Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Art: Fantastic Phrenology - Trolls

Of all the commonly appearing fantasy races, trolls seem to be the most varied and divergent - even within their own realities. I endeavored to record the features of the 'basic' troll present in each.

In case you were wondering (and how could you not?) This series of sketches is being recorded in a 3.5" x 5.5" Moleskine Pocket Sketchbook, using a Pilot Better extra fine retractable ballpoint pen (black ink). There are no preliminary sketches or pencil roughs - good or bad, everything is presented as it was put down in a single pass.

Dungeons & Dragons (Monster Manual I, 4th ed.)
The face of a troll is dominated by its long, pointed nose. The mouth is wide and filled with relatively small - albeit sharp - teeth. Proportionately small, the pointed ears sweep back and out, and have a tendency to droop. An unkempt mane of greasy black hair is not uncommon in the species, though it does not appear to grow anywhere else on the body in any significant amount. The spine connects to the skull further back than in the more civilized races - a trait more commonly seen in lower order carnivores. Consequently, the overall posture takes on a slouched appearance, with the head thrust forward.

World of Warcraft
Like the goblins of the Warcraft world, trolls have large ears and long pointed noses. The former being more swept back and the later being thinner and only slightly more in proportion to the face than their smaller Horde-mates. Additionally, their facial structure tends to be longer and generally more narrow, in proportion. However, it would appear that the defining feature among trolls in this reality are the two large tusks that grow down and curve up out of their mouths. Hair may be present on the face and head, and tends to be a warm, bright color of a contrasting nature to that of their cool-hued skin.

Warhamer Fantasy Battle (7th ed.)
Most animalistic of the specimens observed, the Warhammer troll has thick, mottled skin bordering on the verge of being reptilian in nature. Indeed, the regenerative properties of the troll are not unlike those observed among reptiles and amphibians - though that topic extends beyond a casual taxonomic discussion such as this. The mouth is large and filled with oversized, misshapen teeth that jut out. The nose is large and flat with small nostrils, and the ears are little more than ragged scraps of flesh that sweep back and sag downward. The rearward connection of the skull and spine that is present in the D&D troll is even more pronounced in this specimen, exacerbating the hunched appearance.

Art: Fantastic Phrenology - Orcs

I am noticing an interesting phenomenon as I make these sketches - when I hate the profile, I am usually okay with how the mug shot looks; conversely, when I like the profile, the mug shot tends to be disappointing. I guess that's better than flat out hating both of them, right?

Dungeons & Dragons (4e Monster Manual I)
In comparing the realities, the Orcs of the D&D world appear the most simian in nature. A sloping brow leads down to a flat, upturned snout; which in turn follows a slightly convex upper perioral region to a powerful lower jaw dominated by two tusks. The ears are proportionally small to the head and situated slightly lower than other humanoids. The body is covered in a layer of short but dense hair, usually of a dull gray hue. A subtle brown or greenish tint may be present in the hide.

World of Warcraft
Like their D&D relatives, the Warcraft Orc is defined by his powerful lower jaw and the enlarged canines that protrude from it. The ears are large, pointed, and generally sweep back and slightly out from the skull. The brow and nose are most akin to humans, as are the areas and frequency of hair appearing on the head.

Warhammer Fantasy Battle (7th ed.)
The Warhammer orc has a thick, protruding brow shading beady eyes and an upturned snub nose that crown a disproportionately large upper-perioral region. A powerful lower jaw frames a large mouth in which teeth rapidly grow long and large enough to protrude at random from the lips. The pointed ears are not oversized, but do stick out more so than in the other realities. Warhammer orcs are naturally hairless. It is not unusual, however, to see an orc adorn its head with a pelt, tail or other hair-bearing accessory - usually taken by force from the original owner.

Monday, February 22, 2010

DnD, Art: Shayakand Campaign Map for NMP

Just completed for Nevermet Press, a campaign map for the upcoming Shayakand setting:

Hope it's okay to post this . . .

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Art: Fantastic Phrenology - Goblins

Phrenology (noun) - The study of the shape and protuberances of the skull, based on the now discredited belief that they reveal character and mental capacity.
-The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Fantastic Phrenology (noun) - The comparison of the shape and protuberances of a given fictional race appearing across a spectrum of fantasy realities, communicated via a collection of casual observations and rough sketches.
- The Kingworks Creative Blog, 2010

Dungeon & Dragons (4th ed. Monster Manual I)
D&D goblins are the most individually varied, but still maintain a few common traits among their kind: A wide protruding forehead with a thick brow overshadowing the eyes; a small upturned nose; pointed ears swept back at roughly 45° angle from the skull. Small, mishapen teeth that are less sharp than they are broken and poorly cared for. These goblins have the most hair (usually greasy and unkempt) and the widest range of skin tones and texture (often mottled).

World of Warcraft
The goblins of the Warcraft world all appear to have pointed ears that sweep out to the sides of the skull and a long pointed nose, both oversized in relation to the rest of the head. The chin descends to a point and the lips are well defined. These features appear softer and more rounded on the females. Males typically have a shock of hair sprouting towards the back of the skull in a variety of colors - whether the colors are natural or not, this observer could not discern. The skin is almost always green, with males being a few shades darker than females. Of the goblins, the Warcraft goblin appears to have the largest eyes.

Warhammer Fantasy Battle (7th edition)
The face of the Warhammer goblin is dominated by a thick, fleshy nose. It has bhe most well-defined jawline of the goblins and it's ears, while not as large as the Warcraft goblin in proportion to its head, stick out to the side in a similar fashion. While the braincase is the smallest of the three, its teeth are the largest. The eyes are small and deep-set under a thick brow. The Warhammer goblin is always some shade of green and naturally hairless.

Friday, February 12, 2010

40K: Removing Super Glue from Models - Epilogue

I tried soaking the model in warm water, as suggested on the super glue manufacturer's website. No luck - either the water couldn't get to the bond, or the magnet was just wedged to tightly into the torso that it would not come out.

At this point, I decided to do something drastic:

Since I had not glued the front of the torso on the model, I was able to use a wire-gauge pin vise and drill in behind the magnet - pushing it out.

It turns out that that particular setting was simply wedged in too tight. Even when I went to re-glue the magnet in correctly, I had to use a bit more pressure to get it back into the hole.

I guess the lesson here is to always give yourself at least a tiny bit of wiggle room. It makes things easier to work with. Well, that and rubbing alcohol seems to work for removing super glue bonds between metal and plastic.

40K: Removing Super Glue From Models - Part 2

If you need to get caught up, check out Part 1.

In this experiment, I will be using the plastic Ork Nobz box set which have had magnets super glued into them using Duro super glue.

Method 1: Rubbing Alcohol

I poured some rubbing alcohol into a old glass baby-food jar that I sometimes use to clean my brushes as I paint. Not sure of the alcohol's affect on the plastic, I broke off a small bit of extra sprue and left it sitting in the liquid for about an hour. It is highly suggested that you cover the container, to keep fumes from spreading. I don't have a lid for this jar, so I used saran wrap and a rubber band.

The test bit of sprue did not seem to have any sort of deformation or softening as a result of being in the alcohol, so I went ahead and dropped in the two arms and Nob torso (already glued to a base) into which the magnets had been glued backwards from the others. The jar was then left to sit out of reach of little hands for about 24 hours.

The next evening, took the bits out of the jar with a pair of tweezers, and dabbed them with a paper towel. I was shocked to discover one of the magnets from the torso just fell right out! The two magnets in the arms came out, but required some work with my Xacto knife. I slid the blade into the narrow gaps around the magnet and wiggled it a bit. Eventually, they too came free.

Unfortunately, the other magnet in the torso was still glued firmly in place. There was no room around this last remaining magnet to slide the blade in without damaging or cutting away at the plastic around it. Since I needed the area to stay intact in order to re-glue the magnet in properly, I opted to move on to the next method.

Result: 3 of 4 magnets removed

Why (I think) it worked

Assuming there were pockets of moisture trapped in and around the super glue bond holding the magnet to the plastic, the alcohol help remove that trapped moisture, leaving behind empty pores in the super glue - weakening it. Thus, less tension was required to break the bond. (I totally pulled that out of my rear, but it sounds good . . . right?)

Method 2: Freezing

Taking the torso into the kitchen, I ran it under the faucet for a couple of minutes, try to ensure that water got into every nook and cranny around the magnet. The model was then placed in the freezer and left for 48 hours - Not because I thought the extra time would matter, I just forgot about it for a day.

Taking the model out, I worked at it a little bit with the X-acto knife and also tried holding other magnets on either side of the embedded magnet. Unfortunately, all I managed to do was hack up the area around the magnet a little and leave a scratch on the magnet itself.

Result: 0 magnets removed

Why it was supposed to work

I actually read this on the messageboard (sorry, don't have the link) where I learned about this method - again, this assume moisture is trapped in an around the super glue bond: When water freezes, it expands. The expanding moisture in and around the super glue creates tiny cracks in the bond, weakening it and allowing the bond to be easily broken.

Why it didn't work

Not sure really. Perhaps the alcohol effectively removed what moisture may have been trapped, so there was nothing to expand upon freezing. Perhaps the magnet is set in such a way that there is no space for either liquid - alcohol or water - to penetrate.

What's Next?

According to Loctite's poorly designed website (the makers of the super glue I was using), soaking the bond in warm water might work. There also exists super glue remover, but I'm really only interested in cheap, non-hazardous alternatives.

I would also like to get a new digital camera - one with a working LCD screen, exports directly to my laptop, and doesn't try to cram a ton of noise-producing megapixels through an undersized processor - but that's another rant-er . . . story for another time.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

40K: Removing Super Glue from Models - Part 1

Bear With Me* for a minute.

It happens to the best of us at some point - and trust me, I am far from the best at any part of this hobby - modelers' regret. You put something together, permanently, in a manner that you wish you could undo. Unfortunately, the nature of modeling almost always means that the parts you stick together are not intended to come apart . . . Well, almost always.

Not so long ago, as I was just getting into this whole blogging 'thang' for myself, I stumbled across an excellent article about magnetizing your models by Master Darksol of All Things 40K.

Months later, I won a box of Ork Nobz on eBay and realized that the time had come. I purchased the same magnets from amazon that Master Darksol used, and eagerly set to work magnetizing my Nobz (which I was hoping to get written up before now, but life has a way of dictating what gets posted and when).

It didn't take long to realize I screwed up.

I started putting magnets in the torsos, then the arms. Unfortunately, despite my efforts to prevent just such an occurrence from . . . occurring . . . one of the torsos and a set of arms were glued in backwards from the others.

So, after offering the requisite amount of cursing and lamentation to Anoia**, I started Googling ways to dissolve super glue. I came across two fairly simple methods: Rubbing Alcohol and Freezing.

Stay tuned as I try both methods and analyze, in my own special*** way, the results.

* Pretty sure I'm 1/64th Cherokee.
** Everyone is a follower, whether you know it or not.
*** IE: completely subjective and uninformed
**** I'm really jonesing for some Pratchett

Friday, February 5, 2010

DnD, Art: Card Game Preview - King

Got another preview for you from the card deck/game I'm developing. For the king, I used the knight as a template and tweaked it a bit, figuring that king would be similarly arrayed for battle as his knights.

The remaining cards will have to be built from scratch. But before I get to them, I need to finish a campaign map for an upcoming Nevermet Press release.