iron age armor

Let me talk at you about Iron Bull’s armor

So I was figuring out how to do Iron Bull’s armor, and it’s pretty interesting from both a technical and a characterization standpoint. Bioware has long made an effort to have their characters’ costumes obey the laws of physics, to include actual pockets, straps, etc, and Bull’s armor is no different – I can look at the decorative scrollwork on it and tell you what tool is used to apply that design.

This one, called a pear shader

But – and this is the cool part – that’s a pretty off-label use of that tool. The pear shader isn’t normally used for making an entire design, it’s used for adding depth to specific places, such as the curve of leaves or petals:

Moreover, almost all leather tooling is first carved before it’s stamped – you cut the general outlines with a swivel knife, and then use a variety of stamping tools to create different depth and texture effects. Here’s the progression, as taken from my Thorin bracers tutorial:

But there is no cutting anywhere in Iron Bull’s armor. It’s all stamps. (Different stamps; I think parts of the belt are going to take a beveler instead of a pear shader, but my point stands.) From a world-building perspective, this is such a cool detail. That the qunari don’t just put different designs on their armor, they use entirely different techniques in their leathercrafting – as they would, if their tradition had evolved independently of human craftsmanship. This thrills my nerd-artisan soul to the core – that somebody at Bioware thought of that, and that it showed up in the game.

So anyway, here is my first foray into off-label use of the pear shader, experimenting with both smooth and textured versions:

I’m not loving the wobbly lines on it – as happens, when you’re not following cutlines – but then I looked at the reference pic again, and that is… exactly what Iron Bull’s shoulder is doing. Whoever designed his armor certainly knew what they were on about, hats off. :)

Continued in Part 2!

Roman/Ostrogoth Iron Helmet, Provincial Roman Empire, Migration Period, c. 4th-5th century AD

Late antique/early Medieval iron helmet of the East Roman/Byzantine Empire, most likely used by an East Germanic people, such as the Ostrogoths, who migrated into the Balkans and served with the Roman army as auxiliary troops. Helmet mimics the Roman Legionary helmet with large bowl with lip that hangs down the neck, and two iron ear ear flaps on either side.

The thing i like most about tony stark as a character is that his entire movie franchise can be summarized by “make the suit easier to put on”

IM1: “ugh this takes like half an hour and i need help to put it together but eh, we’re in a cave what can you do”

“aaayyyyeee now i can get jarvis to do it for me”

IM2: “handy travel version i’m so clever”


IM3: “i’m gonna make seperate pieces of the suit fly around and connect onto me bc yolo”

Avengers: age of ultron: “welp, i’ve made this thing as convenient as possible…”

“time to give the suit a suit”


Saxon Iron Helmet, 6th-8th Century AD

Anglo-Saxon helmets, as well as Danish and Viking ones, had a conical shape in order to protect the wearer’s head by deflecting direct blows. The most expensive ones, used by kings and nobles, were entirely made of steel and iron while less expensive ones had an iron skeleton to which panels of animal horn, hard leather or even wood were fixed. The face, cheeks and the neck of the wearer were protected by additional elements made of iron plate or other materials.

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“Fearlessness is a fool’s boast, to my mind. The only men with no fear in them are dead, or the soon to be dead, maybe. Fear teaches you caution, and respect for your enemy, and to avoid sharp edges used in anger. All good things in their place, believe me. Fear can bring you out alive, and that’s the very best anyone can hope for from any fight. Every man who’s worth a damn feels fear.”
 ― Joe Abercrombie


I know we all complain about the armor making Iron Bull’s body weird, but still, ugh. Who even is that on the right?! 16 year old Hissrad?