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Special Report: Peer Review

Special Report: Peer Review

Looking for inspiration, I went to a local museum to have a look at their sword display. There were lots of interesting weapons in there (though some were really rusty. Nothing a bit of brasso wouldn’t solve guys) and I came away feeling really inspired- so expect some new material soon folks.
As I was leaving I saw a small display of drawings some previous visitors had created. And one of them caught my eye immediately.
I’m not ashamed to say that my initial reaction was pride and confusion that one of my creations had been put on display without my permission (note the exquisite wrapped leather handle- a swordsdrawn trademark if ever I saw one)! I was close to seeking out the closest member of staff to discuss royalties, but on closer inspection it became obvious that this was someone else’s work. Entirely.
Let’s take a closer look – the first thing that springs out is the HUGE fuller- almost the width of the whole blade itself. I can’t help but think this would affect the integrity of the blade. It’s also bright blue- most likely lead. I mean lead! One of the most malleable metals known to man! Good luck against even leather armour mate. The handle’s not in the centre.
Secondly, whilst I can’t help but admire his wrapped leather handle, he’s wrapped the tip of the blade as well. And even then it isn’t straight. What’s the point in a wrapped leather tip? Is it a practise sword? A child’s toy? No no- the artist spells it out for us: This is “ROMAN ARMOUR”. Well for starters it isn’t. It’s a sword and shield. Secondly, I highly doubt the Roman Empire would have been quite the same waving lead blades wrapped in leather about against the barbarian hordes of modern day Germany and France.
But- my scoff turned to a gasp when my eyes crossed to the shield. It is magnificent.
First off- the message: “WE FIGHT FOR CAESAR”. Bold. Simple. Leaves the opposition in no doubt about whom they’re fighting here. There’s even a picture of the great emperor in case the opponents can’t read English (Which Ceasar isn’t actually mentioned- but when you think about it this makes perfect sense. If one dies, they’d have to score out the name and write the new one underneath on all their shields). But what really impressed me about the shield is the sense of perspective. Look at the way the shield is facing slightly off centre to right. The artist has created this effect by purposefully making the right hand side (as your facing it) smaller and more condensed, making that side appear further away. Truly advanced drawing.
So, mystery artist, my Moriarty : if you are reading this- You have my attention. I understand it is advantage you, but I promise, you ain’t seen the last of me yet. And as for your cryptic clue as to your identity- Chirnside Primary School. We’ll I’ve found it on Google maps, and I’ll been lurking outside it’s gates with binoculars until I find you.

Mystical Sword

Mystical Sword

This is a very special weapon indeed. And is much more than initially meets the eye!
I’m very proud of the blade of this sword. It is exactly the right shape and size. I really felt I nailed this drawing based on my original idea. It was one of the earliest pieces from my ‘pencil phase’ which I haven’t returned to for a while (I don’t have a sharpener). It is straight as a ruler, and the curve to the right at the top is perfect. Again, I’ve gone for the loads of small lines to make one big line, but this time the edge helps explain what makes this sword so special. It exists in other dimensions!
The blade shimmers between the dimensions, sometimes in our world, sometimes in some hellish mirror-world where giant beetles sit on the throne with human women as their concubines (though they may actually have penises themselves in this hellish place), sometimes in some realm completely un-imaginable by the human eye. Inspired by the works of German mathematician David Hilbert (suspiciously English name for a kraut, but you can’t argue with his logic), I agree that there are literally an infinite amount of dimensions out there. I haven’t read all of his entry on Wikipedia but I’ve read enough to believe there is not a chance of any other amount of dimensions being out there. This theory poses one major problem though: How is a blade going to be of any use when it is only in any one dimension for an infinitely small amount of time? Well the answer is quite simple really- “our” dimension (I am down to a shortlist of names for my universe BTW, more on that next post) is the “anchor” which all other dimensions pass through and as such the blade is “anchored” to it, and has to pass through it EACH TIME it wants to travel to another one, effectively doubling the amount of time it spends here. The blade was created here at one microsecond past the dawn of time by a meteorite spirit landing on the planet. One mathematician friend has pointed out that an infinitely small amount of time multiplied by two is still infinitely small, but we can disregard that to be honest. In this dimension, mathematicians are looked on with suspicion and scorn but the magic-embracing peoples, and as such are mainly outcasts and have been the victims of a great many pogroms. Mathematics be gone! ;-p
Anyway back to the sword – the blade is long and straight, and the curve at the top shows that this is an exotic weapon from a far off land (the meteor landed far away), and yes that is blood at the top- but from which creature one can never be sure! Though here it’s a bear. You can actually see a snap of electricity to the right of the blade as it crackles and pops into yet another dimension. The crossguard has an aura around it, again supporting the idea that it travels between dimensions- this would shimmer in a film or TV show, or a GAME (hint hint guys I know you’re reading). Watch out though – looking into the cross guard can make you go blind and sick as it contains an infinite amount of rings, and here’s the twist, each one contains a new dimension! So is the sword within the universe? Or the other way around?! I’ll leave that for you to work out (but I’ll probably decide in a later blog).
The handle has dots which represents orbits.
Actually I’ve decided that, although I like this sword a great deal (see para 1), it’s too powerful as it stands. I want one of the other ones to be my ‘ultimate sword’. It doesn’t even have a name. So actually it’s just gemstone in the crossguard. But it does still go to other dimensions.

The Eye-Seer

The Eye-Seer

Picture the world in which all my swords exist. One large coherent planet, with countries, cultures, histories, gods, kings, wars, and food and song and intrigue and prostitutes.
Now picture a computer RPG, where small parts of some of these great countries, halls and battlefields are visitable. The snow-capped hills of RockTreeSnow, the great civilised halls of the Human Lands. The decadent underwater halls of the mermen (plus many more to be revealed).
All the blades I have shared with you thus far have been common swords, ten-a-penny, which the player could pick up a great number of (weight permitting of course – lol at the thought of carrying more than one Giants Blade), and sell to the nearest merchant.
The EyeSeer is the first “Unique Weapon” in this realm. For the uninitiated, that means there is only one of its kind. In a computer RPG (CRPG, or “RPG”), this is the sort of shit the player holds on to. And in this case, you can clearly see why!
Let’s start with the obvious: This blade contains not one but 3 living eyes (but it’s actually closer to 6 because it’s the same on the other side). These are kept alive by some infernal curse, and blink and look around and, sometimes, cry. They allow the wielder to ‘see’ in 3 (or 6) dimensions. But not dimensions as we mere earth-dwellers understand them. In this world, dimensions are more than just height, length, and size. The three (6) dimensions here are: Danger, Awareness, and Hell.
Danger, the middle eye: When the wielder looks through the Danger eye, he can see all dangers around him. This could be traps, bad animals, situational hazards such as cliffs or snowstorms, or, if his perception is high enough, traitors, chancers, thieves and just general bastards. These dangers would probably glow red in an RPG. You can tell it is the danger eye because it has dark lines around it, indicating that it is evil. It is also bloodshot.
Awareness: Quite similar to some of dangers traits. It will show the player the traitors, but also things like chests in dungeons, doors, merchants, doors etc. Basically all the non-dangerous “interactive” elements of the world, but also some of the dangerous ones as well. It can see through walls. This eye is embedded within the blade itself. As you can see it is wide open and has a cat-like iris for added awareness.
Hell: This would be the killer feature of my game, which sets it apart from certain other big name RPG’s. In my world, hell doesn’t exist underground, or in some handy alternative dimension, but rather it exists 1 millisecond ahead of us. At all times. Imagine, just one millisecond into the future, all hell exists. Being able to see one millisecond ahead, you’d see tortured souls, wasted cities, destroyed countries and farms. Loads of dead bodies of animals and men. Probably torture and, I’m sad to say, rape. With the eye’seer, the wielder can peer into this tormented future, and go adventuring in there. There’s lots of high-level (read: strong) enemies, as well as some kick-ass loot. The hell-eye is in the pommel, and you can see by it’s 1000-yard stare that it has seen some horrible sights.
As a blade itself, the eyese’er is pretty standard fare. The blade itself is tapered rather than straight, making it more of a ‘stabber’ than a ‘slasher’. The leather-wrapped grip is made from two types of leather, one of sheep, the other of hellsheep (found in hell).
Obviously the finer points of any game based on this realm have to be fleshed out fully (and they will be in later posts), but it is clearly fertile ground. Unfortunately this view is not shared by one such game developer who shall remain nameless. Thanking me for my interest, they rejected my initial design document, citing a “general lack of detail”, and sort of blaming the impossibility of creating a game based at least 33% underwater (the merman realm is integral to the plot, and sadly water breathing spells simply do not exist in the lore. Christ, they managed to make it work in Sonic 2!). There was also a note from some obviously junior artist (or intern?), saying that the dimensions of the eye-Seer made it more likely a dagger. I think the Eye’seer knows what it’s talking about when it comes to dimensions, sir! I assume it’s a translation error from Canadian to English.

(Post Script: In my various descriptions of my theoretical game, you’ll see I always refer to the player as “he”. It has been a trend over the last decade or so to allow players of these games to be given the choice of a male or female protagonist. In my world however, it is strictly male-only. This isn’t sexist however, it’s simply that in my world women are either maids, kitchen workers, milkmaids or whores.)

Giant’s Blade

Giant's Blade

This sword is huge, and very very sharp. It is actually probably made from stone, since giant’s are often blundering idiotic simpletons that rely on pure strength and size to survive. That also explains why this one is squint. Can you imagine a giant using ruler? Actually it is squint because the sheer weight of the blade (a cool 2 tonnes) has caused damage to the structural integriy- something which would have been accounted for had it been crafted by the master-smiths of the enlightened human race, (perhaps using an iron spine). Also, the idiot has inlaid the pommel within the grip, completely cancelling out any beneficial counterbalancing. The Pommel is shiny, because like most lesser intellects they like shiny things.

Giant’s don’t have a word for subtlely in their language, so what we get here is lots of sharp points, even on the crossguard. They don’t even use scabbards half the time so sheathing this weapon would almost definately cause some mild cutting to the hip bone for crissakes. The dark spot on the tip of the blade is not blood but rust because he didn’t take care of it properly. Plus it’s cold and wet there. The serrated edge is handy for sawing chunks of mammoth meat which they eat raw because they still haven’t discorverd fire.

Despite an almost complete lack of intellect, Giants are a formidable foe to the humans. This particular blade is a trophy taken by a group of human rangers high up in the giant’s homeland, RockTreeSnow (or Giants-land in the human tongue). Seeing a lone giant they ambushed it, but it took over 90 arrows and slew three of their number before finally succumbing to two axes in the thighs and knees.

The particular image is actually a statament on the barbarity of hunting in our own society, and the human hand holding aloft the trophy is not just for scale (despite what the scribbled note says), but also a statement about those photos you get of real-life hunters beside the corpses of giant alligators, bears, yeti or natives. Makes one ponder; who, exactly, are the real savages? (Humans)

Blade of the Mer-men

Blade of the Mer-men

Aside from the blue colour chosen for this blade, there are 4 significant points of interest here which make it obvious that this is a sword of the sea-people:

1. The decorative fish-head pommel. Not a real fish head (which would rot away pretty quickly, leaving the blade unbalanced), but carved whalebone. Its teeth are sharp, making it a perfect secondary weapon against smaller fish should they get too close.

2. The “flotsam” crossguard. Made from a piece of driftwood, possibly from the wreck of a cursed ship. In fact yeah the mermen make their crossguards from ships which they have sunk, casting the crew to the bottomless depths of their kingdom. In order to make their first crossguards they attacked that ship with tridents and nets.

3. The “fishbone” fuller. Unlike the pommel, this is real fish-spine. Each mer-lad has to kill a fish as a rite of passage, and then they use its spine as a fuller. This gives the blade the same flexibility as a spine, which is a good thing. The bigger the fish they slay, the longer the blade. One mer-hero of yesteryear, Seabass Pacific, slew a whale and so his blade was over 30 metres long and weighed six tons. He tragically drowned on his first assault on a fishing vessel. So did Trout Black (named after the Black Sea) who killed a jellyfish.

4. The Seaweed tip: Makes it all sea-like.

Also of note is the slight curve in the blade. This isn’t accidental, rather drawn to represent the gentle swaying of sea-plants in the current. It also helps make the sword more deadly.

I’ve yet to swing a sword underwater, but I actually think it would be quite hard to do so with enough force and speed to harm anything. For this reason the mermen can also spit acid, and use this as their primary attack, and only really use their swords to stab hulls of ships.

Barbarian Weapon

Barbarian Weapon

This blade has definately seem some action in it’s time! Where to start…

The crossguard is perhaps made of animal-horn; maybe some fantastic relative of the cow. This is to show that the sword belongs to a more savage people, as opposed to the refined steel of a knight’s blade. It’s two horn-points are stained with the blood of over a hundred thousand victims (I told you it had seem come action ;-p). The crossguard has two decorative double-lines of small metal studs inlaid to aid balance, and a slot in the centre. This is for an unspecified reason. Possibly to insert a magic crystal, thus increasing the blades power.

A classic wrapped-leather grip (again pointing to a cow as the source of the horns) is decorated by a wrap of a twine-like substance. Perhaps from a fair milk-maiden’s hair, or some favourite victim of the owners reaving. Perhaps it is simply to attach the blade to the barbarians fur armour to stop him losing it.

You can see that the blade was drawn in that style of drawing loads of tiny lines to make one big line. I’ve seen loads of artists do this to give a more ‘impressionistic’ impression of their subjects. Here, it just makes the blade look blunt. This is partially on purpose however as it helps give the the weapon the air of being used literally hundreds of thousands of times. It is a true barbarian blade, an essential tool. A simple weapon for a simple time. A killers blade.

Critics might point to the massive priceless gemstone pommel going against the idea that this a savages blade. But who knows, perhaps the owner found the stone. Or maybe he lived near a diamond mine. No one will ever know for sure. In a way, that makes me sad…


Welcome to Swords Drawn. Here you’ll find selection of my favourite drawings I’ve made of swords.

A note on the title: It actually has a double meaning. You’ll see that most of my work are drawings (though I may publish some dabblings in other techniques- watch this space), but also, the physical act of drawing a sword is called “drawing”, which is, in a sense what I am doing with these pictures. For of course, what use is a sword if it can’t be drawn?

I’ll leave you to ponder that. Enjoy the pictures.


London, April 2012

Ornate Sword

Ornate Sword

This ornate weapon is possibly for decorative or ceremonial purposes. It is clearly very shiny, having not one but two ‘glints’ (top of the blade and from the crescent-lunar pommel). As both are on the left we can assume there is a light source in that direction. Possibly a ceremonial fire or a wizard doing a spell.

Some might argue that there is a lack of detail in the grip. I would counter-agrue that the grip is probably one piece of suede or light leather. As it is most likely a non-combat weapon it does not require the sturdy wrapped-leather often seen in my other works.

The nick on the top right side of the blade was caused when it was taken up in defence after some pillagers attacked the temple where it was held. Alas it did not protect the wielder, who got his or her guts cut out.

The crossguard has loads of gems in it.

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