Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Heraldry Extras: Lions

Another group of iconic extras to fill out my heraldry library! Sorry for the lack of post on friday, the last part of the week was an absolute whirlwind for me. So, these are lions. The poses shown here are sejant (far left), statant (center), and salient (right side). Lions were an incredibly popular charge in heraldry because they represented so many positive aspects of a person; who wouldn't want to be brave, royal, wise, and mighty in battle? Most often lions are shown in gold, though the ones I've put together for the time being are "proper," or shown in their natural color. The open mouth with visible teeth and tongue is a common feature in heraldry, but one that I rarely use because it smacks too much of the original image and it's just an easy route to take in drawing off the classic form. In this case? It just seemed incredibly appropriate.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Creature Feature: Lubolf

The lubolf is, in my opinion, one of the funniest muddled descriptions of all the animals I worked with. It's described as a creature like a hippopotamus, but with long sharp teeth and a mane like a horse. It's said that its teeth were "so sharp they threw forth sparks" and that, in addition to the mane, it would whinny like a horse. What's funny about the description is that a hippo does, in fact, have both sharp teeth and a crease in the back of its neck that could look like a mane. The pictures of a lubolf could easily have been slightly awkward drawings of a real hippo.

Of course, to me, the best part of the lubolf descriptions is the part where it would walk backward to annoy--not evade, annoy--hunters.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Heraldry Extras: Eagles

My initial project was all about made up animals from heraldry, but it takes more than imagination to build a coat of arms! These are some newly-created images for future use in elaborate deigns, and of course, I had to start with eagles. Eagles are very common in heraldry, as well they should be--they represent bravery, strength, integrity, and so on. All sounds like good stuff, right? A lot of people wanted to tell the world via their shields and crests that they were like eagles.

Because the eagle is used so much, there are even special terms to describe its different poses. On the bottom right is the most common pose for any animal, and it's called "Rampant." A rampant animal has one foot on the ground, one up, and either its forelegs or its wings splayed out so you can see them all. On the bottom left is what's called "Displayed." A displayed bird has its chest forward, head in profile, and wings, legs, and tail spread out. In the displayed pose, you can see all of the bird's features clearly, though no animal would ever be seen that way in the wild. On top is a bird that's displayed, but shown with two heads. It's more commonly used than you might think! After all, a double-headed eagle has twice the bravery and brains of a regular one, and it can look both ways at once!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Creature Feature: Theow

This was the last of the creatures I drew for the my first semester thesis, and one of my personal favorites. A Theow is a wolf-like creature with cloven hooves and a mane of many colors. I chose to use feathers to build up the mane, for visual interest and because of the great variety of naturally occurring colors available. It's often used traditionally as a substitute for a normal wolf, which was uncommon and undesirable in coats of arms. Wolves were (wrongly) thought of as craven, cowardly scavengers, but the theow was a brave, partly-tame version a wolf, usually shown with a collar around its maned neck. I chose to interpret them as playful animals, more like tame dogs. They're fairly rare in traditional heraldry, and that's a real shame because they're fun creatures.

Creature Feature: Calygreyhound

This has always been one of the cutest creatures in the set. The calygreyhound is a wildcat with the forelegs of a bird and "bulbous, frond-like horns." For my purposes, I chose to use a falcon as the bird with the legs, and ferns as antlers. There were actually two different versions of this image; the earlier one showed the kitten laying down, the fronds sticking out the side of the shield, and had a diagonal division with a crown in the upper half. I'm really fond of that version, but it doesn't fit in with the rest of the set so I had to re-imagine the design for the book. Traditionally, this animal represents speed, and is believed to have been made up entirely, with no basis on a real animal.

Creature Feature: Heraldic Antelope

Antelope sounds pretty mundane, right? You're probably wondering what it's doing in a collection of imaginary creatures. See, there's the real antelope, and then there's the heraldic antelope--an entirely different proposition. In heraldry, an antelope has the body and feet of a deer, the head of a heraldic tyger (more on that later), a long flexible tail, tufted hair on its back, tusks like a boar, and a pair of serrated horns like saw blades. According to medieval accounts, the antelope was a vicious and cruel creature, who used its sharp horns to cut down trees. It has a lot of features in common with both unicorns and tygers, but symbolically it was a warning against being a bad person like the antelope was a bad animal. They're often used as supporters for full coats of arms.

Creature Feature: Mantyger

This was one of the creatures that started it all. The mantyger (also spelled "mantyre" or called a "satyral") is described as an animal with a lion's body and mane, an old man's face and beard, a long, flexible tail, and the serrated horns of an antelope. Sometimes, they're also described as having the tusks of a boar--I chose to include that part. What I find interesting about the mantyger is the story behind its description. It's widely believed that this animal was a misinterpretation of a baboon; big, fluffy mane, slightly humanoid face, and big sharp teeth. Where the horns came from is anybody's guess. When used in a coat of arms, a mantyger is hard to interpret because it's been historically confused for a manticore--which is a vicious creature with a lion's body, man's face, sharp teeth, and a scorpion tail. The two are not actually interchangeable.