Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Steampunk Pirates Concept Art

Airship pirates, steampunk or otherwise, owe a lot of the aesthetics to the Golden Age of Piracy (which is largely Georgian, with particular emphasis on bucket-sleeves frock coats). And I do love the Carribean-esque air pirates (in all their many shades of historical accuracy), but as The Designer and I began talking steampunk pirates of late (in part due to a remark from one of the denizens on the BrassGoggles Forums a while back), we started thinking about "our" take on it (looking back, we did do a set of photos themed around a Steampunk Pirate earlier in the year).

We return to the fact that high altitudes are really quite cold and whilst we can justify the wearing of loose coats and more abbreviated clothing with technology that compensates it seems worth more than a moment to explore the idea (the classic being spacious heated cabins, boiler room temperatures or you can just handwave it altogether; Disney's Treasure Planet pretty much went this route with its aesthetics and happily did it handwave why its frock-coat-wearing characters were sailing through space on galleon-esque vessels. Very pretty, by the way, if completely silly).

So, the Designer and I looked at what early pilots wore. Fleece-lined bomber jackets are certainly very iconic. Some seemed to be simply wearing electric blankets plugged into the engines (and strapped to themselves). It's really very cold up in high altitudes. We looked at photos (much like this fighter pilot), read articles (particularly found Flight Clothing for High Altitudes useful) and had a look at the Anime Last Exile at the recommendation of a friend.

And here are the results.

The basic premise revolves around the materials and textures of a aviator jacket and the shape of the Georgian frock coats. We wanted the collar to be very reminiscent of a bomber jacket, but with more buttons and buckles instead of zips (old trick, we know). We were also vaguely trying to cut back on the number of pockets and pouches (not trying to seem too much like a one trick pony when it comes to designs) but they snuck in anyway.

The shorter sleeves with the long leather gloves were supposed to bring a touch of practicality (allowing for interesting detail but keeping them out of the way). The Designer felt that the harness with the d-rings could possibly be used in conjunction with rigging or seatbelts of some kind. We tried to incorporate classic pirate accessories (like the tricorn, the sabre and a cravat), but also insignia badges, flying scarves and aviator caps.

The results straddle classic steampunk and dieselpunk, but I'm reasonably happy with the pictures though it some of it still looks a little disjointed. What do you think?

Oh, and fleece is annoying to draw.

(For what it's worth, the Proprietor is using some of this concept art to illustrate Haslanti League in his Exalted game.)


  1. The designs are impressive, and definately say 'steampunk', but less in the way of pirate. They seem to lack any features which would distinguish them from any other airmen from the same universe. I know it's cliche but maybe try and include some pirate emblems into their clothing. Also I'd recommend different clothing in regards to their role. For example, engineers or mechanics would wear work-overalls of strong material with places to store tools. High ranking pirates would have trophies and tatoos to represent their prowess in battle, as well as the better weapons. Perhaps the captain has a few medals pinned to his jacket to reflect a past life in some military organisation as part of the character development?

    Hope this helps :)

  2. It does help. Thank you.

    It's always a hurdle when trying to design something specific-yet-generic, without any particular setting in mind. When designing something more specifically in-universe, like the Odyssey concept art, it's much easier to start thinking about character (due to their being specific archetypes and character classes) and there is very much a defined world for the costumes to operate in.


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