Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Walking Worms - Dreamblade

Recently I  have shared some redesigns of Dreamblade miniatures I created earlier in my career. If you missed them, they were the Bound Cleaver and the Fleshworm Broodsire. Before I did either of those I drew the redesign featured in this post and it was this redesign that prompted me to do the others. Granted, I have been redesigning some of my old designs for a little while here on the blog, but it was this design in particular that got me to really think about the process and reasoning behind the redesigns. It prompted me to think about doing a more detailed comparison and explanation of what I am doing. You can see this very clearly in the posts about the Bound Cleaver and the Fleshworm Broodsire.

I designed the Walking Worms in 2005 as part of the first expansion to Dreamblade, Baxar's War. It is not necessarily a bad piece but it is definitely not a good piece either... in my opinion. It is one of those pieces where I thought too hard about it while trying to stick 110% to the art order without any variation. Here is how the Walking Worms turned out...

Walking Worms
© 2005 Wizards of the Coast LLC

The Walking Worms is a fun idea, lumbering zombie that turns out to be just FULL of worms and other creepy crawlers that are controlling it. Kids just LOVE zombies, so it is a winner before I ever started. There was a game mechanic that allowed you to sacrifice the Walking Worms and gain a bonus to your next spawn pool. It was a huge point in the art order that the worms should not be visible from the front and only when you turn the mini around do you see them... for good or bad. There were a lot... or at least I seemed to be assigned a lot of minis that had a reveal once you turned them around. While this is completely cool and a great idea I always wondered if this sort of thing caused some designs to be a little toned down... but I am getting ahead of myself.

When I originally designed this miniature I went ahead and designed the back and front at the same time since it was a very important aspect of this mini. In the original back the worms were felt to be too large and uniform and began to read as wires and cables rather then a squirming mass of living critters. Here is the original back for the Walking Worms...

Walking Worms - original back view
© 2005 Wizards of the Coast LLC 

The miniature turned out well and was very faithful to the design (for good or bad). It is a funny little piece but the mini makes for a cool zombie piece. Here is how the final production miniature turned out...

Walking Worms - miniature

Let's now fast forward to 2013 and see how I would approach this monster now. I like the idea of a walking corpse that is just brimming full of worms that is about to explode and will offer itself up to sacrifice to benefit its controller. This piece is one that makek me cringe when I looked back at it. Not sure how much is really wrong with it, but I just would not have approached the design in that fashion any other time then in 2005. All this aside, here is my redesign of the Walking Worms...

Walking Worms Redux
© 2013 Christopher Burdett

First off, I am not sure this design would have ever been approved, but that is not really the point to this exercise. I could point out all the places that would have either been problematic or impossible to keep in the molding and casting process... but again, not the point.  BUT, when working on assignments you should ALWAYS be aware of how the finished art will be used. Working on printed images? Be sure you have a good idea of how your image looks printed, especially at the intended size. You a lot of blue? Be aware that there are issues with some colors in the transition from RGB to CMYK and certain color will turn grey and become desaturated and weird. Working on miniatures? Be aware of the principles of molding and casting and what it takes to make a plastic figure. I found my experience in makeup effect invaluable as I began to design minis. I had plenty of experience making molds and casting from molds to understand a lot of what could and could not be done. Now that is all said, here is a then and now comparison of the Walking Worms...

Walking Worms comparison

Okay, what has changed... First off I bent the figure over as it lumbers. Made the head larger, heroes with their hero proportions have small heads, monsters have big heads... big fat worm filled heads. I have the worms just spilling out the back giving the figure more depth and profile interest. Lot of squirming worms pointing out of the body, which most likely would have been a production impossibility. Got rid of the awkward silly pose of the original (oh that left hand...) and gave it an unintended new silly pose (oh that right hand...). Made sure to look at some good old reference to make the face look better. Distended the belly to make it appear that it is brimming full of wormy goodness. Lastly, and most importantly, I have the worms just under the surface of the skin as they work their way through the body to control it. Not sure this last detail would have been approved, but I like the idea of the worms working their way through the body as a new set of muscles and tendons.

I think that is enough to chew on and think about for now...

That is all for another exciting Wednesday on the blog, see you back here on Friday! Until then...

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  1. So gross and so cool. Corpse full of worms = very realistic. Worms reanimating the body = just plausible enough to be super creepy. I can imagine this thing's skin writhing as it shambles along, dripping a trail of maggots. (Shudder). Does it have some kind of projectile feature where it can throw worm-ridden chunks of decayed flesh? Or vomiting them out, spraying opponents with a putrid muck? Or maybe it gets close and either ruptures at will, or bursts when struck? All of these attacks could result in necrotic damage, and opponents have to roll to avoid becoming infected as well. Eeeeeewwwww!

    1. Thanks! While there was some ranged abilities in Dreamblade game mechanics this piece did not have one. It was basically there to get to the scoring cells and then hopefully be sacrificed to allow a bonus to your next turn spawn pool... pure strategy and I have not idea how much this piece was actually used. And I thing the cool gross factor was a moot point once the game was started. This would have been a much better D&D monster for sure and could have all the abilities and powers you mentioned... it would have been REALLY cool!

  2. I think I prefer the '05, mostly because it's easier to see what is going on. Many of the '13 redux designs are so busy that I have to spend a good bit of time staring at them to figure out what they are.

  3. Ooh, that new version is definitely creepy.

    1. Thanks! :) Less awkward and more creepy was the goal.

  4. I like the original one.
    Your posts bring back memories. Dreamblade was such an awesome game, with such an awesome setting!
    Please keep posting about it!

    1. I will post more about Dreamblade when I have a chance. Over the years I have posted so much that I am running low on interesting things to add after all these years.