The official The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim fine art print collection consists of 18 prints of concept and production art used in the development of Skyrim. Many of these pieces show off early depictions of now iconic landmarks, creatures, and characters from the game.
Each print is hand-numbered, and most works come with a Certificate of Authenticity signed by artist Ray Lederer.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks November 2011. It is the fifth main installment in the ongoing The Elder Scrolls series.
In the game players are able to freely roam the large, lush land of the Skyrim province, a rough, ‘Norse’, Viking-like fantasy world defined by wide stretches of barren wilderness, medieval human settlements, hidden dungeons, and huge dragons roaming the skies. The game’s main story involves the player-hero’s quest to defeat the dragon Alduin the World-Eater, a dark God in the Elder Scrolls mythology, set to destroy the world.
Skyrim, that took over ten years to develop, was rightfully praised for its open-world approach, its ‘deep lore’ and attention to detail. Upon release, it surpassed other games of its time with its scope and its coherence, artistic vision, and tonality. Everything in the game, from rustic settlements to heroes’ armour and from cups and plates to dragon designs, flows from the idea to build a ‘hardcore viking fantasy’, and lives up to that. The natural environment is a rugged one, with heavy, snow-covered mountains, to the effect it truly feels like ‘a home of the Nords’.
Key to understanding the tonality of Skyrim, is the ‘epic realism’ in its world design. Earlier, Elder Scrolls games adhered to cleaner and more generic representations of European fantasy lore. Skyrim broke free of this mold, by staying as close to historical (Scandinavian) references as possible. Fantastic elements are depicted in ways that would feel ‘authentic’ in an ancient Nordic context, and are the opposite of the type of supermagical elements you’d find in more dreamlike fantasy worlds. The same design rule helped in finding the right type of dragon for the game: a shiny purple air lizzard would spoil the effect of the animal being ‘real’ in any sense. Rather, the art team looked at animals that would look like the dragons you’d expect, but without references to high-fantasy art styles. To achieve this effect, the team studied tons of footage on eagles, bats, and various reptiles, building their dragons from their findings.
In the end, the ‘epic reality’ design rule paid off. Wherever a player travels in the wide open world of Skyrim, there are amazing dramatic vistas to behold, epic temples, but also a ton of detailed artefacts like armour, cutlery, or anything else, that simply feels like it belongs to this world. The myriad of details, set in a natural world that feels convincing, often kept players away from their tasks because they will simply stand somewhere, taking in the scenery. Only to be surprised by a passing mammoth or a huge dragon blacking out the sky.