Friday 30 April 2010

The King of Birds: A Halfling Tale

While researching the background for Halflings in The Realm of Zhu   - designed to be somewhat akin to Tolkiens Hobbits (which I term Edwardian Pastoral) with a dash of Richard Adams. I came across this story retelling the King of Birds:

The Eagle summoned all kinds of birds together, to choose their king ; it was agreed that the one which could fly highest should be elected.

The Rook flew so high that he called out,
Caw, caw, caw,
I can zee it all.
The Lark flew quite up to heaven's gate, and there sung a sweet song of triumph.

But whilst these trials were going on the little blue Tit-mouse crept under the feathers of the Eagle and hid itself there. When the Eagle's turn came he soared far higher than any of the others and remained stationary at that point, looking proudly downwards.

At length when quite exhausted with the prolonged effort, he was obliged to commence to descend at that moment the little blue Tit-mouse flew out and mounted still higher than the eagle had done, with its pert note of  
Tit, tit, Higher it, 
Tit, tit, Higher it.
All the birds were therefore obliged to acknowledge that the little blue Tit-mouse must be their King.

A couple of inspiring points regards this tale:
  • It tells of the small overcoming the great though cunning- surely a central theme of all Halfling stories!
  • The twisted mnemonic logic of a birds social standing (i.e. kingship) being based on it's ability to fly high, which in turn is based on, or somehow related to their song - the influence of a Halfling Bardic tradition perhaps!
  • The appearance of Eagles (a Tolkenian theme, so therefore already "Hobbity")
  • The generally rural and 'woodsy' feel of the whole thing.

As a Halfling folk-tale, this could be lifted straight into the background, but with a little work, it could become more mythic in proportion.

Tuesday 27 April 2010

Red Box Games Logo

Logo for  sculptor Tre Manors signature miniature range Red Box Games inspired by the classic 80s Dungeons and Dragons art of Larry Elmore and Norse Mythology. Tre sculpts capture much of the classic themes of fantasy with hideous savage goblin berserkers, proud dwarves and beautiful elves.

The word-mark and the box were hand drawn and then traced and cleaned up in Illustrator. I think I'll leave the runic inscription across the top a mystery for now.

Hopefully see the logo in use across packaging and the website sometime soon!

The Otherworld Giant - Instructions

Completed the instructions for Otherworld miniatures Giant model. This was a black and white hand drawn 2-page A4 set of instructions written by the sculptor John Pickford and illustrated by me.

The distressed parchment edges were hand-drawn and the typefaces are a bit of a nod to some of the old school  heritage of Otherworld Miniatires, being a combination of  80s Citadel Miniatures with the headers set in Caslon Antique and Advanced Dungeons and Dragons being Century Gothic - although the actual D&D books are set in Futura, Century Gothic has a very similar feel with slightly increased legibility.

Each part was drawn individually (twice - once for the front and once for the back), and inked, then scanned and the final layout composited in InDesign. Johns sculpt is really crisp and clear, with enough detail to make it interesting - making drawing it a dream.

Slightly dull photo of my sketchbook showing some warm up drawings.

A magnificent painted example of the model  (by Bruenorodinson) can be seen on the Otherworld Forums, and it's for sale in the Otherworld Shop!

Wednesday 14 April 2010

The Otherworld Giant - first look

I am the fortunate recipient of a Master Casting (#4 of 30) of the new Otherworld Giant 'miniature', sculpted by John Pickford.  It's an impressive piece of work, standing at 175mm and weighing a ton.

Box Contents

The model comes unassembled and packed in foam. Along with the main model there are a number of accessories in a sealy bag a pair of pouches (one falling open), a beer barrel, and a couple of swine.

Taking the pieces out, I grabbed a fistful of blue-tack and got to work putting it together. It's an amazingly well balanced model, the legs just hold themselves together under their own weight - the whole thing is metal so it's quite heavy.

Head variant one
Which I'm thinking of as the 'Wayne Rooney' for some reason. That brings an significant point - the giant has huge calf muscles, like that of a footballer. Of course he does, because giants would collapse under their own weight, so a giant would naturally develop footballers legs to support them, even if they also develop a fat gut...

Head variant two
The 'Balrog' version. 

Head variant three
This is the bearded version, aka "the geography teacher"

Obligatory scale shot
The giant stands next to an Otherworld Hobgoblin Guard who is a normal 28mm mini.  As you can see the giant is huge!

He's now available to order for £65

Not sure when I'll get around to actually building him properly - Johns instructions and tips (for which I'm doing some illustrations) are very clear and look simple to follow - although I'll need to get tooled up. Updates will surely follow!

Saturday 3 April 2010

The Rev. James

The Rev James "A Taste of the Good Life", (4.5%) brewed by Brains after an 1885 recipe. When I say brewed by Brains, I mean that's the name of the brewery, not that it's been produced in some Steve Martinesque laboratory. They're a Welsh brewery (hence the red dragon on the bottle top) with a large chain of pubs in Wales and the West of England, which I've never had the pleasure of.

I'm drinking this bottle with some slightly spicy meatloaf sandwiches, and it would accompany any hearty traditional beef dish dish, but it isn't really dark or heavy enough for use in stewing. The beer itself is a smooth, dry (almost dusty, but not quite), warming brew, with a light bitter finish. Or something like that. Medium chestnut brown in colour, not a heavy drink at all. I don't know how true it is to the original recipe, materials and processes, but it tastes aged, wholesome and earthy. This is a good everyday Hobbity beer, not quirky or 'special' but a robust stable drinker.

I bought mine in Tescos, but the beer is avaliable though Asda, Sainsburys, Majestic and Waitrose as well.