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.)