Monday, March 31, 2014

Cthulhu Fhtagn! Locascio Edition.

Michael Locascio brings us this beautifully sculpted Cthulhu statuette.  I'm not normally a fan of anthropomorphic depictions like this, but the anatomy and skin detail is exquisite. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Bushcraft LARP

This is just a shot in the dark, but is anyone aware of any LARP groups that have an emphasis on bushcraft?  By that I mean a fantasy-style live action game that embraces the use of low technology camping and trekking techniques.

Here in the US there's a huge community of historical re-enactors doing everything from the Revolutionary War era to early modern Nessmuk-style camping, not to mention the denizens of the Society for Creative Anachronism.  In most cases they emphasize period bushcrafting skills and gear.  That includes everything from flint-and-steel firestarting to camp crafting and fireside cooking. 

There doesn't seem to be any overlap between those groups and fantasy LARP players.  That seems odd considering how many fantasy epics (Lord of the Rings, Shannara, Wheel of Time, The Black Company, etc.) are all about long overland journeys in primitive conditions.  The concept is so prevalent that the skilled fantasy woodsman has become it's own trope

Sadly, my google-fu hasn't uncovered anything along those lines.  I'd appreciate any help you might be able to provide.

Set Us Up the Bomb

It's a scene familiar from a thousand action movies.  A countdown clock steadily ticking down to the detonation of a weapon of mass destruction.  Unless our intrepid heroes are able to disarm it in time they, and everyone around them, will suffer the consequences.

It's hard to beat that setup for generating tension.  Thanks to Nootropic Design it's one you can recreate thanks to their Defusable Clock kit.
The Defusable Clock is a fully-functional alarm clock just like you’d expect (a normal beeping alarm, snooze alarm, etc.). But at any time you can press the big red button to start a scary countdown sequence exactly like bombs in Hollywood movies. There are 4 wires across the top of the clock. You have 10 seconds to choose the correct wire to cut: one wire stops the countdown and saves the day, two have no effect, and one will “detonate” the device immediately. These role of each wire is randomly assigned when the detonate button is pressed, so it’s a new challenge every time.

Check out their gallery of completed projects to see dozens of very cool devices made from their electronics.  It's packed with prop porn of the most glorious sort, from simple dynamite bombs to incredibly sophisticated terrorist bioweapons. 

It should go without saying that this particular type of prop comes with a "Don't be an idiot" disclaimer.  

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Apple of Eden

Ben and Eva Hollis are huge fans of the Assassin's Creed series.  That helps explain the amount of effort they put into creating a bronze casting of the Apple of Eden from the game.

The first task was to actually design the Apple. We knew it needed to be a sphere, and from game screenshots we figured out a rough size based on how it looked in characters' hands. More troublesome was the pattern on the surface of the sphere, which was hard to pick out from screenshots, and which was not consistent from shot to shot. We ended up designing our own pattern of channels inspired by the common patterns from screenshots and fan art.

One feature I was particularly excited about was lighting. The Apple glows along its surface channels, and I planned on using EL wire to provide this effect. EL wire glows uniformly along its length, uses very little power, and looks very bright in low light. First, Eva polished the inside of the channels with a wire brush to provide a bright reflection of the wire. Then, I worked out how to take the EL wire I had bought and work it into all the channels in a single continuous line with a minimum of overlap.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Steel Greatsword

The Anti-Lily brings us this recreation of the steel greatsword from Skyrim.  Given that it's mostly MDF and acrylic the metallic finish is amazing.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dwarven Bow

Arcangelo Ambrosi brings us this detailed recreation of Kili's bow from the film version of "The Hobbit".   It's a shame that such beautiful production design is stuck in such a mediocre adaptation.  When the trilogy is completed I hope someone can go back and re-edit all the goofy fanfic touches Jackson and company added to the story.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Legacy of Prof. Icarus DeBenedettis

Italian artist Christian Alpini brings us a selection of unusual artifacts gathered by  Prof. Icarus DeBenedettis.  He has a wonderful variety of classic "Cabinet of Curiosities"displays, including immature dragons, a mummified basilisk, and a collection of items from the infamous Beast of Gevaudan.  You'll find the English version of the Italian pages over here.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Umber Arcana

AnnEnchanted brings us the Umber Arcana.  What's cool about this is that all of the details are painted on the canvas cover.  This would be a great approach for producing a nice looking prop on a minimal budget.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Crass Commercialism

I've recently been getting a lot of emails asking for direct links to Etsy listings or Ebay auctions.

In general I don't like doing that because, lets be honest, it's just an advertisement.  And, you know, I sell advertising here.  At quite reasonable rates, I might add. 

That said, I do make occasional exceptions for artists that I like.  Someone who's been featured here a few times gets a bit of leeway, while an artist who's posted in-depth build logs or tutorials gets a whole lot of credit on my end.  In either case I have no qualms about linking to pages that show off their work and just happen to have a link from there to a sales site.  I want to promote artists that make cool stuff, but I don't want to become one of those sites that exists solely to hawk stuff.

On the other end of the spectrum there are a few artists, three at last count, that are forever banned from having any of their work appear here.  All three of them made legal threats, something I take very seriously.  All three were upset about things that "looked like" or was "similar" to their work.  In all three cases I provided multiple examples of the same thing pre-dating their efforts by years, if not centuries.  When that failed to soothe them I provided the address of my lawyer.  Amazingly, he's still waiting for those legal papers to arrive.

One last thing.  I'm an Amazon affiliate and occasionally recommend products.  That means I get a cut of your purchase price, at no cost to you, whenever you buy through a link I provide.  Sadly, at least from the standpoint of greed, most of the products I've linked to are less than $10, and less than $1 for the out-of-print books.  I really do need to start cultivating more expensive, and marketable, tastes.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Rlyeh Runes Version 1

I've finished up the first draft of the Rlyeh Runes font.  It's very basic at this point.  The font only includes capital letters, uses mirroring to fill out the letters set, and the layout is raw.  That said, it's handy for when you need a glyph for padding out a scroll or illustration.  Here's a "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog" sampler.

You can download the TTF font from Google Docs.  If you have any issues, just drop me a line.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Arcane Patches

Michael Shreeves cooked up this clever idea for creating arcane uniform patches.

I came across a minor trick while making a boy scout uniform from Welcome to Night Vale, after the creators released several scout patches.

I wanted some kind of runes or impenetrable arcane script because I didn't want to rely on real scout iconography or troop numbers. There are patches out there with runes, Celtic iconography, or pentagrams, but they're pricey and not very impressive.

I was wandering around Hobby Lobby looking for ideas, and I found a rack of iron-on embroidered cursive letters for $1.29 each. They weren't very legible to begin with. Rotate them a bit, and voila! Arcane sigils.
This would be perfect for any kind of organized military force that combats supernatural threats.  The Hellboy universe comes immediately to mind, as does the Delta Green take on the Mythos. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Dieselpunk Shock Trooper

Lawrence Zilochius brings us this cool dieselpunk shock trooper mask.  Take a crack at identifying the source materials.  The unified paint finish blends everything together, but when you take the time to examine it you can ID the individual parts.  It's a good demonstration of how the old kitbashing technique of modelmakers can be applied to larger prop items.

I've left my guesses as to the bits down in the comments.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Black Grimoire

Mille Cuirs brings us this beautiful hand-crafted tome.  There aren't many people capable of this level of craftsmanship.  What makes it even more humbling is that it's only going to look better as it weathers over time.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Dragonborn Runestone

Marika Schirmacher brings us this recreation of a Dhovakiin runestone from Skyrim. It was sculpted from polymer clay and finished with acrylic paints.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Fungi From Yuggoth

The incredibly talented Mark Cordory returns to our pages with this full-sized Mi-Go body.  The prop body was produced for a high-end LARP and features internal illumination and UV reactive markings.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Horror In Clay

"The bas-relief was a rough rectangle less than an inch thick and about five by six inches in area; obviously of modern origin. Its designs, however, were far from modern in atmosphere and suggestion; for, although the vagaries of cubism and futurism are many and wild, they do not often reproduce that cryptic regularity which lurks in prehistoric writing. And writing of some kind the bulk of these designs seemed certainly to be; though my memory, despite much the papers and collections of my uncle, failed in any way to identify this particular species, or even hint at its remotest affiliations." – H.P. Lovecraft, “The Call of Cthulhu”

Jason McKittrick's recreation of the clay plaque from "The Call of Cthulhu" is available in a new framed edition.    It's a wonderful piece made even more striking by the presentation.

Small Arms of the World War One Era

Ah, Reddit.  The perfect embodiment of all that is wonderful, and monstrous, about the web.

Yesterday a team of historians worked together to produce this excellent discussion of small arms in the World War One era.  It's a great introduction to the subject filled with links to more in-depth resources and further reading.  I'd recommend it to anyone with the slightest interest in what kind of weapons pop up during classic-era Mythos adventures. 

As a bonus, you won't have to wait for Gawker, Buzzfeed, or the Huffington Post to recycle it into some inane "You Won't Believe These Ten Insane Weapons of World War One" click-bait.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Vampires Beware

Kamelot Auctions brings us another Blomberg-style vampire hunting kit.  It's a pretty standard bit of assemblage, but the plaster icon is a nice touch.  I believe the "stakes" are actually re-purposed furniture legs.  I've noticed that many of the more recent offerings are using that approach.  The box itself is full of character.

I don't normally post a wall o' pictures, but these auction finds are an exception.  Once they're sold there's no real reason to keep the galleries up.  I hate seeing inspirational material like this just vanish.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Idol of Tsathoggua

Brandon Zimmerman brings us this idol to Tsathoggua.  It's an interesting take on one of the lesser-known Mythos deities.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Have You Found the Yellow Sign?

"What is it?" I asked. 

"The King in Yellow." 

- Robert W. Chambers, "The Yellow Sign"

"True Detective" has come to an end.  I won't spoil the finale, other than to say I really enjoyed it and that we finally get a clear look at the show's conception of "The Yellow Sign".  Or at least, again trying to avoid any spoilers, one interpretation of it.  A friend wanted the symbol as a screen background, so I banged one up based on a screencap.  Given the interest in the show I thought you might enjoy it as well.  Here's the plain working version along with a colorized take.  Just right click and open in a new tab to download the full sized PNG files.  These are, of course, for personal use only.

I do have to admit that I got caught up in the speculation around the show and spent a few hours looking for any potential deeper meaning to the symbol.   If you're curious, it doesn't seem to correspond to a golden section, a Fibonacci Rose, or the arrangement of the stars in the Pleiades, home of Carcosa.  There are two possible correlations.  The figure does appear to mimic the proportions of the tiles in a Penrose Triangle, but slightly askew.  That seems rather appropriate.  The other possible correlation I can find is that it does form a rough match to the Pleiades with the addition of another star to the center- the view you would get from the opposite side of the constellation looking toward our sun.

Update:  An anonymous commenter points us to this disturbing FBI document from WikiLeaks.   The triangular spiral symbol is apparently associated with pedophiles. Because what the show really needed was yet another level of ickiness.

The Mark of Yig

Cthulhu and the King in Yellow get all the press, but what about the little guys?  The lesser gods of the Mythos?  Jason McKittrick embraces Yig with his latest project.  The Father of Serpents Medallion is available in two variants- one for invoking Yig's wrath and another for protection from his slithery children.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Hunting Gear

Crescent City Auctions brings us a Blomberg-style vampire killing kit

Description: Unusual Vampire Killing Kit, 19th c., and later, the fitted mahogany box with nickel edges and hinges, the center with a nickel cross with a faux ruby, the sides of the box with two ring handles, the interior of the lid fitted with a large crucifix, the tray with a Holy Water bottle, 2 Bibles, a New Testament, a smaller crucifix, 6 wooden stakes and a wooden mallet, over a lower drawer containing a double barrel pistol from Casa Paulina Garcia, Rio de Junior, a mirror with a cross on the reverse, a box containing two silver bullets, a rosary, and a dagger with a sterling handle., H.- 8 1/2 in., W.- 14 1/2 in., D.- 9 in.
It's nice to see the "19th century and later" bit included.  Every vampire killing kit is a modern fake, and suggesting otherwise in an auction description is unethical and dishonest.  I believe the mallet in the picture below is the same one I ordered off Amazon about five years ago.  The base of the handle has been re-profiled, but other than that it has the exact same silhouette, right down to the grooves on the handle. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Mother Hydra

Joe Broers returns to our pages with this very nice Mother Hydra idol.  The ichthys is a nice touch. It has a long history with both the real and fictional Dagon, including the "eye" version used in the 2001 film "Dagon". 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Creating Vintage Documents in Illustrator

The amazingly talented Dean Engelhardt has posted a tutorial on creating vintage documents using Adobe Illustrator.   The step-by-step directions cover everything from period font selection to using a transparency mask to duplicate the spottiness of vintage printing.  I feel safe saying that this is going to be the go-to resource for anyone looking to recreate period documents.

While that already looks pretty reasonable, there are a few things that stop it looking truly vintage. One of the first things I like to do is to tweak the inter-character spacing in text (technically called the “tracking”) of the text. Modern fonts and computer typesetting seems to usually create text where the letters are quite tightly spaced, but old hand-set type was much, much looser — doubtless there’s some historical reason for this. Once you’re used to looking at true vintage typography, samples spaced in a “modern” way just jump out at you as non-authentic.

One of the really great things about Mr. Engelhardt's directions is the level of detail.  The tutorial is very Illustrator specific, but by describing each step of the process he's provided enough information to adapt it to any vector-based program.  I'm specifically thinking of Inkscape, a free and open source alternative to Illustrator.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Cthulhu Fhtagn! Rossouw Edition.

Artist Chad Rossouw was kind enough to send over his latest work.  He describes "The Angel of History" as a mashup of  Cthulhu and Paul Klee's Angelus Novus.   Frankly, that's terrifying, particularly given the latter's absolutely Lovecraftian sway upon former owner Walter Benjamin. You can see more of Mr. Rossouw's work at his website.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Legacy of the Mi-Go

Jason McKittrick returns with a collection of items from the late Prof. Wilmarth of Miskatonic University.  The Wilmarth Investigation Box is his latest short-run project, and comes with a plethora of accessories.  The Mi-Go idol is outstanding.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Coins of Carcosa

Andrew Wishart brings us these coins bearing the sigil of The King in Yellow.  I like the texture work.  It reminds me of a coiled brittle star.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Colonial Marine Raiders

I've been following the production of Christian Matzke's "Last Flight of the Freya 7", an "Aliens" fan project that has some excellent production values.  That includes these Colonial Marine Raider patches from William Pace. They're great conjectural props, and the presentation is outstanding.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Classical Gaff

Jacob Petersson returns with his take on a classic-style Fiji Mermaid gaff.  I love the sheer randomness of the powdered wig.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Cthulhu Fhtagn! Loincloth Edition, Part Deux.

Hovito Loincloth's unique Cthulhu idol was first featured hereback in November. He's now revisited the sculpt, refining some of the details and tweaking the figure's pose.