More Korra Hoplite Art!

hoplite_korra2Hi again, folks! So, since I honestly have no idea if I’ll have time to finish the writeup I’m working on today, I decided to post another Hoplite Korra sketch that I drew earlier this week, just in case. Previous sketch

I went with an action pose this time, and I don’t really have much experience with action poses, so I hope it came across okay. I tend to imagine here that she’s just felled one foe and is turning to face another in the midst of battle. My scanner unfortunately doesn’t handle graphite very well, so the smoky/dusty atmospheric effect I tried to create with a piece of charcoal didn’t come across well at all.

I also kept the original outlines for this sketch, in case I want to draw a full-color version or a battle-damaged version. I’m open to any feedback on the design. Take care and thanks for reading, folks!

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Princess of the Fire Nation, by Elésiane Huve

azulaPrincess Azula, by Aliciane Art (Elésiane Huve)

Long Feng: “You have beaten me at my own game.”
Azula: “Don’t flatter yourself. You were never even a player.”

Re-watching episodes of A:TLA while writing this. I’ll admit that I’m a relative latecomer to the Avatar: the Last Airbender fandom. I didn’t actually watch the series until after I’d bought all four seasons of The Legend of Korra, and I didn’t even watch Korra until a couple months after the series had ended. But I have to say that I love the Avatar Universe. I fell completely in love with the story, world-building, and characters. While the show features a stellar cast, all around, the Last Airbender character I felt most brilliantly written was the main villainess, Fire Nation Princess Azula.

I love that she’s so cartoonishly evil but without being cartoonishly inept—an extremely rare balance in storytelling. On top of being ruthless, vindictive, and pretty much pure evil, she’s also incredibly intelligent and introspective. She’s excellent at reading people and understanding how they think and what motivates them, thereby knowing how to outmaneuver and defeat them or manipulate them for her own purposes. Plus she’s a powerful and highly skilled firebender who can manipulate lightning as well. Y’know, for a kids’ show villainess, she’s honestly kind of freaking scary.

azulaI like Elésiane’s version here of Azula’s regular combat/general purpose outfit. The padded mantle is fairly ubiquitous among the Fire Nation soldiery and nobility, offering sturdy protection of the shoulders and upper chest in light or medium combat. Her highness’s combat robes look suitably imperial while being light and loose for quick movement in battle. The split in the side of her robe helps facilitate her high-dexterity, martial-arts fighting style.

In keeping with her need for high dexterity in combat, Azula wears light, loose pants for running, somersaulting, or kicking arcs of fire through the air. Lastly her boots are similarly light for fast-paced combat, but look a bit delicate for hiking or extensive travel. On the whole it’s really a smart outfit for a martial-artist noblewoman.

Throughout the series, Princess Azula frequently bests skilled water-, earth-, and firebenders. Though outnumbered, she defeats and captures the well-trained Kyoshi Warriors. She fights the Avatar to a standstill more than once and nearly kills him in battle—while he’s in the Avatar state. She forces Team Avatar to retreat on several occasions, and with an insertion team of just two other girls, she infiltrates and usurps the heavily fortified Earth Kingdom capitol of Ba Sing Se. I can’t think of any cartoon nemesis I’ve seen who more effectively keeps the protagonists on their toes. Excellent characterization, all around.

Huge thanks to Elésiane for letting me borrow Azula for the blog. Be sure to check out her galleries on Tumblr as well. As always, thanks so much for reading folks. Take care and stay awesome!

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Avatar Korra sketch

hoplite_korraSo… um… no writeup again this weekend, I’m afraid. Though on Friday I did draw a sketch of Korra as a Greek hoplite. I hope that’s an okay substitute.

I apologize for the image quality; my scanner doesn’t handle graphite very well. I used the pose from the cover of the Book 3 DVD for the inspiration, then added the weapons, armor, and other details. Yeah, I know Korra isn’t left-handed, but this particular pose worked better with the shield on her right arm. That’s not a spearhead we’re seeing there, but a bronze spike that the Greek hoplites attached to the butt end of their spears for (a) using as a backup weapon if their spear breaks and (b) dispatching wounded enemies at their feet as the phalanx advances.

I had an idea once upon a time for a Legend of Korra Hoplite AU, where there’s no bending and the Avatar is more of a Homeric super-warrior, rather than the world’s most powerful bender. I was still figuring out the Air Nation’s aesthetics, but the Fire Nation had sort of a Greco/Roman flavoring, while the Water Tribes were more Greco/Celtic, and the Earth Kingdom had more of a Macedonian feel. Republic City was supposed to be kind of an idealized Athens. And Kuvira’s armies fought using Alexandrian phalanx tactics and sinew-powered artillery designed by Varrick. And, ultimately, I liked the idea of Kuvira sacking Republic City and putting Raiko’s head on a stake.

I’m open to any thoughts and feedback on the AU or outfit design. Thanks for reading and take care, folks.

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Sartorially Smart Villainess: Widowmaker, by Ylva Ljungqvist

widowmaker1Widowmaker Redesign, by Ylva Ljungqvist

“‘Step into my parlor,’ said the spider to the fly.” —Widowmaker

Hey, hi, folks! So I apologize for the lack of activity these past couple weeks. I’ve been in kind of a funk in regards to my writing, I’m afraid. I’ve missed two weekends worth of blog updates, and I’ve made only minor progress on my novel for months now. I mean, I’ve always had that problem where when I try to work on things I ought to be working on, I can only think about the things I want be working on. And then when I say ‘screw it’ and work on the things I want be working on, I can only sit and worry about the things I ought to be working on. But how fair is it that when I have things like my blog and novel—where I want and ought to work on them—I can’t focus at all? What gives, brain?!

Anyway, moving on. So I’ve received multiple requests from readers to offer a writeup for characters from Blizzard’s newest game Overwatch. I’ll admit from the get-go that I’ve never played Overwatch. It looks like the kind of game I’m typically bad at and would only consider playing if there was a single-player mode where I don’t end up showing a bunch of other people how bad I am.

Widowmaker is basically the key villainess in the game. She’s a ruthless, biologically enhanced sniper/assassin for the anarchist(?) organization Talon, who (as best I can tell) exist solely to thwart and sabotage the Overwatch Initiative’s efforts to protect humanity and bring balance to the world. While Widow’s bare cleavage and high heels in the original design would disqualify her outfit for Sartorially Smart Heroines’ lineup, I immediately fell in love with Ylva’s awesome redesign and wanted to show it proper love on the blog.

widowmaker1Widow’s spider-like helm features infra-red sight to track her enemies anywhere on the battlefield, and apparently gives her teammates access to her tracking/targeting  data. In Ylva’s design, a light Kevlar or similar body armor offers basic protection for our villainess’s torso against enemy bullets, shrapnel, acid, and other battlefield hazards. Her arms are further protected by plated spaulders and a left-arm vambrace. Ylva also gave her additional padding to her waist and hips, as well as pouches and holsters for her weapons and equipment. Her upper legs have flexible padding while her lower legs are protected by armored boots (that aren’t high-heels!). All in all, it’s an effective ensemble for an acrobatic, highly mobile sniper-support character class.

Widow’s primary weapon is her heavy sniper rifle that can be switched over to a fully-automatic mode in more close-quarters situations. Her backup weapons are proximity mines that release poison gas when activated—perfect for guarding her back or deterring pursuers. Lastly, she carries a grappling hook for reaching high vantage points or quickly traversing cityscapes. An all-around wicked, resourceful, and intimidating villainess.

Huge thanks to the lovely Ylva for letting me borrow Widowmaker for the blog. Please take time to check out her galleries on Tumblr as well. Thanks so much for reading, folks, and for being patient with me on these delayed updates. Take care and stay awesome!

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Elina Svendotir, by Mates Laurentiu

bard1Elina Svendotir, by Mates Laurentiu

“Sometimes I feel like Jesse James
Still tryin’ to make a name.
Knowing nothing’s gonna change what I am.
I was a young troubadour
When I wrote in on a song.
I’ll be an old troubadour when I’m gone…”
George Strait, “Troubadour”

Yikes! Sorry about the late update, folks! I didn’t have as much time as I thought this weekend, and I honestly wasn’t sure I’d have time today. When deciding on a writeup for this weekend, I was surprised to discover that I don’t have any bards in my lineup! Not one! And it’s not as if I have any particular objection to bards—they’re one of the most useful support classes, and can make for fairly competent rogues, swashbucklers, or archers depending on character design and game world.

I’ve admitted before that I like the trope of adventuress-turned-tavernkeeper in storytelling, and I find it fitting for a character like Elina. I mean, on top of patrons’ coins for beer and pretzels, she can collect tips for singing and performing. Win/win situation, really. And as an adventuress, no doubt she has stories to tell and ballads to sing, whether from personal experience or from stories told by her friends and patrons.

bard2Elina’s primary protection in combat is a quilted gambeson that may or may not have leather padding stitched into the quilting. This should provide fair deflection and absorption in combat and would fit excellently beneath a chainmail shirt for heavier melee combat. Underneath our heroine wears a bright-green traveling shirt for warmth and to protect against chafing from the quilted gambeson. Leather bracers further protect her arms from severing or disabling blows during a duel or dungeon crawl. Her pants are light, durable, and flexible wool or linen for traveling, adventuring, or combat. Lastly, her boots are durable leather, effective for riding, hiking, or combat footing.

Lovely Elina’s bardic instrument of choice is a kemence, a Turkish stringed instrument for entertaining her patrons, singing support to her allies, or distracting her enemies. Her weapon appears to be a hangar, or similar small, fencing/street-fighting sword. Though sometimes called the ‘poor-man’s rapier,’ I actually really like the hangar design, combining the stabbing and finesse of a rapier with the slashing power of a saber and close-quarters handling of a short sword. The rune on her necklace may be a mere keepsake, or it may be a focus for her bardic skills. Anything goes, really, in questing and adventuring.

Huge thanks to Mates for the use of his charming bard. If you’re interested, feel free to look into his custom commissions at Avatar Art. Thanks as always for reading folks! Take care and stay awesome!

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Women’s leather armor, by LaGueuse

cosplayWomen’s Leather Armor, by LaGueuse

“The clever combatant imposes his will on the enemy, and does not allow the enemy’s will to be imposed upon him.” —Sun Tzu

Much like Dwarves, dress armor, and steampunk attire, LARP and cosplay are areas I keep intending to place more focus upon, but never seem to get around to. Artisan leatherworker LaGueuse has been pretty cool in the past about me using her designs for the blog. Her homepage features dozens of excellent leather armor and steampunk accessories for women larpers and cosplayers. Looking back over LaGueuse’s DeviantArt galleries recently, I found several gorgeous leather armor designs for the blog. My favorite was this excellent scale/leather warrior’s armor for this axe-wielding lady warrior.

cosplay2I remain a huge fan of well-crafted leather armor and feel it’s badly underrated as an armor type. As well as being cheaper and lighter than most steel armors, it provides far more absorption and deflection than what its armor rating in most table-top RPGs might suggest. Properly treated and hardened, even thin leather can offer excellent deflection against arrows, spearheads, and glancing blows from swords or axes. Heavy spaulders protect our heroine’s shoulders from disabling blows, with vertical sections to prevent enemy blades from glancing toward her head. Segmented leather plates and leather scales offer additional protection for our heroine’s upper arms. Meanwhile, a flexible leather cuirass keeps our warrior’s torso safe from arrows and spearheads with more scales positioned over her heart. Lastly, additional leather plates and scales protect her hips and lower abdomen.

cosplay3Beneath her leather cuirass, our heroine sports a black arming shirt to keep the leather from chafing the crap out of her skin. a black waist-cloak or battle-skirt keeps her legs warm and safe while traveling or in combat. Additionally, she wears leather vambraces to protect her arms from severing blows and leather boots for traveling in all kinds of weather.

The only recommendation I can think of for our heroine are gloves to reduce wear-and-tear on her hands while swinging that axe around. Stellar design, all around.

Huge thanks to LaGueuse for letting me borrow her designs. Feel free to check her Facebook for more photos and costume designs. As always, thanks for reading, folks. Take care and stay awesome!

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Barbarian, by Hugo Solis

harpy1Barbarian, by Hugo Solis

“These battle-scarred brutes believe in one simple tactic, the best defense is a good offense. Because their fighting style is so wild and undisciplined, Barbarians are not found among races which are smaller in stature or which tend to view themselves as highly civilized. Always spoiling for a fight, Barbarians are also usually the first to join in on a good old fashioned bar-room brawl and engage in unarmed contests as a matter of sport.” —Barbarian class description, Realm of Strife

Years ago when I played my first actual game of Dungeons and Dragons, I was surprised that none of the other players—veteran players, mind you—understood why barbarians lose all of their bonus hit points after their rage wears off. I had to explain to them that it’s because they’re so pumped full of adrenaline that they could actually receive mortal injuries and still keep swinging, dying only after the adrenaline stops. The vikings called the phenomenon berserkergang, while the Romans called it Furor CelticaI honestly thought the explanation was fairly common historical knowledge, but these guys thought it was the coolest thing they’d ever heard of.

Hugo’s design is for a strategic RPG called Realm of Strife. This idea of a flying berserker is so awesomely terrifying to me. A deranged harpy going bat-s*** crazy on a party of adventurers delights me to no end. I imagine her as an alpha harpy (harpy matriarch?) leading her nest against a party of intruding adventurers.

harpy1As a flying warrior, it makes most sense that our harpy prefers a lighter, more flexible armor for aerial combat. Rugged-looking and possibly scavenged, her leather cuirass should offer excellent protection from the inevitable ranged attacks as the adventurers attempt to mow her down from a distance. Her leather spaulders protect her shoulders from disabling blows and cushion her joints when she slams into the party’s fighter as she attempts to knock him off the precipice leading to her nest. I like as well that she wears wrappings underneath the armor to protect her from leather-induced chafing.

The sharp, reed-like protrusions strapped to her right vambrace were also an effective touch, providing absorption against enemy blades while functioning as a weapon in close quarters. Though lacking in spikes, the left vambrace should protect her arm from severing blows. Her upper legs are protected by segmented leather plates for similar protection against enemy arrows and melee weapons.

To me, a polearm is a sensible weapon for a winged fighter. Our harpy’s glaive gives her excellent striking power on the fly while keeping her distance from the enemies’ swords and axes. Meanwhile, her short sword and dagger provide excellent backup weapons, should she find herself grounded and in close-quarters melee. Finally, our harpy’s talons are wicked-sharp for scratching disemboweling some unfortunate mage.

If I have an issue with our harpy’s design, it’s the belly-hole in her armor (I think… her glaive is obstructing, so I may be reading that wrong). While it’s a relatively small breach in an otherwise decent set of armor, leaving her guts exposed seems like a weakness that any competent archer or spearman is going to take advantage of.

Beyond that, I really love the idea and character design. I visualize her using Final Fantasy Dragoon tactics, flapping eight stories up, then dropping on the mage or archer’s head to take their ranged attacks out of the fight early. Our barbarian then faces off with the party’s melee characters with her glaive and talons while her sisters snipe at them with crossbows from midair. “Should have stuck with picking on goblins and kobolds, adventurers. ‘Cause you ain’t leaving our nest alive.”

Huge thanks to Hugo for the use of his harpy. As always, thanks so much for reading, folks! Take care and stay awesome!

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