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Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Picture Update! Hooray!

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have just released pictures of our most recent works here at Valravn Designs!

See for yourself on our Flickr page.

Or, for the less active of you, here are a few highlights and the stories behind the works:


First, we have Xala, a commission from our Skyshard dolls. Another of the holy healers of the Vituan Priesthood, she is also the sister to Alora. Wearing the dark blue robes of the seer caste, Xala's talents lie more in prophesy than healing. She now roams the world looking for her sister, first looking at the grand ball of the Caravan Cities.


Xala

Secondly we have Savanna, an original commission for a lady that we met at our trade stand at MCM Comic Con all the way back in May of last year. After making a lasting impression she asked for her original character to be created in doll form. Naturally, we were delighted for working on such a collaboration!


Savanna

Finally, we have our most heartwarming piece to date. The customer for this piece wanted something special made for a lady that he wished to propose to. Specifically, he wanted to give her a mermaid. He wanted this mermaid to be a proper, sea dwelling, non Disney mermaid. He particularly liked some of our previous works on the theme of less human figures (such as Xantha the dryad).
This would be a challenge. Creating a tail that could be moved and posed, doing away with the legs on the doll was territory we had yet explored.
Having gotten the idea together, he said that this would then be a proposal gift and could we make a ring box to go with it. After tracking down a shell shaped ring box (Gods bless the internet!) we completed the order as you see it below:


Delluvia

Delluvia

By the way.... she said yes. We're far too humble to take the credit for that though.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Like a Swan

Greetings one and all.
Like a swan, Valravn Designs has been quiet on the outside (though our Facebook and Flickr feeds have been churning away as ever) yet thrashing around in the ecstatic, frantic motions of artistic creation on the underneath.

Currently we are very much in demand, having lined up at the moment:
1 doll commission,
a series of rucksacks for an art gallery (more on that another time)
and an entire wedding party!

Wedding commissions are some of our favourite work, giving Amber plenty to do and taking her back to her original calling of fine dress making, costume and couture. Sadly, they also take huge amounts of our available time and do not allow us to release images until after the wedding (tradition and all that). As it stands, we're going to be a little bit quieter for that reason.

If you have a commission in mind, do let us know and we will always be happy to provide a quote and give an idea of when we will be ready to take custom orders on in earnest again.

Until then, keep enjoying beautiful things!

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

The Caravan Cities of the Great Openness

Time for another piece of setting from the world of Skyshards:

From the Journal of Scoutmaster Erilenia Mourningstar:

It’s refreshing to be posted somewhere where the chance of dying horribly is that much lower. It’s not what I would call safe out here, but there are worse places.
The Great Openness is just how it sounds. It is a huge expanse of open fields and scrubland, where it is possible to see the horizon in all directions. Living in these lands are the Feralis in their Great Caravan Cities.
Adequate description of the caravan cities is not simple thing. The first thing most people picture before they actually see them are great columns of gaudily painted caravans being pulled by various beasts of burden across the flat lands the Feralis call home. That isn’t entirely right. What’s missing is the sheer scale of the caravans. I have seen caravans the size of churches, cathedrals and even palaces. Being so close to the Stormlands, the Feralis have gained access to a number of elements that allow their caravans to be lifted from the ground and pulled across the plains, leaving the ground underneath virtually undisturbed and requiring far less effort from their teams of beasts.
The buildings are often of prestigious age and are designed to withstand incredible assaults by the elements and enemy tribes without tarnishing their beauty. The people of the caravans are traders, alchemists and the warriors and hunters that would need to guard and feed such a population. When it comes to seeking rare items, there are none who would be a better place to begin making enquiries than the Feralis.

Having briefly described just one of the cities, it is best to know that each city (for there are many) is effectively its own state or principality, with its own laws, customs and tribal bloodlines. The Cities act as a whole only through the most intricate brokering of non aggression pacts, trade agreements and alliances through marriage. It has been known for the cities to war on each other, using alchemical weapons and ancient artifacts they have received in trade from across the known world. Their wars have left many a wreck of a city on the plains, but none so great as the ruin of Sarn, where it was said that the devastation brought upon the populace was so great, there is nothing left but their shadows burned forever into the polished marble walls of the great caravan. As the stories say, the ghosts of that city still haunt the plains, seeking revenge on the three cities that plotted their downfall. Vengeance is a dish best served cold and there is nothing colder than the grave.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Making Elsa from Frozen's Shoes

Greetings peeps! Amber has been working on her latest cosplay and in her infinite generosity has done a breakdown of how she has created the shoes.
Without further ado, and in her own words, here is "Making Elsa's Shoes":

So I searched for ages to find a good base shoe for Elsa, purchased the perfect pair and they were too small and I couldn't find any more in my size! I ended up buying a pair with a good heel height in the sale at a local shop and working from there. I wanted to create a translucent frosted look without the shoes being transparent (I have awful feet which usually rarely venture out of my Dr Martens) This was my solution!

Elsa Shoes

I picked a low heeled shoe with a nice matte finish fabric, this helped all the later paintwork adhere properly and reduced the risk of cracking.

Elsa Shoes

Next I cut out a huge chunk in the middle with leather scissors and a stanley knife. I made the shapes soft as I find those toe and heel shoes look freaky and I need a bit more support with my high instep.

Elsa Shoes

Next I painted the cut sections with a little acrylic paint to seal them and I filled in all the loose ugly bits with some Fimo Air Light which I had. It is an extremely light air drying clay which is fabulous for a whole range of uses.

Elsa Shoes

Here you can see the detail where I smoothed out the join between the two cut sections. I could have just bought a pair that didn't have this section in but I was trying to keep costs down and was more concerned with how pointy the toes were and heel shape. Anyway!

Elsa Shoes

Next I cut out my additional shapes out of leather. I referenced the official artwork and the concept art too. I actually preferred the shapes to the concept art so my shoes reflect that.

Elsa Shoes

I used a contact adhesive meant for leather to attach the pieces to the shoes, I tried them on and checked for fit before glueing.

Elsa Shoes

You can see the side detail here and how I also painted the whole lot with acrylic. I also spray painted the soles with silver paint at this point too.

Elsa Shoes

Elsa Shoes

Silver! Just a couple of coats of silver paint later and they are starting to take shape.

Elsa Shoes

So here I used the old Fimo Air Light again and applied it to smooth the join along both the front and back edges. I left a little bit of the jagged edge in and gently tooled the surface with the end of a paintbrush sweeping from the toe backover.

Elsa Shoes

I gave the shoes another coat of silver and then started layering on the acrylics. I blended a nice turquoise and applied that along with coats of white until I had a look I was happy with.

Elsa Shoes

Here you can see the detail on the heels and that frosted effect.

Elsa Shoes

Toe closeup! I added a very light mist of silver here to blend the colours a little.

Elsa Shoes

And finally the most important stage! I wanted this translucent effect but needed something flexible. I had seem some lovely shoes online that someone had made using resin which were amazing but I haven't worked with it nor do I have the monies to try. So I pondered other transparent and translucent materials and came up with clear silicone. I have a great supplier nearby and picked up a couple of tubes of clear silicone for a couple of pound each. I still have one unused so you don't need much!

Elsa Shoes

I squeezed a load of the clear silicone out onto a paper place and applied it with a brush, carefully applying it to all the surfaces of the shoe. I worked on the toe parts and heels separately so I didn't have too much silicone out at once.

Elsa Shoes

When the first section was finished but still tacky I scattered on a little white glitter. It sticks great to the surface of the silicone and gives a lovely frosted finish.

Elsa Shoes

Elsa Shoes

Elsa Shoes

Elsa Shoes

Elsa Shoes

And here they are!

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

The Dead Cities...

Ladies and gentlemen, a day earlier than promised, here is a peek into the society of the Mortuans, dwelling in the Dead Cities of the North....

Kalin

From the Journal of Scoutmaster Erilenia Mourningstar:

This [The Dead Cities] is a seriously strange place. Everywhere else, they guard their borders, or at least have some form of geographical feature to denote when you should be turning back. The Mortuans have something far worse than that. As you enter their territory, you notice that pretty much everything either starts dying or growing wilder in the worst possible way. Thorns and poisonous plants everywhere and even the fields are full of crops that look like an alchemist had an accident creating pesticides for them. Just to finish the effect, the fields are tended by the dead. Apparently once slaves outlive their usefulness, they haven’t entirely outlived their usefulness…
As you get past the rural areas and head for the cities, things get a little more civilised and a great deal more disturbing.
The Dead Cities live up to their name. The dead have both the greatest and least power in their society, with the living stratified in between. The way it works is this:
At the bottom are the shambling dead. Dead bodies that stagger around doing menial chores, overseen by their pale masters, held in check with magick.
Next up come the slaves. These are people stolen from wherever or even the unluckier locals who live in terror. The do the crafts and other such trades hoping that they may one day be picked out to become acolytes.
Acolytes are the obvious next step on the ladder. Picked out by the priesthood as having the potential to be converted to “full” Mortuan in their ancient ritual, the acolytes are trained more thoroughly than slaves and groomed for positions of responsibility. Life as an acolyte is not so easy though, as a degree of infighting for influence and the chance to be converted is actively encouraged, weeding out the weak of will and those lacking in cunning. Magickal aptitude will get an acolyte or slave notice and is a quick route either to a sudden and untimely death, or an existence beyond even that…
Mortuan citizens are dead in every sense. Their bodies no longer function by the rules of nature, held in check by powerful magick and their equally powerful wills. The lowest rank among the converted is that of citizen. These Mortuans are the traders, crafters and lower level necromancers of the race. They make magical goods, oversee production and keep the economy of the Dead Cities in constant movement. While wealthy, they are known to squabble amongst themselves for greater wealth and power, often with lethal results. It is no great secret that Mortuans can die if the means of their destruction is sufficiently thorough, though depending on the power of the Mortuan it can become anything but simple to do so.
Above the citizens, come the Priesthood. Each is devoted to one of the dark Necropolis Gods, granted mastery of dark magicks and the political influence to wield it with authority. Since the Mortuans don’t entirely hold with the concept of Diplomatic Immunity, I couldn’t get much more information than that on the priesthoods. The last bit of information I got before I had to get out of there was this.
The Mortuans are ruled by one brotherhood of priests known as The Disciples Of The One Who Dreams. It’s a mouthful, but apparently the One Who Dreams is some sort of dead but not dead God that first taught the Mortuans their dark magicks and keeps a reign on them to this day. I daren’t sleep in one of their cities if that is what lives in their dreams…

 Next up, the Caravan Cities of the Great Openness

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

New Page!

Ladies and gents, please check our pages at www.valravndesigns.co.uk for ongoing updates about our new body of work: The world of Skyshards!

We're back from holiday and with Danov Valravn nursing a resolution to write heaping helpings of content for our setting, you are more than welcome to have a read and get involved in the creation of a world of fantasy and adventure for our dolls, each written with loving care into the ongoing stories of a world in turmoil.

SkyShards is a world in peril.

Once a series of separated kingdoms on a continent peppered with flying islands moving across its surface, the Imperial Collegiate have conquered most of the known world and kept the rest firmly outside of their borders.

In a world of magic, far from our own, a great continent sits. In the heart of this great continent lies an enormous wound, a storm that bleeds magick throughout the entire world. The Great Storm breathed conscious life into the world in a myriad of forms and even caused smaller landmasses to take to the skies, turning in the eternal spiral winds of magick itself.

Below are the links to all the content blog pages relating to the World of Skyshards, categorised between important people, political groups and the Kingdoms:

None Yet! Expect the first one by 15/01/2014...

It's the Mortuans!




Kalin

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Here at Valravn HQ we hope you have all had a wonderful solstice and are looking forward to the upcoming holidays, however you may celebrate them!

The artistic juices have been flowing and we promise full pictures of our latest works as soon as their recipients have received them. Until then, we can merely hint that there will be a classic film reference and the beginnings of our new range rolling out over the New Year.

As for the world of Skyshard, I am currently being pressured by Amber to write more about the world, its denizens and the history of the Empire and Kingdoms. In order to spur me on, I'm going to open up to suggestions from the floor:

What would you like to see first:

1: A who's who of Skyshards, detailing the leaders, the tribes, the power players and a few local legends according to Imperial Ambassador Quilorian Aztl.
2: A traveller's guide to Skyshards, explaining each land and its history and culture from the eyes of roaming scholar Erilenia Skymaster.
3: Short stories, introducing different characters, locations and time periods, but focussing less on directly explaining the setting. This is by far the most challenging, but hey, I'm offering.

Answer by comment and once the New Year has passed I'll start cracking on the winner!