More cover art and how artists can avoid getting the armour wrong


Cassie turns out to have quite a feel for depicting mayhem and war machines!

So Cassie, who normally does pretty handcrafted things, turns out to have quite a feel for depicting mayhem and war machines! Come to the dark side…

Joking aside, it’s a reminder that real artists, just like real writers, can cheerfully turn their hands to other genres and step out of their apparent comfort zones.

This of course is just her sketch for the cover on a handy piece of A4 – it has the wrong aspect ratio for Amazon. However, it feels right. It’s hard to describe my reaction without swearing: #### yeah!

Even so, armour geeks will notice that Cassie, not being an armour geek, has given Sir Ranulph an early 13th-century bucket helm to go with his late 15th-century armour.

O the Horror!


…function and technology have their own aesthetic

I’ve seen this kind of thing before. The worse offender was a PC game box on which a warrior wore wonderful renaissance style armour  topped by a Sutton Hoo helmet!

It just looked wrong and I think that’s  the main artistic reason for getting this right; function and technology have their own aesthetic — mixing and matching makes an image subtly jarring.

Here’s my advice to artists:

When possible always use a historical example for reference and only mix between similar warrior types. However, if you must tinker (because it’s more fun and creative)…

Never mix different tech levels. For example, a riveted flat top helm or a “Norman” spangenhelm is obviously more primitive than the smooth curves of plate armour.

You can however mix different cost levels. A freebooter might have a breastplate over a maille shirt with studded vambraces, all from different sources, some battlefield finds.

"We are the Spear Carriers, and we are real"

Missile troops… like to cover their centre of mass with the Medieval equivalent of a flack jacket

Think survivability: make level of protection consistent, or vary it to reflect purpose.

So don’t draw a warrior in full plate but then give have just a maille hood to protect their head! That’s like putting a glass windshield on a tank! He or she might as well not bother with the plate armour since a weapon that breaks plate will ignore maille.

However, do feel free to depict people in interesting half or partial armour. If you do this, make it for practical reasons. For example, missile troops and pikemen tend to like to cover their centre of mass with the Medieval equivalent of a flack jacket because that’s where most of the incoming hits will land.  Lighter cavalry might only bother to armour themselves for mounted combat and rely on just heavy boots to protect their legs.

* * *

Ultimately, armour is like historical women’s fashion, some combinations just don’t work.
A 1920s hat looks wrong with a 1950s dress, and 1950s jeans don’t go with a formal 1950s hat, and a flat top helm doesn’t go with plate armour. Getting it wrong undercuts whatever sense of realism you attain, so it’s worthy getting it right.
Of course, it will be right in the next draft. I count myself fortunate to be able to work with an artist who cares. Stay tuned…

Writer. Swordsman. CLICK TO SEE MY BOOKS !

Posted in Armour, Blog Post, Military, Swords Versus Tanks, Uncategorized

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