Artigas's avatar

Ethiopian Dwarf

By Artigas
296 Favourites
I was invited by JurasicPark89 to create an Illustration for the wargame "The 9th Age" with an illustration depicting a dwarf culture that would come from an area equivalent to Ethiopia.
The region was always a very interesting area, with so many ancient cultures interacting and influencing each other. There is so much to work with, but at the same time, no specific strong identity per se. I didn't want to go the somewhat popular way of simply "dressing up" a dwarf in the local attire of the native peoples, maybe even giving him black racial traits. I do not subscribe to that kind of approach, preferring instead to always mix and combine certain aspects of many cultures in order to have something recognisable yet unique. I wanted this design to be primarily dwarven looking, as I imagine the dwarven culture to be a very uniform looking one, given their rigid traditions and slow pace towards innovation and change. I also wanted it to look more advanced than the local cultures, showcasing the traditional excellence and wealth of their race. As for the racial diversity in fantasy races, even though I subscribe to a range of variation within the dwarven or elven races, I definitely do not fancy having it to be an exact mirror of human phenotypes, specially if corresponding to the exact geographical areas that you expect them to be found in. In other words, not every being that sets foot in Africa should be black, the contrast between human locals and the dwarven tribes in the area serving as a tool to further enhance the effect of having two completely different sapient beings coexisting and interacting.
My design choices that hint to the African cultures is evident on my use of colours, patterns and tattoos. The axe is also reminiscent of some of the throwing axes found all over Africa. The short sword's scabbard is decorated in a pattern that resembles a viper and the shield is fashioned in such a way that it resembles a cut gem.
I situated my design between the christian and muslim cultures that were present in that area for so long as much as the more tribal cultures of the Ethiopian men.
Commissioned by 

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© 2018 - 2020 Artigas
anonymous's avatar
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KarakNornClansman's avatar
Johan Gehlen, Little Joe over on the Ninth Age, is in the process of learning 3D-sculpting. He is a an avid Dwarf fan and has chosen Kegiz Gavem to be his stomping ground of practice, to help flesh out new designs. The goal is to get these 3D-sculpts available for free download so that collectors can print out items and glue them onto their Dwarf miniatures, thus converting Gavemite warriors.

His latest update, upon request from me, is a shield based on master Artigas' beautiful cut-gemstone design seen above:…

I hope we get to see whole armies equipped in this fashion in years to come. This is an emerging Dwarf culture concept, but it's gathering steam with various artists (8 at the moment) contributing their very own interpretations of Ethiopian fantasy Dwarves, and Artigas' artwork is what made it start snowballing. :)
Artigas's avatar
Brilliant! Great design!
ThorinWolfson's avatar
ThorinWolfsonHobbyist General Artist
I absolutely LOVE this! I'm a huge fan of Dwarves, and it makes me sad that spite their "popularity"(being present in most Fantasy Settings) they're always kind of a niche race, one that just exists.
I mean, there are so many different subraces and subcultures of elfs in those worlds: High Elfs, Wood Elfs, Deep/Dark Elfs, Sea Elfs, Mist Elfs, the list goes on what feels like infinitely. And then there are Dwarves. They're just Dwarves. Maybe, if they're fancy, different Clans, but that's about it.
I'm so happy that there are people out there who see that in a similar way.
Your Design is great. Only thing is, I think they would have a little darker complexion than their further north living kin, just because they get a bit more sun. So they're still more pale-faced than the local Humans, but having a little bit of a suntan. If you meant it that way, I'm sorry, that I misunderstood it.
Anyway, this is just gorgous. Again, great work.
Artigas's avatar
Thank you for your kind words.
We absolutely agree on that, and I am doing my best to expand that unexplored niche.
I meant him to be quite dark, for an underground dweller. 
Dinadan-Ermorfea's avatar
Dinadan-ErmorfeaHobbyist General Artist
Nice thought process; another reason why ‘African’ dwarves wouldn’t necessarily be black is that dwarves tend to spend most of their lives underground and the reason humans evolved black skin in Africa and white skin in Europe is to deal with the different levels of UV concentration from sunlight, something a subterranean species wouldn’t need to do.
KarakNornClansman's avatar
Indeed! Besides, some brainstorming on T9A would have Gavemites live more in the open air than ordinary Dwarves would (because of light-worship and an excuse to have whole cities like the rock-cut churches in Lalibela), but they'd still be Dwarves and live underground a great deal; there can be no question of mere surface dwellers only, though there can sure be Gavemite settlements which are both spectacles above and below ground.

I personally tend to imagine Dwarven skin tones to resemble human ones to some degree (because I like turning everyone into a Dwarf), but within a narrower spectrum. So that Dwarves don't approach the same extremes of light and dark as human populations do, but stick closer to a ruddy middle ground. Yes, I absolutely subscribe to Citadel Paints' Dwarf Flesh, which is a richer and less pale skin colour than Elf Flesh, Tallarn Flesh and so on:…

I've tried to go for a lighter dark tone in my own Kegiz Gavem doodles from the very start, than would be seen in Ethiopian Humans, but the felt pens I use in the simple coloured icons don't cooperate well and leave almost zero chances for redoing once you've accidentally misremembered (yet again!) and picked the wrong one. Ergo the inconstency. :D
Artigas's avatar
Thanks my friend. This is a good point. 
Thanks for your comment.
menapia's avatar
Very good character work on the Dwarf, being short won't stop him from ruining the day for his enemy because of that big axe plus the shorter he is the easier it is for him to punch his enemy in the gooliesGiggle 
Artigas's avatar
The nut shot. A dwarven classic. It is said they invented the speed bag...
Zousha's avatar
ZoushaHobbyist Writer
I absolutely LOVE it when people draw inspiration from non-European cultures for fantasy peoples, especially dwarfs, who are otherwise all depicted the same!
Artigas's avatar
Thanks you for your input.
I am of the same mind. So much to explore, and people keep pressing the same button.
Well, I am doing my part to change that :D
Zousha's avatar
ZoushaHobbyist Writer
And i for one am glad you are! Keep up the good work! :D
Libra1010's avatar
 On a more serious note, please allow me to say that this is absolutely Lovely - two great looks that work beautifully together!Nod 
Artigas's avatar
Thank you very much for your kind words my friend. 
Libra1010's avatar
 Thank You for producing such excellent Art!Nod 
Libra1010's avatar
I say I say I say, if this is an Ethiopian Dwarf then does that mean he must come from Gondar?

 (If he does then we might have to keep quiet about it, the Tolkien Estate can be very sensitive).;) (Wink) 
Artigas's avatar
Gondar huh? Never heard of before. Better not talk about it again hahahha
Libra1010's avatar
 Especially not around Lawyers from the Tolkien Estate!
zillafire101's avatar
Amazing work.
meladriah's avatar
meladriahHobbyist General Artist
I cant favourite this enough!! Fantastic work
Artigas's avatar
I am pleased you enjoyed it. Cheers.
Horticulous's avatar
HorticulousHobbyist General Artist
Nice artwork! As a Warhammer fan I find it interesting to read your angle on this art juxtaposed against the faction it is ultimately related to.
Artigas's avatar
I appreciate that. Thanks you!
anonymous's avatar
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