Monday, September 7, 2015

Star Wars Imperial Stormtrooper

A client approached me about doing a commissioned mosaic. The requested piece was to be something in the Star Wars universe. That is a mighty big topic area. I decided to do an Imperial Stormtrooper.

Stormtrooper Sketch
Then I started selecting the color scheme and the cutting and gluing process. I did much more layout on this piece than I normally do. Usually I just cut a piece glass and glue a piece glass. On this mosaic, I laid out at least a third of the tiles before I glued a single piece of glass.

Initial Layout
Here is the final mosaic as seen from the side.

Stormtrooper Mosaic (Side)

Stormtrooper Mosaic (Front)
Here is a photo of my client with the finished mosaic. May the force be with you!

Client with Mosaic
Background on Imperial Stormtroopers (Source: Wikipedia) The Imperial Stormtroopers are fictional soldiers from George Lucas' Star Wars universe. They are the main ground-force of the Galactic Empire, under the leadership of Emperor Palpatine and his commanders, most notably Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin. The order of battle of the Stormtrooper Corps is unspecified in the Star Wars universe, but its numbers are far fewer than those of the Imperial Army's regular troopers. Despite this, the apparently high combat effectiveness of the Stormtroopers as well as their harsh reputation serve as the main reasons for deploying them almost exclusively in most of the military engagements of the Galactic Empire.

They are shown in collective groups of varying organizational sizes ranging from squads to legions, and for some, their armor and training is modified for special operations and environments.

In Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, the first troopers were cloned from bounty hunter Jango Fett, to be the Army of the Republic in the Clone Wars. In Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, the Clone troopers executed Order 66 under the command of Chancellor Palpatine, slaying their Jedi generals.

Initially, the stormtroopers serve as the army of the Galactic Empire, putting down revolts and establishing Imperial authority. They are the back bone of the Empire.The Stormtrooper Corps swell in size after Palpatine allows the addition of recruits and conscripts alongside the clones, though the replacement of clones by natural beings lowered the effectiveness of the Empire's famed soldiers.

With the Empire firmly stabilized and an Imperial Army/Imperial Navy established, the stormtroopers were integrated into Palpatine's personal army and were stationed on Imperial bases and cruisers, as well as on the Death Star. After Palpatine's initial defeat, the stormtroopers continued to serve under the factions that broke apart from the Empire after Palpatine's death.

The troopers' most distinctive equipment is their white battle armor, inherited from their time as clone troopers. The complete armor set completely encases the body and typically has no individually distinguishing marking (in contrast to the clone trooper armor, which typically had various colorings to denote rank or unit, Stormtrooper armor has no rank affiliation). Liz Moore and Nick Pemberton sculpted designs for the helmet. Their designs were based on conceptual drawings by Ralph McQuarrie. The armor pieces of the costume were also designed from conceptual drawings by Ralph McQuarrie. Brian Muir, who was also responsible for sculpting Darth Vader, sculpted armor pieces for the stormtrooper costume in the Art Department at Elstree Studios. The suit was moulded and initially cast in plaster. Then Muir sharpened the detail at the plaster stage. The plaster casts were then remolded and cast in fibreglass to use as the "tools" for vacuum forming process. Suits were produced in house by Tashy Baines, the resident vacuum former, but then a problem developed with the machine.

As Shepperton Design Studios had already been used to vacuum form the helmets, the fiberglass molds for the armor were then sent to them for vacuum forming the suits.

By the end of production, two different helmets were produced; one for the common stunt trooper and a second design for close-ups. Fifty stunt helmets were produced in white-painted HDPE and six hero helmets were produced in white ABS plastic. Besides the material used, the two designs can be differentiated by differences in the eyes, the ears, and the mouth area.

The armor has also been the subject of light humor for years regarding its functionality. This is due to it making its wearer easy to be seen, restricting his movement and range of vision, and seeming to offer no real protection from blaster fire. One possible explanation for its continued use is that its purpose is to protect against projectile weapons (i.e. automatic guns) which have a much greater speed and rate of fire than blasters; because such weapons would be ineffective against the armor, they are never used.

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