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Five Tips for Drawing or Painting Archers for Fantasy

Amongst those of us who are archers we have some serious pet peeves when it comes to drawings/paintings of archery in fantasy art (and also applicable to fantasy book cover art and fantasy movies).

Namely it is the often completely unrealistic drawings / paintings / depictions that really annoy us.

But at the same time we do recognize that the artist doesn't know anything about archery and that is why they are making such mistakes in the first place. (If only the artist took photos or used photographs of real archers as a reference point that would be at least a step in the right direction.


That said, here are Five Tips for Drawing or Painting Archers for Fantasy Artists


A Realistic Painting of an Archer
#1. Ideally, you should learn how to do archery yourself, so you have a better idea of what you should be doing so you can be accurate. The more you learn, the more you will understand better how and why archers do what they do.


#2. When possible, use a photograph or ask a friend who does archery to do some poses for you. This way you have references for what a proper archer does in terms of form. (Do not copy films, comic books or other fantasy sources... Such sources are frequently flawed and you could end up copying something that is just plain wrong.)

The sketch below is based on a photograph. It isn't a fantastic sketch, but it is a realistic depiction of a skilled archer shooting a Scythian horsebow.

Having photographs and realistic sketches handy during your creative process will allow you to make artwork that won't be mocked by the archery community.

And yes, we totally mock artwork and movies when they get it wrong.



#3. Pay attention to the details... The arrows, the shape of the arrowhead, the nock, the fletching, the bow string, how the bow bends more as the archer reaches full draw, the elegant shape of the bow, the position of the archer's drawing hand on their face (known as the anchor spot), the positions of their elbows and shoulders, the full draw with their bellybutton pointed 90° away from the bow, the three fingers on the bowstring (split finger style), and the relaxed grip of their bow hand on the riser handle.

For example there are many different kinds of arrowheads. Archers typically don't use "just one" style of arrowhead either. They might use many different kinds because each arrowhead has a different purpose. A broadhead might be good for hunting, but useless for shooting at someone with chainmail armour. A bodkin arrowhead slices through chainmail armour easily, but it would suck if used for hunting. An archer wouldn't want to use a broadhead for small game, for fishing, or hunting birds either... again, they would use the correct tool for the task they are doing.



#4. Don't add ridiculous things to the tips or limbs of the bow. The more weight bow limbs or tips have, the more sluggish the arrow is on release. An elegant bow is more powerful and shoots arrows faster (usually measured in FPS - feet per second). What archers do often add is dampeners to their bowstrings, little puffballs made of fur which makes their bow quieter (less twang noise).

The bow in the photograph below has dampeners made of sheepskin. They help to make the bow quieter, which makes it better for hunting or stealth.



#5. Don't copy someone doing Olympic style archery and give them a longbow or a traditional recurve, etc. That would be the wrong archery style for the wrong bow.

eg. In the Hunger Games films Katniss shooting Olympic style with a longbow = Ignorant Filmmakers. She should have been taught how to shoot a longbow or traditional recurve properly.

There 5 major styles of archery and each has different form, postures, release method, the use of gadgets, etc.

Traditional Recurve - North Anchor (on the corner of the mouth), split finger draw, rarely cant the bow. (Some archers also shoot "Three Fingers Under" instead of split finger, but that is more rare.)

Longbow or Flatbow - North Anchor, split finger draw, often with the bow canted and the archer leaning in to the shot.

Shortbow or Horsebow - Anchor Varies, split finger draw or thumb ring, the bow is always canted. When released they do a "horseman's release" to better balance themselves / prevent themselves from falling off their horse.

Compound Bow - Peep Sight, Sight, Stabilizer, Mechanical Release, zero canting.

Olympic Recurve - South Anchor (under the chin), split finger draw using a tab, Sight, Stabilizer, Clicker, zero canting.

Happy Drawing and good luck to anyone who decides to get archery lessons!

If you live in Toronto Canada I recommend getting archery lessons from www.cardiotrek.ca/p/archery-lessons.html

Samurai Jack meets Wong Fei Hong

Hello and welcome!

The video above (Samurai Jack meets Wong Fei Hong) was made on May 3rd 2004, at 12:25:40 AM. Just 25 minutes past midnight I finished saving the final version of the video.

At the time in 2004 I was living in Jeonju in South Korea, where I was teaching English, and I was studying Korean, archery and taekwondo. I was also spending a lot of time mountain climbing and visiting Buddhist temples. And fun fact, Samurai Jack was animated in South Korea, which is something you can even see in the landscapes depicted in the show and when touring the mountains of SK. So when you look at the landscapes in South Korea it felt like I was living inside the world of Samurai Jack.

While there I also watched an unusual number of Korean, Chinese and Japanese films - including Wong Fei Hong - so it was really just a matter of time before I sparked on the idea of combining the song with Samurai Jack. Does Jack actually meet Wong Fei Hong? No, of course not. It is just a figure of speech.

It wasn't until almost 3 years later, January 21st 2007, that I uploaded the video to YouTube. Prior to that I had been sharing the video on one of my websites. The fact that the video was so small also meant that it didn't eat a lot of bandwidth for sharing the file directly to people.

Now I made other videos obviously, but none of them became quite as popular as the Samurai Jack meets Wong Fei Hong video. It has since garnered 1.3 million views on YouTube (as of August 2019), despite having the sound removed a few years ago due to copyright issues with the music.

For those people who want to see the version with the music however they can find a copy of the file floating around on internet, or you can watch it here. Both works. The genie is out of the bottle on this one so it isn't going to go away. The video is too popular that the Chinese cannot get rid of it. So now in August 2019 I figured I might as well add it to my Nerdovore blog.

And to put that popularity into context, the video used to be the most popular Samurai Jack video on YouTube for many years - until the new fifth season was finally released - at which point 30 new videos shot up in popularity and surpassed SJMWFH. The new champ is the Samurai Jack Season 5 trailer with 5.9 million views (as of August 2019).



As a fan of both Samurai Jack and the Wong Fei Hong films I cannot help but enjoy the music video. I didn't make it for money. I made it for fun because I love the storytelling and genres depicted in both Samurai Jack and Wong Fei Hong.

So I share with the intention that other people will get to enjoy and appreciate the visual storytelling in the video.

And I hope that maybe the Chinese owners of Wong Fei Hong will stop caring about petty things like copyright over a song. We are living in a post-Napster world. Get used to it.

Writer Conferences

The Mysterious Globe
I think it would be interesting to go to maybe 1 writer conference per year and talk to other writers. For various reasons:

1. Other Genres

To see what other writers are doing within their respective genres. I usually only write fantasy, but it would be interesting to talk to writers who prefer mystery, adventure, romance, or other topics.

2. Networking

It doesn't hurt to meet other authors, make friends / new colleagues within the industry, and then later keep tabs with them. And this can be very beneficial.

"Networking is key. Almost every author I know—and certainly myself included—can trace their publishing success back to someone they met at a writers conference. If you want to get published, I can’t think of any better advice." - James Dashner, author of 'The Maze Runner'


3. Co-Writing / Collaboration

I would love to meet an author with similar tastes to my own and co-write a book together. Maybe not something like the Trillium Series - the infamous collaboration of Marion Zimmer Bradley, Julian May, and Andre Norton - as critics panned it for being poorly executed. Too many chefs in the kitchen in that one. But it would be nice to collaborate with one other author and see what we can cook together.

eg. If I met a mystery writer who enjoys fantasy perhaps we could work on a "fantasy mystery" together. The detective in the story could be a mysterious creature with special abilities that make it a better sleuth.

4. Meeting Publishers

Publishers are a tricky lot. Some of them are looking for specific things and thus reject anything that doesn't fulfill their preset criteria of what they are looking for. Meeting publishers in person you can ask them "Hey, what are actually looking for?" and they can just tell you. Then, if you're lucky, you can pitch them an idea you've had for a standalone book or a series and see how they feel about it.

5. Marketing

Sometimes other authors will spill on the marketing tips, especially if they know you write in a different genre. A romance author isn't going to care so much about spilling their marketing techniques to another author who writes horror.

6. Learn Something.

You will probably learn something. Not necessarily about the craft of storytelling, but also important details about the industry. You might learn the best way to get a literary agent, how to avoid book publishing scams (they take your money and make copies of your work, sure, but they also just took the rights to book, including film and TV rights). You might learn how easy it is to self-publish and skip the traditional publishing industry. You might learn how to build an author platform. And many more things that you could in theory learn online, but if you don't know what to search for how would you know what to type? Being at a conference would be a crash course in many of things you haven't even heard about.

7. Find an Agent

One of the things authors can do at conferences is to pitch their writing projects at agents. Normally this is done by email / snail mail, but at a conference it is possibly to sign up to get 5 minutes with an agent and pitch your book with them. If they like your pitch then they will request to see more of your work. With luck you could find yourself with an agent and later a publisher.



In Toronto Canada? Here is a few sites to check out:

https://www.dreamerswriting.com/creative/canadian-writing-conferences/

https://torontowritingworkshop.com/

https://festivalofauthors.ca/

The Lilith Bloodstone Omnibus Anthology

Greetings Dark Fantasy / Heroic Fantasy Readers!

The Lilith Bloodstone Omnibus anthology is now available for pre-order. Purchase the paperback for $8.99 USD and get the ebook for an extra 99 cents using Amazon Matchbook. This way you get BOTH the paperback and the ebook for just $9.98.

This omnibus anthology collection includes 9 short stories of heroic dark fantasy featuring Lilith Bloodstone, an intrepid young wizard who works to rid the world of undead and demons by hunting them down one by one. Included in this volume are:

  1. The Black Rose
  2. Rise of the Red Moon
  3. The Baby & the Village
  4. One to be Reckoned With
  5. The Night of the Dead
  6. On Death's Door
  7. The Emissary of Darkness
  8. The Astral Plane
  9. Out for Blood

Pre-order now to get your copy by August 1st.

Paperback $8.99
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1081864583

Ebook $9.99
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07VJB4WJF


And in related news, one of my other books, "The Assassin's Trail", featuring my axe and longbow wielding heroic fantasy hero Wrathgar is also currently available on both paperback and ebook. You can learn more about my other books that are available by visiting fiction.charlesmoffat.com

Paperback $7.99
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1095788663

Ebook $2.99
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B007L2LGTE


Is Writing a Trilogy a Good Idea?

Fun Fact - When making a movie trilogy, they are often not well received.

Below is a measurement of how well received various movies were within their respective movie trilogies.


So clearly, when it comes to movies at least, not all movie trilogies are a big success.

While the first film was a great success, the 2nd and 3rd films of The Matrix, Jurassic Park, Jaws, Planet of the Apes, and Batman were notably sub-par (below 50% on the meter). That is 5 out of 21 film franchises which are considered to be quite famous.

Meanwhile sometimes film franchises can have good showings in parts 1 and 2, and then be really poor in part 3. Superman, X-Men, Spider-Man, Blade, Godfather, Terminator and Alien all suffered from this. 7 out of 21. 33.33%.

A few stats...

23.81% of popular trilogies have 2nd and 3rd films which did poorly.

33.33% of them have a 3rd film which did poorly.

There is a 48% chance the 1st part of the trilogy will be best part.

There is a 48% chance the 2nd part of the trilogy will be best part.

There is only a 4% chance the 3rd part will be the best or equally as good as the previous films.

There is a 67% chance the 3rd part will be the worst part of the franchise.

There is a 52% chance the 3rd part damages the reputation of the trilogy franchise, causing it to possibly end.

So...

Knowing all of this, why would screen writers and movie producers bother to make a 3rd film?

Perhaps trilogies are not such a great idea after all, because even when you do make a "profitable film trilogy", the 2nd and 3rd parts of the trilogy so often are horrible.

It is a bit of a gamble to make a film trilogy where all 3 parts are considered to be great (or at least above par).

  • Star Wars
  • Indiana Jones
  • Star Trek
  • Lord of the Rings
  • Mad Max
  • Back to the Future
  • Die Hard
  • Rocky
  • Rambo

9 out of 21. 42.85%. Back to the Future and Rambo barely fit in to this category of "successful winners".

So it makes me wonder. Perhaps the best way is to only write 2 films worth of material. A first part and a second part. A beginning and an end.

Imagine if Blade had only been a 2 film franchise. Ended on a high note. X-Men, The Godfather, Terminator, Alien and other movie franchises could have done this too. Just make the two films and stop there.

Unfortunately, this also comes back to money. Many of these film franchises, despite having a shoddy 3rd film, also made oodles of cash by having a 3rd film.

So it does make financial sense, usually, to make a 3rd film. Even if the film bombs critically they usually make a tonne of money in the box office.

The 3rd Godfather film is the biggest loser on the list.

It cost $54 million to make.
It made $$66.6 million at the box office - and more later in VHS, DVD and BluRay sales.

So despite being the worst film on the chart above, it still broke even financially and later earned more money in VHS, DVD and BluRay sales, plus any other royalties.

SO WHAT ABOUT BOOK AUTHORS

Writing a book trilogy is a different matter. It is a very different market. Writing only 2 books in a series is very rare. Trilogies are the most popular format when it comes to writing a series of books.

Thus trilogies make good sense financially for writers. You get the readers hooked on Book 1 and then sell them Books 2 and 3.

After they've become better as writers they could even try selling a whole series of 5, 7 or more books. Ideally live longer to finish the series, unlike some writers who died before they could finish it.

Where problems can arise is when movie producers step in and wand to turn a book trilogy into a movie trilogy. Mistakes are made and the films can often do poorly, damaging the writer's career.

A writer being offered a juicy movie contract should consider all their options and keep in mind the following issues:

#1. Even if the writer gets paid, the movie producers might just sit on the movie rights and never make the films.
#2. The writer definitely wants a contingency so that they get paid even if the film doesn't get made.
#3. Ideally they should have contingency for what happens if they do make the films. Does the writer get a share of any profits?
#4. Are they paying the writer a consulting fee to make sure the film is good and accurate?
#5. How much is that consulting fee? Salary? Hourly Rate?
#6. Do the film rights go back to the author after X number of years so they can sell the film rights to someone else?

Many writers would be happy just to be approached about selling their film rights, but they should always be wary and cautious. You wouldn't want to do what some authors did and sell them to a company who barely know how to make a film, let alone make a good film.

Study Archery in Toronto

So you want to study archery, but you are having difficulty finding an archery instructor who is local. However there is a solution. If you are willing to travel you can take a crash course in archery in Toronto, Canada. 10 lessons over a two week period will take you from archery novice to an experienced and capable archer.

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