30 December, 2016

Behind the Scenes with Angels

As you can see from the last post, I've been working on some illustrations of angels over the past couple of days.

This rush of creative energy has basically been prompted by my Dad recommending me to look at the artwork of people he considers my peers (i.e. other children of people he knows from his church)... then me looking at that artwork and thinking its absolutely rubbish... then me wondering how these artists with poor technique and unprofessional output ended up getting jobs in the worlds of animation, graphic design, advertising, comics, and assorted other creative fields. 

I figured that there is no point simply complaining about it, and maybe I should just go back to producing more work of my own to hone my craft.

The tower maps were a part of that, the factional illustration to go with the tower maps were similarly a part of it. These angel illustrations are simply a way of refining another of my artistic styles. Perhaps to go with one of my own game designs, but it looks like the sequence has drawn the interest of a few outside parties.

For the moment though, I'll continue working through these until I'm satisfied that they've run their course. The next ones in the sequence will include a few more diverse body types, as well as some male angels and a couple of androgynous celestial beings.

28 December, 2016

Perhaps a New Cover Illustration

It's been too hot to do much else, so I sat down last night and started this illustration, it might end up a part of the "familiar" project, maybe an element of the other urban fantasy projects I've been considering over the past year or two...but most likely it will link into the urban angel stuff I've also been thinking about. 
I'm also considering that this image might end up being the front cover for something... let's see where it ends up.

Special thanks have to go to Roxy, for agreeing to be my muse on this image.

27 December, 2016

Tower Blueprints

The last post depicted the people of the tower...this one depicts some blueprints of the tower.

First, the general layout of the tower

Then a few specific parts of the tower. Including the first few which are accommodations and locations where denizens of the tower live, sleep or store their stuff. 

These next ones are places where work is done, and general utilities scattered through the tower.

A few images of detailed elements that don't really fit the two categories above, things like pools and meeting halls where people gather for assorted reasons.

Then some blanks for people to make their own.

I've still got a whole heap of half-completed sketches in my notepad, these should be completed and added to the collection soon.

People of the Tower

Once again it's been over a week between posts. It's just that time of the year when family are more important, not that they aren't important at other times of the year...but this is the time when trips to visit them for festivities and ritual gift giving occur.

Over the past few weeks I've been developing an arcology tower setting (probably generic, but I might create a simple game system to go with it). Here's a few of the different types of people who might be likely encounters while exploring the tower. The illustrations aren't complete, I'll probably be shading them a bit more, perhaps adding textures to their clothes... and there will be far more illustrations like these to develop the wider community within the tower. It's just a case of working out who might be interesting to meet, and what types of people might be useful to flesh out the population.  

19 December, 2016


I found that I had set up a tumblr a few years ago, I haven't really done anything with it.


I revisited it tonight because I was looking for social media platforms that were a bit more video and image friendly... Especially after drawing up some images today and generating time-lapse footage of my work in progress.

If anyone has some good tumblrs that they'd like to recommend me, I'd love to see what people think is worth following.

17 December, 2016

LARP Scale Armour (The Verdict)

The reason for building the scale armoured sleeve was today's LARP. It seemed odd to run a LARP in the lead-up to Christmas, a time when families are gathering for BBQs, workplaces are holding their end of year Christmas parties (and closing down for the holiday period), but the majority of players assured me that they'd be in attendance, and a few even told me they'd be bringing new players along. So, with a dozen regular players, a few irregulars promising they'd show up, and a number claiming that they'd be bringing some new faces, I had no idea how many people would actually be in attendance. It could have been as many as 20, it could have been as few as 10 (based on promises)...

I had to be prepared for the most, because if there's one thing I can't stand, it's leaving players bored. I've been to too many LARPs where the story is based on the activities of a select group of players while everyone else just lingers on the edge of the story.

Seven people showed.

On the positive side, it gave me a chance to get into the thick of things as an NPC, testing the new armour, the reinforced shields I've been working on, and the new system mechanisms I've been working on. On the down side, I forgot to take a few key elements of costuming.     

I'm pretty happy that a lot of our regular players are starting to get into the spirit of things by costuming and starting to drive character stories of their own. It lets me step from a storyteller role into a role where I'm more of a facilitator of play. Instead of trying to spread my time across a dozen players, I can let two or three trusted veteran players take some of the other players under their wing while I focus my attention on the new players to make sure they understand how things work.

It's this ecosystem of play that I like to engender in a game. The fact that we only had seven players today meant that the new player was instantly sucked into existing stories, young players who been a part of the game for a while were guided by the older players to develop stories of their own that can be woven into future events. 

As for the armour, today was hot and humid. But the armour was neither too heavy, too constricting, or too fragile. It worked well.

Now it's time to finish off the suit.

16 December, 2016

LARP Scale Armour (Part 3)

With the scales cut and painted, and the sleeves of the hoodie marked out, it's now time to sew the scales on, and make the final piece...

...or so I thought.

I had hoped I could attach the sclaes to the sleeve with a pair of holes at the top of each scale, and if I had used a more sturdy material for them this might have worked. But as it is, the scales are too flimsy, and bend too easily with only a pair of holes.

I also found that the spacing lines marked on the sleeve were probably a bit too far apart, so that means making some further adjustments to the pattern before sewing can properly commence. Each scale is roughly 65mm long, and 35mm wide, and I had made the spacing lines roughly 50mm apart, this was to ensure some overlap...but there just wasn't enough overlap for my liking once the scales actually started being put solidly into place. So for every 2 spacing lines, I've ended up sewing three rows of scales (basically creating rows of scales that are 33mm apart, which is roughly half the length of the scale, and in turn this means virtually all parts of the pattern are protected by a double thickness of scales.    

To enhance the degree of connection between the scales and the sleeve, an additional row of holes were punched in each scale, 20mm below the first. Thus every scale is attached to the sleeve at four points which makers for a far more stable structure. 

It only takes a couple of rows to see how the final sleeve will look.

The scales have been attached in a specific pattern.Where (C) = a curved scale and (F) = a flat scale, I used the following... 

(C) (C)
(C) (C) (C)
(C) (C) (C) (C)
(F) (C) (C) (C) (F)
(F) (F) (C) (C) (F) (F)
(F) (F) (C) (F) (F)
(F) (F) (F) (F)
(F) (F) (F)
(F) (F) (F) (F)
(F) (F) (F)
(F) (F)

This gives a lot of curved scales toward the top of the piece, allowing it to curve around the shoulder more naturally, while becoming more straight down the musculature of the arm (what little musculature I have), and allowing the piece to taper away toward the elbow. This is more a stylistic choice than any protective decision. 42 scales total, 15 of which are "curved", 27 of which are "flat". I've certainly got enough scales to make a second sleeve, but quite a few of them will need to be painted up. 

I don't do many selfies, but since I wanted to see how the sleeve looked while being worn, I headed to the biggest mirror in the house and took some shots. 

Next to work out whether to do scale pants/legging or a skirt/kilt.

But for the moment the proof of concept has been completed, and it looks like it works.

LARP Scale Armour (Part 2)

At the end of part 1, we were cutting up 150-odd scales out of a dozen soft drink bottles. Not sure whether this would be enough (but seriously suspecting it wouldn't be).

The next stage is to get these scales to stop looking like cut out pieces of plastics, and instead make them look like polished pieces of metal, or insect chitin, or some other material from which our armour is made (in the context of the game) at the moment, this project is proof of concept, so I'm taking a deliberately simple course of action. I've considered that later repetitions of this armour might see every scale painted with a dark green vein, then lighter green to represent a series of leaves, but for the moment, a simple silver will suffice.

Painting Step

The silver needs to be protected from the hits of the swords, so I'm going to use one of the properties of the material to it's advantage...that being its transparency. I'm going to paint the underside of the scales. Thus giving a nice silvery colour, a protective layer of clear plastic on top of it, and a shiny gloss that many silver paints don't naturally give.

From the back, the scales don't look great, but they aren't meant to be looked at from the back anyway...

From the front, they look more shiny and metallic. Not mirrored, I've got my eye on a can of chrome spray paint for that effect on a future project, but metallic enough for my purposes, and certainly more metallic looking than the actual material (cut out sections of a PET soft drink bottle.

Preparation of Pattern

The next stage involves linking the scales together. I'm going to use the simplest method I can think of, with an old hoodie that I was planning to throw away... well, actually, my wife was planning to throw it away because I never throw much of anything away. The aim is to give an old piece of clothing a new lease of life, as a structural element for the scales.

The first thing to do is lay out a pattern.

Remember that in the first post I said that I already had the torso and abdomen covered by plates of armour that I'd made previously. I've also got some good leather gauntlets/vambraces that I've used over the years. So these scales basically just cover the upper arms and shoulders.

The next step is to measure the markings on the hoodie that I'll be sewing the scales to.

Then begins the slow process of sewing the scales, row by row onto the hoodie.

15 December, 2016

LARP Scale Armour

Here's a little project I've been working on over the last day or two.

I've got some LARP armour I've been building from scratch. It started as an iteration of my long term Iron Man cosplay, but starting heading away from that template, so it became something quite different. A chestplate, and separate abdomen piece. I decided that I needed some arm and leg protection, something flexible...so I went with scales.

A bit of research shows that there are numerous ways that armour scales can be connected to one another as lamellar armour, so there's no "wrong" way to do it... especially when this particular armour is designed as a fantasy project. There are three key things that need to be taken into account. First, it needs to be flexible; allowing for good freedom of movement for fighting and running. Second, it needs to be sturdy; not necessarily capable of protecting from full thrusts and strikes from potentially lethal metal weapons, but capable of taking regular hits from foam weapons, trips, and tumbles. Third, it needs to look the part; a player could easily get the flexibility and sturdiness from sporting pads, but such equipment doesn't suit the medieval/fantasy oeuvre. That's why I'm going with scales.

I don't have the facilities to make metal plates (yet), and this is a project designed so that anyone could duplicate it. It's not hard to do, it's just time consuming. 

Step 1.
We go through a lot of soft drink bottles in our house. They fill the recycling bin each fortnight, and I've been trying to think of a good use for them. I figured the curves of the bottle would make a good curvature for armour scales. I drew up a badic shape on paper, folded it in half, and cut it out this way to eneure I had a symmetrical scale for the armour. This was traced  onto a cleaned bottle at two points.  Once at the flat cylindrical curve, and once at the weird curved section at the bottom to give a complex "saddle"-curve to some of the scales. 

Step 2.
To make things easier, I made a pair of templates, one for each section of curvature. Then I traced it on as many bottles as I could...maybe a dozen in all. So at six scales of one type and seven of the other per bottle, that gave me over 150 scales.

Step 3.

The last step after cutting out the scales is to clean off the marker pen ink that had been used as a cutting guideline for the scissors.