The Star Wars Art of Terese Nielsen

June 27, 2014 at 12:00 am | Posted in Art, Star Wars, The Roqoo Depot Galleria | 1 Comment

terese-nielsenStar Wars artist Terese Nielsen has done a wide variety of artwork for the Star Wars universe. From Luke Skywalker to Yuuzhan Vong, and the likes of Ahsoka Tano and Mandalore the Ultimate, she has covered the full gamut of Star Wars eras. Her artwork also spreads across several mediums including cover art for novels and comics and even packaging art for the Star Wars Miniatures.

Outside of Star Wars, Forgotten Realms fans may be familiar with her work as she did the covers for Paul S. Kemp’s Erevis Cale Trilogy. Terese also did a lot of work for Magic: The Gathering. For this gallery, however, we’ll be sticking to Star Wars. And for Terese, it all started with the X-wing Rogue Squadron: Masquerade trade paperback published in June 2000.

X-Wing: Rogue Squadron – Masquerade (trade paperback)

X-Wing: Rogue Squadron – Mandatory Retirement (trade paperback)

Star Wars: Union (trade paperback)

This was great fun to do! It’s a mixed media piece. I used a gouache-wash technique in the background to get the stained glass feel. The two panels on the side have gold leaf textured into them. Luke and Mara Jade are painted with acrylic and colored pencil.

-Terese Nielsen

Knightfall: Jedi Storm (cancelled novel)

Here’s one you won’t see on a book-cover. It’s a bummer too because I think this was my favorite of all of my SW’s covers. They had me painting the art for these before the book was even written just going off a loose outline and some character descriptions from the author. I’d finished this one and it was approved and paid for and I was just starting to paint the second of the two book set and then I was informed that the series was cancelled. So… as far as I know this one’s never.

-Terese Nielsen

The Knightfall Trilogy was set to be part of the New Jedi Order series and was going to be written by Michael Jan Friedman with a 2001 release date. The three books in the trilogy were entitled Jedi Storm, Jedi Fire and Jedi Blood. They would have starred Danni Quee and Jedi Knight Jorallen (a new character who has never appeared in any other work). Jedi Storm was completed, however, Del Rey decided to take the series in a different direction, focusing on Anakin Solo. Thus the Knightfall Trilogy was replaced by Gregory Keyes Edge of Victory Duology which focused on Anakin.

Cover sketch for Jedi Fire

Edge of Victory: Conquest (novel)

I enjoyed creating all of these SW’s covers. The only glitch to this one was they decided to turn the shapers face blue on the final cover though she wasn’t originally described that way. I like painting blue skin so I wish they would’ve told me that to begin with instead of Photoshopping it in a weird way for the finished cover. I didn’t know until I saw it sitting on a bookshelf. That’s the illustration world though. : )

-Terese Nielsen

Edge of Conquest: Rebirth (novel)

I had many requests for more Star Wars stuff so here’s another. We have Luke looking a bit older accompanied by a very pregnant Jedi… Mara Jade. Many people couldn’t tell on the book cover version that she was pregnant because the type went right over her tummy.

Painted traditionally with acrylic, oil and colored pencil and a few squirts with the airbrush.


-Terese Nielsen

Final Prophecy (novel)

This is another example of a cover that had to be created before the book was written. I had a synopsis and “some” character details but it was not really all worked out yet.

All painted with acrylic, oil and colored pencil the technique that I tend to use most of the time nowadays.

-Terese Nielsen

Luke Skywalker for Star Wars Miniatures: Legacy of the Force

I was asked to illustrate Luke in battle armor, Boba Fett and Darth Talon… all very cool characters…The description [Paul] gave me for the Luke piece was pretty minimal which in most cases is nice and lets the artist really do what they’re trained to do.

So, I had two comic book references of Luke in his stealth armor as a guide, and then went on a search for some decent face reference.

After the reference was gathered I worked up the sketch to go through the approval channels, and then I started slinging paint for the final. Actually, I did all three sketches at once and submitted those. I made any needed adjustments and then went on to the painted versions.

-Terese Nielsen

Boba Fett for Star Wars Miniatures: Legacy of the Force

They did decide they wanted the helmet on. I worked up the sketch and submitted it. It was approved and then I went on to the final.The final illustration was painted with acrylic and colored pencil and the size was about 9×19″.

-Terese Nielsen

Darth Talon for Star Wars Miniatures: Legacy of the Force

I know! I think she is too. What could be hotter than a red-skinned chick with tattoos adorning every inch of her body, minimal clothes and two curvalicious tentacles swinging from the back of her head… o.k. well, somehow she still looks good.

So this is the third packaging illustration for the brand new Star Wars Miniatures: Legacy of the Force line. Illustrating bad-ass, sexy, strong women really works for me, so I liked this assignment. I wasn’t very familiar with Darth Talon other than the piece that Jan Duursema did of her for Star Wars Celebration IV. Paul (the art director) did provide me with reference as well as some background info on her from Wookiepedia.

This is the art description Paul gave me:


This lady has a killer body with a killers focus. A stare without emotion. Lightsaber in hand. Beautifully evil. Pose? Not sure, lets talk about your thoughts on her.

I shot some photos for reference and worked up the sketch. The sketch was approved as is, and I went from there directly to the final painting.

I scanned in the sketch printed it out on archival Epson Velvet paper, wet stretched it, taped off the edges, and started slinging paint. I do enjoy this phase of a painting. It’s the time to obliterate the whiteness of the board and establish the general color scheme in a loose quick way.

Using acrylic washes I can create interesting textures by splattering paint with a variety of colors using dribbly, messy brushes and it’s ‘all good’ at this stage… kind of hard to mess it up right here. Sometimes at this beginning stage I light candles, draw a pentagram on the floor, and channel Jackson Pollock.

After the initial washes are done, it’s just a matter of building up the dark and light areas with acrylic and oil. I usually shift to oil when I want a smooth blended area and don’t want to fight with how fast the acrylics are drying, but there are no hard and fast rules here. I just kind of layer it up as I go.

If I feel like I’m mostly done with acrylics, then often I’ll cover the whole piece with gloss medium and then slide around with oils on top of it after it’s dried. This allows the oil to move around on the glossy surface much easier than if I’m just painting on top of the untreated paper. Obviously, paper “sucks” the oil right out of the brush and one needs a lot more medium to move oil around on raw paper. So that’s how oil on top of acrylic works.

-Terese Nielsen

Darth Malak for Star Wars Miniatures: Knights of the Old Republic

“Go ahead, make my day.” O.k., so Mr. Malak didn’t actually say that, but that was the attitude I was going for. And you know, if I got my lower jaw ripped off and had to accessorize myself around that clunky muzzle everyday, I’d have attitude issues too. I have to hand it to him though, he knows how to compensate for minor setbacks. Darth Malak sports a serious set of pecs doesn’t he? Probably one of those guys huffing away in the gym that spends all of their time on the top half, thinking girls only look at chests and arms.

I created the sketch which was submitted to Lucas for approval. The folks there didn’t require any changes or additions so I went ahead with the final. I still prefer painting traditionally. The medium I used was primarily acrylics with a little colored pencil, and some final touches of oil here and there. The size of the finished piece is 8″x17″.

-Terese Nielsen

Obi-Wan Kenobi for Star Wars Miniatures: Knights of the Old Republic

I wasn’t given a whole lot of direction on this one, other than to portray a young version of him with his lightsaber lit up…The art director provided me with background info and a link related to Obi-Wan. From there I shot reference of various poses that I thought might work, and then jumped on into the sketch process. I would show you the reference photos, but I just don’t think you need to see me in a fuzzy pink bathrobe, black boots from Hot Topic and a long fluorescent light tube for a saber. I’ll only humiliate myself up to a certain point. The sketch was approved and I went ahead with painting it. The size of the final painting was 8 x 17″ and created using acrylics and colored pencils, no oil in this one.

-Terese Nielsen

Mandalore the Ultimate for Star Wars Miniatures: Knights of the Old Republic

I wasn’t familiar with Mr. Mandalore until asked to paint another illustration for the Star Wars minis packages.

Here’s a little bit about what his life is about. “Madalore the Ultimate established his reputation as a brazen strategist who was capable of immense destruction. He led a merciless campaign in the Outer Rim Territories, authorizing the devastation of such planets as Cathar, and allowing his armies to sack the world of Althir. Even as the Republic began to respond to his aggressions, he continued to lead his Mandalorians with brutal efficiency. As the war escalated, Mandalore proved that he was willing to do anything to win his cause, even to the point of using nuclear devices to destroy entire cities.”

I’m not sure if he uses “nuke-u-lar” devices or “nuclear” weapons… but either way he’s a bad mo fo. : P

As for what mediums I used, I just stuck with acrylic and colored pencil on this one… I left the oil tucked away under my acrylic palette. Most likely it was dried out, and I was too lazy to squeeze out a new palette full.

-Terese Nielsen

Naga Sadow for Star Wars Miniatures: Jedi Academy

ZAP!! That’s all I’m say’n.

O.k. well, not quite. This is another character that was new to me. Here we have the powerful Sith lord oozing with force lightening. Don’t stand too close.

Mixed media: acrylic, oil colored pencil and wee bits of airbrush.

-Terese Nielsen

Ahsoka and Anakin for Star Wars Miniatures: The Clone Wars

I’m not always up-to-speed on everything related to the SW’s universe. Ahsoka was not a familiar character to me.

The art director provided me with a general direction to take. “ART DESCRIPTION: Anakin Skywalker will be behind his apprentice, Ahsoka Tano. A talented teen padawan. (13 years of age or so) She will be in the front. Almost a back to back stand-off with an off camera enemy. She fights with a reverse grip sometimes.

I created an original sketch. This first version didn’t quite nail the essence of what Ahsoka was about. They provided me with more reference to round out my understanding of her “look”. I shot photos of my niece, which I felt would be a great model for this character, and proceeded with sketch number two. The second sketch got the nod, so we went on to the painting stage. The first painted version was submitted. They had a few adjustments they wanted to see, so, I had the opportunity to spend a little more time on the piece, tinkering with the background values, as well as rendering out a few more costume details. This is how the final art looked, which you now see adorning the box.

-Terese Nielsen

Star Wars Celebration IV Padme Print

Queen Padme Amidala, Private Commission

This was a private commissioned piece for a huge Star Wars collector. He just wanted me to do anything related to SW’s. I love the textures, color and costuming in Padme’s wardrobe so that’s what I went with.

The image was painted with acrylic, colored pencil and a few sprinkles of gold dust.

-Terese Nielsen

Padme for Star Wars Miniatures: The Clone Wars

Captain Rex for Star Wars Miniatures: The Clone Wars

Asajj Ventress for Star Wars Miniatures: Galaxy at War

Out of the three of these [General Grievous, Asajj Ventress and Kit Fisto], Asajj Ventress was the most enjoyable for me to illustrate. White skin is fun to paint, as well as strong, intimidating women. I did the first sketch of her. Paul wanted to try a version with her looking a bit more sinister, with crossed lightsabers and a snarl. I used what has become my typical mixed media approach to paint these, washes and splatterings of acrylic, followed by building up and rendering the details with acrylic, and oil on top of that. Colored pencils are worked in here and there around edges, to pop and carve out specific areas. By the way, my old trusty airbrush is still my best friend when it comes to lightsabers… no Photoshop there. As my son would say, I’m still “kick’n it old school”, and I have a sneaking suspicion my school’s not going to get any younger.

-Terese Nielsen

Grand Admiral Thrawn for Star Wars Miniatures: Imperial Entanglements

So this was yet another Star Wars character that I was unfamiliar with until this assignment came along. I was asked to imbue the admiral with the look of a “confident and brilliant military man. Striking features and red eyes. The pose and body language should reflect that he is emotionally controlled.”

I used the same mixed media approach, washes of acrylic in the background and oil built up on top for detail and glazed in for color modulation.

-Terese Nielsen

Leia in Boushh Disguise for Star Wars Miniatures: Imperial Entanglements

The visual requirements for this illustration were not much more than show Leia in the Boushh disguise, with the headgear off.

The mediums are acrylic, colored pencil and oil. The size is about 16×10″.


-Terese Nielsen

Jedi Knight Leia for Star Wars Miniatures: Jedi Academy

Chewbacca for Star Wars Miniatures: The Dark Times

This was my first time drawing or painting any of these three characters [Chewbacca, K’Kruhk and Bossk]. Chewie was the only one I was really familiar with.

I was asked to illustrate Chewbacca holding the bowcaster weapon, showing him doing his “Chewie yelping thing.” Ever since I was a kid, that hollow sounding howl has stuck with me. He’s a cool character. Does anyone not like Chewbacca?

-Terese Nielsen

Han Solo for Star Wars Miniatures: Masters of the Force

K’Kruhk for Star Wars Miniatures: The Dark Times

K’Kruhk was all new to me. The art director told me he was a Whiphid Jedi, who lived around the end of the Galactic Republic, all the way to the time of the new Sith Order. We wanted to show him with both his lightsaber and his Rambo knife, looking beefy and imposing. This was one of the rare occasions I’ve been able to show a Jedi bare chested. The only thing that would’ve been even more “freakin’ sweet”, is if they had let me add in the straw hat. I freakin’ tried.

-Terese Nielsen

Yoda for Star Wars Miniatures: Jedi Academy

Mace Windu for Star Wars Miniatures: Masters of the Force

Emperor Palpatine for Star Wars Miniatures: Imperial Entanglements

Grievous, Kaleesh Warlord for Star Wars Miniatures: Masters of the Force

General Grievous for Star Wars Miniatures: Galaxy at War

Kit Fisto for Star Wars Miniatures: Galaxy at War

Dreadlocks I like, head tendrils… not so much. I don’t know, I’m just not a huge fan, and the the Star Wars universe seems to be rampant with them.

Nevertheless, we have Mr. Fisto sporting his legendary smile and two lightsabers. I wanted to show him bare chested under water, but apparently the miniatures figure had this particular outfit, so we had to go this direction.

The art was commissioned for a packaging illustration for the Star Wars miniatures line entitled “Galaxy at War”.

Medium: acrylic, oil and colored pencil with little bursts of airbrush here and there.

Size: 11×17″

-Terese Nielsen

Bossk for Star Wars Miniatures: The Dark Times

It seemed like the images for this set, were heading along a tough, furry theme. However, we deviated from that path on the third one, and tossed in a scaly dude, a.k.a. Bossk, the Trandoshan bounty hunter, — full of attitude.

I didn’t know what to make of him… sort of reminded me of the reptiles from “Land of the Lost” only much more dangerous, than the painfully slow, zombie-esque Sleestack. I loved that show. It’s on my mind right now, because I picked up my son Lars from the metro today and he had a t-shirt on which said “Chaka is my homeboy”. It made me LOL.

-Terese Nielsen

To find out more about Terese Nielsen or to see more of her artwork, you can check out her blog or her deviantArt page. She also has prints for sale for those interested in collecting a piece of her artwork.

Posted By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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  1. […] wanted to be sure we included this gem she found: The Star Wars Art of Terese Nielsen. And she’s not joking. It’s REALLY good! Here’s an […]

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