Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Dreadfleet - Second ship completed

I have finished painting the Bloody Reaver (queue joke about the bloody Reaver that only works if you can here my tone of voice) and boy is it a strange looking beast. I made the comment in my last post that it was the one ship in Dreadfleet that I don't think quite works and that's all the more apparent when it's finished and put together.

It's the front part that's the biggest problem. I get the idea of a floating castle protected by the hulks of wrecked ships, but what is going on with the weird rocky outcrop at the front. Is it a natural feature? Dragged along with the castle? Or has Noctilus bent the front half out of the water and, if so, why? And what is going on with the boney sea serpent sculpture thing, is it really just there to hold up the sail?

Speaking of sails, the ones sticking out of the castle don't work for me. They are just too big. I know the Heldenhammer's sails are bigger, but that looks like a real battle ship scaled up and exaggerated. By having the sails stick out of a castle it draws attention to how ludicrously massive they must be. For a start, where do you get that much cloth? And how do you stitch on a skull that big. Just the letters in "Bloody Reaver" must be several time the height of a man. Or is the whole thing another magical effect? Not to mention the question of why a magically transported floating castle should be wind powered in the first place?

Given that I spent my last post arguing in favour of less realism in fantasy, this argument could look hypocritical or even contradictory. However, this isn't really about realism, so much as whether something looks good.

I remember a similar argument when these were released:

Comments were made about the weirdly bulging muscles, the fur that looks more like dead leaves, the strangely flat 'hooves' and the utterly un-bull-like faces. Many responded that they didn't have to be realistic, that these were fantasy creatures and they didn't have to look like bulls.

But while Fantasy creatures don't have to follow the laws of physics, they do have to follow the laws of aesthetics. Put simply, those models looked rubbish. Yes Fantasy should depart from reality, but it makes sense to use reality as a base. Its not hard to take real world concepts like a well muscled man and the head of bull and combine them. But when your design looks nothing like any real world creature of thing they end result is just jarring.

The Bloody Reaver isn't as bad as the Minotaurs, but elements of it look wrong. Why the huge sails? Why the odd rocky outcrop? Why do the wrecked ships suddenly stop? Rather than being strange and uncanny it just looks a bit wrong, like too many odd elements thrown together. So, overall, not the best piece of design.

On the plus side is the most complex ship in the game by a mile and with it done and out of the way, everything else feels a lot more manageable.

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