"Anno bisesto, anno funesto" ("Bisestile year, unlucky year") we say here in Italy since the Roman Empire and, in hindsight, we can all agree that my ancestors never fail to give us pills of wisdom.
Despite the notorious Italian superstition may be a bit overwhelming, sometimes (you would be surprised about how many saying we invented to underline the fact that bisestile years are unfortunate years: “Anno bisesto che passi presto” /"Let bisestile year go away soon" or "Anno bisestile chi piange e chi stride"/"Bisestile year: someone cries, someone screeches"), this 2020 has not begun greatly for Mankind, it seems.
Nevertheless, as much as we can, we must endure and go beyond all the troubles and misfortune: we all have dreams and goals to achieve, and we can't afford to give up!
After 5 days of quarantine, I've noticed that something is changing, in my everyday life and mind and it's a bit weird cause even before all this emergency, my lifestyle was already "domestic": the DPF headquarter is also the DPF house, so I lived and worked at home way before the quarantine! I realized that, despite I've been already used to spend the vast majority of time at home (I generally leave only to go to the gym or to buy food!), and I'm plenty of hobbies to carry on in my comfortable mansion...the fact of being actually obliged to stay at home is really messing my mind in several ways: my everyday life isn't changed so much, but I feel like I'm a prisoner inside a limbo bubble and I really struggle to find the motivation to do anything!
Indeed, the human mind can be weirder than life (well, or at least mine)!
If you want to see the Italian situation, I think that this video is pretty explicative:
Surreal, indeed. But always beautiful, my dear country.
Despite our cities have become empty and silent, we are trying to move on with our lives as much as we can, and DPF is no exception: this week we managed to ship a lot of Kickstarter rewards, and I can proudly say that all the rewards except the Mighty Mega Boxes have been sent!
Moreover, despite I initially wanted to keep this new Elf character as a secret one, I decided to reveal it to you, just to have something to talk about not related to viruses, deaths and the world's ending: I'm super glad to present you the Elf Tamer (the name is still to be decided!):
This character is a little tribute to one of my favourite Elf miniatures ever made, the GW Dark Elf Corsair champion, a very impressive sculpt that I painted many and many and many times when I was young.
As you may see, the dino cloak worn by this Elf is clearly inspired to its old cousin.
Obviously, the similarities between these two elf guys stop here, and this character fully maintains the now-iconic (let's say so) style of our Elf range.
The nature of this Elf is quite obvious: he's a tamer (trainer?) of Venoraptors, a particular breed of dinosaurs known for their ability to create poisonous smoke!
These dinosaurs are quite smart and I like to imagine them like a kind of a mix between Dilophosaurus and Velociraptors: they are obviously not deadly as raptors (see: they don't even have the classic raptor's claw!), but they are smart and able to cooperate inside a complex social structure, making them great hunters. Despite their fangs and claws must not be underestimated, it is the poisonous substance they secrete that really represents the true weapon of these guys: inside their throats, in fact, there is a gland that can produce a kind of sticky saliva. This substance, in contact with air, creates a chemical reaction that produces an urticant smog able to suffocate a grown-up man, if inhaled in high concentration!
Venoraptors are masters in hunting their preys, surrounding them and generating a deadly smokescreen!
Talking about the design of this scene, I wanted to underline as much as possible the relationship between the dinos and their Elf Tamer: according to the classic Wood Elf stereotype (which I wanted to maintain, in a way or another), I wanted that the bond between the Elves of Inneath, the Nature and its creatures was clearly symbiotic.
For this reason, I wanted to avoid a classic tamer character that controls its creatures with classic instruments of submission (like whips or collars). Instead, I wanted to suggest that between the Elf and the dinos there is an equal relationship, like comrades of the same pack.
Of course, the Elf has to protect himself from the poisonous smoke of his scaly siblings (and here is why we designed this huge heavy cloak that covers his mouth and nose), but they work as a close-knit team.
The scene represents their relationship pretty well, in my opinion: one of the dinos is taking a lot of cuddles from his Elf companion, as a cat would do from his owner, the other one, more aggressive, has been unleashed in search for prey.
You can see the difference between the attitude of the two dinos, looking at their mouth: the mama's boy is relaxed, and only a little puff os smoke is seeping out of its mouth; the other Venoraptors, however, is ready to fight and you can see its throat swollen, a sign that the gland is producing a lot of poison (and of course, is producing way more smoke!).
This scene is pretty simple, and the design of these guys is simple too, but I think it works great, an interesting addition to exploring the lore of our Elves and, in this case, their relationship with the dinosaurs that inhabit their islands!
So, that's all folks, at least for now!
Valerio is sculpting in these days one of the craziest characters of this new range: one of the mighty guardians of the woods!
I don't want to make spoilers, but let's say that with the next character, you will physically see why the Elves shape all their armours and crafts with weird troll faces!