Category Archives: Art

The Art of BattleTech – A Retrospective

From its earliest days, the art of BattleTech has evoked a strong emotional connection from its audience.

Awe, fear, joy – the sight of these giant death machines has struck a chord with many a fan.

With such emotion, and with many companies paying for the privilege, the original board game has fueled the imagination of countless artists, each bringing a slightly different vision of our most cherished ‘Mechs.

Today we put in our fancy monocle, start sticking out our pinkie finger whilst holding a saucer of tea, and take a critical look at the art of BattleTech and how it has evolved over the years.

Locust

We begin our analysis with a classic design first seen in BattleTech’s second edition. I can think of no other ‘Mech that better exemplifies the evolution of design that has been a hallmark BattleTech.

First, on the left, we see the original work penned by Duane Loose, whose Macross inspiration can be clearly seen in this image from the 3025 TRO. Next we see a logical refinement, nearly identical but cleaner, more streamlined. Third we see the Phoenix design, a complete reimagining of the chassis due to a legal dispute preventing the ‘Mech’s original artwork from being published. Fourth we see the modern iteration of the Locust for the Alpha Strike miniatures game. Note the return of Unseen design elements, such as the chin turret, while retaining the somewhat bulkier legs and hips assembly of the “phoenix” design. Finally, the most modern incarnation by Alex “Flyingdebris” Iglesais, which takes consideration of MechWarrior Online’s mechanics for his version, removing the turret but retaining the squat legs and fuselage.

Wolfhound

A ‘Mech that has seen perhaps less change but no less refinement is the Wolfhound. The earliest illustrations seem almost quaint when compared to the later works.

The first image is almost like a babe taking its first tentative steps, the artist’s perspective lines still showing around the shoulder cowls and large laser. The second has more bold movement, but still seems unsure and hesitant. Next we find the Wolfhound has finally found its stride, confidently surging forward while firing. The artist has clearly taken into account the design’s full-head ejection system by giving the cockpit the boxy appearance of a spacecraft. Finally we see the Wolfhound as a mature adult, striding with purpose and without the need for flashy fireworks. Game design considerations take the fore once again, as the rear-firing medium laser is moved to the front. The boxy cockpit also found a few additional angles while retaining its essential form. The Wolfhound’s evolution is subtle, and yet profound.

Crab

I have always found the Crab to be a delectably mysterious ‘Mech.

The earliest iteration’s right claw enclosed laser made perfect sense, but the closed fist of the left hand would always fly in the face of the technical readout’s insistence that the left arm actually possessed another large laser. Then we see what would appear to be a laser atop the left hand, but find the small laser mounted on the head to be absent. Our third refinement would not only find that small laser, but add a measure of symmetry to the design by giving it claws in both arms. And finally in our last work we find the elusive cockpit, conspicuously lacking from all previous imaginings of the chassis.

Marauder

The Marauder is a delightful case study of law, game mechanics, and lore battling for supremacy in art.

The first presents the ‘Mech in all its imposing glory, 80’s stylized background providing a sense of scale. The second image gives us some insight as to the ‘Mech’s true personality, all carefree and whimsical. Dark days are ahead for our jolly death machine, as legal issues would force a drastic design change.

In our third picture we find the Marauder to be all business, having donned the serious attire of a BattleMech beset by lawyers. But as soon as the litigious atmosphere recedes we see our friendly Marauder has returned, perhaps somewhat chastened by his time as an Unseen ‘Mech. Finally, the MechWarrior Online version combines the earnestness of the Phoenix era design with the eccentric flare of the original; most notably one sees the autocannon slightly offset to the right, more in keeping with the technical design specifications of the chassis than an artist’s imaginings of the classic machine.

Atlas

Few ‘Mechs are as timeless as the Atlas. Despite its years, we see that the overall look has hardly changed at all. If anything it has only gotten more brutal and monstrous – the eyes becoming sunken slits, the cockpit descending beneath and betwixt two shoulders more massive than its skull-like head. A truly fearsome sight.

Most interesting about the design is how long it took for the art to actually catch up with the armament. In the beginning we see clearly the arm-mounted laser, SRM-6 and Autocannon, but the LRM-20 is nary to be seen. In the next two works we see what appears to be two LRM-10s rather than the single LRM-20 the ‘Mech actually carries, and one of the rear-mounted medium lasers seems to have found it’s way to the fore. The most modern depiction of the Atlas retains the double LRM-10 as a nod to the artist’s which came before, while also bringing the other rear-mounted medium laser to the front so it can once again be with its sibling. Unfortunately, modern Atlas pilots will no longer have satellite television, as the dish antenna on the cockpit has been removed due to budget cuts.

All of these are fine examples of where BattleTech art has come from, as well as where it is going. We here at Sarna can’t wait to see what artists will imagine next.

We leave you with a question: what ‘Mech do you think has evolved the most drastically? Leave your reply in the comments!

3D Printed Clan Ghost Bear Medallion

3D printing is growing both in the areas of industry and as a hobby. Many tabletop gaming players dream of getting a 3D printer and printing up all the models they’ve always wanted.

While that may be possible for some, most 3D printing hobbyists can’t afford to by the level of printer that it takes to print models for games like BattleTech. Most of the 3D printers available to consumers are not suited for that kind of detailed printing. That’s not to say that these printers aren’t capable of some amazing things, but usually models in the BattleTech game scale are not something they can handle.

So what kinds of things can consumer level 3D printers do? In the roughly six months that I’ve been into the 3D printing hobby, I’ve printed some pretty cool stuff. Statues, terrain, Pokemon, and more. There are a ton of things to do with a 3D printer if you take the time to learn how they work. I don’t know near everything about 3D printing, and I’m having a great time with it.

This dwarf statue is but one example of what you can make with a 3D printer.

This dwarf statue is but one example of what you can make with a 3D printer.

A couple of weeks ago, I was browsing through Thingiverse, which is an amazing website full of free 3D printable files that creators have uploaded to the website to share with the community.

As I was browsing I found the page of creator LordNova2 who had shared a couple of really cool MechWarrior and BattleTech related designs. Among those designs was a Clan Ghost Bear medallion. Being a Ghost Bear at heart, I had to download it right away.

And then, I completely forgot about it, until a few nights ago.

One of my 3D printers (I have two) had just come off a big project I was working on, and I decided to print something fun. I thought I would share the process that followed my decision.

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Masakari Omnimech Cosplayer Wins Gold

Some of you might have seen this thread on the official forums where user Ion Raptor has been working on a mobile 1/5th scale replica of a Ghost Bear Warhawk prime. I asked him what gave him the idea for this. He answered:

“The idea was from a sad lack of BattleTech costumes besides the occasional pilot cooling suit. The MW4 Warhawk itself was chosen because of its blocky and imposing design. The prime variant was a product of finding shipping tubes the perfect size for PPCs. The Ghost Bear scheme came from the pilot figure I bought, which was a Max Steel toy that happened to have grey and blue shorts on. If I ever do one again it will either be much smaller or through commission so that logistics are someone else’s problem.”

The Invasion of Rasalhague reinacted at Gencon 2014

The Invasion of Rasalhague reenacted at Gencon 2014

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Robotech, Macross, and the Unseen

Even though it was decades ago, I’ll never forget the Saturday morning where I became forevermore helplessly, HOPELESSLY addicted to large military robots. I have since developed a bit of ‘flowery’ disdain for the bastard chimera that is the Robotech saga, but I am at least nostalgic that it was the vehicle with which I first was introduced to Supredimensional Fortress Macross.

It was 1985. I was eight years old, and until then Saturday morning cartoons consisted mainly of an assortment of Hasbro toy advertisements and video game tie-ins. Anime was and would continue to be very sparse (though much of it was animated in Japanese studios). Transformers (of the aforementioned Hasbro adverts) had a very strong effect on me for getting turned on to big stompy bots.

And then Robotech showed up; which took the transformable robot thing and showed that “hey- people can drive these things dammit!”. The VF-1 Valkyrie in all its flavors (which became the Wasp, Stinger,Phoenix Hawk and their LAM equivalents), was NOT a nae indestructible machine like the Transformers were (until half of them got spawn-fragged in the animated movie the following year). They, at least the tan-colored ones popped like zits throughout the show. But they had it easy compared to the thrashings the poor Destroids received.

Three variant Valkyrie variable fighters; originally used as the Wasp, Stinger, and Phoenix Hawk 'mechs.

Three variant Valkyrie variable fighters; originally used as the Wasp, Stinger, and Phoenix Hawk ‘mechs.

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BattleTech Fan Films: A Review

Fan films have been around a lot longer than YouTube has. In fact I remember downloading a number of them from the likes of WinMX and Kazaa. Well over a decade is long enough to put together a fine assortment of good, and not so good work. Fan films generally fall under two varieties: music videos set to mainly MechWarrior videogame stock footage, and the far less common scratch-made films like you see for the Star Trek and Star Wars franchises. I’ll be focusing on the latter.

This first film is a stock video type, using scenes from the films Stealth, Matrix Revolutions (for some reason), Space Battleship Yamato, and of course footage from the opening to MechWarrior IV. The war poem is Lay the Down MechWarrior read by George Ledoux and written by Glen Byrum. It is superbly written and performed; I believe originally for advertisements for MechWarrior IV Mercenaries.

“Red Bone Run” was featured on the No Guts No Galaxy broadcast, and features a Panther, Bushwacker and a couple of tanks who discover a rogue Smoke Jaguar Timberwolf  from a downed DropShip. Straight forward and right to the point. The ‘Mechs are rendered well, and the art style is heavily lined and stylized, giving everything an almost embossed appearance. The pilots seem flat and out of place though. Sound effects and music are well done and scored in-house.

Red Bone Run "Red Bone Run" Timberwolf having words with an enemy Bushwacker

“Red Bone Run” Timberwolf having words with an enemy Bushwacker

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Looks Like I Spoke Too Soon: Scroggins Taking on MW:O

I know I talk about him a lot, mainly because of how much he’s involved in. Let’s face it; Tony Scroggins is good at networking. Almost as good as he is at designing custom Reseen Marauders. He always seems to be working with somebody on something.

I emailed him on Piranha’s contest last week, and unknowingly unleashed the Kraken upon the contest. You can see here in the official contest thread that there is mainly positive feedback when he said he’d enter himself. Not to belittle anyone’s artwork, if you look on Deviant art, there is probably as much high quality fan art as there is professional work. So Scroggins entering is probably blowing the Bell Curve.

Scrogginized MAD in 3D.

Scrogginized MAD in 3D.

Judging by his popularity though, I don’t think too many people mind. Thanks to RAGoody via Reddit.

Well bargained, and done.

Attention Artists: MWO Unseen Redesign Contest UNDERWAY

I would SO try my hand at this if I were not involved artistically with another, non-BattleTech related subject. If you can pencil, use a 3D rendering program, or even sculpt, you can try your hand at Piranha Games’ MechWarrior: Online Marauder redesign contest. I’m hyped at this not just because the Marauder is one of my all-time favorite ‘Mech designs (and that goes back to the Glaugg Officer’s Combat Pod design from Superdimensional Fortress Macross), and not because the reseen version looks…. well not bad, but definitely not like a Marauder should.

Marauder2

Not a bad design at all, but doesn’t look like a GM model body revamp either.

No, What I would like to see take to the field is the unholy offspring between the Piranha artists signature blocktastic look and Anthony Scroggins’ version of the venerable ‘mech. I even emailed him to make sure he knew this was going on. I don’t think he’d be eligible, and it really wouldn’t be fair to most other fans if he was. But the Marauder is one of his favorites too, and would like to see him get involved somehow.

ddd

Submissions must be in before November 10th 2013, at 11:59PM PST, and you also need a MW:O account on the website. Voting begins on November 13th.

It will be interesting to see what people come up with.

Well bargained, and done.

Miniatures Mafia

Tis time I have a twofer interview; Chris Gotcher and the Shimmering Sword himself, Anthony Scroggins. We havequite a bit to cover this time so I’ll jump right in.

Ron: Greetings, gents. I’ve been following your work, and been hearing some cryptic, teasing glimpses of some side projects between you both, especially with ‘Mech Engineering Quest. Though I was never involved, I have seen a few non-canon BattleMech designs here and there, and was wondering if you would tell me a bit about Engineering Quest and your current projects.

The Duchy of Andurien- Someone was watching Mirror-Mirror when they created this flag.

Anthony: Mech Engineering Quest is pretty self-explanatory, players got together a role played a design into existence. I was the first choice for having it visualized, but the job went instead to someone willing to work for free, which is definitely understandable.

Chris: Well Mech Engineering Quest was a group RPG organized by “Anontech” and focused on the life of Mech Engineer Danny Holdt; the obsessive-compulsive, insomniac, coffee, and cigarette-fueled new lead designer for Skvorec Armorworks. Skvorec was a Marik startup in 3040 not much better than a Solaris chopshop in the Reaches, but with room to explode with military rebuilding from the Andurien War.

Ron: So what did ‘he’ come up with?

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Marauder part of the Russian October Revolution

5,700 12th-year students taking their history exam found a fun surprise when they opened their packets to an image depicting the Russian Revolution:

Storming the Winter palace on 25th October 1917 by Nikolai Kochergin... plus a Marauder

Storming the Winter palace on 25th October 1917 by Nikolai Kochergin… plus a Marauder

Marauder somehow mistakenly found its way into the Storming the Winter palace on 25th October 1917 by Nikolai Kochergin.

OR MAYBE THAT’S WHAT REALLY HAPPENED!?

Whoops.

MechWarrior Comics: This Ain’t Blackthorne or Fallout

I was on the main forum about a week or so ago when I ran into a thread dating back to April regarding a MechWarrior comic from IDW Publishing – the outfit behind the new generation Transformers comics. After pulling my socks back on I emailed the media relations department to see if the book was still in production, on course for an October release, and being written by John Barber as per the IGN article. This will be the first professional BattleTech franchise comic to my knowledge since the 1994 tie in to the animated series; BattleTech: Fallout.

Ahh, Fallout. Even the 90s they managed to capture that 80s look.

Ahh, Fallout. Even in the 90s they managed to capture that 80s look.

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