Astarion and His Majesty

This oil portrait is my homage to Baldur’s Gate 3‘s iconic Vampire Elf, Astarion.

Painted in Oil on wood panel, I have portrayed Astarion holding His Majesty. I wanted to paint him in the style of a Flemish Renaissance portrait, one of my favourite styles of art.

The idea behind the painting:

After investing over 700 hours in playing Baldur’s Gate 3, and developing a burgeoning obsession with the character Astarion Ancunin, a vampire spawn, I resolved to merge my two passions by creating a portrait.

I researched the paintings from one of my favourite periods of art, Flemish Renaissance, drawing inspiration from its aesthetics to guide the look I wanted to achieve for Astarion’s portrait.

In the early stages, I knew I wanted to portray him holding His Majesty (one of the many feline characters from Baldur’s Gate 3), with a view of Baldur’s Gate behind him. Initially, I contemplated featuring the view from the ramparts of Cazador’s Palace in the portrait’s background, symbolizing his victorious conquest over his former master, Cazador Szarr , after a brutal battle.

As the story goes, Cazador had rescued Astarion from a group of Gurs, who had beaten Astarion almost to death. Despite this initial act of salvation, Cazador then subjected Astarion to a vampiric transformation, binding him as a slave and compelling him to carry out heinous tasks against his will for 200 years.

However, upon reflection, I deemed this association unfitting for immortalising Astarion in a painting bound for eternity. Instead, I opted for a view far removed from the ties of his tortured past, ensuring a more suitable backdrop for the portrayal of Astarion to reflect his new found freedom.

As I began to gather reference material and assemble various elements for the preparatory sketch in Photoshop, my enthusiasm grew. After selecting the most suitable vista for the background, I was pleasantly surprised when, experimenting with different positions, I discovered that the flow of the River Chionthar mirrored the outline of His Majesty cradled in the arms of Astarion perfectly. It felt serendipitous, as if it were meant to be.

It was only after completing the painting that I began to wonder how the creation of the artwork might have unfolded within the context of the game. So I decided to create a little fan-fiction to support the finished piece.

If you are not familiar with the Baldur’s Gate 3 game, then the following won’t make any sense! Click on the links scattered about the text if you want to learn more.

 

Venturing Forth:

Once the chaos had subsided in the aftermath of the tumultuous battle with the Netherbrain, and the residents of Baldur’s Gate began the arduous task of rebuilding their once-great city, Tav and Astarion made a mutual decision to embark on a new adventure together.

Now, bereft of the illithid Tadpole, which for a short time afforded Astarion the the gift of walking in the sun, he found himself once more ensnared by the vampiric curse inflicted upon him by his former master, Cazador Szarr. Consequently, both he and Tav found themselves confined to the shadows, compelled to evade the unforgiving glare of daylight. Thus, their journey unfolded beneath the veil of dusk and moonlight, their movements synchronized with the rhythm of the night.

They found themselves backtracking through the now liberated Shadow-Cursed Lands, curious to witness the resurgence of life where darkness had once reigned. With the curse, now lifted, life began to return to the barren and desolate regions. The once twisted and corrupted flora and fauna started to show verdant signs once more, reclaiming the land with renewed vitality. Villages and settlements that had been abandoned or decimated by the curse, slowly began to rebuild, and travelers once again dared to traverse the now safer pathways.

With dawn approaching, they found themself once more at the Last Light Inn.

Under the brightening skies, the Last Light Inn flourished, its once gloomy atmosphere replaced by warmth and hospitality. With the return of trade and travelers, the innkeepers found themselves bustling with activity once more, their hearth fires burning brightly as they welcomed guests from near and far.

Tav and Astarion settled in a cozy spot by the crackling fire, and were soon joined by His Majesty, a creature of curiosity and regal demeanor who they had briefly encountered during their last stay, his aloof manner still fresh in their memories. Throughout their stay, His Majesty graciously chose to honor them with his presence, a gesture that surprised and pleased Tav and Astarion. He confessed that his life had become dull since Isobel had left (she used to bring him milk everyday). Despite the newfound vibrancy and hospitality of the inn, His Majesty’s desire for adventure and purpose led him to seek companionship and excitement beyond its walls.

At Dusk the next day, as Tav and Astarion departed from the inn, they were surprised to find His Majesty sauntering towards them purposefully through the courtyard. He had decided to grace them with his company on their adventures. Thus, he embarked on a new chapter of his life alongside his newfound allies, venturing forth into the world beyond the confines of the Last Light Inn.

At first, the two adventurers merely tolerated His Majesty’s uninvited presence, but this soon evolved into an unbreakable bond between him and Astarion, growing ever stronger as they traversed the expanse of Faerûn together.

After many nights of uneventful journeying, the adventurers happened upon the camp of Oskar Fevras, the artist whose acquaintance they had previously made (and who’s life they saved) back in Baldur’s Gate.

Oskar, having endured the loss of everything amidst the chaos and devastation of the battle with the Netherbrain, had embraced a new path as a wandering artist, seeking solace and inspiration in the ever-changing tapestry of landscapes and vistas. It was during one of his journeys that he ascended to a lofty vantage point, driven by the desire to capture an unparalleled view of a valley within the Western Heartlands in his artwork. Little did he know, serendipity would weave the threads of fate, bringing his path to intersect with that of Tav and Astarion once again.

It was there, set against the backdrop of the valley with Baldur’s Gate in the distance, that Tav seized the opportunity to commission Oskar to immortalize Astarion in paint. Tav felt a heartfelt desire to express their appreciation for Astarion’s companionship, seeking to offer a humble token of their friendship. What greater gift to bestow upon one who had been cruelly robbed of their own reflection for two centuries, than that of a portrait. Thrilled at the prospect of seeing his own likeness after an eternity, Astarion, touched by the gesture, enthusiastically accepted the offer.

Oskar, intrigued by the challenge and eager to capture the essence of the Pale Elf, agreed to the commission. Together, they sought out the perfect setting, eventually stumbling upon a high vantage point overlooking the picturesque vista of the River Chionthar.

Oskar positioned his easel and hung a crimson curtain to shield Astarion from the burgeoning light of dawn. Astarion insisted on posing with his feline kindred spirit, who, to the surprise of all, maintained an uncanny stillness throughout the entirety of the painting process. Tav watched with anticipation, excitement mounting with each brushstroke. It was during this process that Tav observed that the alignment of the river’s flow with the outline of the embrace of His Majesty in Astarion’s arms revealed itself, a serendipitous moment that added depth and meaning to the painting.

Upon completion, Tav was suddenly struck by something profound about the portrait. Oscar had captured a facet of Astarion that he hadn’t been conscious of before. It was a portrait of someone at peace.

Astarion could finally gaze upon his visage once again, and he did so…often, savouring each moment as if rediscovering a long-lost treasure.

 

Prints

If you’re in the UK, you can buy a print direct from me here.

If you don’t live in the UK, or want it printed on all manner of goodies, buy it from Redbubble here

Here’s what one happy customer said:

Gonna frame and hang this in my living room when the print comes in the serenity in his face really came through and my home could use that energy

 

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