Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Maccabee

Mille Cuirs brings us another wonderful tome.  Since the original "Evil Dead" the concept of a grimoire with a face embedded into the cover has become a common trope.  Sadly, almost every single depiction of the idea looks ridiculous, but I like this take.  The sculpt captures the look of a face emerging from the depths and isn't too over the top.  A realistic take on a book bound in human flesh?  No, but it's very evocative.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

For Those Who Hunt the Night

Hex Mortis is an Atlanta-based design and fabrication company working on the "Constantine" television series.  While the show is struggling in the ratings it's certainly not because of the props.  There's some beautiful work on display in their gallery, both from "Constantine" and their private commission work.

Here's the "Sword of Night":

The "Ace of Winchesters" rifle for battling occult creatures.  There's something strangely familiar about that concept.  Heh.

The "Amulet of Pazuzu".  I knew prop houses provided multiple hero and stunt copies, but I never realized just how many they cranked out.  

Monday, December 29, 2014

Wandering the Wasteland

Curse Valve and their infernal Holiday Sale on Steam.

Sunday morning I was planning on playing "Sins of a Solar Empire" for an hour or so before getting some work done.  So I fire up Steam, and see they're practically giving away "Fallout: New Vegas" for less than the price of a cup of coffee.  What a deal!  Unfortunately, I didn't realize I'd been roaming the Mojave Wasteland for hours until the SO informed me that dinner was ready. 

To try and salvage some semblance of productivity, I bring you the excellent Fallout-based props of Elvis Alexander.  His gallery is fiilled with downloadable versions of almost every product label and paper prop from the game, and some wonderful tableau shots of the finished versions.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Cthulhu Fhtagn! Wick-Thorius Edition.

Over the years we've featured Cthulhu idols crafted from a variety of materials.  Wood, resin, polymer clay, soapstone, pewter, and more have all made an appearance.  This piece from Wick-Thorius is the very first one carved from...soap.  Despite it's humble origins, or perhaps because of them, it's a great example of the primitive-style statuettes I love. 

As an aside, a little Googling revealed this excellent scholarly article on the history of soap carving.   Not surprisingly, it was originally an innovative marketing ploy by Proctor and Gamble to sell more soap, a notoriously low-margin product.  It exploded in popularity in the 20s and 30s, the height of the classic Mythos era.  And there's this...

A small sculpture, carefully carved in ordinary bath soap, was found at the scene, causing police to surmise that the killer had "whiled away his time carving the statue as he waited." This tell tale calling card led detectives to identify their culprit, a so-called mad sculptor, whose earlier exploits had included employment in a waxworks studio in Los Angeles, an apprenticeship to the eminent sculptor Lorado Taft in Chicago, and a brief incarceration in a New York state hospital for the insane.

If that's not a hook for a scenario, I don't know what is.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Origin Unknown

Japanese artist Hajime Emoto is one of the premiere gaff artists working today.  As this piece demonstrates, he's a master at using traditional techniques and materials to create specimens that meet modern standards.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Devil's Vinyl

Over at the Replica Prop Forum, "Upgrade" is working on a reproduction of a prop from the "Constantine" television series.   The artifact in question is a recording from the 30s featuring a doomed bluesman who traded his soul in a deal with the Devil.  Ol' Nick also happens to provide backup vocals in the song.

The thread has some interesting details of reproducing the graphics of the record sleeve and label, but that's just the start.  It's the discussion of using a laser cutter to etch a playable recording onto an acrylic blank that really caught my attention.  The linked material is really fascinating.  I expect I'll touch on some of it once I have some time to digest the technical details.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Crafting a Crusader

Kamui Cosplay has an in-depth look at their recreation of the Crusader from "Diablo III". The hard-shell armor is built up from dozens of custom cut pieces of Worbla moldable plastic.

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Deep Ones

Artist Simon Lee brings us this beautiful homage to the Deep Ones.  What makes it even more impressive is that it was just one of twenty pieces he sculpted over twenty days.  This is what real talent looks like.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Fiat Lux

Magpiebones brings us these very cool light up crystals.  As a LARP light source you can't get much more atmospheric than this. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Into the Green

The last time Brazilian gamer Luciano Paul Giehl was featured here he'd created a selection of props for an LA Noire/Mythos mashup.  This time around he's given the same high-touch treatment to a tabletop scenario set during the Vietnam War.  The collection of equipment manuals, maps, photographs, ephemera, and physical props is a brilliant way to involve players in the game world.

I've mentioned before how unusual it is that Mythos-gaming has such a historic emphasis on immersiveness, while more mainstream D'n'D style fantasy games haven't really utilized props and handouts.  That may be starting to change.  One of my goals for the new year is to bring attention to the high-touch approach in FRPGs, and try to encourage it.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Cthulhu Fhtagn! Sander Edition.

BloodworxSander brings us this Cthulhu idol in cold cast bronze.  I like his stylized take on the head. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Cthulhu Fhtagn! Diamond Select Edition.

Diamond Select is going to be releasing a Cthulhu idol coin bank.  Yes, you read that right.  DreadCentral has posted a preview shot and it's actually quite nice.  The sculpt by Eli Livingston is great.  With a pricetag of just $24 the only real drawback is the paint job, but that's easily corrected.  I have a feeling a lot of people, including myself, will be getting more than one for customizing purposes.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Bogus Bills and Counterfeit Cash

Priceonomics has an interesting look at the ins and outs of prop money.  Production houses want the most realistic faux bills possible, but there's a fine line between convincing fakes and outright counterfeiting.  The Secret Service doesn't fool around when they think you've crossed that line.
The bills, which had been supplied by a major Hollywood prop house, were picked up by movie extras and passersby and were attempted to be passed off as legal tender in various stores along the strip. The authorities weren’t too thrilled. Secret Service agents glided in, swiftly detained somewhere north of $100 million worth of prop money, then accused the prop maker -- Independent Studio Services (ISS) -- of counterfeiting, and ordered a cease and desist on all of their faux cash.
 To give you an idea how complicated the rules can get, these are acceptable bills:

Here's one of the problematic props that triggered a Secret Service investigation compared to an actual $100 bill:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Haunting, Redux

Keep an eye on Cisticola's DeviantArt page.  He's going to be releasing deluxe versions of the paper props and handouts for the classic Chaosium adventure "The Haunting".  It's been the introductory scenario in the main rulebook for the "Call of Cthulhu" role playing game for years.  Cisticola's high end additions should help make it even more memorable.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Cthulhu Amulets

Jason McKittrick returns with the perfect accessory for the cultist in your life.  His new Cthulhu amulet is available in two different finishes, "Swamp Cultist" brown and a metallic green "High Priest".   There's no better way to start the new year than with a lovely symbol of dedication to the dread sleeping god.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

End of Days

Two of our sponsors are currently in the final stretch of their funding drives on Kickstarter.  The first is the Masks of Nyarlathotep Prop Set, which has added some very nice physical props to the lineup of stretch goals.   That includes the bluestone Cthulhu figure from the London segment, the Eye of Light and Darkness from Cairo, and the Mask of Hyama from New York.  That's in addition to the already extensive paper props and documents being offered up. 

The second is the Cthulhu Art Figure from Cthulhu Project.  It's tantalizingly close to hitting it's funding goal, and a final push should put it over the top.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Coming of Cthulhu

I was pleased to discover that Landron Artifacts is launching a line of Mythos items, including this Cthulhu wall tablet.  Based on the quality of their existing line of faux archeological relics I look forward to seeing more. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cthulhu Fhtagn! Canale/Luong Edition, Part Deux

The last time we took a look at this project from Richard Luong and Martin Canale it was just a digital file. Now it's entered the real world, and the results are quite impressive. This is what the future looks like, my friends.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Pipers of Azathoth

Joe Broers has outdone himself with his latest piece- the Pipers of Azathoth.  Follow the link so you can take a look at the high resolution shot on DeviantArt.  The swirling organic shapes remind me of a Virgil Finlay pulp illustration brought to life, and I mean that as the highest praise.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Zazzle Sale

Zazzle is holding a 30% off one day sale on everything with checkout code ALWAYSZAZZLE.  That includes my Miskatonic University gear.   One thing I wasn't aware of until recently is that you can modify the garment style by clicking the "Customize It" button and then selecting the new item from the list in the bottom right hand column.   That's how you can turn the default dark T-shirt into a hoody, or apply the expedition logo to the front or back of a garment.

Sadly, you can't prevent the hipster model from wearing plaid golf pants.  

Making a Daedric Bow

Jim at brings us a great tutorial on building a reproduction of the Daedric Bow from "Skyrim".   Even if you're not into video game props his technique, using laminated sheets of foamcore, is worth a watch.  It's an incredibly cheap material that can produce surprisingly strong items thanks to it's inherently composite nature.  Those layers of paper, foam, and glue help disperse stress throughout the entire structure.  More importantly, foamcore is ideal for cutting precise parts based on easily printable paper patterns.

You can view the video on YouTube over here.

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Black Necronomicon

Mille Cuirs returns with another beautiful hand bound tome.  This time it's a take on the Necronomicon featuring tooled black leather and an inset glass eye.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

DIY Vampire Killing Kit

Megan at the "Polish the Stars" craft blog brings us a tutorial on crafting a vampire hunting kit.  It's a good introduction to the subject that uses off-the-shelf components from craft stores and Amazon.  It's certainly not the kind of ornate, over the top piece normally featured here, but the directions provide a good foundation for further development.  

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Sculpting Skin

Smooth surfaces do not exist in nature.

That's a bit of an exaggeration, but sculptors that embrace the idea will almost immediately see their work improve.  I speak from experience.  I wasn't half bad at capturing form, but it was only when I started to pay attention to texture that I saw some real growth in my work.  That's why you'll frequently see me drawing attention to the surface textures of work featured here. 

If you're at a loss for how to do texture work this tutorial by Serbian artist Sendy at the EffectsLab is a perfect place to start.  He runs down a complete collection of tools and then demonstrates how they're used to create realistic, and downright horrific, skin textures. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Cthulhu Fhtagn! Centipede Edition.

Copper Centipede returns with another excellent Cthulhu idol.  It's cast in a semi-transparent resin to mimic the look of smoky quartz.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Bosmer Shadow Daggers

Impact Props has a complete build log for their recreation of the Bosmer Shadow Daggers from "Elder Scrolls Online".  It's fascinating to watch the project develop from a piece of paper to the final product.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Miskatonic Swag

Zazzle is offering 20% off all t-shirts during their current holiday sale.  Enter code ZAZCYBERWEEK at checkout.  I just happen to have some Miskatonic University items that you may find interesting.

From the Mountains of Madness

Russian artist Girhash Angbandskaya brings us this Elder Thing art doll.* Her attention to detail is amazing, right down to recreating the five radial wings instead of fudging them as a single pair.

* Just sit back and let that roll over you.  An art doll. Of an Elder Thing. What a glorious time to be alive.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Dagger of Yht'ktir

Florian Mellies has posted a closer look at the Dagger of Yht'ktir featured in last week's tableau shot.   The sculpt is wonderfully organic and twisted. The high resolution shot gives you a good look at the texture and finish work. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Dungeon Crawl

Brazilian artist Rodrigo Cali brings us this cool collection of items from a Dungeons and Dragons adventure

I'm surprised we don't see more fantasy RPG props.  "Call of Cthulhu" embraced prop documents and handouts as a natural outgrowth of its primarily investigative nature.  You would think traditional fantasy games would be filled with reproductions of scrolls, maps, and plunder.  The plethora of high end gaming accessories, like miniatures, battlemats, DM screens, etc., show a desire to add some nice "set dressing", but for some reason props haven't really caught on.