When You Need to Draw an Ornithopter, You Need to Build an Ornithopter

…or so concluded Melissa Gay, artist for The Wars, one of the four books conjuring the interwoven, skewed realities of The Yellow King Roleplaying Game (now on Kickstarter.)

Technically I asked Melissa to draw not an ornithopter but an odanathopter, as this aircraft from the weird battle zones of Europe’s 1947 Continental War is called a dragonfly.

I supplied Melissa with the decription from the game:

This helicopter equivalent consists of a glassed-in cockpit divided into two bubbles recalling the eyes of its eponymous insect. A segmented body section houses up to eight soldiers. Combat dragonflies have mounted machine guns for gunners to strafe the battlefield. These do not appear for craft detailed for medical or cargo use. Special grabbers attached to the bottom of the fuselage allow for added cargo. The dragonfly’s four wings flap up and down, granting it flight in either vertical or horizontal mode. Each wing consists of a wrought iron frame into which dozens of stained glass panels are fitted. These panels are made from levitation glass, a Carcosan technology. The dragonfly’s great maneuverability comes at the cost of fragility: dragonflies are vulnerable to small arms fire and crash all too frequently.

Melissa prepared this visual to show her preparation for the illustration:

Her model turned into the following piece, in which dragonflies take fire from one of the highly ornamented artillery pieces typical of this conflict.

Note the Yellow Sign on the fuselage, drawing energies from the King in Yellow’s realm to power the levitation glass.

When Melissa came on board the project I created a mood board of references, prominently featuring war art of the 20th century. When giving artists inspiration like this, you’re hoping that they’ll pick up on a color palette and an emotional quality. You don’t expect them to so fully immerse them in the style that they replicate it and then make it their own, but that’s exactly what Melissa has done here.

Our current stretch goal is a 13th Age crossover. After backers put that away, the next one in the queue will see Melissa converting some of her concept sketches into schematic’s for the war’s alternate reality battle machinery.

Pledge today to The Yellow King Roleplaying Game Kickstarter and help make that happen.

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