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Luis Royo


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I couldn't find a thread for him...and I love him so I am making one (I hope I was not wrong)

Luis Royo (born in 1954 in Olalla, Spain) is a Spanish artist, known for his darkly sensual paintings of women and mechanical life forms. He has also recently started doing sculptures of some of his earlier art.

He was born in Olalla, a small town near Teruel, Spain. He has produced many paintings for his own books/exhibitions, and has also produced art for various other media: videogames, CD album covers, comic book covers, and Tarot cards.

He is most famous for his work doing illustrations of Julie Strain for the animated movie Heavy Metal.


Education & early years

Soon after he was born, Royo's family moved to Zaragoza, where he first attended school, and where his first memories come from, with drawing already playing a prominent part of his life. In his first memory, he is sitting in front of the large school windows, and tracing the drawings that his teacher gave him.

His practical side, which he acquired from his family, led him to study Technical Drawing for Construction. He soon discovered that geometric forms did not completely satisfy him.

He began to study painting, decoration and interior design in the Industrial School and the School of Applied Arts, and he combined this with different jobs in interior design and decoration studios in 1970 and 1971.

During this time he also combined his employment activity with painting. Influenced by the student uprisings of May 1968 he made large format paintings with social themes, which he exhibited in group shows between 1972 and 1976, followed by a series of individual exhibitions in 1977.

On discovering adult comics with the work of artists such as Enki Bilal and Moebius, in 1978 he began to draw comic strips for different fanzines and he exhibited in the Angoulême Comic Fair in 1980.

In 1979 he left his jobs in the decoration studios, despite now having a son, to dedicate himself entirely to comics. In 1981 and 1982 his work was published in magazines such as 1984, Comix international, Rambla and, occasionally, in El Víbora and Heavy Metal.


A meeting in 1983 with Rafael Martínez, in the Zaragoza Comic Fair would establish his professional future. He was commissioned by Martinez to produce five illustrations for Norma Editorial marking the start of a professional relationship which still thrives today.

The first commissions came straight away. His work was no longer restricted to national territory and was frequently published in the foreign media. Among other countries he has published work in the USA, Great Britain and Sweden, as well as producing cover illustrations for prestigious publishing houses such as Tor Books, Berkley Books, Avon, Warner Books, Bantam Books and others.

American magazines such as Heavy Metal and National Lampoon often turned to Luis Royo for their cover illustrations, as well European magazines like Cimoc, Comic Art, Ere Comprime, Total Metal and others. However, his work was not just restricted to magazine covers as he was also asked to make covers for videos and computer games.

In 1985, parallel to his work as an illustrator, he published a comic album in the Rambla series and a year later Ikusager Ediciones S.A. published an experimental comic by him entitled DESFASE.

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From 1990, once established in a privileged position in the international illustration market, he expanded the production of his own work, as opposed to commissioned works. Most of his own work was bought by different media or included in compilation works.

In 1992, following a proposal a few years earlier by the man who, nine years ago, had discovered him as an illustrator, he published his first compilation work: WOMEN - an album which brought together his best illustrations to date. With this book he was already recognised as a great illustrator and his preference for drawing the female figure began to emerge clearly. It was a surprising book for comic lovers, covering a series of different genres, which led to its publication by Editorial Soleil in France and Ediciones Comic Forum in Germany. On the basis of this compilation he undertook his first exhibition of original illustrations.

A year later, Comic Images brought out a collection of Trading Cards using his illustrations, under the title FROM FANTASY TO REALITY.

Following the success of the first compilation, in 1994 MALEFIC was published in with most of the illustrations by Luis Royo, establishing a different world and range of colours. In MALEFIC the whole illustrator was revealed - an illustrator capable not only of portraying fantasy worlds, but also of creating a story and a sculpture around the character who gives the book its title.

In the same year, WOMEN was republished, and in the USA Penthouse ran an article on his illustrations.

In 1995, new publishers began to take an interest in the work of Luis Royo: Ballantine, Nal, Daw, Doubleday, Harper Paperbacks, Zebra, Fasa Corporation, Pocket Books for the Star Trek series, Penthouse Comix and Fller Ultra X-Men by Marvel. From that year on, the work of Luis Royo appears in many different formats, in different countries (including Eastern European countries): calendars, posters, T-shirts, CD covers, mouse mats, Trading Card collections in collaboration with other artists, such as THE ART OF HEAVY METAL or individually, in the case of his third collecting of trading cards, THE BEST OF ROYO.

The fantasy and quality of Luis Royo's work began to find its place in all kinds of media, and his name became increasingly well known. In 1996 he had a Penthouse cover in USA and Germany, along with an article in the magazine. The same year many reports about his work appeared in prestigious publications including La Stampa in Italy, Airbrush Action in USA and Germany, and in Penthouse Comix. He also received the Silver Award SPECTRUM III the best in contemporary Fantastic Art in the USA.

Following on from MALEFIC, his third album, SECRETS, appeared in 1996 with magic and the female figure occupying the central roles, with the underlying presence of the fairytale Beauty and the Beast. This work was published by NBM for English-speaking countries. But there were yet more surprises to come that year for his fans with the WARM WINDS portfolio, published by Norma Editorial in cooperation with Heavy Metal.

Heavy Metal

In 1997, Heavy Metal's interest in Luis Royo was reflected in a host of covers and calendars, as well as in its Gallery, which was entirely dedicated to Royo. This interest culminated in a commission for the cover of the 20th anniversary edition of the magazine and a series of illustrations on the F.A.K.K. character (Julie Strain) by Kevin Eastman.

That same year, Comic Images brought out two new collections of Trading Cards: ROYO SECRET DESIRES (the fourth individual collection by the artist) and ARTISTIC CHOICES (jointly with other artists). To end the year WOMEN and MALEFIC were published in the USA and the latter was republished in Spain.

A year later, the next book of illustrations appeared: III MILENIUM. In this book, Royo renews his palette of colours and gives us his own particular vision of the end of the century. Also in 1998 he presented his collection of Tarot Cards, THE BLACK TAROT (for which he designed new images and a personalised view of the symbolism of the cards). In 1999 he produced the Heavy Metal calendar and his fifth collection of Trading Cards under the III MILENIUM name. It was a year in which Luis Royo displayed a clear evolution towards a much more intimate and daring style of illustration.

To coincide with the Barcelona Comic Fair in 1999, Royo presented a new album: DREAMS - a compilation of all the commissioned illustrations of the previous ten years. What stands out most in this album is the versatility with which the artist is able to adapt to different subjects and styles. The first vinyl figure based on these illustrations (on the cover of MALEFIC) was produced by Inteleg in 1999, and supervised by the artist himself.

The artist offered a new twist at the end of the year with work that was more daring and honest than ever before: the publication of the first volume of the PROHIBITED BOOK, with a surprising erotic content in which the tale of Beauty and the Beast takes on a major importance. This deluxe publication, smaller than the previous albums, offers images which are as sensual as they are elegant.

EVOLUTION takes us back to the large format album, combining more personal works with commissions. The selection of illustrations are marked by the hands of the clock, times past and science fiction are represented in the omnipresent female figure, whose expression has become more confident and dominant. This album is accompanied by a study of the MALEFIC character.

In 1999 his artwork was included in the instruction manual for the PC game Starsiege: Tribes.


Originally conceived as a trilogy, PROHIBITED BOOK II was published in 2001 - a book in which sensations are transferred to the reader through the strength of the characters. In continuity with the first volume, we are offered a different view of sensuality, closer to forbidden dreams and secret desires.

Concentrating increasingly on his personal work, his best illustrations of women would be reproduced by Fournier in a pack of poker cards.

In 2002, Luis Royo revealed some of his secrets in CONCEPTIONS - a book which describes the creative process and presents a collection of the artist's sketches and pencil drawings, allowing us to enjoy the character studies, the conception of the illustrations and the numerous alternatives which Royo considers before carrying out the definitive work.

VISIONS was published in 2003. It is a compilation with an introduction by Kevin Eastman, creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, in which the images are dominated by fantasy and the Luis Royo's creative talent develops new details and a broader palette of colours, with the incorporation if dragons who occupy a privileged position together with the ever-present female figure.

PROHIBITED BOOK III was the last in the Prohibited Book series. In this volume, the reader becomes trapped in images of beauty, tenderness and desire - images in which sensuality can even be seen as a monster.

At the end of 2003 the artist opened up his work with a series of sketches and drafts for the illustrations in his compilation albums, accompanied by texts to enrich the reader's experience and provide a greater understanding of his method. CONCEPTIONS II goes further than the first volume by introducing colour, with colour drawings to contrast with the pencil sketches.

FANTASTIC ART is the major compilation to date. Published in May 2004 it brings together the most complete collection of illustrations by the artist. Published in two high quality formats, the limited deluxe edition is a good example of the importance of the compilation. Fantasy and reality come together through images in which Royo presents his own particular view of the world, of the myths and legends which have shaped it over time. It is a cosmogonist vision of reality where the future has to assume its own challenges.

Luis Royo moved to Barcelona, where he found a corner bursting with beauty in the Gothic Quarter, in which to create his work. This change in residence also meant a change in the way he worked, in his vision of his work and a desire to return to painting on canvas, to move towards more personal work which would once again surprise the reader.

PROHIBITED SKETCHBOOK is the latest work published by the artist. In it we can enjoy the sensuality and colourless desire of the Prohibited book in its initial stages. It includes original sketches in which the strength of the images is already evident. As a special lure, it includes sketches of illustrations which, despite their incredible force, do not appear in previous publications. In his latest period, in combination with other work, Luis Royo has spent four years developing one of his most personal works - THE LABYRINTH: TAROT. This tarot card design displays the limitless perfectionism of the artist. It is a pack in which every image has been carefully studied and which demonstrates a titanic level of documentation.

THE LABYRINTH: TAROT is the first completely unpublished work by Luis Royo, where not one of the images had been previously published. It was published in December 2004 in two formats: an exclusive pack of cards and a book including all the illustrations together with explanatory texts, written by the artist himself, on the hidden meaning of each card and their power over people's destiny. Since he began working as an illustrator, many Heavy Metal groups from different countries (Germany, Italy, Spain, etc.) have adopted the drawings of Luis Royo, using them for their CD and record covers. Among his most recent works are the two latest CDs of the Austrian group, Avalanch. Luis Royo has also been designing fantasy billiard cues for the Players line since 2001.

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Published books

  • Women
  • Malefic
  • Secrets
  • III Millennium
  • Dreams
  • Prohibited Book
  • Prohibited Book II
  • Prohibited Book III
  • Prohibited Sketchbook
  • Evolution
  • Conceptions
  • Conceptions II
  • Conceptions III
  • Visions
  • Fantastic Art
  • The Labyrinth Tarot
  • Subversive Beauty
  • Wild Sketches I
  • Dark Labyrinth
  • Wild Sketches II
  • Dome

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