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Cyangmou's avatar

Soldier! STRIKE!

About 14 years ago, my 13 year old knight-obsessed self was gifted with a game called "Fire Emblem"
I'd describe it mostly as more realistic feeling medieval fantasy game with political drama, small amounts of magic and dragons, all wrapped in a very beautiful anime art style and it was the first game of the series released in the EU area.
But not only the setting and characters caprtured me, there also was the visual-core element of battle animations to that game.  
As someone who always has been deeply in love with all kinds of 2D animation, the bold and snappy battle animations of classical medieval-fantasy character classes this title provided really captivated my imagination and my child-mind always interpreted much more fidelity into it.
Since back then these Fire-Emblems 2D animations have been one of my most admired graphical work in any video game.
I also would say that Fire Emblem (Rekka No Ken) and Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones games are in itself one of the reasons why I started out to play around with pixel art in the first place.

While the core field of my interests didn't really change since back then, I improved my artistic abilities and collected a ton of knowledge about European medieval history and warfare.
As an artist I grew from someone who just admired it and wondered how it's done and still is enchanted by it, into someone who has the capability to build on it.  

So I chose to re-imagine the soldier class of Fire-Emblem in a Hi-Bit and high fidelity sprite and animation style.
Soldiers are some of the most generic and some of the weakest enemies in the game, which in most games you can't even recruit and are as far as the game goes simply cannon-fodder thrown against you.
That being said, from a realistic standpoint the idea of plate-armoured infantry, equipped with spears was one of the most common types of soldiers in the medieval period and they have always been highly effective from a military point of view.
Although a heavy armored soldier wouldn't have any need for a shield and at the time as every soldier had plate-mail rather wield heavier halberds in strict infantry-formations or different kinds of pole-arms. Also they certainly would use swords as sidearms, in case their main weapon breaks or gets stuck somewhere.
However with this I really wanted to evoke the look of the games I played way back, so the overall character design therefore is a pure fantasy, color wise inspired by Hidari's artwork on FE:Echoes, but also borrowing from various different existing armor styles to let it appaer a tad more realistic.

Armor in Detail:
Suit: The suit is a gothic-styled cuirass, freely combining elements from 15th century English and German suits of plates. It has the super thin German waist, pauldrons and tassets as well as pointy sabatons, while the hoop style for the lower torso is mostly an English preference.
Compared to realistic gothic suits kept the plates a bit more open to fit in some colors for gameplay-purposes.
I used red segments for the coif, the arms and the pants. (that you can tell apart the armies) - the unarmored parts are inspired by the Roman Empire, which probably wouldn't give too much attack area with the massive shield.

Shield: In terms of visuals inspired by the original soldier design of FE 7/8, but for my design I was mainly inspired by Norse Shield design, although compared to realistic "Viking Shields" it's made of metal, spherical in shape and features a big boss in the middle, as well as a ridged, reinforced frame and therefore a complete fantasy design.

Weapon: I went with a winged spear, which in terms of design fits better together with the overall technical period level the sprite evokes, although the head is prominently drawn for visual impact and importance.

Helmet: Slightly reminiscent of Hidari's artwork,  although I changed the design to turn it into a mix of a basinet type, mixed with an iron-hat and therefore has purely English inspiration, this therefore also is a pure fantasy.

This sequence is an animated 64 frame strip with 24 images per seconds. The sprite itself with a character height of 100 pixels is on the level of high quality fighting games.
The whole design, iteration and realization of the animation took ~60 hours.
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© 2018 - 2021 Cyangmou
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TheMagnificentDemete's avatar

What a lovely story :)

And incredible work, both for research and the sprite itself! Your art is seriously very impressive :D

Cyangmou's avatar


Al my medieval things are thoroughly researched. I quite enjoy it if there is a lot of worldbuilding and sense in games and that's how I create my gameart =).

TheMagnificentDemete's avatar

I see! That's truly impressive, and as a worldbuilding fan, you have all my respect :D

I like your attention to detail and yes you're right. The normal soldier does seem to be a weak class among the main group of playable characters. But historically that's far from the truth. 

There is one thing that Fire Emblem and other Medieval time period games and RPG's never truly get right, possibly due to limitations in power or the fact that one man cannot physically do this. Soldiers not only fight well and practically but usually, if you see one on the battlefield there are more than just one of them at a time. They're in groups of a few dozen to thousands of men at a time.
Cyangmou's avatar

There are games like Total War or Heroes of Might and Magic which do the group thing.

I mean in games in which you have a focus on characters you will usually get single units (e.g. rpgs and storydriven games)

Games which are more interested in the big picture will provide some kind of unit systems, however it is hard there to let a single character shine.

In tactics games the flow of the game shouldn't take up too many turns and some fire emblem games/maps definitely need you to make too many turns per round.

It's not fun to everyone to spend half an hour per turn and then wait 10 minutes for the enemy turn.

Others solve it with a flexible turn-change like the ogre and final fantasy tactics game, but there you never know clearly when which unit will draw next.

This can hamper deep strategizing and tactics are made more on the fly / opportunity.

Yeah, I do know of total war and they do get quite a few things right there. Not much about heroes (Fire Emblem Heroes you mean? If so then it seems closer to the core games. I know Warriors does it but the main playable cast is so strong I don't count it.)
Though I know why with story-driven RPG's it can't be done. For one, it's simply due to game limitations. Good luck getting hundreds of troops in a game like Fire Emblem at a time. And two I think it would definitely take away from character development. I never said those RPG's were bad. (They're loved because they're not.) Just that they don't always get it right for one reason or another.
Cyangmou's avatar

I meant heroes of Might and Magic.

No, I definitely agree that it's not bad. Just a style decision.

Never even heard of that. I'll google it.
decroded's avatar
so hot right now
Lokenauz's avatar
Beautiful and very dynamic animation! Your pixelart is gorgeous!
IsamuAkai01's avatar
This is so amazing!! I really love it!! :heart:
Azureblaze's avatar
So so good. Love the art style.
Cyangmou's avatar
Crescentia-Fortuna's avatar
This is so beautifully animated <3
It really captures the feel of the old FE sprites well, just looking a whole lot more awesome.
I also enjoyed reading your description and I admire how much thought and research you have put into it.
So...amazing job you did there!^^
Cyangmou's avatar
It's all about the feel =)
If you like this, the approach and the research behind it, I really think that you probably also enjoy a whole lot of my other works in my gallery too =)
Crescentia-Fortuna's avatar
I'm following you for quite a while of pixiv already and find you works simply splendid!
Always a joy to see something new made by you :3
but thanks for the reminder, I wasn't following you just yet on dA, haha^^ *clicks the watch button*
(I especially enjoy the FE related ones~)
Cyangmou's avatar
I am not on Pixiv.
Is someone posting my art there?

thanks for your comment too =)
Crescentia-Fortuna's avatar
err whoops, my bad :'D why the heck was I writing pixiv? I meant twitter, haha xD

Cyangmou's avatar
ah hehe you shocked me there for a second :D haha
Yeah Twitter is the social media platform I am most active at :)
Crescentia-Fortuna's avatar
I'm so sorry °A°
sometimes brain is just derp,wanna say/write one thing but end up saying/writing something else and not even noticing x___X

Cyangmou's avatar
no problem at all. Little mindslips sometimes just happen, I am not much better in that regard :)
soulSmith1's avatar
This is awesome
Blue-Hylian95's avatar
This animation definitely captures the feel of Fire Emblem. I like the shake at the end because it adds so much more impact to the strike. Nice work!
Cyangmou's avatar
Yeah, the sound design in those battle sequences also always was godly.
I still can whistle the "strike" theme and then hear the HP dropping :D
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