Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Weapon Disposition in Osprey Art

Summary: Artworks published in Osprey Publishing books often depict weapons and equipment being worn or carried in novel ways that should interest character artists.

This post has a specific critical and educational bent.

I want to discuss Osprey Publishing's fantastic warrior art. I was poring over Ospreys and I realized that Osprey artists in general, but particularly Angus McBride, depict familiar weapons and equipment being carried in ways that are novel to me. These depictions should interest any character artist who is called upon to depict warriors of any era.

Oftentimes in art commissioned for roleplaying or video games, equipment is minimal and carried in accordance with a layman's common sense, or in accordance with what footage we have from historical exhibits or modern battlefields where highly-disciplined soldiers or ill-equipped irregulars employ their equipment in a ways that are familiar to civilians.

The way weapons are carried and equipment is worn in some of Osprey's most creative output reminds me of this passage from National Geographic:
Fitted out in the spoils of war, a Viking was a living recruitment poster for the raiding life, beckoning young men to take an oath of loyalty in return for a share of the plunder. “Viking leaders couldn’t be bashful about what they achieved, if they wanted to maintain a power base,” [Steve] Ashby [Archaeology, U of York] says.

Very different from our soldiers and irregulars. I'll go through the examples that struck me and point out what I found novel, ingenious, or worth exploring as motifs in one's own art.

This is the ur-example. Also note the sun hat hanging on the guy on the right; picture him wearing it.

We see samurai carrying swords the way the middle guy is sometimes but why let them have all the fun.

Another example.

Check out the way the dude on the left is carrying his bow. For the middle guy, note that in addition to the gorgeous color scheme, his bow holster and quiver are interestingly reversed. Lastly feast your eyes on the tower of skulls, a sadly neglected architectural mode.

Shoulder carry.

It might not be wise to just stick a weapon in your waistband but people do it, so it belongs in art. Heavily armed but wearing nothing but a pair of pants; picture with three guns instead and let your mind come up with interesting contexts.

Big ass grenade through the belt. What else could you stick through there?

The way the guy on the right has his quiver strung up is fascinating, plus the goddamn sword hanging from it, and the way he's carrying his bow is just the icing on the cake. Picture that as an idle animation, bent string and all.

E pluribus unum. Also check out how he's got his sword through his mail.

Bicep knives, useful if you're doing the following...

Get one that telescopes.

Ashigaru wearing segmented daily rations of rice, and a pimp ass coat. Straw and grain are abundant; who else might wear this kind of thing? How else might you wear your grain?

Ashigaru cooking rice in helmet, you could grill in that thing with a lil charcoal and then camo up with the soot. What other helmets could be used this way? Shit you could bake sweetrolls in a fullhelm.

Interesting low-profile quiver. What else might he have in that coat?
You can carry four weapons without a ton of trouble especially when you're the king. Note how they're not big units, as commonly observed of pre-landsknecht weapons; this adds to the suspension of disbelief for having four of them, which is an important consideration for fiction even if that's how it actually was. You can say "the king carried three blades and a mace" but the context makes it look perfectly reasonable and awesome.

How often does one roll out with two a longbow and a shortbow strung in games and fiction? Not enough, clearly. Also consider the design of this guy's quiver and extrapolate to pistol holsters etc.

Interesting rendition of this motif. It's commonly observed that one carries different tools for different jobs, but many of these pictures indicate the carrying of multiple roughly-equivalent swords (and Osprey books are meticulously well-researched, as good for information as for art). The cause of that probably drove the development of locking gauntlets.

I want a warhammer, a katar, heavy armor, two swords just in case, oh there's a familiar table too

Moss troopers. Check out the guy bootlegging a pistol on the left (+ bow for good measure) and the super wide top of the middle guy's holster. One might think that the pistol might rattle around but that's actually super practical; the US military uses drop pouches (wide-brimmed belt bags) to store grenades or receive spent magazines because you don't want to be fumbling with small openings in combat. Similarly, the twelve apostles on the right; how many charges could a guy reasonably carry? Picture modern SOF troops going in with 12+ magazines. What about unreasonably but stylishly? 

I wish #7 had a pistol in his mouth and hand too. How many pistols could a guy who doesn't want to get to grips carry?

The way this Bosnian fellow wears his chest pistols; also the coat of the mounted fellow is remarkable inside and out. Also, picture the guy on the right with relatively modern armaments.

Meeting at the border. Cloak, chicken-leg and hip hold as misdirection to maintain the drop.

Smaller musculata than you usually see but it gets the job done. The chest and abs are iconic but where else could you get musculata armor? Historically, calves were favored. Certain folk enjoy the sight of a hard, bronzed, shapely ass. Really cut forearms on your gauntlets, maybe. 

Interesting take on pauldrons, also the way he's wearing his shield and how his dagger hangs from his belt in its own little sheath.

Interesting way to wear his shield, also picture him with a machine gun held under arm, beneath the shield; the M249 tucked under the armpit like a lance is an official US Army combat carry so long as you have a strap.

Very petite bow and quiver, almost like a magazine; you could carry a lot of arrows of that size. It makes me wonder what bows the Scythians who policed Athens carried; bows for the steppe or something like this that's handy if you're sprinting through buildings and around corners. I don't know if their bows were like those of Mongolian or Japanese horsemen, but probably closer to the former.

Interesting use of the shield.

Look closely at the dude's arrows. Interesting carry.

Dude on the left keeping his feathers dry, assuming that's what the bag's for. Very interesting helmet, too.

Varangians vs Pechenegs (corrects to Lagrangian vs Gaucheness). Look at the way the guy on the far left has his axe.

Boxes hung across midsection. He has two but what is the necessary limit here?

You don't see that sword carry much.

I associate this carry with British gentlemen on the hunt so it's interesting to see in a military context; obviously this carry happens on multiple levels. What other habits might be transmissible in this way (even if they normally aren't)?

Similar carry but with a sword.

Sword under arm. If the guy on the left got those epaulets, that gorget and sash plate the dude on the right would have to tuck his balls in between his legs.

The way this guy's sword sits is visually interesting.

Yeah go head and just learn on your sword there guy. Must be heavy for you to use your whole body to prop it up. Do push ups

Just tuck that fucker wherever you feel like it, it's on a cord right?

Ok this is possibly the coolest man to have ever lived. The ostentation of this guy and the sword guy above is something we miss and it had its reasons

You can guess how I feel about the gloves in this guy's belt, not to mention the colors here.

WWII German cavalry holding their gloves, which doesn't happen enough.

Can you hang your gloves around your neck? I'll let you ask the follow-up question

Gas mask in two segments, one of which worn on the shoulder. What else could you hang or segment like that? Also I wish this guy was my uncle. Shout out to my actual uncles, except Dwight

In addition to the eyewear, I want to call attention to the elegant little details on the guy on the right; the scarf and emblem among his utilitarian garb. Also check out the maps etc in his leg pouch.

The dual bayonet/e-tool carrier here.

A wizard could carry spellbooks in something like this. A dark wizard

Definitely not supposed to carry your MG like that but maybe your little Total War models could do that when they get exhausted.

Be prepared. 

Crack open a good time.

Interesting chest built into the cannon, neat color scheme.

What other kind of fortification could be opened this way or similar? Kind of a stationary shoot-and-scoot.

Note the hare on his belt. If your troops can scavenge, it's a perfectly reasonable thing to depict.

Karl Lagerfeld might have devised this, also look at the dog and strap over tie. That is probably the most malign looking dog I've ever seen which might have been the point.

Jaunty skewed medal.

What other designs might an infantryman have buzzed into his hair?

Wearing an enemy flag into battle, or donning a captured one. +10 points if you get a scalp with a design on it.

The above but as a standard-bearer.

Decorative shield.

Makeshift snowboard.


Pre-empirical motivational poster.

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