Sunday, March 20, 2011

NEW TKP FOIL line art: Harma Bhatra

I delayed this post for obvious reasons due to a time of mournful pause in light of the tragic events in Japan. We continue to support Japan in this time of crisis and, again, suggest you donate to the Red Cross tsunami disaster relief fund if you're able to do so. I've also had a busy week taking care of my Father due to his blood pressure being far lower than normal because of  medications he's now off (at doctor's suggestion). He's doing OK now. So... onward to new work...

This bad boy has been a long time coming... the epic Faedai Omni Icar Leviathan beast: Harma Bhatra. One of several delayed collaborations between myself and Karl Östlund (genocidalpenguin) this design is, in every way, a true collaboration of both of us even more so than the, now Vulne Pro Deviant gallery favorite, FOILjaeger 3aMF Gottheitzerstorer. This new design is based on one of Karl's orphaned scrap designs simply titled 'modular mech' (also pictured below for comparison). I had always loved it's look, much like the design that became the Gottheitzerstorer, and during many of our conversations about the Theos material I suggested possibly doing something new with it in collaboration. Karl thought it was a cool idea and agreed so off I went with a notion of seeing what might come out of the exploration.

Karl's original design was clearly a rough he planned to evolve further but didn't get around to it, instead moving on to other work. I've been there more times than I can count myself, I suspect most artists have. What was there was defined enough to launch off of with some really cool new ideas. While evolving my thoughts to paper, as to what it would transform into, it became apparent going with a covered limb style of the 5th gen FOILs would look rather striking on this guy. I altered the torso configuration the least and due to the modular nature of Karl's design it felt like it would be a late 4th generation FOIL with clear visual cues of the movement toward the 5th gen machines. Where Karl's original ends and the new work I did begins is what you will see looking at the two designs. Anything different from the original was where I took it. A list of the significant changes in order to evolve into a FOIL are thus:

  • Adding fin binders on the back, which are both thrust verniers and ECM/sensor equipment.
  • Additional sensors, on both sides of the head, and one off the left shoulder armor plate.
  • A new head design.
  • Right shoulder armor with dual barrel machine shettier. Strobe bombs (kinda like a flash bang for FOILs) attached.
  • Mortar or smoke grenade, depending on load out, launcher on right shoulder.
  • Long range heavy rail gun sniping rifle (as I progressed it hit me this thing needed an epic weapon).
  • covered limb 4th gen arms and legs with much longer legs more akin to the FOILs typical design silhouettes while still maintaining Karl's original overall look.
  • Some adjustments to the mechanical bits connecting the legs.
  • New added armor plates in the center torso along with beefing  it up a bit at the waist.
  • Various other bits and bobbles and greebles.

The Harma Bhatra MJ-11a was developed by the Waimanu FOIL Works, the company also responsible for the dreaded Gottheitzerstorer FOILjaeger's of the wildly experimental 3rd generation of FOIL development. There are some clear visual cues that nod back to the Gottheitzerstorer. Though the Harma Bhatra is a very formidable Faedai combat frame it's nowhere near as massive as the Gottheitzerstorer was so the similarities have more to do with the manufacturer's distinct visual design cues than anything. Begining service toward the very end of the 4th gen period the Harma Bhatra might as well have been a 5th gen. Clear design cues point to what was to come in FOIL development; the covered limbs with equipment ports for customization, the appearance of enigmatic sensor equipment, the more streamlined aesthetics. The FOILs were changing before   anyone, not in the know, knew why. Change was on the horizon as the sendai moved more, and more toward spiritual and political concerns, more freedoms. As such the Hindai movment (derived obviously from Hinduism in name and some core concepts but also having aspects of Buddhism and Taoism as well) spread and it's influence began to inform the naming conventions of the FOILs.

To say that this was a blast to work on is an understatement. Karl's original design was a fantastic foundation to launch from and I'm grateful and happy he both agreed to give this a go and utterly loved the end result. In discussing the notion of our personal styles having distinct visual cues I suggested he create a FOIL manufacturer name that would define his designs and he came back with Waimanru (look it up, it's rather apt). In naming the FOIL we both threw around some ideas but, I eventually landed on Harma Bhatra MJ-11a, the MJ referring to a specific FOIL artisan that had a hand in this design (me). As with the Kharma Actura the Harma Bhatra's name, within the Theos setting, is due to the growing influence of the Hindai movement on the Sendai community. In later posts I'll dive into the Hindai movement further. More to come...


The unintended connection to Sendai in Theos KE Polemos

I should take a few moments to comment on the use of the term sendai in the Theos project because it's meaning in the real world now carries some immediately painful associations. I do this more for those who are new to the work we're doing and unfamiliar with the project Theos KE Polemos we've become known for round the infowebs. Most of you following the TKP project are likely familiar with our use of the term sendai but some of the info here might still be interesting.

It's rather strange writing the terms Sendai, for the Theos bio-mechanical population, now for obvious reasons. When I named the bio-mechanical creatures in TKP the sendai, back sometime in the late 90s, I actually wasn't aware at that time there was a city in Japan named Sendai, a city now very much on the world's mind due to the recent disaster that struck Japan. Although I did eventually learn there was a real city named Sendai and continued to use sendai (with unrelated meanings) in the Theos project I would have never imagined anything, like the tsunami, would happen there. Of course nobody could.

How I came to the term and spelling sendai for the TKP bio-mechanicals was from expanding upon an already established Theos term. Co-creator of the foundation material Steve Loveland and I, developed the singular to plural terms for T.D.S. (telepathic defense systems) units called taedus (singular) and taedai (plural), eventually sendai became the term for all the bio-mechanical creatures in the story. Sendai, as the name for the non-human characters in Theos, was never intend to refer to the Japanese city now in such devastation and pain. In TKP history is a very fractured and foggy picture to the populace of the setting so naming conventions can come from any number of places, past and present and meanings that are accurate or outright inaccurate gibberish contextually (to real world terms) are commonplace. Humanity has been recreating itself through a distorted filter of it's past. I suppose not too unlike how we are now but in Theos it's far more an acute phenomenon.

 It seemed like a good idea to note why sendai will appear in various place on this blog to describe our bio-mechanical characters. Names having utterly different meanings to their real world counterparts are common in fiction and I'll note one here from my favorite sci-fi novel series; Frank Herbert's 'Dune':

Bakka in Dune: In Fremen legend, the weeper who mourns for all mankind.
Bakka in the real world: Japanese (baka) for idiot or fool. 

Bakka in Kvam municipality, Hordaland, Norway
Bakka in Aurland municipality, Sogn og Fjordane, Norway
Bakka in Kvinnherad municipality, Hordaland, Norway
Bakka-Phoenix, a bookstore in Toronto.

I wasn't aware of the locations in Norway until looking them up. Ahh, Wikipedia. The term "baka" in Japanese was the one that immediately comes to mind for me (simply due to the similarity in spelling) when reading Dune but you get the idea. Herbert created his fictional setting with in service of his story and often parallels, intended or unintended to the real world will occur.

I can't imagine anyone would misunderstand the meaning of sendai in the Theos work once you become familiar with the material, even what has been presented so far online. If anyone wishes to see an association with the real city Sendai (or mistakes our usage of the term as callous, which it is not in any way) I'd prefer it to represent the incredible spirit Japan has always shown in the face of crisis. The city of Sendai has been stricken with a terrible tragedy of unimaginable proportions and if anyone wants to see a connection to our sendai let it be Japan's unyielding spirit and dignity. In that sense it does have a connection to our sendai as the bio-mechanical creatures in the Theos project will indeed faces many hardships and turmoil often with a strong sense of dignity and honor... but just as often not.

     Thank you for reading.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Our hearts go out to those in Japan

Waking up to the news about the tragedy in Japan wasn't the way I, or anybody, would want to start their day. I had to take my Father to a doctor's appointment (he's doing pretty much fantastic) and it was hard to focus on that with this news coming out of Japan.  I've heard directly from Jeff Lilly (hatrax on the blog. Jeff lives in Japan and he may weigh in at some point as well) and seen posts and tweets from several other folks I know in Japan hearing they're all OK, however that doesn't diminish the tragedy and loss for those who were not so lucky. There isn't much I can say beyond our hearts go out to those in Japan who have weathered this disaster and those that have been lost. May you be safe over there and best with the road to recovery. Rest in peace to those lost :(

Nature can be an awesomely frightening and cruel thing at times :(

Edit: I found myself at a loss when I posted the initial update earlier... and I'm still, rather at a loss right now. I've been glued to CNN, BBC (web feed), and Twitter, social networking, etc since I got home from my Father's doctor's visit. What strikes me is the surreal, yet devastating, nature of the footage that is all too real. This isn't some stupid Hollywood disaster flick. The weather has been chaotic as the planet has been changing and it can be awe striking in it's cruel raw power. Japan is a country well prepared for such disasters but this one is beyond forecasted estimations. We can only be so prepared and so vigilant. With daylight arriving in Japan the true scope of this disaster will become apparent and I don't expect it will be any less heartbreaking. Again our hearts go out to those in Japan during what will be a terribly rough time.

For those who can, donate here is a direct link to the Red Cross tsunami disaster relief.

Monday, March 07, 2011

TKP FOIL line art: Kharma Actura

Here's another of the recent Theos combat FOILs in line art presentation, this time the Oshen-Dies Kharma Actura. As with the previous posts this design began as a thumbnail rough and went through the same basic process arrive at a final digitally inked design. The legs on this one owe a bit to Karl's (genocidalpenguin) design cues to a large degree though still my own stylistic approach. Also that little armor plate, right under the arm socket, that's sitting over the  torso segments, was from Karl's Giza production model FOIL. They're sometimes little cues but important to imply a sense of cross pollination by the various fictional artisan's, a variety of parts manufacturers, and FOIL companies in the TKP universe. As we continue to explore possible FOIL designs it seemed a good idea to begin mixing some visual cue between all of us in order to express this more. This will likely continue to evolve with various TKP design work, FOILs or otherwise.


This machine is a late 5th generation evolution of the enigmatic bio mechanical combat frames that came to be known as FOILs, an acronym for Faedai Omni Icar Leviathan. The 5th generation FOILs evolved into a more utilitarian stripped down design philosophy. Less emphasis on artisan driven visual flamboyance with pure sculptural expression and more movement toward mass production with solid performance. This new approach to design was in response to a perceived pending change in the combat situation due to a looming new new threat. The threat assessment, by various tacticians and insiders deep in the political intrigue of SOL, was dire and the Faedai could no longer remain steeped in their code of honor driven controlled warfare by point spread. By the time the 5th generation of FOIL development had arrived it marked the end of a long tradition of battle tactics singularly unique to the planet Polemos. A new paradigm would emerge and things would never be the same again.

I'll continue to discuss the ideas behind the visual design cues of various FOIL timelines, naming conventions, and equipment as the blog continues, along with a great deal of other TKP information. Stay tuned as a brand new FOIL collaboration between myself and Karl Östlund will drop here very soon as well ;)