Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (Lorne Balfe)

After a long gestation period, "Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves" finally saw the light of day at Paramount in spring of 2023, directed by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley. Inspired by the beloved tabletop role-playing game, this fantasy adventure comedy tells the story of a bard, barbarian, druid, sorcerer, paladin and rogue who must team up to stop an evil that threatens their world and those they love. The film was well received critically, the story honored the source material's lore and sense of fun and camaraderie, though it didn't fare terribly well at the box office. The film is nevertheless a good romp, full of wit, heart, charm and overall fantasy nerdiness.

Joining the team, is Scottish composer Lorne Balfe. Balfe got his start working at Hans Zimmer's Remote Control Productions, and has since become one of the busiest composers in the business. Last year alone, he worked on (by my count), nine total projects between film and television, with a whopping twenty-one albums put out covering his various releases. The score is a large orchestral affair, with some Celtic accents to highlight the classic European fantasy setting. Several characters receive themes, and there's a heroic theme for the group of heroes overall. 

This project received a general score album upon film's release, by Decca Records/Mercury Classics. The album design stands out, but I'm not a fan of the ultra posterized look, personally. Later in the year, Balfe released an additional two albums, one called "Book of the Bard", which mostly includes in-world tavern songs and the like (with lyrics by the directors), as well as "The Dungeon Master's Jukebox", a concept album that is quite lovely, featuring many suites of the character themes, without the more routine action dragging it down, this really highlights the melodic core and Celtic musical accents. Overall, the two additional albums really round out the package and showcase just what an ambitious project this was for Balfe and his team.

I created a total of nine new covers. Covers 1-7 all use official studio marketing imagery. Editing was relatively easy on most of these, with the usual tweaks, paint-outs, and blends to compress portions of the image. 

Cover 8 uses the cover for the film's junior novelization, though I couldn't find the particular artist who created it. I just had to paint in the corner of the wing which had the film's title in the original.

Cover 9 used a licensed limited edition poster by Matt Taylor, featuring the dragon Themberchaud. I just had to drag up the bottom portion of the image (with our heroes and the rocks below), and then recolor and blend the two sections together. 

Overall, this project came together relatively painlessly. My only hiccup was with Cover 1, it feels odd to have the title sitting right on top of the dragon. As a rule of thumb, I try to avoid having anything of import like this being blocked or cut-off awkwardly in a composition, but in this case I couldn't find any alternate versions with without the dragon that I could use to paint it out cleanly or move things around, and there was really no better place to put the title without drastically widening the image out more. Oh well, artistic compromises. Likely no one else will care anyways. But it's fun to list our artistic concessions and confessions, from time to time. 

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