Netflix’s new fantasy epic The Witcher takes the viewers to the mystical world of the Continent, a vast landmass spanning arid deserts, foggy swamps, and mountains shrouded in clouds. Whatever your take on the first season, it doesn’t suffer from a lack of vision. The show’s location scouts, set designers, and artists have done a truly incredible job in creating a unique atmosphere, from the luxurious interiors of Cintra, to the wild, unexplored frontier of the dragon mountains or the rugged beauty of the winter kingdom of Temeria.
Yet with a show of this scale, there’s quite a process involved and designs change more often than not. We’re happy to share some newly discovered official concept art with you that show just how much can change from the first modelings to the final touches of CGI. The designs are from production designer Andrew Laws’ submission for an Art Directors Guild Award.
First, is the town of Blaviken, where the witcher Geralt (Henry Cavill) has his fateful stand-off with Renfri (Emma Appleton) in Episode One. as production designer Andrew Laws explained, the village’s design is inspired by Scandinavian Architecture. In the concept art version, Blaviken is build around the mysterious monoliths that stand in various places on the Continent, including Cintra and the dragon mountains. In the show, the monoliths are gone and Master Irion’s tower remains as the highest structure.
The inn of Blaviken was mostly left as it is, with its high ceiling and light flooding through the glass stained windows.
The design of the wizard’s tower is perhaps the biggest change in Blaviken. The concept shows it as a grand estate separated from the rest of the village by a long crenelated bridge. In the show, the building was scaled down and moved closer to the rest of the town.
Inside the tower, Geralt is momentarily stunned by a lavish fable world of colors, wild plants and naked women… the work of it’s current inhabitant Stregobor (Lars Mikkelsen), a master illusionist.
The mighty kingdom of Cintra is perhaps the focal point of the first season, as it is invaded by Nilfgaard, an upstart southern kingdom set on conquering the Continent. Judging by the concept art below, the city’s general shape changed a lot since its early versions. It was originally set much closer to the mountains and bordering a large stretch of water (most likely the Yaruga river). It was also crowned by a large monolith, which is still present in the show but considerably thinner.
Next is a spectacular overview of the burning city and a closer look at the royal palace. Notice the Nilfgaardian army surrounding the walls and the monolith by the water.
The image below is clearly modeled after the narrow alleys of Fort Monostor, where the chase scene with Cahir (Eamon Farren) pursuing princess Ciri (Freya Allan) on horseback was shot.
Cintra’s interiors were inspired by Art Noveau architecture and closely follow their earlier concepts. Queen Calanthe’s great hall was one of the most elaborated sets created for The Witcher.
The Tower of the Gulls
Last but not least, we also have a concept design of the island of Thanned, where the magical academy of Aretuza, and Tor Lara, the legendary Tower of the Gulls stand. This is one set which has been scaled down considerably from a full island to just a rock off the coast. Interestingly, the concept art shows a cave opening, which may have been designed with a certain scene from Time of Contempt in mind… Which one we won’t spoil.
The tower itself also appears to be much larger and higher than in the show, with its top reaching far above the clouds. While it would have been great to see this gargantuan structure, we can certainly see how this would have effected the budget.
This is all for now. You’ll be the first to know when we find more concept art. Stay tuned!