Weapons and Armor Pedantry in Fantasy Art

4 min read
RoninDude's avatar
By RoninDude
36 Favourites

Man, I have been biting my tongue lately, because I'd rather spend the hours of my life focusing on moving forward towards my goals, than dwelling on the dismissible things that irritate me... and ultimately, the source of my frustration is coming from just a vocal minority... 

But damn, I am tired of the pedantic comments on my fantasy warrior pieces. Specifically, concerning the minutia of what weapons the fighters should or shouldn't be using, in what combination, against whatever equipment the foe is using.

Hey, I love me some history studies. I actively study historical use and design of medieval weapons and armor on a fairly regular basis. I am not by any means an expert, or a historian. It's just a fun little hobby. I am not just interested in medieval warfare, but also about culture, construction, politics, economy, tradition, and more. There's so much interesting stuff that has happened and changed, over the centuries. But that's not what my art represents. 

Just because I know a little bit about history and enjoy it, does not mean I am bound to representing it in my fantasy art. Historical accuracy is not a qualifier for my fantasy art, and never will be. It will remain an inspiration that I will take when desired, and ignored when not. 

So if you are the sort who feels compelled to come to my fantasy pictures and educate me on how "wrong" it is, then know now that it's unwelcome. If you can overlook elves, and fire-breathing dragons, and mountain toppling magic, but you can't accept the weapon choice of a warrior as depicted in the scene, well... that's pedantry with tunnel-vision, isn't it? It doesn't make you look smart. It makes you look pretentious, flaunting your knowledge where it's not relevant or wanted. If you enjoy discussing such nuances, there are forums for that, where you will find plenty of people who are eager to join you in such conversation. My gallery is not that place. If you insist on trying to educate me about how my fantasy art isn't historically accurate, then don't be surprised if I react with distaste, and don't applaud your well-learned display. 

Ok, look... I get it. I really really do. You have a passionate and specific idea of how weapons and and armor should be represented. As I mentioned, I too, enjoy historical accuracy, within the context of pieces designed to be historical representations. I encourage you to create content that fills this need, for you. Buy my hands are my own, and I will use them to take the liberties that I wish, with my own fantasy works. 

Now, if I ever post something and claim that it is historical, by all means, critique it. Argue it. Show me how it's wrong. But don't come to my fantasy art and tell me that it isn't historically accurate or practical. Because if you really step back and think about it, comparing fantasy with history is really missing the point, isn't it? Maybe you are looking for something in the wrong place. 

As always, peace and love to you, regardless of how our interests may vary. 

© 2018 - 2021 RoninDude
anonymous's avatar
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Paraiha's avatar

It's your art, you don't have to follow anyone else critique. Be proud of what you've accomplished, it really is impressive. This coming from a guy whom can only critique and support. Keep doing you.

VorpalChandelier's avatar
I haven't read the comments following the post here, but I'd just like to add as well that when it comes to a character being portrayed in a drawing (or other medium) one should also take into account the *character's* preference, resources, and education, as well as the *situation* the character may or may not be in. For people who are really that stuck on what they think the character *should* be doing, try to think about what they *would* do or *why* they're in the situation they're in, as well as why they're using the weapons or armor they're using.

It, at least for me, enhances the experience of the art, as interpretation as well as observation are both equally important to enjoying any piece.

It's entirely possible the warrior comes from some dirt town and has become an adventurer, not aware at all what weapons are good against what, but had learned how to use their trusty axe time and time again, or that they perhaps have been thrown a specific weapon to face off against their opponent in an impromptu duel.

In my opinion letting minute things irk you only takes away from your ability to enjoy the experience and the art and really you're doing more of a disservice to yourself than anyone else, so I hope my thoughts here are helpful to those of you that might be having a hard time seeing outside the box.
RoninDude's avatar
I agree, that assuming a scene is "wrong" because the elements within are not perfectly optimized, shows a lack of imagination. There's plenty of reasons and circumstances in which one is forced to use the "wrong" tools for the job, and make the best of it. 
MatthewJMimnaugh's avatar
Don't mean to butt in, but I'm a hard SF/fantasy writer.  If any of you overly pedantic folks need to get your detail-oriented kicks, I would welcome the extra sets of eyes.  My work is written, mostly, so it is not as pleasing to the eyes as RoninDude's wonderful pieces, but any interest is appreciated :)
darklordcl's avatar
Holy fuck, it's fantasy.  One of them could be armed with box of Lucky Charms if you deemed it right for your story.  I really have to question the state of mind of these "fantasy history" purists, because there is no such thing.
RoninDude's avatar
It's just that they like a certain thing, and being critical of the content you consume is a social norm, these days. I don't think there's anything wrong with them, it's just annoying to have people press their interests on my work. It's natural, but annoying. XD
But yeah, it can be enraging, at times! 
KarmikCykle's avatar
These people need to take a deep breath and repeat to themselves "It's just art, I should really just relax."
RoninDude's avatar
Haha yeah maybe! I understand we all like what we like, and sometimes it's hard to see things from outside one's perspective. I just wanted to share my side of such interactions. :)
Freimgul's avatar
Yeah yeah, weapon this armor that... who cares about historical accuracy in a god damn fantasy piece, when that elf chick has 5% less fat than preferred on her cute little butt? Explain this to me! Man... some people and their priorities.

But with all seriousness. You said it best. Fantasy is about taking liberties. One such liberty can be a creature that doesn't exist, other could be a sword that is a little bit too long and too thick. However as a popular artist, you have no way to avoid people who would nitpick like this. I can't avoid nitpicking, how could you? I think this is one reason why popular artists grew more and more disconnected from their audience. Cos if you care about each and every comment that is more than a simple "cool" or "nice work", you will get a mixed signal of "okay this works but also not". We live in an age where art feels like a free entertainment that we deserve. And probably all of us is/was guilty of this. Assuming "this piece of art MUST appeal to me 100%, otherwise I will tell the artist that how they should change it to fit my taste". That's a very bad approach to art.

Long story short, as long as you keep drawing cute elves with cute butt and cute face, I won't complain about swords that look 200 mg heavier than they should be.
RoninDude's avatar
Glad you agree, and thank you for the thoughtful comment! I try not to become too disconnected from people, I try to reply to everyone. Not every comment needs a detailed response, but I do my best to show I am listening... without compromising my own goals with my art. But there's a certain level of disconnecting my emotions, in order to protect myself, I suppose! Caring about what people say has it's pros and cons, I suppose. 
Freimgul's avatar
Yap. In my opinion, and based on how you communicate you clearly think the same, that the pros far outweigh the cons. Caring about your audience is more fun than not and worth the occasional debates over what's morally right and what's not. Or in your case, worth some hard fought battles alongside your brother in the comment section to prove that sometimes looks, are really more important than historic accuracy. I kinda imagined you guys like that. Actual brothers in arms, fighting back-to-back against the armies of Historical Accuracy Dominion.
RoninDude's avatar
Thank you, and yes that's true! The occasional annoyance is worth it, when seeking out positive connections with people. :)
And lol, I don't think it's as glamorous as you depict, but yes, my brother and I have each other's backs. :D
Streaked-Silver's avatar
Sorry if I've done this.

RoninDude's avatar
I don't recall individual incidents, so I couldn't say, but don't worry about it. I don't hold grudges. Just trying to articulate my perspective of such interactions. :)
Streaked-Silver's avatar
Ok cool

 you know though.. that one ax the dwarf had is really inaccurate tho- *gets kicked out a window* D8
SunflowerBirb's avatar
I'm glad you stood up for yourself here. You made a very solid case for it as well. Respect!
RoninDude's avatar
JRinaldi's avatar
Preach it, folks: 
ANYTHING works under good art direction. 
RoninDude's avatar
Good art direction being the key! Thanks. :)
Roninwolf1981's avatar
Dude, don't listen to them.  Yes, I agree that artists adapt and evolve under critique, but that doesn't mean that you can't take liberties now and then.
RoninDude's avatar
I was just venting, and trying to put my thoughts on the matter into writing. I am not going to change anything just because of the expressed preferences of strangers with nothing invested. :)
Launful's avatar
lol back in the day when I played World of Warcraft I attracted so much grief from my guild because I wore what looked good, not what gave me the most effect - yeah I swapped for raids etc, but I hated looking bad in the process. This feels a little like that.

Art (such as yours) is a visual medium in which we express ourselves - and as you point out, it's not a Wikipedia on sword and sorcery. I can accept someone's desire to be critical if you're infringing on something specific .. giving Tolkenian elves a pig like snout, or replacing the Skywalker family's weapons with Light Spatulas, but other than that I'm with you - your art: your choice.

As my father used to say "When it comes to thinking, most people stop at nothing". Maybe we should all get a little bit better at blocking and moving on.

"wait you blocked me with a browser, when the Norman kite shield circa AD 1000 was significantly more effective - shame on you" /sigh
RoninDude's avatar
You make good points! I agree that critique is valid of you are claiming to have faithfully re-created something that already exists (history, an existing story, etc). But as long as you are not claiming to be accurately depicting something, it's all good. Let the muse sing, and the creative energy flow! 
Launful's avatar
Agreed - enjoyed your work so far - so keep at it :)
anonymous's avatar
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