Fan Creation Feature: Solas Bust by Caroline Lui

In our latest fan creation feature, we take a look at a masterfully crafted bust of Solas by Caroline Lui. A largely self-taught sculptor, Caroline gave us a look at what it takes to bring an infamous Inquisition elf to life in stunning detail.

What made you want to sculpt Solas?

Solas is one of the best-written characters in any work I’ve ever read, watched, or played. I’ve rarely been as captivated by a story as I was by his. From arrogant elf to trusted friend, humble apostate to reluctant enemy, aloof spirit-lover to the most painful love interest in all of Thedas: whichever way you see him, he has so many complex facets that it’s impossible not to be fascinated.

Did you have a concept for the bust?

I wanted his design to express his slight stiffness, his careful reserve, and also his unexpected passion and intensity.

How did you build the bust?

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To start the head, I molded and cast a skull I’d sculpted previously in Apoxie Sculpt, a 2-part epoxy clay. I built up the face on top of the skull using small pieces of clay to get the general shapes down quickly. This step is a sketch, and while I was being mindful of resemblance, the goal was more to simply build mass.

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After it had cured, I added a “skin” layer of Apoxie, and began carving and sanding everything into place, using an X-Acto knife, calipers for measuring, and flexible, cloth-backed sandpaper.

Once I was reasonably happy with the face, I built up the neck, back of the head, and ears. I leave this for last for ease of handling—half a head is easier than a full one.

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The head complete, the bust itself began as a layer of clay over an appropriately-shaped aluminum foil armature, giving me a basic shape to work with.

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After further shaping and adding details to the bust, and ensuring the two parts fit together, the final touch was sculpting his jawbone necklace.

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How long did it take you to finish the bust?

All in, it took about two months to complete, give or take a week. I’d like to sculpt the entire Inner Circle and Advisors, as well as some characters from the first two games.

Sculpting such a big cast of characters may seem pretty ambitious, but Caroline’s already done Dorian and Cullen busts in addition to Solas. There are tons of photos of all three busts on her website.

If you’ve spotted a community creation that you think we should highlight here, tweet us!

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Fan Creation Feature: M-6 Carnifex Rubber Band Gun

The BioWare community sends us the coolest things.

Travis Ng, an industrial design graduate from San Jose State University, created this one-of-a-kind rubber band gun based off the M-6 Carnifex heavy pistol from Mass Effect. Using sheets of birch wood and a laser cutter, Travis designed the pistol from the ground up, layer by layer. Complete with a loading mechanism, the model is actually semi-automatic! See it in action:

 

We took a moment to talk to Travis about his creation.

What inspired you to make the Carnifex?

I was inspired to make the Carnifex after successfully making a test prototype of the M-3 Predator. I decided to go full detail with the Carnifex, as it’s one of the most iconic weapons in the Mass Effect universe. It is a weapon most gamers and cosplayers would easily recognize.

How long did it take you to build it?

Although designing the laser-cut pattern did not take too long, it was the test fit of the firing mechanism that took the most time. The firing mechanism was designed based off another rubber band gun that a YouTube user had originally designed (RBguns). All in all, adding up all the time it took to design, test fit, and fully finish: 2-3 months total. It was truly a labor of love.

Want to make a Carnifex yourself? Travis has created an instructables page with all the necessary materials and steps to get you started. Thanks Travis!

You can find more of Travis’ work on his personal website.

Safety disclaimer: This is not a toy and is not intended for use by children. Never shoot rubber bands at other people, pets, and do not shoot it at yourself. Eye protection is recommended when using the rubber band gun.

Fan Creation Feature – Hannah Friederichs

The BioWare community is full of talented artists of different stripes: illustrators, animators, cosplayers, photographers–you name it.

One such illustrator is Hannah Friederichs, who crafted these fantastic Dragon Age: Inquisition-themed pulp fiction covers.

 

We took a minute to talk with Hannah about her inspiration for this unique project.

What inspired these covers?

I love pulp magazines and novels! They have a lot in common with Dragon Age: both play with tropes and have created enduring characters. There’s a purely over-the-top joy in writing all the juicy titles, too; I get to include all of my favorite Thedas experiences.

Why did you choose to use Dorian as the damsel in distress?

I was almost finished with a sketch of Josie in that position when my husband stepped in a made a case for Dorian.  Dorian’s definitely more comfortable in the role. It’s against type for Josephine, and Bull obviously runs a bit faster in Dorian’s defense.

You can check out more of Hannah’s work on her tumblr, DeviantArt, and personal website.

Understanding Video Games

Over the last several months, BioWare has been working with the University of Alberta to help create a massive open online course. Covering topics ranging from mechanics and story to sex and culture, Understanding Video Games explores the impact of games on society.

The 11-lesson course is available online and is free to anyone (there is an associated fee if you want to write exams and receive credit from your institution). The course features interviews and discussions with several BioWare developers, including Senior Creative Director Preston Watamaniuk, Editor Karin Weekes, and Artist Matt Rhodes.

Each lesson is broken up into a series of short interactive video modules, accompanied by readings and quiz components. No background is required; the course teaches the terminology and theoretical framework necessary for discussing and interpreting games.
Understanding Video Games launches September 3, 2014.

We’re proud to have been a part of this course, and to continue working with UAlberta to foster learning and understanding around video games.

Valentine’s Day: I Was Lost Without You

Imagine that you’re sprinting across Firebase White during a Mass Effect 3 multiplayer session. Wave after wave of Reapers fall at the hands of your friends and an unknown N7 Slayer. Now imagine that several months later, you’re walking down the aisle, about to marry the person behind that N7 Slayer. For Jameela Cameron, that’s exactly what happened.

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Jameela still clearly recalls the night of April 13, 2012. She received an invitation to play Mass Effect 3 with her friends Sean and Estevan, but wasn’t really in the mood. After some consideration, she decided to join them.

A couple of games later, another player joined their session: Tyler, a mutual friend of Sean and Estevan. “I was really quiet at first,” Jameela remembers. “I figured he’s probably a friend of theirs, but I didn’t want to talk.”

Tyler, on the other hand, had no problem breaking the ice. After engaging in a deep discussion about Mass Effect lore with the group, Tyler joked about their having nothing better to do on a Friday night and mused, “Man, we are, like, undateable.”

Little did he know that it was his sense of humor that first attracted Jameela. “I liked the fact that he could make fun of himself,” she says. “He was obviously smart, and he was very witty.”

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Picking up on the brewing chemistry between his two friends, Estevan seized the opportunity to play matchmaker in between waves of Geth Primes and Rocket Troopers. He encouraged Jameela to connect with Tyler through Facebook and sent them each text messages of praise about the other.

The two bonded quickly, and it wasn’t long before Jameela made the first move. She started signaling her interest by always being the first to revive him after he fell in battle, a luxury she did not extend to her other teammates. Eventually, she came right out and told him he was “gorgeous.”

“I don’t know what came over me that night,” she laughed. “That is not how I normally work.”

The two played until the sun came up the next morning, leading to a discussion about their options. A month later, Tyler and Jameela met in person and knew they wanted to be together. Unfortunately, a Harbinger-sized roadblock stood in their path: over 2,000 miles of distance.

As luck would have it, plans were already in motion for Tyler to move back to Michigan, a six-and-a-half hour drive from Jameela’s hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In the meantime, overcoming time-zone differences and conflicting schedules put a lot of pressure on the young couple. They combatted those challenges with Skype video chats, playing co-op games, and texting.

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Tyler proposed to Jameela on June 22, 2012, and they set a wedding date of October 26—news that their friend Sean took to PAX Prime later that summer. While visiting the BioWare Base, Sean met lead editor Karin Weekes and shared the couple’s story.

“Sean is the nicest person, and I was so touched that he took the time to come and talk with me and tell me Tyler and Jameela’s engagement story,” Karin said. “It was the coolest feeling to have been a tiny part of the stage for the early part of their relationship (plus, I’m a complete sucker for weddings). When Sean told me their favorite characters were Garrus and Tali, I thought, ‘OK, we must have a screenshot of the Tali/Garrus hookup scene somewhere…’ Back at the studio, I tracked one down and got it printed out—the team loved the story, and everyone was really pleased to sign and send the poster to Tyler and Jameela (through Sean, the best best man ever!) for their big day!”

The gift arrived at their hotel just in time for the wedding and now hangs above the TV in their living room.

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Twenty of their closest friends and family attended the wedding that fall. Jameela walked down the aisle to Sam Hulick’s “I Was Lost Without You” (she also had the song title engraved on Tyler’s wedding ring as a surprise). For the reading of vows, they selected the accompaniment of “I’m Proud of You,” also written by Sam for the Mass Effect 3 soundtrack.

In preparation for PAX Prime in 2013, the couple got Mass Effect tattoos, paying homage to how the series had affected their lives. For Tyler, Garrus was an obvious choice. “In the Mass Effect games, I always took Garrus with me in my party,” he said. “He was a symbol of true loyalty and friendship.”

Jameela identified with Tali’s loyalty to her father and her people, even in times of disagreement. She also appreciated the quarian’s “nerdy” side, as she refers to it. “She’s cool. She can handle her own,” Jameela said of Tali. “She’s extremely smart and honorable, and that always stuck with me.”

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Nearly two years have passed since they first met, but Tyler and Jameela still make time to play Mass Effect 3 multiplayer together. In fact, they plan to celebrate the anniversary of their introduction by getting the original group back together, a tradition they hope to continue every year in addition to their wedding anniversary.

“We’ll probably celebrate both of those dates forever,” says Tyler. “Two anniversaries.”