Art Research, Please

I’ve been getting a little annoyed and frustrated with fantasy artists lately. In particular, I’ve been seeing a lot of fantasy artists who clearly have done no research into armor or weaponry. Yes, it’s fantasy. Yes, there’s some room for creative interpretation and such. But, even fantasy need some plausibility and a nod to basic physics and physiology.

Example 1: The cover of John Flanagan’s Emperor of Nihon-Ja
This cover has a fictional fantasy society based on Japan complete with samurai. Good so far. The bad part: the samurai on the cover are all right handed (good), but have their katana scabbards on their right hips. This means they can’t draw their swords. Sure, they can draw with their off-hand (the bottom hand), but that’s the power hand, not the control hand with a katana. Drawing with the power hand would make a lot of maneuvers virtually impossible.

Example 2: “Neverwinter Noble” (unknown artist)
This artist has no idea how shields are used and didn’t bother to find out. His figure has a shield. However, the guy’s arm is strapped in along the kite shield’s long axis. Why is this a problem? Two reasons. First, he loses shield coverage by placing the narrow axis vertical while the long axis is horizontal. Second, placing the long axis horizontal will interfere with his sword use.

Example 3: Pauldron Guy (unknown title and artist)
I’m calling this one “Pauldron Guy” because of the right pauldron on his armor. Basically, it’s an image of a guy in heavy plate armor. The pauldron on his right (sword) arm which should just cover his shoulder extends as a single piece of unarticulated metal down to his elbow. The problem? He can’t move his arm above the elbow. This makes his sword useless. Sure, he could bend his arm at the elbow and swing his hips around, but that’s going to lack significant power and be really easy to block. So, as a combatant, he can be ignored.

Example 4: Super Swords
Finally there are the anime inspired “super swords”. The swords that are twice as tall and just as wide as the person supposedly using them. I think the description says enough about them. They just need to go away, they were never a good idea.

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