Halloween Project 2019: Insight Vengeance Vrethkol














Here is the official post for this year's Halloween Project. There's one more lore post and then a breakdown of the piece.

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Entry 3: Retribution

The Eye Collector continued its reign of the terror having evaded all attempts to capture of kill it. Desperate, a group of mages from Tirald and its neighbor, Ceran-Kal sought out the aid of the legendary Demon Smith. The elusive smith known for crafting many of the powerful artifacts in the realm was known to offer his services to the right cause for the right price. After weeks of searching, the team of mages managed to find one of the smith’s forges south deep within the caverns of Mount Kemdraes, an active volcano. Laying themselves at the feet of the arcane smith, the mages pleaded for help. The attacks had been growing in frequency and it seemed none were able to stem the efforts of the Collector. After considering their case, the Demon Smith offered one of his relics. A great metal club known as the “Binding Crusher Rivulgrem” was known for being able to dispel arcane runes and could combat the spells of the Collector. The Smith urged the mages to find a suitable warrior and invoke the power of the artifact at the site of the Eye Collector’s power. If wielded with conviction, the weapon contained enough power to stop the demon once and for all.

A lone knight named Felrinn, heralded among the Ceral-Kal as the “Huntress of Purity” was tasked with confronting the Eye Collector in its layer within the caves. Taking the artifact, Felrinn carefully traversed the winding caverns until she came upon a massive alter at the center of the caves. Carved out of black obsidian and filling a massive hollowed section of the caverns, the altar was decorated with thousands of preserved eyes. Waiting at the center of the altar was the Collector itself. It had foreseen the coming of the knight and sought to take the Demon Smith’s artifact from her.
Felrinn fought the Eye Collector to a stalemate using her unmatched combat prowess and the spell-countering power of Rivulgrem. Though she was able to keep the demon from trapping her in its spells, she was likewise unable to overpower it. Over time, the knight began to tire and the Eye Collector began to gain the advantage. Bloodied and backed into a corner, Felrinn remembered the words of the Smith. Using the last of her strength, the knight invoked the sleeping spirit of the Binding Crusher. The resulting force that conjured forth knocked the Eye Collector back while drawing a powerful arcane energy from the stolen eyes on the altar. Felrinn’s physical form was absorbed and reborn, imbued with the souls of those taken by the Collector. A black-robed creature emerged from the vortex. Narrow fanged jaws split the dark flesh of its face while the head was round and bulbous in shape. Adorning the head’s surface was countless unblinking eyes. The Binding Crusher was also altered by the ritual, its surface covered in eyes of various colors. Hefting the great club before the Eye Collector, the newly created being introduced itself as Vrethkol, the vessel of Insight Vengeance. Empowered by the rage of all the souls plagued by the Collector, Vrethkol renewed the attack and eventually dealt the demon a fatal blow. After scattering the remains of its foe, the Insight Prophet split the unholy alter apart and buried it beneath the rocks. The victims avenged at last, Vrethkol disappeared into world. It’s said that the many-eyed one appears at the site of great tragedy to gather wandering souls and seek out retribution for them.

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Vrethkol's mask was definitely a focus on detail rather than complexity compared to previous entries. The idea of a creature whose head was adorned with numerous eyes was the main theme. I've linked an Imgur folder of the various project stages here. For the mask itself, I followed the same process as previous entries with a foil face impression/shell and then the layers of construction before a cloth skin. The numerous teeth and glass "eyes" were definitely the most tedious part. The robe was bought on-line from

For Vrethkol's weapon, Rivulgrem, I wanted to create a larger club-type object. This project was the first time I've used Styrofoam as the core of the weapon before moving on to the construction phase. This proved to be fairly versatile but very messy as the foam tended to flake into particles. Rivulgrem's handle is a PVC pipe that I twisted and glued into the Styrofoam blocks. The rest of the details like the eyes and spikes were added during the rest of the construction. After the skin and paint were applied, the weapon remained very light and easy to carry.

Here's the Youtube video for the project:


Overall this was an interesting project. I'd like to do more experimentation with wearable body pieces in addition to just the masks. Also, I will be trying out some EVA foam instead of Styrofoam. I know that's what a lot of cosplayers use.

That does it for this year's Halloween project. I'll be back soon with more updates!

Thanks for visiting!


~Zan

Halloween Lore Post 2: The Fall of Demons















Greetings,

Continuing on the lore posts leading up to Halloween, here's entry two:

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Entry 2: The Fall of Demons

While the attempts of humans and the Ogre tribes were unsuccessful in stopping the Eye Collector, the demons plotted among themselves. Attacks on demon villages by the Collector were becoming more common and the various leaders became increasingly concerned. Using demonic rituals that drew power from the Sealed Dimension, the demons attempted to divine the lair of the Collector. Their efforts led them to the same mountainous caves where the Ogres had fallen. After sending a scouting team, three of the demon warlords combined their strength and sent a small army of forty warriors to the cavern outskirts. Their plan was to lie in wait for the Eye Collector to return from one of its raids and then lay siege to the caves.
Perhaps it was the carelessness of the demon army that did them in. Or perhaps the insight of the Eye Collector caused it to be one step ahead of its enemies. Either way, the demons did not succeed in stopping the threat. The Eye Collector cast a debilitating curse over the entire set of demon camps. The arcane runes sealed the troops as they slept leaving them Collector free to harvest them at its leisure. Once their eyes had been taken, the Collector burned the camps to the ground as the blinded demons lay still paralyzed by its incantations. Nothing but charred buildings and corpses remained.

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That's it for this post. The next entry will be the final lore piece to introduce the completed piece.

Stay tuned!

~Zan

Halloween Lore Post 1: The Blinding Plague















Hello,

Halloween is getting closer. Just like I've done in the past, I've prepared several pieces of lore that will explain some of the background behind this year's project. The first one is included below.

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Entry 1: The Blinding Plague

Legends found in the realm’s archives tell of a terrible scourge that plagued the lands for quite some time. A demon that called itself the Eye Collector roamed the different territories of the realm with the simple goal of tearing the eyes from its victim and adding them to an ever-growing collection. Using an arcane ritual, the monster would preserve its treasures and it’s said that each stolen eye contained the insight of its owner. The hapless victims would be left blinded but alive. Perhaps the goal of the Eye Collector was to gain ultimate knowledge of the world. Humans, demons, and even the Ogres were prey to its unending hunger.
For five cursed years, the Eye Collector traveled throughout the realm. Sightings and tales of its wrath would crop up randomly among all manner of folk. Several leaders attempted to rally together groups to hunt down the Collector. A detachment of knights from the small kingdom of Tirald famously tracked a string of victims through the northern frozen wastes. Scattered accounts from the hunting party tell of an ambush as the knights camped in the darkness of the icy cliffs. The Eye Collector struck swiftly under the cover of shadow, subduing each of the knights as they slept and claiming a bounty of treasure. The blinded party was left stranded in the mountains to wander to their deaths in the frigid dark.

Not long after the Tiral knights failed to stop the Eye Collector, a pack of Ogres led by one of the highly decorated chieftains, Gnar took it upon themselves to end the terror. Using  some enchanted charms from their shamans, the Ogres followed the trail of several grisly attacks for one month with the intention of discovering the lair of the Eye Collector and killing it. These hunters were successful in following their target to a secluded cave west of Agrist on the northern continent. However, it seems their prey had led them to their doom as the Ogres found themselves entangled in a powerful illusion while searching the network of caves. As it had done before, the Eye Collector stalked them and slowly picked off the warriors until only Gnar and one of his captains remained. Standing his ground against the Collector, Gnar fought fiercely but was ultimately defeated. His captain watched in horror as the enemy ripped out his leader’s eyes before removing his head in a bloody display. The Ogre captain fled the caves and managed to elude his pursuer. The only survivor of the Collector returned to the Ogre territories in a state of near-madness. He told his leaders of their failure and of the caves. Urging the others to stay away, he told them that none could hope to stop the unholy beast.

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That's it for this entry. There will be one more posted in the next couple days before the project's reveal on Halloween.

Stay tuned!

~Zan

Late Summer Update














Hello,

Summer is wrapping up soon and updates to the main page have been a bit sparse. For my project updates, normal designs and sprites posts have been continuing as normal. In Youtube news, have you seen my currently ongoing Let's Play of PS2 cult classic, God Hand? It's a brutally difficult janky game with tons of wacky humor and action. It's one of my all-time favorites.

I've also been mixing up the weekly Pixel Sprite posts with entries from the new Eternys Core Mecha series. These designs are a bit more complex than some of the other entries and draw upon many mecha influences from popular media. I've also started putting the designs up on our Redbubble store using the following layout:

Sample template of the Brigandine model
Finally, with the end of August approaching, I will be attending PAX West again as a regular attendee. If I see anything noteworthy, you can probably find me talking about it over on Twitter.

That should be all for now. With some anticipated downtime around PAX, I'm hoping to get some new Sprite Challenge videos recorded along with some progress on this year's Halloween project.

Thanks for stopping by!

~Zan

New Video Series Starts: Drawing Challenges!














Greetings,

We're headed into Spring now and I realize this main page has been pretty bare since Halloween. It slipped my mind to update this page at the New Year and I didn't get to link 2018's Design Retrospective. If you're interested, check out part 1 here.

I'll be drafting a up a more detailed studio update as we get into Spring. For now, I wanted to spotlight the debut of a new video series on my Youtube channel: Drawing Challenges! Because there haven't been any drawing videos for the Pixel Sprite designs, I've started recording some "challenge" videos to switch up the commentary formula. You can check out the first one here:



I will be working on some more videos in this style. They'll rotate into the upload schedule along with the other videos.

Thanks for stopping by!

~Zan

Halloween 2018: Corrupted Seed Maelvyrda















Greetings,
 
It's Halloween Day and time to reveal this year's project! As the recent lore posts would suggest, the subject of the project is Ardelrius' antithesis, the Corrupted Seed Maelvyrda! Check out the spotlight video here:




Like last year, I put up an album of the WIP phases of the project on Imgur. They're the same images from the spotlight video. This particular project was interesting since it was the first time I've focused on a body piece in addition just a mask and weapons. The Cloak of Roots is meant to be a series of tree-like tendrils protecting Maelvyrda's body. The glass eyes on the roots mimic its origins of the Tree of Souls. I also made the tattered cape as well. By cutting up an old sheet, I frayed the edges and drew the runic symbols by hand. The cape didn't need to have too many unique details since it's worn under the cloak.
 
Maelvyrda's two weapons are called "Sin" and "Punishment" with the red sickle being Sin and the blue one Punishment. I like the idea of them having elemental affinities and Sin would probably be fire while Punishment controlling ice. Originally I wanted to have the two sickles join at the ends to make a long double-ended scythe but they proved too heavy for the rare earth magnets. Instead, I attached them at the top to make a dual-sided hand sickle. The combined shapes could possibly pass as an axe too. The stone "eyes" on the blades helped add some color variation.
 
For Maelvyrda's mask, my initial concept art revolved around the idea of a plant monster. Since this creature is supposed to be a twisted version of the Tree's Will, I drew up some ideas with the upwards opening multiple "petal" jaws. This turned out to work well when building all of the opening parts outwards from the standard face-shaped shell. I added the white stones for contrast and glow-in-the-dark fangs along the jaws. It produces a neat effect in the dark after the teeth have absorbed light. Finally, I went with a blend of light and dark greens for the mask's colors. The greens were meant to contrast with the red color scheme of Ardelrius.
 
Overall, this was an interesting experiment. I learned a bit about crafting wearables on the body and would like to try my hand at armor next time. I teased another character a few entries ago and I hope to build on that idea soon. In the meantime, stay tuned for more project details and have a happy Halloween!
 
~Zan

Lore Post: The Banished Seed














Hello,

Here is the second lore post leading up to this year's Halloween project.

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The Banished Seed

In all the pieced together records of the Tree of Souls, only one stands out as a “failure” of the mysterious entity. Legends have suggested that the tenth vessel of the tree’s will fell to corruption. With the Seal of the Abyss starting to weaken, the shadowy influence of the beings sealed in the alternate dimension began to seep into the mortal realm. The tenth person to take up Ardelrius’ mantle was enticed by the Insanity Prophet Rengal, one of the most insidious of the Sealed Ones. By binding the essence of the Summoner before it could realize its power, the tempter ripped away the Tree’s control and instead twisted the Seed. A monstrous demon was born whose power rivaled many of the Sealed Ones themselves. The corrupted Seed decimated the realm with unholy power. While it did not have the ability to store and wield souls, this creature instead commanded powerful arcane energies that could distort and bend reality itself.

The bloodshed and terror of the corrupted Seed raged on for two years before it was finally cornered. An alliance of humans, dragons, and even the elusive Araknyos Weavers were able to overcome the Seed and subdue it. The power of this alliance could not completely shatter and destroy the Seed. Instead, they were able to seal the creature and put it into a dormant state. Heavy runic chains bound the Seed and it was buried in a stone tomb deep within a mountain on the northern continent. The surviving members of the alliance knew the seals would not hold the Seed forever. With the Demon Smith having gone into hiding, it would only be a matter of time before the corrupted Seed would break free and return. Perhaps the ethereal will of the Tree of Souls would give rise to a new Seed in time to destroy its corrupted brethren once and for all.
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The next post should go up on Halloween day.

Stay tuned!

~Zan