Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Costume: Armor!

Just a note to say; the included image should be considered an example of...

Nice pauldrons, though.  Really, it's -in a word- IMPRACTICAL.  I know I am alienating all of you gamer folks who follow this blog (probably not...because gamers don't follow it), but a boob window??  And a cape?  Or should I even mention the obvious? She would do better with some serious beach time or a new addition to Jabba's palace.  I know, I know, "But she has a sabatons" Okay, you win.  Because that would totally deflect any arrows or pikes or katanas or yaris or cannon balls.  Armor is about protection.  No, not that kind of protection, protection from sharp pointy things, or blunt things or fiery things or any dangerous things.  Going into to battle dressed this way, may get the enemy's attention, but this young lady certainly won't last long no matter how good a warrior she is.  Besides, it's the freakin' ENEMY, who wants to KILL you - and rape your freshly dead body, so who gives a crap how sexy you look fighting him/her/them? War ain't pretty and arming yourself like this is just stupid!  Try this: tear off all of your clothes (right now) run head long into a cactus patch, a series a plate glass windows, a metal foundry or just fry up some bacon. I will wait....back? Okay let's talk armor!

In review, the above is not armor but we should start here. Feminists, don't turn away in spite (yet) the above drawing will be used to get across my above point. This young lady is vulnerable due to the fact that she is only 'armed' in a one piece and she hasn't a of drop of sunscreen on.

Here, she is stepping back in time to days of the Hoplites, strong Greek soldiers, who wore the linothorax as armor.  Note the bare arms, thighs and sandals.  No matter how strong a force they were, I can't help but to curl my toes at the thought of wearing sandals into battle...I mean, there was a lot of sharp stuff that was sharp sharp stuff hurts exposed toes and... and SANDALS?! Yeesh, no wonder those dorus were so long.
A little later into the 13th century (all you guys who know all about this stuff, feel free to correct my time placements and naming conventions for the sake of making stuff correct for these poor folks who follow this blog.  At least we have covered her feet with boots and now instead of strips of cloth basically glued (with animal fat or other stuff) together (ptergus) with a layer of bronze scales around the chest in Greek armor.  Knees and hands are still in danger and the head, though protected, will suffer the impact of a major sword or mace strike.
So we move on to the 15th/16th century when soldiers of all sorts resorted to better armor made of metal plate.  A knight or warrior would start with the above to make comfortable the plate and also to absorb the impact of weaponry which may glance off the armor but the blow would still be quite deadly without the soft multilayer cloth underneath.  Chain maille would be laced to the doublet to protect those spots not covered by the plate armor. 
Large pieces of plate would then be tied to the doublet with cords called points to secure it.  Shown above the chest piece, the tassets to protect the hips and loins, which were attached to the fauld, the lower out-turned portion attached to the bottom of the chest piece. Upper and lower arm pieces connected by the couter or elbow piece.
Legs would be protected (at least on the anterior side) by the tying or belting on of leg pieces-a lot of armor protected the front of a fighter but not the back.  Because the fighter may be riding into battle on a horse so not needing the weight of the armor covering the back.  Thighs were protected by the cuisse, lower leg protected by the greaves which sit over the sabaton (the vented "shoe" which covers the top of the foot. The knees are made safe by the poleyn which connects the cuisse and greave.
Finally, the helmet is added (the pauldron at this time were actually attached to the chest plate, I added them here to show the chest armor better.  Look at the above.  Very hard to tell this warrior is a woman (though they did exist; legend has it that a custom suit of armor was commissioned for Joan of Ark by the King) and not very likely to sell games geared toward adolescent males hungry for bloodsport and female bodies.  But the reality is, battle is dangerous and anyone engaging in it would have taken precautions. Warriors, being less concerned with attractiveness on the battlefield, would do what they could to cover themselves completely rather than suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.   A real battle would be short lived if fought in a bikini.
Now, on the other hand, if you want to make your young lady attractive and still seem 'bad ass', dress her in a bliaut. Mmm....bliaut. Ladies do a lot for this piece of (generally French) costume. Ceremonial sword (note severe lack of weight in how she wields it.

Back to armor.  Using the information including the terms mentioned above, you can start to see how even made up armor is based off what has come before.  The above stormtrooper is labeled with the correct components (even if those components are referred to as something else in stormtrooper land).  I know quite a few people who still call pieces of this armor "leg thingies" and "shoulder do-dads". This will make you seem much more intelligent if you refer to these pieces by their proper names.  Notice that in putting on the white plastic armor, the wearer usually will need a black body suit, gloves with a bit of the armor on teh back of the hand taken from half gauntlets called demigauntlets. The head can also be covered with a racing or cranial sock but look at the presence of the gorget. The next step allows for the leg pieces and arm pieces and a large piece at the middle that covers the lower abdomen which in armor terms is called the plackart.  This piece was designed to sit around the lower abdomen under or near the chest plate, sometime attached to chain maille or leather studded chest armor.  In this case, according to my geek and some research, the plackart and cod piece is all one piece and the utility belt is simply strapped over the plackart.  Were this actual armor from certain periods, the cod piece and plackart would be separate pieces to allow for a greater range of motion.  The helmet follows as do the spaulders if you are regular Imperial forces.  Sand troopers have an additional spaulder attached to a mantle as well as extra ammunition pockets.  They also get to wear a backpack and larger range weapons. Now have a look, the sex of the wearer is completely obscured by the armor in any case.  What makes the armor 'sexy' is how it's worn in battle and the fighting capabilities of the wearer.

I admit, I have always loved storm trooper even though it is (apparently) completely useless as it can't even deflect a single blaster bolt and seems to impair the vision of the user so much that it's difficult to hit an enemy across a hallway (Despite all that, I would TOTALLY have one myself if I didn't have other stuff like kids, or a mortgage to spend my money on.)
So here's a little test.  Look at the fictitious armor above and label the parts without refer to the above images.  Or, even better, go see Pacific Rim and yell out the components of the armor you see on screen, you will be surprised how much you've learned and the people around will really appreciate you help.  More later, thank for stopping by.
Special thanks to the great Craig Shira for bringing his collection of armor and weapons to wear, show off and discuss with my students and to my colleague, friend and fellow dad; Owen "Shut up, I'm a VIKING"Aurelio for his knowledge on this subject.  Also I recommend this great book.

Go draw armor! Be sure to make ping, clang and explosion noises while drawing because they make drawing this stuff cooler. Thanks for stopping by.


Quan Chu said...

This is what I want to say to all artists that draw armored warriors with intention of showing boobs instead of hiding them. You share the same thoughts with me :)) I stick to logic !!

Jeff Jackson said...

Consider logic stuck.

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