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Stormlight - Shardplate

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By Inkthinker   |   
© 2014 - 2020 Inkthinker
One of Shallan's latest pages from Brandon Sanderson's Words of Radiance, book 2 of The Stormlight Archive from Tor Books. It was my distinct pleasure to illustrate 8 new pages of Shallan's drawings in the world of Roshar.

Shardplate was a particular challenge for me, in that I really, really wanted to get it right. Everything Shallan draws is representative of something she sees in the world around her. So the armor needed to be practical in order to be believable, as well as sticking to the descriptions laid out in the first two novels. And since I had particular access to the author, I knew we were trying to nail a sort of inversion of Clarke's Third Law... advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology. It's not "powered armor" as you might think of it in the traditional anime sense, but it walks and quacks like a mecha, you know?

Still, it's clearly not a machine as we'd understand it. There are no gears or circuits, no "controls" to speak of. It's a suit of armor powered by gem spheres. It looks like metal but shatters like stone, and it's constructed strictly of solid "plates" of metal (I've been playing veeeerrrry loosely with the word "plate"). But we don't have a clear understanding of how they hold together or what allows them to imbue the wearer with superhuman speed, strength and agility.

We actually ended up exploring the underlying construction and details of Plate a lot more than we've revealed here, but it's on Brandon to decide how he wants to reveal those details and when (plus they can change at any time until he sets them down, so what I think I know might be overwritten).  Still, even if we don't show those details explicitly, it's good to know they exist to ensure that we lay common and consistent hooks moving forward.

Shardplate is specifically designed to be all "plates" as far as anyone can see... no chain or cloth can be used (Adolin's chainmail skirt as described in the text is decorative, not inherently part of the suit). To that end, I tried a design of weaving metal strips in a sort of "laminar segment" design, with additional articulation to traditionally solid plates, suggesting mobility. With Shardplate there's little concern about weight, or the materials being weakened by too many small bits, so I could get a little nuts with the banding.

The plate skirt helps protect the vulnerable inner thighs and groin, but under the skirt (in the fiction) is still more interlaced strips of plate that covers that entire area. Yes, I remembered to think about how to handle that special, embarrassing concern. No, I won't show you the picture.

Part of the reason we went with a skirt is so that eventually, if we're lucky, someone can apply this design to a practical purpose. The plate scales cover that area and allows someone to avoid wrapping themselves up uncomfortably. I wanted this design to be useful over the long term, which is one reason why it's not heavier-looking. I know some fans were looking for something more in a Space Marines style, but Brandon specifically pointed me away from that.

A little bit of cosplay is popping up here and there. I'm really looking forward to seeing more.

All this, and I never even spoke about Shardblades. Ain't they neat? Don't get me started on stances.

Shardplate, Shardblades and Shallan's pages are ©Brandon Sanderson and Dragonsteel Enterprises. Drawn in Photoshop CS 5.1 on the Cintiq 21UX. Feel free to ask any questions you have, and I'll tell you what I can. :D
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anonymous's avatar
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Evodolka's avatar
EvodolkaHobbyist Traditional Artist
those are amazing knight designs :la:
love the detail on them

swords look good
best one in my opinion is the bottom right one :D
jijisnum10's avatar
This is truly awesome. These pieces of art are one of the best parts of the books. Amazing work this.
LimeGreenBunny's avatar
LimeGreenBunnyHobbyist Digital Artist
I can't believe Shallan has a deviantart account.
Ubehmonster's avatar
UbehmonsterHobbyist General Artist
godofimagination's avatar
Is that shardblade on the right Oathbringer?
Inkthinker's avatar
InkthinkerProfessional Digital Artist
It is not. That's an unnamed Blade and Plate that mostly served to illustrate a variation on the arrangement of back plates.

There is a design in Brandon's archives, which I provided way back at the start of this crazy adventure. I don't think he's ever published those documents but you see that design pop up in some of the official merchandise.
webbytheslayer's avatar
I think so, I have always imagined it looking like that. It is described: "The blade is six feet long, slightly curved and a handspan wide. It has wavelike serrations near the hilt, and curved like a fisherman's hook near the tip." I think that fits the bill.
garrus368's avatar
so awesome :)
Hochroter-Drache's avatar
very cool. love seeing this as the "canon" for what shardplate is supposed to look like. I hate seeing the over-the-top fantasy armor with added impractical spikes and whatnot. this is clearly a sort of magitek power armor, complex but not overly so, and I love it :D
k3ttch's avatar
The *sigh* under Adolin's face really makes this illustration. It just seems so like Shallan. 
Westmetal's avatar
As some one who does fencing I love the foot work in the stances.
Inkthinker's avatar
InkthinkerProfessional Digital Artist

The stances were all based on reference, though I reckon the results are pretty sloppy I did try to get the general balance correct... if we can ground just a little bit of realism, it helps shore up the crazy nonsense stuff. :D
NocturnalBirdie's avatar
Seeing this and reading your description makes me think of Shallan's question to Adolin.
"So how do you poop?"
; J lolol. But I loved all of the illustrations and this page was one of my true favorites. ^--^
Inkthinker's avatar
InkthinkerProfessional Digital Artist
Thank you!

Deep in my early sketch notes for the underlying structure of Plate is a sidebar on the poop plates. It was one of my favorite parts. :D
Flamepainter's avatar
HAHAHA, love the detail on Adolin's face and the "sigh" just below that.  VERY Shallan.

Plus, y'know, the armor and blades are super fantastic.  It both reinforces some of what I'd thought about Shardblades/plate and pulls me in a different direction.
Inkthinker's avatar
InkthinkerProfessional Digital Artist
Thank you! :D

One of the things I love about Plate and Blades is that they're each unique, so there's a lot of room for interpretation.
oBORNo's avatar
I just started reading the second well done on this ....i recomend reading demon cyycle....or night angel .
Inkthinker's avatar
InkthinkerProfessional Digital Artist
I read the Night Angel trilogy back in the day, I liked book 1 a good bit, but less so books 2 and 3.

I'm mostly caught up with the Demon Cycle, but I haven't read the new one yet. Not suuuuper-excited about Renna being the main character (if that's the case, I'm going by the back copy), but I'm invested and I'll catch up with it before too long goes past.

Currently I'm on book 3 of Malazan, and when I wrap that I've got a stack to attack. As it should be. :D
oBORNo's avatar
cool you should also Check out .. The Emperors Blades part of the Unhewn throne trilogy.. I finished the second book and its the closest thing to Game of thrones ive read in a while .
Inkthinker's avatar
InkthinkerProfessional Digital Artist
Awesome, I'll keep an eye out for it! Thanks!! :D
SpikesInMyEyes's avatar
I'm currently in the planning stages of making a full Shardbearer cosplay. I was thinking of making it what I would think a KR would look like in plate and this picture has helped me tremendously. (Much to the dismay of my wife who is constantly getting a, "Hey babe, check this out, this could work right!?")
Inkthinker's avatar
InkthinkerProfessional Digital Artist
I'm excited to hear it, and I hope the page is helpful! When we designed Plate, I did try to keep it shaped proportionally so that it could be cosplayed... I've heard a couple people talk about taking up the challenge, but so far nobody's shown me a suit yet. I'm hyped to see one!
Evergreena's avatar
EvergreenaProfessional Digital Artist
I LOVED all the illustrations in the books, so it's exciting to find the original artist! :D It's also cool to read about the thought process that went into the designs of the Plate. Thanks for posting it up here on DA! Are you doing illustrations for the next book as well?

Haha, I love the little "sigh" by the sketch of Adolin. Oh Shallan.
Inkthinker's avatar
InkthinkerProfessional Digital Artist
Thank you!

Yes, I have every expectation of being involved with at least the first five novels, if not the full ten. I'm also working on the new Mistborn books due out late this year, and the next Rithmatist novel as well (though that's been pushed back).
anonymous's avatar
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