Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Elder Scrolls Online Poster Challenge


I am a huge fan of the Elder Scrolls Series and I have been playing MMOs since Everquest, so naturally I jumped on the Elder Scrolls Online. I daily check Tamriel Foundry for new information and one day I came across the poster challenge. First I had a really really hard time thinking of something worth making. So it actually took me 2 weeks to finally come up with a good idea.
This 2 week process led to an idea that is based on a small story. So in order for everyone to fully understand my work, I decided to dedicate a page on my blog to the background and the creation of this poster. Here you have some of my sketch drawings. The one on the top right switches back and forth between two ideas for the header every 5 seconds.

 


I quickly dismissed the idea of giving each race its own separate space. It would have required extensive work which time did not permit. But as you can see above "AD - High Elf" on the last sketch, I have also considered morphing each of the three race symbols into one to make them fit.

The background story for my work has something to do with a group called "The Pale Kin". Let me make clear from the beginning that "The Pale Kin" is a group that I created. It does not exist anywhere in the Elder Scrolls Series (at least not as far as I know - this would be a crazy coincidence) or anywhere else. I tried googling it, but the results are always for "The Pale King", which apparently exists. So do not confuse the two. The Pale Kin serves only as basis for my work. Consider them fan-fiction and an historical anchor point to give the result more meaning.

Here you have the poster without the logos on it and following that an explanation of what, why and of course: how:



The story:
In E2 583 Tamriel was divided by a conflict that split the land into three groups desperatly fighting one another. Each of these groups determined to conquer the White Gold Tower in the center of Tamriel to gain utter dominance.
Unknown to most and uncovered by none, the raging war between the alliances gave birth to the Pale Kin. A group of raceless that oppose the conflict in order to put focus on a much bigger threat. The Pale Kin believes that the war of the alliances is merely a phase, an unfortunate development serving the undead as a distraction. While the mortals march against each other, the undead forces spread and weaken the force of the living. The Pale Kin seek to reunite the races of Tamriel to strengthen their numbers against their true enemy: Molag Bal. 

The analysis:
The poster shows a lead glass window located somewhere in the White Gold Tower in the Imperial City. Its origin is unknown and so are its creators. It depicts the situation in Tamriel in E2 583 and it shows the motivation of the Pale Kin. The motivation being the prevention of the window (Tamriel) from being destroyed by the creeping smoke (the undead: Molag Bal).


I will begin at the center.
The center piece is, unlike most of the rest of the window, not made of glass. It is simply the silhouette of a cross that is welded to the frame. These open areas were deliberately left open to give the image a lighter look by enabling the view on the sky behind it and also to reduce an overload of impressions.
The cross symbolizes the White Gold Tower touching the sun. This symbolic presentation is a result of (A) its actual size and (B) its figuritive size - meaning: its importance. At its top the three alliances equally touch the tower too, depicting their attempt to seize it. It also stands for a certain balance among the alliances, visible in equal size, form and penetration of the tower (I hope you did not just giggle while reading "penetration").
In our time, the cross itself is usually interpreted as a Christian symbol. I know it is probably impossible, but I wanted to detach that connotation from the cross by giving the explanation above. At the same time, the cross helps to set the mood for a mid-evil lead glass window. So I guess I am trying to pick and choose here.

The tower (being the center of the window as well as the center of the story and the conflict) is surrounded by three panes showing the three alliances. It thereby creates a triangle that is positioned around the tower part. In the bottom right triangle we see an amalgamation of all three race symbols that belong to the Aldmeri Dominion. It is set before a familiar background kept in its alliance colors to underline the affiliation. Across the other side, on the left, there are four images of locations from the area of the Aldmeri Dominion.
The other two alliances have been set up accordingly. With the Ebonheart Pact above the cross and its correspondent impressions on the very bottom of the window and the Daggerfall Covenant on the left side of the cross and its correspondent images on the right side of the window.
The impressions of Tamriel along the window frame have reduced saturation and are slightly see-through. This should depict that the focus really lies on the center - let's call it the "conflict triangle surrounding the cross". These inner triangles have richer colors and are 100% solid. They even have a second layer of glass around the edges to frame them.


On the top of the window I decided not to add any images. The window symbolizes Tamriel and above Tamriel...well - there are the gods. Maybe not necessarily literally above Tamriel, but figuritively speaking. So instead of drawing a bearded old man or something like the Last Supper, I thought it would have a certain authenticity to let it open. Thereby forcing everyone that is standing in front of the window to look up into the sky - directly towards the gods, if you will.
In the center of the top you see the Ouroboros. It is foremost the Elder Scrolls Online symbol but it also lets me create another familiar symbol.
The sneaky eye:
Every fan of the series knows this icon. For those that do not, it is an icon that tells you that you are currently sneaking. If it is closed, then you are hidden from everyone around you. If it is open, it means that someone can see you. This underlines the hidden character of the group of the Pale Kin. It is a secret organization that most people haven't heard of, yet. They are somewhere out there - hidden. And remember, when the eye is open - someone is watching you...!


Now for the smoke. The smoke stands for the unnatural and evil threat posed by the undead. It is the only thing that is not physically attached to the rest of the window. The unity and the similarity that exists among the races of Tamriel (depicted in the fact that every piece of glass and metal is connected to each other), despite the war of the alliances, is being invaded by this undead threat (the smoke). When looking closer at the areas that are touched by the smoke, it should become visible that the glass beneath is actually corroding. The smoke (the undead) threatens to destroy the window (Tamriel).


I chose to set the scene at the beginning of the day. Dawn is typically more hopeful and optimistic. Of course, making the sky dark works just as well. In my opinion it works even better with the smoke, but this way it puts emphasis on the coming day: things can still change! Just for fun, here you have them both:

 

This window symbolizes what the Pale Kin stands for. Their quest is to wake up the people of Tamriel and pull them out of this war against each other. They have no affiliation limited to race or region. The Pale Kin are not trying to save a part of Tamriel, they are trying to save it all. Simply put and a nice way to say it in this context: They are all about the big picture.





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