Stylised self-portrait from BattleCards (US)

Iain McCaig is an internationally renowned and award-winning illustrator and conceptual designer and noted storyboard artist. He is perhaps best known for his work in the Star Wars and Harry Potter film projects although his contribution to Fighting Fantasy has been of great importance to the series.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Early Life[edit | edit source]

Iain was born on 19 March 1957 in Santa Monica California and moved to the west coast of Canada with his family when he was three. He then grew up in Victoria and other towns on the Puget Sound. After leaving home at fourteen, he lived for several years on his own in Canada before going to study art at the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland. After completing his degree, he moved to London where he began his career as a graphic artist and illustrator.

Career[edit | edit source]

During a break from his Glasgow studies, McCaig returned to the US and worked on the trailer for Twice Upon a Time. When a choice lay before him, he decided that 2000 book covers would be better than twenty minutes of screen time for the same number of drawings, and so his career began in the world of print. In London McCaig began an illustrious career illustrating books, comics, records, advertisements, posters, and limited edition prints and was soon sought out by many publishers and authors coming to the attention of the Fighting Fantasy franchise very quickly.

Personal Life and Family[edit | edit source]

Iain now lives with his family in Victoria, Canada. Iain met his wife Leonor whilst living in London. After his daughter was born they he moved to the village of Tisbury in Wiltshire, living in a picturesque old house. Soon after his wife gave birth to a son, Inigo. Iain's daughter, Mishi, is now following in her father's footsteps, having contributed to Iron Man, Outlander and John Carter of Mars, as well as producing her own short film work.

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

Fighting Fantasy[edit | edit source]

In 1983 Iain produced one of the iconic pieces of Fighting Fantasy art with the Shape Changer for the cover of The Forest of Doom. This was reproduced as one of the eight colour plates in the large original version of Out of the Pit and was also selected, along with the original cover of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, to be one of the two Fighting Fantasy jigsaws. The Forest of Doom had been Ian Livingstone's first gamebook written by himself, and it seemed that Iain McCaig became an immediate favourite with Livingstone, because his next three books, City of Thieves, Deathtrap Dungeon and Island of the Lizard King were all published with cover artwork by McCaig.

When Ian Livingstone produced the PuzzleQuest Book Casket of Souls, it was to be a beautifully illustrated book with full-colour plates, and the person selected for this role was once again Iain McCaig. This is perhaps his greatest work in the realm of Fighting Fantasy with the artwork from it having been reproduced a number of times and giving full reign to his distinctive watercolour technique.

Cover Illustrator

Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks[edit | edit source]

Fighting Fantasy Novels[edit | edit source]

Other Fighting Fantasy[edit | edit source]

Interior Illustrator

Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks[edit | edit source]

  • City of Thieves
  • Deathtrap Dungeon

Other Fighting Fantasy[edit | edit source]

Map Illustrator

  • Casket of Souls

Battlecards[edit | edit source]

McCaig was also one of the artists who worked on Steve Jackson's Battle Cards (published by Merlin Publishing in 1993). All seven main artists had cards dedicated to them featuring a mini-biography but written in the style of mythic fantasy. Also, the artists themselves drew self portraits. In McCaig's case he was depicted as a young wizard in golden vestments confronting an undead apparition. This card was number 2 in the US set, and number 73 in the UK set. Notably, McCaig's contribution appeared to largely recycle much of the Casket of Souls artwork.

BattleCards by Iain McCaig
US Edition UK Edition
US No. US Name UK No. UK Name
2 Iain McCaig 73 Iain McCaig
20 Prince Lionheart 20 Prince Lionheart
21 Warg the Mighty 57 Warg the Mighty
22 Stagcastle Man-at-Arms 118 Stagcastle Man-at-Arms
23 Lord of Darkness 75 Lord of Darkness
24 Sister of Darkness 86 Sister of Darkness
25 The Bonescratcher 142 Bonescratcher
26 Strangler Zombie 96 Strangler
27 Decayer Zombie 8 Decayer
28 The Dragon Prince 120 The Dragon Prince
29 Firebreather 93 Firebreather
30 Lord of the Flies 63 Lord of the Flies
31 'King' Dumm 147 'King' Dumm
32 Krudd & Gorr 103 Krudd & Gorr
33 Snargg the Ogre 28 Snargg
34 Hill Goblin 53 Hill Goblin
35 Verrancus 42 Verrancus
36 The Venomess 122 The Venomess
37 Stallion-Man 68 Stallion-Man
38 River Devlin 16 River Devlin
39 Spineslayer 108 Spineslayer

Outside of Fighting Fantasy[edit | edit source]

In the world of fantasy gaming, McCaig also illustrated The World of Lone Wolf (books 1 Grey Star the Wizard, and 2 The Forbidden City) and his work also appeared in a number of editions of White Dwarf. The band Jethro Tull also commissioned him to create the cover of their album Broadsword. His work has also been used by the Tolkien Estate.

In 1989, he was offered a job by Industrial Light and Magic, the acclaimed film design and special effects company created by George Lucas and moved back to the land of his birth to pursue his career. He worked for ILM off and on ever since on various feature films in varying capacities as designer, art director, storyboard artist and animator. Perhaps most notably he was a principal designer for Star Wars: Episode One — The Phantom Menace, designing characters including Darth Maul. He also contributed designs to the other films in the Star Wars saga. Other principal design credits include Francis Ford Coppola's Pinocchio and Steven Spielberg's Hook.

The range of other films he has worked on is vast including Bram Stoker's Dracula, Interview With a Vampire, Terminator 2 – Judgement Day, Star Trek VI, Dinotopia and Casper the Ghost among others. He has also worked on a number of children's programs.

Iain founded Dananxi Studios, a production company dedicated to bringing magical stories to the screen. His directorial debut, a children's film called The Face (art directed by Mark Wagner), opened at the Santa Barbara Film Festival in March 1998 and won the Gold Medal for "Best Family Film" at the Houston International Film Festival.

Apart from his ongoing success, one of McCaig's most notable acclamations was by Doug Chiang, the Academy Award-winning designer of Terminator 2, The Mask, Star Wars: Episode Two – Attack of the Clones, and The Phantom Menace, who said: "Iain McCaig's characters arrive on the page fully formed, their life stories expressed through every beautiful pencil stroke, from the lightest fairy tales to the darkest nightmares."

In October 2008 Shadowline: The Art of Iain McCaig was released by Insight Editions. Originally due out in 2007, this is a book of Iain's work.

Futher Notes[edit | edit source]

  • Ian McCaig is a common misspelling of his name. It has been erroneously used to credit him for some illustrations and artwork, for example on the back cover of Demonlord he is referred to as "Ian" rather than "Iain".

See Also[edit | edit source]

External Links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

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