16 May 2015

If you take a wander through the Tomb Raider fandom, even semi-regularly, chances are that you've already encountered Tholia's incredible art several times in your journeys. Her work has appeared on numerous blogs, fansites and forums, posted by fans who have fallen in love with her skill.

Her art is instantly recognizable, and that's a good thing! Tholia has established a unique style which captures Lara Croft perfectly and looks stunning. Whether she is portraying the classic adventurous Lara or the determined survivor from recent games, she accurately reflects the character's emotions and strengths in each piece.

Something I also love about her work is the amount of variety in the locations. There are some which feature just the character in an iconic adventurer pose, but many of them are scenes from midway through her adventures. Tomb Raider has always been about the exciting locations and the dangerous pursuits, and Tholia's art reflects this beautifully.

Recently I had the opportunity to talk to her about her work. Read our conversation below!


G&G: Tell us a little about yourself!

Tholia: I’m a French graphic designer, 31 y.o, working in Ready-To-Wear and Homewear for kids and women by day, playing video games by evening and drawing fanarts by night. Very in fond of Lara Croft as you can guess, but also Final Fantasy, Sailor Moon (and not ashamed to say it loud ^^) and too much more.

I wish I could have time for cosplay and cooking too.

How did you become a Tomb Raider fan?

I was 13 when I was offered my PSone. My brother told me about Tomb Raider - which was released since about a year already - and he offered it to me for my birthday. It was the very first game I played on this console. The woman was strong and tall, I was so weak and tiny, she became my model at once. I lived epic adventures through hers, she made me dream of an extraordinary life that I’ve been yearning for.

How did you develop your unique drawing style and was there anything which inspired you?

By practicing several hours, almost every day since I was 11. I started by copying Naoko Takeuchi (Sailor Moon author), Adam Hughes, Joe Madureira and Scott Campbell. I wanted to understand the way they were drawing. I fell in love with their styles and tried to learn as much as I could from their art.

Then I started to share my fanarts on the internet (my own creations of course, the copies I made were only for study purposes). I think this is when I’ve been learning the most, because I received a lot of feedback from Captain Alban’s forum members. That helps a lot, good criticism is the best way to improve your skills, even if it hurts sometimes.

Then I discovered new artists through DeviantArt mainly. I was stunned by Charlie Bowater, Loish, Jermilex and Genzoman. I envied the way they were painting, because all I could do was lineart -which I really learnt thanks to Tiphaine Vaudable, aka “Illyne”- and I wanted to learn more than this. In the end, I like the change and do not fit into one and only style.

Is there any particular way of drawing that you prefer (such as sketching, painting or digital), and if so what and why?

Sketching remains my very favorite way of drawing, because it’s all about feeling. I do not care about the final result, I just want to put an idea, a feeling on paper. Whether I’m sad or happy, this is the way I express my feelings.

Whereas when I paint/draw, I can’t help but thinking about all the tiny details, and often get lost in my work. I forget about the pleasure and the reason why I start drawing. I remain too much focused on what I’m doing more than on what I’m feeling.

What tips would you give someone who wants to improve their drawing skills?

I would say one needs to try several styles first to find his own. Then practicing is the key of course, but one also needs to keep eyes wide open to the world, to get inspired by new things, try new things. Redraw is a nice exercise too, take an old drawing and do it again, it’s really encouraging from a year to another! Not being afraid by criticism, showing his work to many people - not only friends - is important to get as much feedback as possible, get lessons if needed. But no teacher will teach you your art better than you and your will.

What’s the most difficult part of Lara to draw correctly and why?

Her face is the most important and difficult part to draw in my opinion. Because I want her to look kinda fierce but beautiful at the same time.


You’ve drawn many different characters, but you frequently come back to the Tomb Raider series, what is it about the games and the character which makes you want to create new artwork?

I guess it’s because I loved the old games so much, I’m still yearning for the good Lara to come back with epic adventures. I enjoyed Reborn a lot, but didn’t feel like playing a Tomb Raider game though. The new Lara is still too sweet and not sexy at all anymore, I miss the badass Lara and that’s why I keep drawing her the way I love endlessly.

Still, I’m reading the new Tomb Raider comics and I must say that there were a few moments when I thought “Yeahhh, that’s my Lara!”. So, I’m yearning for Rise to know what did she become since ^^

 Where can we follow your adventures online?

You can follow me on my Facebook, Instagram and DeviantArt accounts for both finished works and works in progress. Whereas my Tumblr and Twitter are mainly dedicated to finished pieces ^^

Anyway, just look for “TholiaArt” and you’ll find me.

A big thank you to Tholia for the interview! 


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