Luis Royo

Luis Royo is a Spanish artist who is best known for his fantasy illustrations. His works have been published in several books, comics, and magazines such as “Heavy Metal. He has also made several artworks for music album covers, Tarot cards, and video games. His works were illustrations of partly clothed women in fantasy and gothic theme. However, his style is most celebrated as it has a realistic sense to it, almost like the Realistic paintings of women back in the days. His, however, has a more digitalized vibe adding more to its fantastical sense. More often, he adds mythical creatures to his work as well.

Luis Royo Career

Luis Royo’s career began in 1972 when he began painting pictures. He would then post his artworks in various forums. In 1978, he began working as a comic painter. His works have been compiled into Albums, which include the following: “Luis Royo Comics Anthology Volume 1 1979-1982” (Norma Editorial) as well as “Luis Royo” (Rambla 1985).

In 1983, Royo pursued a career as an illustrator where he was able to get a long-awaited success. With the help of publishing company Norma Editorial, his work would be published internationally, mainly in the US, UK, and Sweden. He also created book covers for leading book publishers like Tor Books, Warner Books, Avon, and Batman Books among others.

US magazines like National Lampoon and Heavy Metal magazines also sought Royo’s aid when it comes to creating their covers. He has also worked with other European magazines like Total Metal, Comic Art, and Cimoc.

Apart from magazine and book covers, Royo was also often commissioned to do artworks for video games and video game covers.

In 1992, he published his book entitled “Women” which was a compilation of several of his works. This was edited and published with the help of Norma Editorial in Spain. But it would also be distributed in France as well as in Germany by a couple of other publishing houses.

Royo was also able to launch a collection of trading cards in 1993 which was entitled “From Fantasy to Reality.” Each card has his own artwork in it.

By 1995 to 1996, more publishers around the US and Europe are seeking to get help from Luis Royo. Among these are works for the Star Trek series and X-Men by Marvel. His works have also spread from books to magazines to album covers, t-shirt designs, and calendars.

Until today, Royo’s success continues to rage on, especially in Spain and other parts of Europe as well as the US.

Luis Royo Career

  • Many of Luis Royo’s work focused on half-naked women. While it does spark sensuality, most of Royo’s artworks were interpreted as femininity and the beauty of women. The artist often explores the many forms of the woman’s body and tries to experiment with this. He also fills his work with fantasy elements. That and the combination of realistic illustrations of women highlights the women’s form even more and brings power to the image of women. It’s also seen as a way of empowering women rather than degrading them, as what was the norm with real life whenever they see half-naked images of women.
  • Because of the explicitness of Royo’s work, his works have garnered mixed reviews. Some people, women mostly, found his work a little too sexual. In today’s age where more women are objectified and over-sexualized every day, some people feared his works would contribute to that thought.
  • However, Royo’s pieces were always deeper than what meets the eye. As said, his works may be seen as empowerment as many women do when they want to feel sexual. His pieces can be taken literally or can be interpreted in a hundred different ways. It usually depends on the audience. But more often, Royo works to experiment and showcase the woman’s body and make them feel more empowered by it.
  • Part of what made Royo’s artworks sell his realistic style internationally. Royo was able to capture images that show depth and looks closely like real life. His images of fantasy women tend to look like real people who are hard to achieve even for other artists and illustrators. In contrast to the realness of his subjects, the elements surrounding the women of his illustrations are that of fantasy, often dark Gothic fantasy filling his work with dark undertones and color palettes. His artworks could illustrate women on their own in a fantasy land or as a mythical creature, but he also tries to illustrate dark creatures with the women which offer more room for interpretation.
  • One of Royo’s styles when it comes to illustrations and paintings is often the contrast between dark, monotone colors with a hint of lighter and pops of colors. The background also tends to have a “source of light” or a lighter color to highlight the main subject. It drives the attention towards the female figures of the picture.
  • Royo’s themes were either women of power or women with mythical creatures. When it comes to women of power, his drawings recreate a female figure into a mythical soldier of sorts. They often have weapons to indicate that. He also likes recreating women into angels or perhaps fairies and enchantresses.  When it comes to mythical creatures, the designs are of the macabre. Creatures are often shown as male figures and look as if they came from a dream or a nightmare. Overall, his artworks are a definition of fantasy — something otherworldly and dark, but amazingly beautiful with thanks to his realistic approach and the showcasing of female beauty and figure.
  • His work has been showcased in many popular books, comics, and magazines. While his works on these aren’t as explicit as his personal ones, they still convey women in power. As a recurring subject, Royo introduces femininity and womanhood to the world in an unconventional way. They are beautiful and soft but evokes power with their poses and facial expressions. While they may appear naked, the larger picture often denotes they are in the position of power.
  • Royo’s pieces may be dark and nightmarish at times, but he has also worked on several pieces that focus on love, romance, and passion.


Luis Royo was born in Olalla, a small village located in the Aragonese province of Teruel in Spain. When he was a child, Royo and his family moved to Zaragoza. As he grew older in his new home, he began studying painting, technical design, and interior painting.

His career began in 1972 when he started painting, but it was in 1978 that he found success as a comic book artist. From then on, he steadily grew as an artist, and his name became known worldwide. He was sought after by publishers from around Europe and the US where he was commissioned to create custom book and comic book covers.

By 1992, Royo was able to publish his book entitled “Woman” which was a complete collection of the covers he made up to date. In 1994, another book would be published known as “Malefic.” This book was dedicated to science-fiction and fantasy-themed images. His third book known as “Secrets” was then released in 1996 which focused more on romance and eroticism.

He would also create later books which also focused on the same themes, apocalyptic worlds, and even images that resembled the concept of Beauty and the Beast. However, these books and his works received criticism due to the explicit content.

In 2009, Royo began working on “Dead Moon” that had an Oriental theme. Because of its success, it spawned two books namely the “Dead Moon” and the “Dead Moon: Epilogue” which revolves around a love story. The artist also released a Tarot card deck that was based off “Dead Moon.”

Perhaps one of his more popular works was when he partnered with novelist George R. R. Martin, the infamous creator of “Game of Thrones” book series. Royo worked with Martin to create illustrations for the writer’s novelette, “The Ice Dragon.”

Luis Royo Notable Artworks

Luis Royo has worked with many publishers and magazines. Apart from commissioned works, he has also created art pieces on his own. While there are countless artworks by Royo, here are several of his most notable pieces and works that best describes his technique and style.

Femmes/Women (1992)

This illustration book has 80 pages worth of Luis Royo’s artworks from the start of his career until the book was released. Most of these illustrations were covers for books and magazines. The themes are a mixture of everything: science-fiction, fantasy, and eroticism.

As the first compilation of Royo, it was perhaps one of the most successful which launched at the peak of the early stages of his career. The whole book was dedicated to the strong women he had drawn, usually portraits of women in armors, brandishing swords and an assortment of weapons.

Malefic (1994; 2009-2016)

If you know Luis Royo, you would know “Malefic Time.” It was his multidisciplinary project with fellow artist Romulo Royo. This came from the “Malefic” book that first came out in 1994. However, it wasn’t until the 2010s that Luis Royo took the character of Luz (which he first illustrated in the 1994 book “Malefic”) and gave her a story.

Malefic or Luz would travel in a post-apocalyptic world full of historical and mythological based creatures to find her identity. Although the “Malefic” series was mainly in the form of illustration books, several other media came out. There are now video games, mangas (comic books), novels, and even audiovisual media based on the story of Luz/Malefic.

Several other unforgettable characters from the “Malefic” universe is Soum, another strong female figure in the series, Baal The Teacher, Malefic’s guide and teacher, and Marduk which was based off several cultures and religions.

The first of the “Malefic Time” series came out in 2011 with the last released on 2014.

The Ice Dragon (2014)

“The Ice Dragon” was a novelette written by infamous writer George R. R. Martin. The story surrounds Adara, a young girl who becomes friends with an Ice Dragon after her mother dies.

Although both “The Ice Dragon” and the “A Song of Ice and Fire” had similar elements, Martin himself confirmed that there was no connection to both stories. Adara and the Ice Dragon didn’t exist in the universe of Westeros which is the fictional kingdom from the “A Song of Fire and Ice” popularized by the “Game of Thrones” TV series.

In fact, the “Ice Dragon” was a published first and Westeros and its characters didn’t exist yet. Originally released in 1980, the novelette was illustrated a few times over the course of its existence. Finally, in 2014, George R. R. Martin sought the help of Luis Royo to relive the story through a book cover and several other original paintings.

The Royo cover depicts the young Adara riding the pale white Ice Dragon.

Dead Moon (2009-2010)

The “Dead Moon” was yet another portfolio created by Luis Royo where he focused on Oriental themes with Oriental ladies donning the costumes most associated with Ancient Japan and China.

Just as with “Malefic” this new book caught the attention of art lovers and became a success. It was then used as a basis for several other media like video games and even Tarot cards.

The story revolves around two clans and a forbidden love story between a young man and a woman from these rivaling families. If the story is familiar, it’s because it’s another take on the classic Shakespearean play “Romeo and Juliet” but filled with more fiction. It also has a more mystical and violent undertone.


Luis Royo remains to be one of the most influential illustrators and comic book artists today. Many of his works followed the Realistic art movement that rocked the art world during the Renaissance period.

Today, Royo continues to influence fellow illustrators and artists, both professionals and amateurs. He has also deeply influenced his fans into making a career out of illustrating.


Wikipedia. Luis Royo. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. The Ice Dragon. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. Malefic Time. Retrieved from

Malefic Time. Retrieved from

Luis Royo Official. Biography. Retrieved from
Luis Royo Official. Books. Retrieved from

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