Doing Battle

Skim through the rest of this blog and it’s probably easy to piece together that I’m a fantasy geek with a slightly unhealthy obsession with battles and armour. This is strange because I’m actually really averse to violence both on television and in real life. Only stories of legendary quality and exciting, tightly plotted narratives make violence tolerable for me. But something about grand, epic battles fought in fantasy worlds takes off the edge of it. Probably because we’re so conditioned to see them as glorious, world changing moments. Of course, battles do change the world. History happens on battlegrounds, but it is only selectively chronicled by those who are left standing at the end of the day. The histories of all those that have fallen fall away as though they had never happened at all. And there’s something scary about that- about hundreds and thousands of lives slipping away without leaving a trace. If the Persians had won the Persian Wars with the Greeks all those years ago, perhaps orientalism as we know it today would never have taken seed.

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In any case- battles. They’re intriguing. Some of the best battles in cinema are, in my inexpert opinion anyway, the ones in the Lord of the Rings films. They’ve aged beautifully; where most CGI battles become quickly dated because of how fast technology evolves, the artistry underlying Peter Jackson’s battle sequences has held up impressively well. The sheer scale of it strikes you when the mammoth elephants swamp the field, their trunks and tusks and gargantuan limbs crushing horseback cavalry like so many tiny ants. It perfectly walks the line between art house and mainstream, and the fact that there are vulnerable characters that we care about that are caught up in the chaos- Pippin, Eowyn- really hammers home the danger of the scene.

I enjoyed sketching these three panels very much, perhaps because it’s so completely out of my comfort zone that it feels like I’m learning an entirely new skill even though I’ve been drawing as a hobby since I was twelve. I definitely want to explore storyboarding more. It’s one of the few commercial applications of art that gets me really excited, and the fact that it works so closely with narrative and script means that it might be just the thing to help me level up fast.

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