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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.

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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