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The Way of Kings - Chulls

By Inkthinker
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One of six illustrations scattered amongst the pages of Brandon Sanderson's new epic fantasy series The Way of Kings that describe the natural flora & fauna found in the novel.

The chull serves as a common beast of burden on the world of Roshar, similar to an oxen or buffalo in our own world. As with most of the creatures on Roshar, the original design mandate begins with arthropods of great size. In this case it started as a type of crab. Brandon wanted a giant crab-beast which defended itself from predators and the hurricane-like highstorms that sweep the land by pulling itself into a boulder-like shell... when curled up, the chull should resemble a giant rock.

One of the things Brandon lets me do is try and develop a design based on some sense of natural ecology, in an attempt to make something as fantastic as a giant boulder-carrying crab feel potentially realistic. He puts up with me asking a lot of odd questions, and in some cases what I feed back to him ends up in the book itself, which is very gratifying. Most of it just ends up as errata and notes that may not ever be useful.

In this case, it was suggested that the chull excretes certain minerals from its food supply and the water it drinks (this is a common function of many living creatures on Roshar) through the shell on its back, slowly building up a large mound of stony material that resembles a massive boulder.

Because of the way it builds up from excreted material over time, the "boulder" is actually made of very light, porous stone. The rock of domestic chull can be carved and shaped fairly easily, and in the wild various plants and small insects will make their home upon it, creating a symbiotic little environment that goes wherever it does.

I'm not a very good biologist, but designing parts of the natural world that Brandon is creating makes for some interesting challenges that are a lot of fun to explore. Sometimes (most of the time) I don't really know what needs to be included in a design until someone talks about it, so if you have any questions feel free to ask.

©2008-2010 Brandon Sanderson, all rights reserved. The Way of Kings continues to be a fun project for me to work on, and I expect I'll be drawing a lot about the natural world of Roshar in the books to come.
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© 2010 - 2020 Inkthinker
Comments69
anonymous's avatar
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vick330's avatar
vick330Hobbyist Digital Artist
I loved the concept of Chulls in the book, and it's great to see the drawings here in a bigger format. I am really happy I happened on your art :clap:
Imperator-Zor's avatar
But can you eat them?
ZopyrusOfGadara's avatar
Several times in the books, people are described as eating chull meat. They're like oxen: beasts of burden that can also serve as a food source.
Spiritdink's avatar
SpiritdinkHobbyist Traditional Artist
Wonderful. I'm an audiobook listener, didn't know tree wee drawings of the creatures!
Inkthinker's avatar
InkthinkerProfessional Digital Artist
All the artwork for any of Brandon's books can be found on his website

brandonsanderson.com/books/#bo…

Pick a book, then look to the right for links to the maps, illustrations and so forth. :D
Spiritdink's avatar
SpiritdinkHobbyist Traditional Artist
Oh thank you! ☺️
ubinko's avatar
ubinkoProfessional Photographer
good I enjoy
thoughtfulpanda's avatar
i want to read this book (not the novel, i mean the guide to flora and forna)
furrekychink's avatar
I LOVE THIS BOOK.(and all of his other series!) and i can't believe its YOU that does the drawings! I am now your greatest fan. <3
Inkthinker's avatar
InkthinkerProfessional Digital Artist
Ach, scratch that last reply. It was in regards to a completely different work (animated).

Thank you! I'm only the artist for some of the drawings in the book, but they're a great lot of fun and I'm hoping to do many more of them.
BloodRedFullMoon's avatar
BloodRedFullMoonHobbyist Digital Artist
Ahh, so it was you doing these after all!
I was wondering where I might have seen that hand before.
I'm reading the book right now (after finishing off everything Mistborn-related I could find ^^ Since I discovered Brandon's writing through The Gathering Storm, I do find that his books are rather addicting) and thought I'd have a quick browse for fanart (there is absolutely too little of that on DA, I think I'll contribute something sooner or later). Didn't really expect to find the "sketchbook" pages, though, but it's actually a pleasant surprise ^^

Anyway. Absolutely awesome work.
Inkthinker's avatar
InkthinkerProfessional Digital Artist
The sketch of the hand fabrial from Navani's notes is actually an Isaac Stewart piece. I only did Shallan's pages. I'm glad you like 'em though, if you check around on Brandon's website I think you'll find all of 'em at fairly nice resolutions.

I'm glad he's picked up so many fans through the WoT, that was a risky move on everyone's part but I knew he was the right choice for it. And now that it's almost wrapped, I'm looking forward to seeing him focus on his own material again. If nothing else, more fun for me!

:D
BloodRedFullMoon's avatar
BloodRedFullMoonHobbyist Digital Artist
You got me wrong there, didn't mean Navani's notes, by "that hand" I meant your drawing style =P

Yeah, I'm also glad he took over the wrapping up of WoT, if he hadn't, I'd probably never have found his work, and a truly great saga might have gone unfinished ... gah, but I can't even decide what I'd want to read first once A Memory Of Light is done, I'd really enjoy a new Mistborn, but now that I've started it's really hard to wait for new Stormlight Archive material, too ... in any case, hope to see more of your work there ^^
skyledragon's avatar
I love your concept! :D
Sakiido's avatar
You have no idea how cool it was seeing these things actually in the books <3
jakeandersonstudio's avatar
jakeandersonstudioProfessional Digital Artist
I cannot stop reading this book. The illustrations are great and help me visualize the creatures Sanderson describes. You are a lucky artist to have been able to work with him.
Inkthinker's avatar
InkthinkerProfessional Digital Artist
Lucky timing played a big part of it, I think.

I'm glad you like it, I hope to do even better on the next book!
jakeandersonstudio's avatar
jakeandersonstudioProfessional Digital Artist
The sketchbook pages were honestly the biggest surprise...it's so rare to see those. (It's also rare for a book over 1000 pages to seem like its being read fast.) Awesome art, awesome book. You're welcome.
botchiball's avatar
What a great design : ), not to nay say most of the rest of the artistic world, but I get so tired of seeing the same concepts over and over. This is such a refreshing idea - I especially like that the boulder is easily shaped and that various plants and insects live upon it. That leaves the species.. or rather, several species, open to many other possibilities.

I'm sorry to say I've never heard of Brandon Sanderson or The Way of Kings, I'll have to make a point of looking it up. After a quick google search, I have heard of the Wheel of Time series - only good things too. It looks like I have a lot of reading to do.
Inkthinker's avatar
InkthinkerProfessional Digital Artist
Thanks! I can't take too much credit for the unique concept, though... most of that comes from Brandon, who describes the creature and its place in the world to me and then we go back and forth with drafts until I get the design right. If I see far, it's by standing on the shoulders of taller men.

:D
botchiball's avatar
hehe, Well thats true for all of us, we can't get very far without the help and support of others, but you did do the drawing or focusing of the creature. So in that case I'll extend my compliment to both of you - well done ; ).
TikiTau's avatar
I can't help it. I want a pet Chull. They look absolutely adorable for giant riding hermit crabs.
Inkthinker's avatar
InkthinkerProfessional Digital Artist
Yeah, I wanted them to have some of that bovine charm, but I think the best I can hope for is cuddly crab. :D
JenariJoe's avatar
Its always nice to see visual representations of the creatures described in the book. I have the audio version so it is kind of like an extra treat to see how close I was to it in my mind.
anonymous's avatar
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