Carving Guild Wars 2 Stamps with John Corpening

Discussion in 'Game Discussion' started by Aspira, Nov 22, 2010.

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    Aspira Admin Officer


    By David Campbell September 2nd, 2010

    John Corpening knows how to make a good impression.

    Like most of the folks who work at the studio, John is a multi-talented and creative individual. In addition to his duties as lead programmer on the Guild Wars 2 Tools Team, John carves some of the coolest, most intricate ink stamps you’re likely to see. This weekend at PAX, we’ll be using John’s handmade Guild Wars 2 stamps as part of our interactive PAX trading card game.

    The Guild Wars 2 trading card game at PAX is, in the words of Community Manager Martin Kerstein, “like a big Dynamic Event in Guild Wars 2. Players will have to work together if they want to win.” ArenaNet staffers will be handing out two random cards to Guild Wars 2 fans who participate in various ArenaNet events, such as playing our demo, answering trivia questions, attending a demo presentation, wearing a GW2 headband, or answering trivia questions.

    There are five sets of trading cards (each based on a GW2 race), and each set has five cards. When you’ve collected a complete set of five cards, come to the ArenaNet booth to get your hand stamped with John’s Guild Wars 2 dragon logo stamp and receive a raffle ticket. Every afternoon at 5 PM we’ll have a raffle drawing for cool prizes from our partners nVidia and Razer.


    John Corpening himself will be stationed outside the convention center (we’ll Tweet his location) from 10-3 on Friday and Saturday with T-shirt tokens, GW2 postcards, and trading cards. If you’re playing our trading card game, John will happily provide you with two random cards, but anyone can get a free signed Guild Wars 2 postcard, which John will stamp with one of his custom made stamps.

    Let’s talk about these stamps for a minute. Each of our ink stamps, from the GW2 dragon logo to the cool character stamps, was designed and hand carved by John Corpening exclusively for PAX.

    “I’m really into letterboxing, a hobby that makes good use of stamps,” John says.

    Letterboxing is a hobby that began back in the 1850s in Dartmoor, England, and in the decades since, the pastime has evolved into its current form as a fusion of puzzle solving, art, and treasure hunting. Letterboxers hide small containers in public places like parks, then provide other letterboxers with clues or directions to the container. Each letterbox contains a logbook and a unique rubber stamp. Those who find the letterbox make an imprint of the box’s stamp in their own notebook and then leave their own personal stamp in the logbook as proof that they found the box.

    “Letterboxing resonates with my inner gamer,” John says. “It’s questing in real life – and you don’t have to kill anything.”

    True enthusiasts of the hobby create personalized stamps, which is how John got into carving his own stamps.

    To create a PAX stamp, John selected an image that he thought would reproduce well. Fortunately, there is no shortage of art assets at ArenaNet! He runs the selected image through a program called until he has a simplified, usable black and white image. Prep work is crucial, though. “Getting a workable design off an existing image often takes more time than the actual carving,” John says.


    John prints out the image to the size he wants, then heavily goes over the image with pencil lead. By rubbing, he transfers this penciled image on to the carving material – in this case a vinyl substance called Firmcut – and he’s left with a ghostly pencil outline of the stamp right on the material. John then uses a gouging tool to carve out the image, then affixes the stamp to a handle.

    Simple, right? John makes it look easy, but he’s really good at what he does. The end result is a detailed ink stamp that really fits with the hand-crafted, artisanal feel of Guild Wars 2 artwork.


    PAX-goers will have a chance to check out John’s cool stamps and a whole lot more Guild Wars 2 this weekend. Come join us!

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