub: Flame Tree Publishing, 2014. 192 page large square hardback. Price: £20.00 (UK) $35.00 (US). ISBN: 978-0-85775-809-5)

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