Monster Art Show I: The Nuckelavee
Written by Jonathan C. Wojcik - Thanks everyone who contributed art!
To many people, the word "fairy" immediately calls to mind a delicate, liliputian woman with an
insect's wings, flitting like a butterfly in a trail of sparkling pixie dust; a guardian angel at best and
mischievious at worst, they turn our teeth into spare change, turn our puppets into children and
sell Disney merchandise like hotcakes. Of course, in proper usage, "fairy" (originally "fae") is a
blanket term for a whole culture's worth of supernatural beings, including gnomes, dwarves,
goblins, trolls, and far stranger, sometimes horrifying monsters. One such example is known as
the Nucklavee, Nucklavis or Nuckelavee; a gruesome Scottish legend as far removed from
Tinkerbell as one could possibly get.
I love this insane, trippy MSpaint submission.
A more extreme approach to the cyclops aspect.
One of the only pixel-art entries, with a radioactive color scheme!
The earliest submission! Slimy, pink and veiny.
It's alright. We love you anyway.
A gnarled, meaty Nuckelavee with a nice underbite.
I love this one's freakish jaws and asymmetrical eyes.
A spidery, centaur-like Nuckelavee.
A creatively merman-like Nuckalevee with a ghoulish visage!
A very grim, bruteish looking Nuckelavee.
I love the dangling flippers and the use of the arms in this one!
This might be the creepiest one. Something about the teeth and texture really gets me.
One of the most stylish and fun!
Maybe FREAKAZOID took it. He does that.
One of the only
Another one with extremely unique, original anatomy.
Still clearly a Nuckelavee, but definitely the most insane and stylized interpretation here. Actually a much older piece than this project.
Love the rider's mouth, the scarred eye and the entire gloomy color scheme.
A very creepy zombie-like Nuckelavee.
This one has an alien, almost embryonic appearance. It really screams
Gorgeous coloring and wonderful snaggly teeth.
Hellishly colored, this one wields its head like a chain chomp!
Beautifully gruesome and menacing, the rider is especially creepy in this one.
A uniquely exoskeletal-looking contribution!
Another very imaginative one, perhaps the most extreme!
Another old one that was not specifically created for this gallery, but lovingly detailed and colored. One of the best!
A really striking and colorful entry!
This one is really elegantly designed and just gorgeous. The entrails make it even better.
Another horse-only Nuckelavee, with a clean and very eerie design.
Another of my favorites, really nicely done with a great expression.
This stylish, crazed monstrosity makes me think of tattoo art and album covers in a really good way.
I like the horse's big, amphibian eye!
This one is really interestingly colored and composed
One of the most detailed, with a truly wicked design.
The basic features of the monster come together in a really thoughtful, well-constructed manner here!
This one has a lot of personality, I love its maniacal expression.
A very original but still very recognizable design with an awesome face!
A fantastically alien design. Visit the artist's website!
This one was drawn long before I planned this gallery, but I asked to include it because I just love the color scheme!
Everything is just right about this one. The spindly hands, the emotionless eye, devilish teeth, I even love the color choice for the webbing!
An especially aquatic-looking Nuckelavee.
I really like this one's 2-d, solid colors.
I'd have to say this is probably the most sinister and lethal-looking!
Nicely grotesque
I like how this goopy, squishy Nuckelavee uses reigns for its own body!
One of the most creative submissions, reminds me of the Dionaga! (Star Wars)
Created by a reader's awesome little brother!
An exceptionally terrifying, multi-mouthed and all around gorgeous submission.
She said this was unfinished, but I still love it.
Admiral Aorta
Tedd Miller
John Pesando
This cleverly fused version reminds me vaguely of Silent Hill!
One of the best artists I know. He's also illustrated some of my articles!
An almost god-like force of destruction and hatred, this particular "fairy" was said to haunt the
waters surrounding the 70 Orkney islands, where its very name is still considered unlucky by the
superstitious. Invisible and intangible in the sea, it assumed a body only upon breaking the
water's surface; a form described by local fables in nightmarish detail. The being was
sometimes horse-like, sometimes man-like, but most famously a fusion of both; a legless "rider"
growing directly from the back of his horrendous "mount." Whatever the shape, the Nuckelavee's
most terrible and single consistent feature was its completely skinless appearance, with pulsing
veins and raw muscles plainly exposed.
Illustration by Fuzzyzombielove
Illustration by Adam Smith
Though the creature was said to be tremendous in size, its actual proportions were bizarrely
mismatched. The humanoid's head was supposedly so large that it rolled from one shoulder to
the other on a seemingly useless neck, and its oversized hands dragged along the ground at the
ends of long, gangly arms. One or both heads - especially the horse - were said to bear only a
single, fiery eye. The horse's legs were rather vaguely described as being "part flipper," fully
flipper-like or accompanied by fin-like projections. Its mouth, or mouths, were huge and gaping,
with hideous teeth and fetid, filthy breath that struck all living things with disease.
(Click for full size!) Illustration by Leader1138
Plague, famine, drought and catastrophes of every sort were blamed on this insidious entity,
whose powers ran as deep as its undying spite for mankind. The harvesting and burning of
seaweed was said to especially infuriate the Nuckelavee, who would strike the island's horses
with a deadly disease known as
mortasheen. (And now you know where that word came from...)
Only two things kept the Nuckelavee under control: an aversion to touching or even crossing
fresh water, and a more benevolent spirit known as "Mither O' the Sea" or "Sea Mother," able to
lift the curse of mortasheen and drive the demon back to the briny depths.
Illustration by Jared Hindman
Despite its rich background and striking appearance, this monster has been seldom
immortalized in artwork - until now! In January of 2009, I invited readers to submit their own
interpretations of the Nuckelavee for the first in hopefully a series of collaborative art galleries.
Prior to the endeavor, there were less than a dozen images of the Nuckelavee across all of
google and deviantart combined, but by the end of the month, I'd received over fifty! You've just
seen a few of them, but there's really no room to show off all the best on a single page. Do
yourself a favor and check out every entry in the gallery below, and if you feel inspired, it's never
too late to send in your own!
(click for full size!) Illustration by Savagepassion666
-The Complete Gallery-
Click thumbnails for full-sized artwork and click submitter
names (where applicable) to see more of their creations!
Illustration by Daimera
The Nuckelavee in Spore:
Mine again
Sprite by
A centaur-type with a creepy posture
I really like the contrast here between ordinary horse and NIGHTMARISHLY exaggerated rider!
One of the few entries that aren't red, this cool weedy green nuckelavee is battling a Paladin!
This towering humanoid Nuckelavee is facing off against the Lady of Summer! The nearly featureless horse's head is especially creepy and creative!
This detailed Nuckelavee is particularly unnerving with its limp neck, staring eyes and massive arms!
Part one of Kitsune's Nuckelavee triptych, done a few years after the earlier entry here! Incredible texture and detailing.
A cool underwater view and leg detail!
Details of the humanpod portion. The veins and sliminess are just fantastic!
Quentin's creative entry incorporates the monster's distinct features in a sleek-looking machine!
A truly eerie and disturbing visual, I love the indistinct humanoid head and bony arm!
Love the detailed, screaming mouth on this swamp-dwelling Nuckelavee. The bones and muscles on the horse are also superbly executed!
A skinless, spindly specimen with painful-looking needly fangs and a cool inhuman eye! Feels almost like a deep-sea abyssal nuckelavee :)
A very grotesque and alien one that ops for a whole BUNCH of eerie, crazy eyes!
One of the first I've seen with the horse riding the humanoid! A very disturbing
I love the HUGE eyes on this guy, and how the horse skull has its
I love the upside-down face and huge fanlike limbs.
Alex Headley
A few years newer than her other Nuckelavee, and you can see how far ES's art has evolved. This is part of a whole alphabet she's been working on!