Blade and Soul: YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG

I happened to stumble across something in my internet travels that reminded me of an old post that I did about industry game artist Hyung Tae Kim – who gets paid a lot of money to draw freakishly distorted women with flopping distended lemons pinned to their chests, freakishly long legs, and lovingly detailed ladybits. For those of you who haven’t seen the old post, go take a look. (Linked to the blogger version since I still haven’t gone back and fixed the wacky image sizing problems that importing to wordpress caused…)

I kind of forgot about it for a while, but it looks like NCSoft – the publisher of Guild Wars – is picking up Blade and Soul – the MMO that HTK has been hired to design – for publication, formerly referred to by the code name “Project M”. I’ve been having trouble finding details, but I’m assuming this means it will be available for publication in North America, which is about a million different kinds of fucked up. I mean, Blade and Soul makes Tera look like they’re not even trying:

So I’ve pretty much promised myself that if I find out that any of my friends express a desire to play this game, I will either stop talking to them or smack them repeatedly in the head until they come to their senses. Seriously, every female model has lovingly modeled cameltoe, which is just… disturbing. And about every third screen shot I found makes sure to show it off.

Clearly this is not a game aimed at women, or anyone who sees women as anything other than pieces of meat.

And you know, whatever. Once upon a time I would have ranted and raved, but really -what else is there that I can say? Hey, look. It’s yet another game coming out of Korea that treats women even more like shit than North American-developed games do, and yet tons of North American dudes are falling over themselves to play this game when it’s released. I’ve kind of lost my ability to be surprised at this shit anymore.

So instead, I thought I’d take a look at the incredibly fucked-up anatomy of the Blade and Soul character models to point out just how freakishly inhuman these women are. Now last time I took on HTK, I got many, many comments along the lines of OMG ITS JUST THE STYLE WTF U DON’T KNOW WHAT UR TALKING ABOUT or U R JUST JEALOUS HTK IS MORE AWSUM THAN U!!!1!eleventy1!! And, yes, I’m aware that HTK is not illustrating using a North American style. However, there’s a huge difference between even vanilla “anime” style and the distorted freak-shows that HTK creates.

To whit: Here is a Blade and Soul character model with almost no foreshortening:

Oh my god, people. I swear if I could punch HTK through the internet, right now I would. I realize that the model had to be created by the game studio, but this is pretty faithful to the proportions that HTK uses in all of his illustrations. Now, the many and varied ways the figure is distorted can be a little confusing, so first of all let’s start with vertical proportions:

For those of you who have seen me do these posts before, I hope you’ll remember me pointing out that the average human is around 7 heads tall, plus or minus half a head. Now, it’s pretty common for comic book artists and many video game studios to use 8 heads as a standard female proportion to give characters a more “statuesque” look. (Again, I prefer that women look like actual women and not goddamn statues, but that’s just me.) But this freak of nature here is 9 heads tall. NINE. That’s not even remotely possible in nature. Furthermore, she’s more than half leg. Really – check this out:

If you take her legs and add one head height to them, you have a normal human being. (And now I’m thinking about just a head prancing around on bizarrely stretch legs and it’s kind of freaking me out. Brr.) So first things, first, let’s take Gumbi here and correct her vertical proportions a little:

Now, yes. This does create a few more problems that it solves, particularly with the torso. But notice how when you look at the legs, they look a lot more like human legs? Now it doesn’t completely solve things, because you still have some fundamental proportions problems:

(Let’s just take it as given that the boobs are fucking terrible and move on to less obvious things.)

So you have the problem that her torso has been shrunk in order to make her legs as long as possible. This has resulted in her having a microscopic rib cage and a waist only just wider than her head. Now there’s nothing wrong with having your shoulders be narrower than your hips, or vice versa. But there’s just no freaking way that you’re going to get this much of an hourglass figure without enough corseting to cause internal bleeding in the unprepared.

Her legs are also a huge problem, even after one adjusts for their impossible length. The way HTK draws his women (and the way the model is constructed), the hips and ass are so exaggerated that the legs become cylinders that are tacked on to the front of the hips. Which is so very wrong and not how real people actually work. The hips and buttocks are not separate from the legs – they are part of them. And legs aren’t cylinders pinned on to the front end of the lower torso. They attach, via the hips, on the sides of your body, like so:

So with all of this in mind, what would a corrected figure in the same pose look like? Well, let’s take a look:

(Looking at this now I think the hips might be a little off. Drawing on top of HTK’s super-distorted figure was really hard; it kept throwing me off and I kept having to make corrections to my corrections.)

When you have the corrections on top of the original lines of the figure, you can really see how exaggerated the figure is from the waist down. Aside from the shortening of the torso and the clearly problematic breasts, the torso is actually far more normally proportioned than the legs. The legs are where most of the problems are: they’ve been elongated unnaturally and the hips and buttocks have been stretched horizontally to ridiculous proportions until the torso and lower body look like they should belong to two different figures.

And you know what, having hips this wide and curvaceous? Not necessarily wrong. But it is wrong on a body with a torso this compacted and waifish. You’ll see hips this wide on full-figured women, sure. But not on freakish HTK women without even enough space in their torsos to keep all their internal organs, much less space for them to eat meals that don’t come through a straw.

The thing that makes all of this the most disturbing is that all of these problematic distortions were an obvious, conscious choice. Because here’s the thing – HTK’s understanding of human anatomy is quite clear from the rendering of musculature in his illustrations. I can’t speak to the understanding of the people working from his illustrations, but I can definitely state that HTK understands just what he’s doing when he mutilates these poor women’s bodies.

Someone please explain to me why we’re paying this man the big bucks?

>Gender swap! The Magna Carta edition

>It’s been too long since I’ve done any original art for this blog, and I’ve been itching to do more! I knew as soon as I started working on that post about Hyung Tae Kim that I wanted to do another gender swap using his artwork, but it took me a while to find the time to sit down and do one.

Choosing an image was difficult. A lot of HTK’s art is heavily distorted, and I wanted to experiment with actually not correcting anatomy this time around to see what the effect would be. However, I also really wanted to see what would happen if I took on a figure with an unnecessarily detailed crotch. For some reason, I wasn’t able to find an image that was both very, very distorted AND very crotchular, so I settled for something crotchular and still a little distorted:

So this is Celestin Roaa from the Magna Carta series. This presented a huge challenge with the crazy boob perspective, and also with the costume – but I think it turned out well:

The costume presented quite the challenge, in that there wasn’t any real male equivalent of the clothing that she was wearing. I compromised and gave my gender-swapped version a codpiece and chaps. Amusingly, I didn’t realize how phallic the design on the codpiece was until after I drew it. I did try to give him a bulge, since Ken-doll superheroes with no visible bulge have always irritated me, but I think it was a bit obscured by the crazy codpiece. Alas.The figure is softer than I intended, but I think that’s more a result of me attempting to change as few lines as possible; I changed as little as I could to have the figure still be interpreted as male. (I’ll admit the beard was me hedging my bets.)

Anyhow, in all other regards I’m quite happy with how the ridiculousness comes through. The chaps + codpiece are a wonderfully ridiculous combination, and the codpiece especially draws attention to the “HEY EVERYBODY LOOK AT MY CROTCH”-ness of the original pose. I think the low cut of the codpiece also helps make the sexualization extreme enough that it actually reads as sexualization. Were he wearing pants, I don’t think that even the bare chest would really read as extreme sexualization the way the mostly bare chest with bikini top does with the original figure.

I think next time I’ll tackle something with more obvious figure distortion, just to see what happens. I suspect it won’t translate well, since the parts of the female body that get distorted don’t really have male equivalents. But that unknown is part of why I’m doing this. I enjoy highlighting the ridiculousness of the imagery, sure. But the experimentation of what works and what doesn’t is neat too.

I’d also like to do more re-designed characters, but I was having trouble deciding which character I should take on next. Anyone have any suggestions?

>Industry artist fail: Hyung Tae Kim (so VERY VERY nsfw!)

>While looking for another entrant in my fanartist hall of shame, I happened to stumble across an artist whose work I had not been familiar with – Hyung Tae Kim. I initially found him when I stumbled across this image:

/sigh. Distorted anatomy? Check. I mean, even more so than usual. Improbably large breasts that defy physics? Check. Lovingly detailed ladybits? Cheeeeeck. This guy is a charmer all right.

When I did more research I discovered that HTK is actually a pretty influential artist in the Asian gaming industry. He’s worked as lead character design on a huge number of roleplaying games, including the War of Genesis series (3 games), the Magna Carta series (2 games), and Blade and Soul online. And while normally, I wouldn’t tackle an artist like HTK because of the fact that he does work primarily in the Asian games industry, the fact remains that he does have a HUGE following here in North America and does occasionally work over here. That blue crotch-floss with butterflies? The cover for an Exalted sourcebook. So I figure that makes him fair game.

Amusingly, one of the first articles that I found about HTK that tipped me off to what a following he had over here was this one. The headline image shows a totally cleavagey chick, but don’t worry folks. She’s just an exception!

WTF is up with her boobs, man?

If this is an exception, why go to the effort of picking out this one? Methinks thou doth protest too much, sir… Anyhow. Mr. Mahan is mostly correct in that yes, a lot of HTK’s women don’t display actual cleavage. No, instead they have impossibly large, impossibly pointy breasts that flop around like distended lemons. I mean, seriously. Look at these things:


LEMON BOOBS AHOY!
I never thought I’d have to invent a new category of boob mockery, but here it is. LEMON BOOBS. Methinks this guy can’t be getting a whole lot of action because holy shit in what universe do women have breasts that are this large and this pointy? Those gazongas are practically WMD! Also, contrary to popular belief, jiggle physics does not exist in real life just because it’s called “physics”. I know that there has never been a situation in which I’ve had to dodge being hit in the face with my own breasts, so ease off with the anti-grav field!Another pretty common feature of HTK’s artwork is the OUTTHRUST LADYBITS. (Yes, capitals required). If you look at his art, a lot of the women seem to be thrusting their ladybits pretty much right at the camera:

NOOOOO! THE LADYBITS!

So, I’m guessing he would feel quite a bit of affinity with the WoW artist who did that infamous ladybit assassin picture I mocked a while ago… Another pose that’s way too freaking common is the “please do me from behind” school of posing:


Come on. It doesn’t get less subtle than this!
So, yeah. This guy clearly not winning a lot of awards for class. I realize that Asian culture is a lot more misogynistic in some regards, but the fact that there are plenty of North American dudes panting to get their hands on scans of this guys art books is just discouraging. This takes the garden-variety misogynistic character design we get over here and make it seem tame in comparison!The thing that makes me really want to punch HTK in the nuts is his fetish for lovingly detailed ladybits:


Seriously? Talim is totally underage! That’s just gross.

The thing that makes me most sad is that Blade and Soul seems to have adhered to HTK’s designs pretty slavishly in the rendering of their character models. I mean check this out! We have actual modeled camel toe:

Yuck.

>WTF: The where the hell did my week go? edition

>Holy shit, folks. This week kind of got away from me. I apologize for the radio silence – this week is a week of pure and utter madness. I’ve also been working on some things that require a bit more research to pull together. Next week, things return to normality, so I’ll be returning to a more normal posting schedule.

Some of the stuff you can look forward to is a rant about why Jim Sterling of Destructoid is a despicable human being, a look at recent M:TG art, and, uh… this:

And worse, sadly.Anyhow, I don’t come completely empty-handed. I have some WTF for you, aside from the above.

WTF the first

David Jaffe, the director of the ever female-friendly God of War series, compared the new Sony handheld to a “fresh vagina”. Unsurprisingly, game “journalists” have fallen all over themselves to repeat this in the name of “journalism”, proving once again that game journalists really are incompetent fuckwits.

WTF the second

I’ve heard of several “virtual girlfriend” apps for the iPhone, which… okay. Whatever. A lot of them are based on the popular dating sim genre common in Japanese games. But what I really love is when North American men who don’t even have a cultural excuse to fall back on wax enthusiastic about these games. Like this review of Virtual Girlfriend in which the title image is captioned:

The beauty is, when she starts getting bitchy, you just start over!

/facepalm

WTF the third

NOOOOOO!!! Samus! What have they done to you?? Curse you, internets! Curse yooooouuuuuu!!!So. Okay. I want to point out that the file name of this picture is “waifu1”. For those of you not familiar with Japanese, that’s a Japanese rendering of “wife”. There are many things that I can picture Samus doing. Being a housewife is not one of them.

For more housewife Samus fail, check out these photos here.