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The Art of What Fire Has Wrought

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  • Isator Levi
    started a topic The Art of What Fire Has Wrought

    The Art of What Fire Has Wrought

    Having talked about the text of the book in thorough detail, I wanted to come back and give my take on and reactions to the full art, now that it's been added to it. I'll do so with no particular chapter breakdowns.
    First off, the cover. If this is going to be the style for the Exalted hardbacks, I’m all for it; nice minimalist element while making a major character very prominent. I think Kingfisher Swift looks especially classy here.

    I think it effectively captures the mood of the opening fiction to have the understated monochrome freeze frame of the pivotal action scene. My one criticism would be that I feel as though the Lunar’s beast head looks a bit too much like a mask, although that’s largely informed by familiarity with King from… Tekken?

    In the spirit of a greater variety in art styles, I appreciate having another instance of something resembling a Mesoamerican piece, as well as the element of abstraction, in depicting the Immaculate Dragons sealing away the Solars (particularly the touch of the complementary Elemental Dragons in the background). I like the touches of distinguishing the Immaculates by something like head dresses, and how the Dragons seem to have canine figures, but would criticise the fact that all of the people in it appear to be masculine; that’s a bit borderline for Danaa’d, but I think there’s no excuse for Mela having a beard.

    I think the Scarlet Empress piece complements the one from the opening quite well, with their understated, washed out figures contrasted against her larger-than-life, saturated, garishly coloured self and retinue. I also like the design on her robes.

    The illustration of a Shogunate battle does a nice job of taking what would seem sci-fi and rooting it in a more fantasy aesthetic, especially the temple-like airship falling in the background.
    I find the picture of the child first awakening to power doing a good job of conveying the mix of elation and terror in that, not so much from the direct expressions as the subtle differences in character model between normal people and the Exalted character; the juxtaposition creates this uncanny effect to the central one. The lighting from the flames helps accentuate it.

    Okay, art pieces for various Dragon Blooded groups. If I’m honest, the Scarlet Dynasty one is a bit underwhelming. Sure, I’d seen this one in preview, and it looked fine in isolation, but as the representation of the main Dragon Blooded group? It’s not bad or anything, but it lacks a certain flair. Part of it is just how dour everybody looks. I can see how the armour is gilded, but somehow in the setting of Exalted, I feel as though that doesn’t quite manage to convey ostentatious wealth. Also, the Fire and Earth Aspects look way too similar.

    Lookshy does a lot better, I think. The five characters are much more visually distinct, they actually get to make the sense of sharing a common uniform work for them (part of that being how uniformity informs character in Lookshy), there are sufficient differences in expression and posture, and it’s helped by the inclusion of some more of those sci-fi by way of fantasy elements (I especially like the Sark from Tron-esque power armour, which is just abstract enough to be more visually interesting than usual takes on power armour) and being overlooked by the city’s elevated structures and their ominous guns.

    The Prasadi one I’d also seen before, and it’s fairly good for conveying their distinct differences in fashion, and it’s a fun enough image for them to be walking through a street with their respective expressions, but a bit sparse. The Forest Witch one does a lot more, with its conveyance of ominous elements such as the warped forest contrasted against the wondrous reflection, how the living Exalted all look a bit haunted, and the very nice touch of the reflection including a couple of the dead. I also like how it updates some previous character designs for this style, and the diversity in appearances conveys them as drawing from multiple sources. The Outcastes one is similarly effective in the diversity regard, which in fairness is all it can really have going for it.

    Nellens Leferi versus Sesus Daral isn’t how I would have pictured it, but the actual style of the picture is vey good. Between the elaborate cut and colour in the clothing, and the watercolour style, as well as the image of casually supping in the middle of a party after having just beaten somebody down, I find this to effectively convey the tone of the Scarlet Dynasty much more than the prior piece.

    Going past the Cathak art (straightforwardly good, what looks like a typical scene for their House), the Cynis one has similar merits to the one going with the fiction… Oh, I really like this design for Mnemon. I think in the past, even if it was fitting for its respective styles, the more cartoonish elements made it a bit hard to fully visualise her as impressive and fearsome matriarch of her House (when they weren’t just plain bad, like in Scroll of Exalts), so I think something more understated and realistic, with a stern expression, gets that across well. I also think it’s a good call to explicitly give her the typical ethnic features of the Blessed Isle (barring the hair), just to give a bit more prominence to that among the Scarlet Dynasty. Given the emphasis on her as an architect, I also like placing her alongside an ornate building.

    The Nellens scene… another one that looks well made and fitting to the subject, but otherwise unremarkable (to be clear, there’s no complaints in the unremarkable, some of them don’t need more than to fit their space). The uniform in the Peleps one might be a bit (equivalent of) anachronistic, but that’s a minor concern compared to selling the image of them as purveyors of high seas adventure. For Ragara… I like the prominent rings giving a splash of colour, and maybe a sense of hidden elaborate power, to the otherwise relatively mundane scene of a creditor and debtor; at least the creditor looks fairly sharply dressed and groomed. And I like the variety of masks for the secret ominous council for Sesus.

    Ahh, okay, the V’neef one is very good. It’s not only depicting a pivotal scene of Realm history, one around which the House revolves (and in so doing conveys a sense of important ceremony behind a major event of the Realm), as well as a bit of character in the expression of the Empress as she hands her token to her prostrate daughter, but the vibrant colours also make it very nice to look at. I’m ready to call this as the best illustration for a Great House.

    Yeah, the Iselsi one… I’d put as second, the colouring and imagery making that ritual of House culture look effectively creepy.

    And then there’s the map of the Blessed Isle. I like the detailing there, as I think the textures convey a lot of character to the landscape. I can look all over this thing, and derive a variety of local cultures dependent on things like roads, region names and the geography. It’s a map with some meat on its bones, rather than just a shape dotted with place names. I especially like the verdant region at the end of the big inlet on the east, nestled in the crescent of mountains.

  • Prometheus878
    replied
    Originally posted by Gonzo View Post
    I think the art of WFHW has improved over what we saw in Ex3. The overall style has taken a defined route and is now more consistent. I'm sure a lot of guys and gals will like it. However, I don't.

    In my opinion, all these digital paintings still lack most of the dynamic aura that drew me to the game in 2001. Most of the illustrations look very static to me... even the ones in which there's some action. Also, I can't differentiate between the illustration from one artist to the other, meaning that my eye registers most of them as very flat and a bit boring. I think its a matter of budget and talent combined, but whenever I see generic kimonos, or even generic swords with no detail, I think... "meh another one of those cases in which the artist compensated the lack of creativity/research with fancy digital color and texture..."

    When I'm sketching, or when I'm not getting paid, I usually draw with less details on weapons, accesories and clothing. That's because designing those things can sometimes be as hard and as challenging to design as characters are. So I tend to dislike when colors try to fool my eye to oversee the fact that I'm looking at a painted sketch, and not a well drawn illustration.

    I think Exalted looks bad lately. Generic fantasy games at least have a decent established "medieval-cliche-aesthetic". But exalted... it had achieved some visual identity, and now it has been changed into a more sobber, almost static lower quality style.

    I'm sorry, but I still can't praise this edition's visual style. :/

    Feel free to disagree with me.
    I prefer the previous style too, but at least Mel Uran continues to be excellent.

    Edit: I will also say that the art in this book does look better than the core. Can we get like a remastered version of the core later on down the line you think?

    Oh goodness I just opened up the possibility of a third edition "revised." Please forgive me.
    Last edited by Prometheus878; 12-27-2018, 08:22 PM.

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  • Gonzo
    replied
    I think the art of WFHW has improved over what we saw in Ex3. The overall style has taken a defined route and is now more consistent. I'm sure a lot of guys and gals will like it. However, I don't.

    In my opinion, all these digital paintings still lack most of the dynamic aura that drew me to the game in 2001. Most of the illustrations look very static to me... even the ones in which there's some action. Also, I can't differentiate between the illustration from one artist to the other, meaning that my eye registers most of them as very flat and a bit boring. I think its a matter of budget and talent combined, but whenever I see generic kimonos, or even generic swords with no detail, I think... "meh another one of those cases in which the artist compensated the lack of creativity/research with fancy digital color and texture..."

    When I'm sketching, or when I'm not getting paid, I usually draw with less details on weapons, accesories and clothing. That's because designing those things can sometimes be as hard and as challenging to design as characters are. So I tend to dislike when colors try to fool my eye to oversee the fact that I'm looking at a painted sketch, and not a well drawn illustration.

    I think Exalted looks bad lately. Generic fantasy games at least have a decent established "medieval-cliche-aesthetic". But exalted... it had achieved some visual identity, and now it has been changed into a more sobber, almost static lower quality style.

    I'm sorry, but I still can't praise this edition's visual style. :/

    Feel free to disagree with me.

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  • Synapse
    replied
    Originally posted by Elfive View Post
    That was like, 1e, wasn't it?
    2E still touches on it.

    ARTIFACT ARMOR
    Just as they forge weapons from steel alloyed with the five magical materials[...]
    The armor is unmistakably magical. Most of it glitters and gleams with the color of the magical material used to forge it, and the heavier armors typically have fins or long, flat spikes that protrude from the back and shoulders to prevent uncomfortable Essence buildup between the plates and the wearer’s skin.

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  • Elfive
    replied
    That was like, 1e, wasn't it?

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  • BrilliantRain
    replied
    I’m pretty sure that one of the earlier books noted that Artifacts can build up dangerous charges of essence, so many of them include various fins and projections to discharge such buildups before they become dangerous. Which is likely the in world reason they have giant anime shoulderpads.

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  • Elfive
    replied
    I'm pretty sure that's jade armour, so just chalk it up to magic.

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  • Greyman
    replied
    Originally posted by HoardAndSue View Post
    Counterpoint:the deeb cover looks like Swift is going to stab her biceps or triceps with her own shoulder guard if she tried to block a strike from above.

    Her armor looks like it comes out of a cosplay fair.
    Historically, Pauldrons were mainly restricted to full plate armour used for jousting exactly because they restricted mobility as a trade off for protection. But, yeah, videogames and rpg models use them over more realistic Spaulding because they are more visually impressive.
    Last edited by Greyman; 12-22-2018, 09:46 PM.

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  • TaintedBalance
    replied
    I found the art in the DB book to be a real treat, especially in contrast to the core book. Core did have some stunning pieces in it, but they were rare and the quality was all over the place. In particular I found the opening full page art on page 10 to be wonderful, and was glad to see that style in several places. The dev team and art house really stepped it up over core and deserve praise for that. Thanks for all the hard work!

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  • HoardAndSue
    replied
    Originally posted by aluminiumtrioxid View Post


    Counterpoint: the core's art, as somebody very observantly put it in one of the early review threads, looks like Prince Diamond is having a stroke. I much prefer the deeb cover.
    Counterpoint:the deeb cover looks like Swift is going to stab her biceps or triceps with her own shoulder guard if she tried to block a strike from above.

    Her armor looks like it comes out of a cosplay fair. The clothes from Diamond could be worn on a catwalk, which isn't bad for a would-be diplomat I think.

    I use a kind of armor for sport weekly (Kendo), just looking at Swift's makes my arm ache. And some of my club definitely look like they are having a stroke when they take off their men after training .

    So yeah, to each one its own, right?

    Edit: I probably look as if I am having a stroke, as well!
    Last edited by HoardAndSue; 12-22-2018, 08:18 AM.

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  • Robert Vance
    replied
    Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
    It is a bit inconsistent with Lookshy; Greek or Japanese? But then, Lookshy has always been a bit unsure which one it's supposed to look like.
    Lookshy is a synthesis of Greek and Japanese aesthetics in the same way that the Realm is a synthesis of Chinese and Roman aesthetics.

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  • The Wizard of Oz
    replied
    Looking through the book again, I think they've done a good job of showing how, well, visually Chinese the Scarlet Dynasty is. Architecture, clothes, ethnicity*, etc. That's something that's frequently not been done very consistently.
    (And artists aren't always good at drawing Asians, tbh. They're not all perfect in here, but better than before. Probably because Gunship Revolution is a South-East Asian art studio. And some of the credited artists are Asian-American.)

    *Not that the main ethnicity in the Realm actually does look exactly like Han Chinese. But it looks somewhat East Asian.

    It is a bit inconsistent with Lookshy; Greek or Japanese? But then, Lookshy has always been a bit unsure which one it's supposed to look like.

    Anyway, the stuff I really like:
    Page 9: intro
    Page 11: nice to see some Mesoamerican stuff
    17: Cool power armour
    19: Great depiction of a kid exalting at a Dynastic school
    22+23: A nice presentation of the Dynasty; it looks clearly Chinese-inspired, but showing you that not every Dynast has to be Asian-looking. The women being in front (and being the combat ones, with the men as the courtier and monk) shows you subtly that this is a society where women lead, but not massively so.
    27: Very clearly shows the difference between the two clans.
    38: Just a nice battle scene against beastmen (or barbarians?) There's no elemental stuff per-se, but you can see that it's obviously a Fire Aspect.
    56: Nice and dramatic, good pictures of beastmen, and tells you what Pelleps is about.
    60: Yep, this is Ragara. It's good to have some non-action shots of Dragonblood oppressing people, in this case via financial exploitation.
    63: I'll admit, this looks a lot like Clan Scorpion. But like the previous two I mentioned, it does a good job of telling you what the House is about (now).
    71: A really nice depiction of the Empress at court (and again, does a good job of showing you what's going on with V'neef)
    81: I mostly like this because it just shows you very well what Realm architecture looks like
    87: Frankly, I'm loving the hair styles.
    109: I just like it. There's a DB, and he's in a pub, but he still looks cool.
    128: Exalts vs giant monsters is always good.
    135: Fear-Eater looks great. And the expressions are great. I'm a Solar, how is this happening!
    183: It very much shows you a Dragonblood in charge of a society.
    191: Just a really dynamic way to show off this Athletics charm.
    249: It's a picture that inspires you to play an Earth Aspect, essentially.
    281: It's a great picture of a DB general wrecking the enemy with elemental force... but it still looks like his army is going to matter. He's not just nuking the enemy, he's softening them up for his own army.
    285: A DB monk punching an evil spirit? Classic.
    303: I'm not sure what the demon is, but it looks great, and the charm is really well depicted.
    322: I see Isator's point about being a simple monk weapon... but I found the pictures of the artefact weapons in the Core a bit bland, so this looks really cool.
    327: Again, I see Isator's point about the lightning. But it's a pretty rad picture.
    333: Not a DB thing, but I'm delighted to see a Lunar with silver tats that don't look the same design as every other silver tattoos in the game ever. I guess that's the same with the ones in 339, but this Lunar looks better.
    351: I don't like most of the pictures of Mnemon in this book, but I do like this one. I'm not quite sure why... I think it's because she most looks like an ancient and powerful sorceress who you absolutely don't want to cross.
    354: Not sure why I like it, I think I just like the pose. It immediately tells me that this is a detective of some kind.




    Last edited by The Wizard of Oz; 12-21-2018, 05:16 PM.

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  • reseru
    replied
    Originally posted by aluminiumtrioxid View Post
    Counterpoint: the core's art, as somebody very observantly put it in one of the early review threads, looks like Prince Diamond is having a stroke. I much prefer the deeb cover.
    That’s 100% fair. It’s probably close to my initial impression but then I thought maybe it’s someone Exalting and it became awesome.

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  • Elfive
    replied
    I think the cover looks fine.

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  • aluminiumtrioxid
    replied
    Originally posted by reseru View Post
    Well, I don't know. There's a whole lot can be done with pastel, but it's more that the cover looks very static and bland when compared to the core book's, which is so much more dynamic that the "blur" helps emphasize movement. Here the pastel "blur" just looks washed out and, in my opinion, kind of unfinished, if not rushed.

    Counterpoint: the core's art, as somebody very observantly put it in one of the early review threads, looks like Prince Diamond is having a stroke. I much prefer the deeb cover.

    Leave a comment:

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