Posts Tagged ‘ Sylvari ’

The Willow Bends, But Does Not Break

I do love the male sylvari.  From the limited options it’s obvious that the ladies got more love during the no doubt frantic rush to get artwork ready for the sylvari debut.  However, I’m hoping that the male sylvari will finally prove to be the character that can break me of only playing as a female.  The plan is to make him a warrior.

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Mow Me Down

The sylvari are a perennial favorite with fans.  Between their hauntingly alien beauty and their oft childlike wonder at the world, what’s not to love?  Tonight’s facial feature is the female sylvari options.  It’s important to keep in mind that these are only the options available as of Gamescom 2011.  With the recent sylvari redesign rest assured that there will be many more options to choose from come launch.

Until then, paste your petals on these lovely ladies.

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Of Bark And Grass

The sylvari redesign is finally here!

When I first learned that an entire race was being redesigned, my expectations were modest. I never thought they would be getting a drastic theme or form change. From what I saw of when Daniel Dociou was talking about it, I expected a distillation, a refinement of what the sylvari were. I wasn’t disappointed.

In the past I have bemoaned the lushness of the sylvari, of the grove, even the pale tree. I complained that, while jungle is all very nice, where were the other biomes? It irks me when thoughts of nature automatically equal wet and lush jungles, dripping with foliage. That is nature, yes, but so are the less-loved grasses and lichens and barks and succulents of colder and drier biomes.

In wishing for more grasses and a larger variety of flora, I was not vindicated. Don’t think for a second though that I’m complaining. My ideas, riots of plant life variety, were the path that the previous sylvari were on. Green-skinned girl picks leaves, twigs, moss, or grass for hair. Boring paste-on parts. The sylvari are not grasses, they are not moss and they are not frond or fern. They are the children of the pale tree. They are not some hodgepodge of different greenery, they are the sentient fruit of a single plant. This redesign brings the oneness of the sylvari into new clarity.

Don’t think for a second though that this oneness needs to equal a similar lack of customization. Plants are wonderfully varied, even within the same species. Take for example, the common pumpkin. Its species is Cucurbita Moschata. Now look at the pumpkins to the right. Every one of those is also a Cucurbita Moschata, all the same species. Even though they may look wildly different, they’re still quite obviously all pumpkins. Likewise will the sylvari be unique with different shapes, sizes, and colors, but all unmistakably children of the pale tree.

I feel compelled to note that, as an heirloom gardener myself, there are actually THOUSANDS of different cultivars of C. Moschata. Plants are really, really cool.

BEE Good

or, failing that, stab your enemies in the face and then unload a whole clip of bees!

This morning I tried my first bit of livestreaming and I have to say, it was ridiculously simple.  Thanks everybody that came in to watch!

Here’s the sylvari thief I drew:

I shall name him Sough

And here’s my favorite part, the (soon-to-be) infamous Beegun:

ArenaNet, can we have a beegun pretty please with nectar and honey on top?

These two drawings illustrate something that’s actually pretty common.

Sometimes you have to draw an entire sylvari Thief just to realize what you really wanted to make was a gun that shoots angry bees.

Oh Those Lovely Bones

Part of being an artist is about trying new things.  Attempting to emulate a difficult style or perfect a new technique.  When Hunter asked me to make a logo for him (or did I offer? I can’t recall) I took the opportunity to try a style I’ve never dabbled in before.

I decided on skulls, I’m not quite sure why.  I was thinking of a street gang spray paint art, tagging, and 90’s skateboard culture.  I don’t think I quite got there, but so far I’m pretty happy with the results.  I do have plans to do one for each race.

Colleges represent!

Surf's Up!

Flailing In The Brush

I wandered back to Guild Wars 2 Guru today.  I haven’t really visited the place for months, well, since just before Gamescom.  The most I noticed was the same debates, speculations, and arguments running in circles.  Most everything I saw, I’ve seen before.

Chiefest among the activity though, seems to be talk about the final design of the sylvari.  You’d have to be blind not to realize that, among eager fans, the sylvari are the most popular race.  Charr come in at a close second, but whenever I see something about the sylvari, the tone, excitement, and sheer amount of attention far outstrips that generated for the other races.

I was browsing through a sylvari speculation post (looking for images, and admiring the artwork of other Guild Wars fans) when I stumbled upon a link to a video.  In it, Daniel Dociu is talking about the art of Guild Wars 2.  The link directs to a specific part of the video where he mentions something rang absolutely true.

The point is just about at 6 minutes in.

He refers to the realization of the final sylvari design as a ‘crystallization’.

I knew immediately what he was talking about.  I’ve heard other artists talk about this phenomena, and I’ve experienced it myself when working on my own stories.  You can tell there’s something not right but you can’t see it, and you don’t know in which direction the truth lies.

Your only option is to flail around.  That’s ArenaNet’s design process.  You make many different images hoping you’ll stumble upon the right one.  The magic happens when you find it.

The truth, the right idea, word, image, or concept, when found, is so startlingly obvious you don’t know how you could have missed it before now.

I think the sylvari have been embroiled in controversy for so long exactly because the design wasn’t final.  They looked a little too much like elves, too muck like plants, or not enough like either.  With any opinion came the undercurrent of ‘There’s something not right‘.  As a race, they weren’t quite their own.

None of the other races have that problem.  The charr are what they are and there’s no mistaking it.  It’s the same with the asura, and the norn.

After listening to that interview I’m very excited to see the polished sylvari.  If they got it right, the concept should stand on its own and the truth of its existence should be self-evident.

Overgrowth

I find myself worried for the Sylvari.

For me the sylvari are a race that I like without feeling the need to join. I could see myself joining them, but from what I’ve seen of them so far I have no desire to.

I’m not even talking about the two sylvari-improvement camps either. If you hang around the Guru you’ll know that most of the people who are unhappy with the way the sylvari look fall into two camps: ‘They’re too planty’, and ‘they’re not planty enough’. When I weigh in on the issue I tend to gravitate towards ‘not planty enough’, but that particular debate has no bearing on my reasons for shying away from this race.

I’d like to illustrate my point with this bit of concept art, released recently with the Loot Article by John Hargrove.

While we have humans modeling this design, the aesthetics are obviously sylvan. The lower central panel on the woman is the petal of a lily, the two flanking panels are reminiscent of a pitcher plant, as are the sleeves on both the male and female figures. The hem of the male’s robe is constructed of giant oak or maple leaves in full autumn display. Both sport leaf-shaped brooches at their necks.

My problem isn’t the plantyness, it’s the jungle. Despite the oak/maple leaves and brooches, these armors are still strongly evocative of a tropical rainforest.

Granted, the sylvari are all born in the rainforest, and this armor may be from a rainforest-centric dungeon. All I have seen of the sylvari so far, however, has felt lush, wet, and tropical.

That’s not bad, but I feel that the sylvari could be so much more.

So we have our rainforest themes. That’s great, especially for a spring or summer sylvari. But what else is there?

Winter

Is a night-born winter sylvari doomed to look like a diminutive human with white moss for hair? (I’m looking at you, Caithe) There’s so many more options. Most people think ‘winter’ and all they can see are bleak expanses of snow, and maybe the skeletal limbs of hibernating deciduous trees.

But winter is so much more than that. There are snowflowers, mosses, lichens. Tiny little spindly plants that cling and grow low, their leaves tiny or furry to cope with the cold. There are deciduous trees that at first look dead, but in their slumber we can see the beautifully twisted bark. The gnarled branches, shaped and bent by wind and cold, hold more character than any generic green tree, fluffed out with leaves ever could. And let’s not forget the haunting white and peeling bark of the birch.

That’s just the deciduous side of things. If you travel farther north into climates where winter holds even more sway you’ll come upon towering conifers. Even when winter holds everything captive, their boughs are green. They hang, swooping, needles fluffed out against the cold like velvet to look upon. Their trunks glisten with gooey sap. You can’t climb a conifer and not get covered in sap. I’ve tried.

Summer

It’s easy to think of summer as green, lush, and fruitful. It is, I’m not arguing that. But I grew up among rolling prairie. I have seen that summer is also brown and sere. It is hot and cloying, it is a cacophonous din of cicada calls. It is towering grasses with tops heavy with seed, nodding drunkenly in a breeze that doesn’t reach quite low enough to cool. It is a soft whisper as the wind moves over the sea of grass, wave upon wave bowing. It is the creak and groan of the oak as its flush of summer growth is caught by the air, like a million little sails.

Grasses. Grass and grass and grass, in a million different colors. Short grass and tall grass, blue and green and silver and gold, luminous under a sun that burns in a cloudless sky. Grass that laughs at drought, that cannot be cowed by fire. Grass, not trees, the bedrock of the prairie.

Nature is not just jungle. Plants are more diverse than vines and leaves and stems and pulpy petals and bulbous flowers. It is grass, and twigs, and boughs and needles and moss dripping from ancient trees. It is the soft down of thistle and cattail, the peeling bark of the birch and the crust of lichen on a stone that flakes off like so many tiny scales.

And that’s why I don’t feel much affinity for the sylvari. I feel they should be more than stems and bark and flowers and vines. The jungle is beautiful, but I find its riot of plantlife oppressive and confining.

Give me an open sky and an ocean of grass.