30 8 / 2014
This is meant as an information resource for creative folk, not a complete guide. Be sure to supplement this with additional research. Find the rest of the series, including the previous posts on clergy, nobility, divination, spirit animals, mythical creatures, medieval punishments, armor, and common terms of medieval life.
Once the writer has determined whether they are dealing with a band of warriors or a trained army of soldiers, the next thing to do is decide how the units are laid out hierarchically, as well as what they’re called.
Let’s talk about: army hierarchies. Troops can be arranged in any manner of ways from the type of weapons they are trained in, length of service, level of training, or any number of other ways. The most frequently used method is that of training level. The more training (generally corresponding with how long they’ve been in service) a soldier has, the higher rank they are, the more power they wield. This may or may not have any link to how many weapons they are trained in. A veteran may be exceptionally skilled with a lance from years of being part of the lancer’s cavalry, but may not have any training with, say, crossbows, long bows, compound bows, daggers, halberds, battle scythes, etc.
Green troops refers to soldiers who have little or no training, or sometimes well-trained soldiers with no field experience. They may (or may not) have good skill with their weapon and are able to march, but they have not been exposed to real action. Without strong leadership and steady units on their flanks, green troop units are likely to break under any sort of duress. (Take the Maryland militia during the Battle of Bladensburg in the War of 1812 who broke and ran when rockets were fired over their heads.)
Regular troops will make up the bulk of a professional army. They have arms and maneuver training, with some limited action experience such as border skirmishes or putting down riots. They are likely to stand their ground during normal battlefield threats with proficient leadership, and they can be very reliable.
Veteran troops boast extensive training with considerable experience. They almost invariably have a history accompanying them and are likely to reenact their past glories via storytelling, rituals, or pageants. They may have special privileges, wear special devices on their uniforms, carry extra well-made weapons, or have extra pay. Veteran troops often function as officers for units of regular troops. (For example, the legionnaires of the Roman Empire were veteran troops with their legion’s history displayed on standards that were carried into battle.)
Elite troops are the best of the best, and they form their own units. They are not always found in armies, but are a prized commodity when they are present. Elite soldiers may be leaders of veteran troops. (A great example is the Sacred Band of Thebes, the two-hundred man unit that died defending their city against the armies of Alexander the Great, who later wept for their valor.)
Heroes, while more warrior than soldier, have extensive training, experience, and frequently come accompanied by magical abilities. These may take the form of supernatural strength, magically enhanced weaponry, magical companions, etc. They are known to lead veteran or elite troops—sometimes even entire armies—or to function independently.
Superheroes, demigods, demons, deities…all of these and more come after the above, if the writer so chooses or the world calls for them. Anything is possible, there just needs to be a plan.
Let’s talk about: things for writers to take note of. These are not rules. They’re more of guidelines, anyway. Historically, even elite troops have broken inexplicably while green troops have stood their ground under harrowing circumstances. Considering these things, truly dramatic scenes can be crafted.
Let’s talk about: naming troops. Units and troops can be broken up in a variety of ways and named according to all kinds of conventions. They may be named for the type of armor they use (Greek hoplites were named after their hoplon, a large, round shield.), a particularly esteemed commander (Sharpe’s Rifles or Arikon’s Winged Lightning), a town the soldiers are from (the Mill Village Militia), a weapon they specialize in (Lance Corp), a guardian (“White Wolves”), etc. Literally the possibilities are endless.
Let’s talk about: types of troops. Given that all of this is subject to the whim of the world the writer is using, the following information is simply basic historical examples. From these, writers can glean inspiration and a feel for how they might like to section up their armies.
Infantry: The most versatile arm of a military force are foot soldiers. They can operate under the greatest variety of conditions and with the least expense and equipment. Such troops also tend to be the least glamorous or rewarded of any sorts of soldiers.
Heavy Infantry: As heavily armored as possible (which, depending on the culture, may be very heavy indeed) with close-combat weapons and sometimes secondary hurling weapons. They are trained to fight toe-to-toe with the enemy in close formations. (The Roman legionary would be one example. They were armed with javelins, short-swords, and daggers; the Greek hoplite, armed with armor-crushing weapons like battle axes, maces, and flails also counted.)
Light Infantry: Wore light or no armor, or perhaps only shields and helmets. Typically, they served as skirmishers, launching missiles at the front ranks of an enemy force before close combat, dispatching wounded soldiers on the battlefield, or chasing down retreating foes. (Examples include the velites of Rome who were armed with javelins; the pletasts of Greece who were also armed with javelins; and the pindaris of India who sported pikes and other miscellaneous weapons.)
Missile Troops: Typically wore no armor and could not engage the enemy in close combat. Such troops were often among the most highly trained in the army. (The Balearic slingers of the ancient world and the English longbow-men of the Middle Ages were a few.)
Cavalry: Chariotry was the first effective form of cavalry. Forces of chariot troops conquered much of Asia and India in the second millennium BC. Chariots are even more limited than horses in the kinds of terrain they can operate on, however, and once horses were bred strong enough to carry an armored man, more maneuverable individual cavalrymen eclipsed chariotry around 500 BC.
Heavy Cavalry: Used swords, spears, and axes; wore heavy armor; and fought in close formation, often stirrup to stirrup. The horses of such units were often as heavily armored as the men, equipped with bard of quilted cloth, scales, mail, or plate. (Examples include the Byzantine cataphractoi; the armored knights of the Middle Ages; and the Mamluk slave soldier of medieval Egypt.)
Light Cavalry: Wore little armor and were used to skirmish against, harry, or pursue the enemy, usually using missile weapons such as javelins or bows. Prior to the introduction of the stirrup, most cavalry were this sort. (The Mongolian mounted archers, who could fire accurately from the saddle while moving at a full gallop, are the best example of such troops.)
Tomorrow we’ll talk about some common terms to refer to more specific types of soldiers.
29 8 / 2014
I was on the toilet with that last ask I answered so I decided to actually sit and try to help the best way I can. Anon, I’m still in an art rut especially with anatomy and I’m totally not the best with it, but let me link all of you to some things I like to look at on my spare time.
I don’t have any anatomy art books, so I wouldn’t know who to recommend, but I DO have a lot of youtube videos I watch. Here’s some that might prove usefeul::
How to Draw: Foreshortening with the Coil Technique
How to draw twisting forms
My favorite books that I have on hand to practice gestures/anatomy with ARE MY HOLY BIBLES.
This one has a wide variety of body types and therefore is my fav…the chubs….>:3
The main idea to keep your gestures from looking stiff is to remember the line of action
ALSO SERIOUSLY JUST GOOGLE ANYTHING from man butts to back to arms to head angles if you cannot sit in a figure drawing class like me. Here’s a short gif of my process to sketching a quick figure
I’M STILL LEARNING MYSELF and it’s fun to practice with friends!! I also enjoy playing around with styles, majorly disney artists such as glen keane
Edit: Pixelovely is a good gesture drawing site
Many resources to help you DRAW THEM BUTTS