Friday, November 3, 2017

Putting Together a Fantasy Sword

A comment on the potential historical influences of one of my older paintings for "The One Ring" made me think about how I came up with the objects depicted in it.

Here's an expanded version of my reply:

The helmet is a composite - the lower/face part is somewhat ancient Greek, but could also be late Roman. The bowl is lamellar, which is more of an eastern construction. The intent was something like a mythical eastern Goth style. (there wasn't a set fictional culture for these artifacts in the art brief so I went with a general "dark ages heroic" style made up of various bits and pieces)
In hindsight, I only wish I did the tail crest better, the way it's attached to the top ridge is quite unclear and lazy.

Here's a compilation of some of the inspiration pieces mentioned:

The sword is quite Celtic, yes - the hilt looks mostly LaTene, but the pommel is inspired by bronze age Persian (Luristan) lobed daggers.
La Tene hilts are mostly reconstructed as horn, bone and wood, the bronze/gold and turqoise stone decorations are inspired by early Sarmatian/Yuezhi stuff. (Afghanistan, cca 1st century CE)

Also I think La Tene scabbards had an attached scabbard slide, whereas I used a sepearate piece slide, which is more fitting for migration period spathas. (and was adopted from the East, all the way from China)
If I were to change anything now, I'd make the wrapping around the scabbard slide better, some kind of twine or string rather than cloth. (or whatever that was supposed to be) Also maybe the slide itself is too clearly antropomorphic.

Here's a compilation of the sword bits I used as inspiration:

I really like this approach to design, it's enjoyable if a sword or another object isn't immediately identifiable as from a specific place and era. It's important that it still fits the general level of technology and mood of the project though!

Just reading about swords a lot helps, seeing what was used throughout the ages. The various designs become building blocks in your mental library that you can eventually pick and piece together quite quickly as they make sense functionally and aesthetically.

Oaths of the Riddermark

The "Oaths of the Riddermark" book for The One Ring RPG is now out for preorders (you can get the PDF now):

I've done some work for it:

© 2016 Sophisticated Games and Cubicle 7 Entertainment Middle-earth, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and the characters, items, events and places therein are trademarks or registered trademarks of The Saul Zaentz Company d/b/a Middle-earth Enterprises and are used under license by Sophisticated Games Ltd and their respective licensees.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Little Known Tales

In 2015 I had the chance to work on two volumes called "Tales of Tamriel" by Titan Books, from the series based on Bethesda's "The Elder Scrolls" videogames. (The Elder Scrolls Online, specifically)

I've been a fan of these games for a long time now and it seemed like a dream job. Thanks to some misalignment of schedules, I ended up doing a lot of the art in a fairly short amount of time. Nobody's fault really, sometimes both sides just end up waiting on something and the delay grows unexpectedly long.
I knew the final result was solid, but it wasn't my best work. I sent it off, because that's what you do. But if I could, I would've done a lot of it differently and better.

I filed the drawings in a "done" folder and happily forgot about them. Recently I found them again and they aren't as "awful" as I remembered. I still see what I could've done better, but I think I'm now ok with showing the better pieces online. ;)
Hey, it wasn't all I dreamed it could be, but I still got to work on on a TES-related job. That's pretty cool.

(I did more than these, and some of them weren't even used in the books, as I found out when my copies arrived. These are the ones I kind of like.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Got My Sword Nicked by a Shark

Update 2017: After some delays, I finally heard the final word from Fat Shark. They completely deny any inspiration, or even similarity between my design and their 3D asset. Apparently, that asset was inspired by "celtic swords".
Well, good to know. Here I was, thinking they just blatantly copied my drawing. 
Yeah, I'm not gonna go to court for 150-ish USD, which they of course know.
Still, I'll leave the blog up, as a reminder of their shameful display.
Shame! Boo! Thieves! 

(original post follows below:)
In October I got my friends a game on Steam, which I wanted to play with them.
It's called End Times: Vermintide and it's set in the Warhammer universe.
It's developed by Fatshark.

We had a good time, each playing a different character. After one session, I noticed the elven ranger Kerillian (played by my flatmate) used a dagger with a design which was somehow familiar.

///Edit: The post was edited to focus on the one specific sword design, the rest was confusing.

Eventually I realized it reminded me of a drawing I did in 2009: (2nd from the left)

This is what the weapon looks like in the game:

The thing is nearly identical.  

The way the crossguard is composed of two levels of curls (each curling in the opposite direction), the shape of the blade, even the pommel is heart shaped with inward curled edges.

Here's a comparison (thanks to Hessper), so you can see the designs together :

At first I thought it was funny, a big videogame company using designs from bloody DeviantArt.
Then I thought it was a bit lame. This game is a commercial product, they continue to make money on it, as it's still being sold and played by thousands of people every day.
I thought I should say something, because this should not happen.

It's especially baffling to me, since the game is based in the Warhammer universe, and has loads and loads of existing art under that license, any of which they could've easily use for inspiration.

So I decided to contact them, looking for an explanation rather than big bucks. (don't get me wrong though, I still asked them about a licensing fee)
I wrote them an email through their official contact and waited.
This was in October and I'm still waiting for any kind of reply whatsoever.

To sum up - Fatshark, if someone at the company reads this - I would still love to hear from You and find out how this happened. 

Friday, September 30, 2016

How to Get on Your High Horse

Just a quick thing I noticed one day, reading one of the many books on the Scytho-Siberian cultures: (both "Amazons" by Adrienne Mayor and "World of the Scythians" by Renate Rolle mention this)
How does one mount a horse if he's not using stirrups?
Something I didn't know - that the ancient Greeks mounted their horses by clutching at the mane and swinging, or using a lance as a pole. (this is according to Xenophon's detailed instructions)
Scythians (as we know via Herodotus) trained their horses to kneel on command.

We even have lovely depictions (probably) of horse training from the Chertomlyk mound:


Reading about this, I remembered the "Alexander" movie. See, his horse Bucephalus was said to be of a Scythian breed. And there's something interesting, if you watch two different scenes of Alexander mounting Bucephalus:
Young Alexander hops on the Greek way: (around 2:54)

While older Alexander riding to the battle of Gaugamela mounts the Scythian way: (from 0:45)

It could well be a coincidence, but I like it nonetheless.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Wondrous Women With Swords

Just a quick one today. Yesterday we got a trailer for the Wonder Woman movie:

I've never read any WW comics, I'm not a fan, but it looks surprisingly entertaining.
One thing that caught my eye was the sword she wields.

Now, during her first movie appearance in Batman vs. Superman, WW had a different sword, which I didn't like a lot:

It looks vaguely late-medieval or early renaissance, maybe inspired by the cinquedea:
Why would Wonder Woman have a sword like that, what historical sense does it make? Of course, the handle is WAY too long and looks pretty stupid.

Her new sword looks like this:

Now, by itself it's not mindblowing, but a few things about it intrigue me. Firstly, the shape of the guard reminds me of this sword from grave Delta in Grave Circle B at Mycenae: 

The handle and pommel are more reminiscent of (mostly fantasy invented) twisted "celtic" hilts, but the general shape isn't too far from some Scytho-Siberian swords. 
Now, Wonder Woman is an Amazon, so some Scythian influence would be appropriate. 
Looking closer at the guard's dragon heads, they really do remind me quite a bit of these Scythian dragons from Central Asia:

Here's a close comparison:

If that's intentional, that's quite neat. Good to see Holywood designers take inspiration from historical designs. (Honestly, I wish someone did WW entirely dressed in this style, not the comicbook nonsensical "armour". But I fully understand why they went with the established style.)

Friday, July 8, 2016

Swords and Orcs

It's been a while! Months even. I'm still working on Six Ages, so I don't have anything not under the death spell of an NDA I could show.
That said, two supplements for The One Ring RPG have been released fairly recently (Horse Lords of Rohan and Erebor) and I did a few pieces for them:

(goblin man and half-orc)

(Angrenithil - "Moon Iron", a sword made by both dwarven and elven smiths)

(a dwarven masked helmet)

(a war horn made of a drake's skull)

© 2016 Sophisticated Games and Cubicle 7 Entertainment Middle-earth, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and the characters, items, events and places therein are trademarks or registered trademarks of The Saul Zaentz Company d/b/a Middle-earth Enterprises and are used under license by Sophisticated Games Ltd and their respective licensees.