Troll Lullaby


I just drew an entire Troll Family for the School Magazine - well, Troll Father doesn't seem to be around, but maybe he's working late at the Dung Heap, or maybe Troll Mother is a hardworking single parent. Anyway, the text is a traditional Swedish Song, sung by a troll mother to her eleven babies, and beautifully translated by the Art Director at the School Magazine. She's Swedish herself and so grew up with the traditional Scandanavian stories about Trolls and Gnomes, which are near and dear to her heart. It was really tricky trying to fit eleven sleeping baby trolls into the tiny bit of available space around the text, and we had a few takes to try and get the look and feel of the trolls right. I did the final painting completely digitally, using Photoshop, and took a series of step by step shots so you can watch a timelapse demo of how I painted the Troll Mother. It's the first time I've tried this, so it's a bit wobbly, but I might try again soon and get better at it!

Troll Lullaby from Sarah Davis on Vimeo.

So, now you've seen the final painting, here's a little bit of background on the process we went through. The first rough sketch I did was far too monstery, because Scandinavian Trolls try as hard as they can to be just like humans, even though they usually fail miserably. So I had to make them a bit cuter. Also, mother trolls apparently don't hang their babies up  - instead concientious troll mothers tuck their little offshoots in bed then tie them tenderly in place with their tails. Here's my first go -

troll roughs.jpg

Because these guys weren't close enough to traditional trolls, the art director sent me links to some cool videos to get me in the mood - here's a gorgeous Norwegian singer performing the traditional song (in Norwegian, of course!):

And here's a clip from a Swedish cartoon series about a family of trolls:


I also remember reading the most incredible book on gnomes ever written when I was a kid - I read it to death, and I still have some of the poor dismembered pages. I'll have to get myself another copy, because I think it will be just as fascinating to me now that I'm a toothless old crone. It was created by Wil Huygen and Rien Poortvliet, and the artwork was amazing. Their trolls were real baddies though...

troll painting 1.png

Obviously my trolls were going to be different, because they had to be a bit cute, and because I can't paint this well! Aren't those trolls wonderfully gross and menacing? You can find copies of the book on Amazon, if you're interested.

And here's another artist who paints wonderful trolls - John Bauer.

Perhaps you could invent a troll of your own. If you do, email me a copy and I'll post it here for everyone to see.