Friday, November 15, 2013

Cringe 1.2 : Overcoming Idiocy

{Theme Song: Hey Little World, Hives}

Current Time
Location: Muchovan Camp, Effenta

“Cringe, sir, we have another Effentan wishing to trade information.”  He barely even glanced at the underling.  This made the third turncoat today – his reputation won him battles, but that hardly meant each weasel deserved his personal attention.

“A woman this time, and she’ll only talk to you.”  It was the snigger that caught his attention and finally brought his gaze to rest on the self-important little man.

Okay, so in reality he wasn’t little – he was a towering, hulking mass, but that frankly just added to his insignificance in Cringe’s eyes.  He already had plenty battering rams.  The man, Cringe couldn’t currently remember his name, reinforced this opinion by attempting intelligent speech.

 “Perhaps she has access to their laundry and can add some itching powder to the soap,” the underling commented in a loud stage whisper, snorting at his own “wit”.

“Well done,” Blustering Bigot.  Cringe covered his disdaining sneer with a predatory grin, staring the other man down until the amusement left his face and he started to twitch nervously.  Then he stared some more until finally the idiot took the hint, muttered something, saluted and scurried away like the rat he was.  “Imbecile.”

Leaving aside the fact that Effentan women were commonly in command, the moron didn’t seem to realize his joke had strategic merit – uncomfortable soldiers would be tired, distracted and more easily defeated.  It was always a better plan to attack defenseless supplies rather than well-armed warriors, but of course that wasn’t the Muchovan way.

“Was that really necessary?” asked Osprey, his second in command.

“Yes,” Cringe retorted shortly.  Osprey was the golden boy.  He was honest, respectful and made Mucho women swoon.  He could smooth all the feathers Cringe went out of his way to ruffle.  Cringe  really wished he wouldn’t.

“This is the first woman turncoat.  Most are smart enough to realize they don’t want to be Mucho.  Sure does limit the dating pool,” Cringe remarked with an exaggerated sigh.  Osprey simply raised a brow, used to his commander’s odd sense of humor.  “Bet this one’s a looker.”  His tone suggested anything but.  Cringe motioned invitingly for Osprey to question this one.

“I’m not you.”  Osprey clearly felt this shouldn’t need stating.

“Fine.  Duty calls.”  Cringe lifted his chin briefly in what passed as his friendly goodbye.

Except this one wasn’t a dog at all.  Effentans were a stunning race:  tall, dark and graceful.  This one also had hair the color of rubies.  While acknowledging none of that mattered, Cringe still appreciated a work of art…even if he had to take it apart.

“Welcome.  Enjoying your stay?” he greeted cheerily, causing the woman to jerk when he entered the tent.

You’re the Commander?  As I told the last lackey, I’ll only speak to Cringe, not housekeeping,” the prisoner remarked, disdain positively dripping from her tongue.  She’d recovered quickly.  Oh, he liked this one – too bad she was a back-stabbing opportunist.

“I’m as close as you’ll get,” he replied flippantly.  “So, how do you plan on helping me today?”  This elicited a flare of her nostrils, irritation, but she didn’t dismiss him.  Instead she carefully considered, assessing him for a long minute with wide, unblinking emerald eyes.

“I don’t trust Muchovans.  You want to bargain, it’s just you and me,” she stated, directing a sneer at the other guards.  This made Cringe smile.

“Oh, Muchovans should never be trusted.”  The others left at the dismissive thrust of his chin – his not friendly goodbye.  They were alone now.

“Neither should Effentans.”  And her ropes fell to the floor…

Old to New 16: Camillia, Knight - err- Damsel in Shining Armor

{Theme Song 1: Monday Morning, Death Cab for Cutie}

Location: D-City, Paonia

Her Story

Camillia is a complete unknown to the people of D-City.  An orphan of mysterious origins, she first gained public attention on the day of Muchovan's siege.  Appearing suddenly, with seemingly perfect timing, Camillia rescued Domerson Cadron, son of Paonia's Boofon Ruler.

She became his heroic Cinderella when she disappeared without a word immediately thereafter.  However, he never forgot her, and, just as in the fairy tale, he searched for her.

It would seem Camillia was fated to be the Domerson's guardian angel when nearly a year later their paths crossed again.  He'd been riding his usual mount outside the city limits, but had lost control.  Camillia, just leaving D-City herself, managed to catch and calm the horse, but lost her sanguine disposition when she recognized the rider.

This time the Domerson had been injured, dislocating his shoulder in the effort to remain on the beast.  When Camillia showed intentions of disappearing again, he shamelessly played up this injury - he wouldn't let his rescuer escape again.  Instead, Cadron insisted that he couldn't make it back to the palace without her help, wobbled dangerously, clutching his shoulder most pitifully.

Once his good arm was looped around her shoulders, it became clear he wouldn't be letting go of the lovely Camillia until he was good and ready.

{Theme Song 2: In The End, Snow Patrol}

Camillia tried not to be charmed, but it was a losing battle.

First Domerson Cadron, then his father and little brother wouldn't hear of her leaving, not after she'd saved Cadron's life twice.  Thus Camillia was thrust into the limelight and D-City Court Life.  And it didn't seem escape was likely.

She was a conundrum to the Domerson.  Few people not born to it handled Court Life well, yet most desired to join the noble Glassern of Paonia above all else.

Camillia, on the other hand, had an easy, natural way with people, handling all the attention and politics of the nobility with grace and charm, but seemed to want none of it.  She spoke constantly of hern need to leave, and the Domerson had to become ever more inventive in order to keep her around - not that he thought the quick witted beauty was fooled for an instant.

Eventually Camillia was won over, her protests becoming fewer and fewer.  When General Diamond was receiving his promotion, Kamino planning her return to D-City, and Cringe terrorizing the surrounding areas, Camillia was planning her wedding - or more accurately, having her wedding planned.

The Art

Camillia, another long standing character, has now been through three transformations (four including the pastel portrait), though her look is consistent.

In updating her the first time I chose to give her a little more color to wear, feeling I'd taken the desert gold and white idea a bit far in the original drawing.  Otherwise, aside from the snakeskin boots and skill upgrade the idea remained pretty much the same.

Just off the presses, in her newest incarnation I chose to keep her snakeskin boots, though it's (hopefully) communicated a bit better.  Having just arriving in D-City, I felt Camillia's dress would naturally speak more to her Desert background rather than the style of the Capital.  Moving forward with this, though still steering clear of the colors found in the original concept, her dress draws inspiration from a flower cactus and I tried to imbue it with the light, airy feel one would desire in a hot climate.

That it also has something of the feel of a Fairy Tale Princess is a nice Bonus.  Additionally, following the lead of the pastel portrait, I translated her "golden skin" description literally.  Perhaps it's simply parental pride, but I think it gives her a glow.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Old to New 15: Mahsheean Mystery

{Theme Song: Unsingable Name, Mike Doughty

So, anyone that's done character design/art knows that pretty much the First Commandment is:

     Thou shalt known thy Character.

The principle behind this is that otherwise the character lacks personality and zest - i.e. a lackluster picture.  For example of this see left and right.  They're not necessarily bad per se, but they lack the depth that is achieved through back story (here I'm speaking generally, specifically referenced pics are Horrible on multiple levels, even if we ignore the jelly stain).

If you doubt this is necessary, watch Face Off sometime.  (Even if you don't doubt, watch it anyway, the show ROCKS!)  Special effects makeup artists have about 3 days to create an original character for each challenge (alien circus, human-bird hybrid, dark elf to name a few).  They have a ridiculously short amount of time and Heaps of work, yet the great makeups have enough back story to fill a novel!

I understand this.  I agree with this.  Yet I still break this rule.  Countries and peoples are individual and important characters in their own right.  A main character's scene has "extras" in the background.  I just feel like drawing pretty clothes in the style of a certain world.  The reasons/justifications are endless.

There is usually still some type of knowledge of this person - they're happy or sad, they're on their way to work, stressed out.  Something is known, even if this person and I haven't officially "met".  Sometimes this turns out characters such as above.  These I only knew as servants in Mist, Mahsheean, Kamino's residence.

Yet sometimes the rework is beautiful nonetheless.

(Almost unrecognizable as the same people, I know, but there are hints.)

Like regularly seeing an intriguing person from a distance; some day I will go introduce myself, exchange names, learn their history.  At that time I may polish the character up a bit, add some meaningful personal details, but until then, it's lovely background to gaze upon yes?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Old to New 14: Decrestore Kaleya, Most Powerful Chikil in Paonia - but we just call her Mom

 Location:  D-City, Paonia

Although there is no guaranteed successorship in Paonia, Kaleya was from the royal Chikil line, and groomed from childhood to be a leader.  Instinctively good at reading people and situations, and having a persuasive way with words, Kaleya was an obvious choice, but several other relatives could make similar claims - and had more life experience when it came time to appoint a new Decrestore.

Kaleya's sincere love for all the people of Paonia and driving ambition to better their lives won her the vote of Boofon provinces.  Normally this would make the logical Chikil wary, but the manner in which Kaleya pursued her final goal - through in-depth study and logical, fully considered plans - persuaded her own people to stand behind her as well.

No one was ever disappointed in that decision.

Kaleya acted as Decrestore for over 50 years and her humility, approachability, and the personal interest in each and every individual she encountered won the hearts of all.  It was said she knew every person in D-City by name - and a good many outside - so it wasn't surprising that after a time those in the capital began referring to her affectionately as "Mother".

It speaks eloquently to Kaleya's character that she never balked at the use of this appellation, even by those older than her.

Sadly, the Mother Decrestore, along with the High Warress, died when Caliphus the Jaguar and his Muchovan army stormed D-City.  Muchovan was ultimately repelled, and the Jaguar fell to the hands of a young Pao soldier, but Paonia is still reeling two years later.

Definitely at the anger stage of the grieving process, Paos seek vengeance on the traitor that gave the Muchovans entrance...

Here is another straight forward update - though it's about due again.  Crayola colored pencils were used on all pics, except below, which is pastel.  In the top left corner you see part of the D-City Royal Emblem (the only part done in Prismacolor colored pencils), as befits one of Kaleya's status.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Old to New 13: Naleysa, Sad Past, Stiff Spine

{Theme song: Break Myself, Something Corporate}

Location:  Muchovan

Today's Character was born centuries after Muchovan's world-conquering days, but society is slow to change, and it's still very much male dominated (sound familiar?).

Naleysa was an avid learner from childhood, so it was only natural she'd pursue teaching as a Career.  She'd been ecstatic to become the first female educator at an Elite Academy for boys.

This joy ended after she was let go following an incident in which she was the victim.  The culprits, three boys from powerful families, went unpunished, while Naleysa struggled to pick up the pieces of her life.

A fellow faculty member, Evron Tallurse (another candidate for future update), sought justice for her, eventually joining the UCD in order to gain the necessary pull.  His victory helped Naleysa to overcome her past, but it was his death that gave her the strength to join the UCD and champion other victims.

When I first drew Naleysa, I didn't have a clear vision of the Muchovan aesthetic, and it shows.  I've managed to keep something of the original "feel" (along with her jewelry and shoes), but she now conveys the modern-medieval look I settled on for Muchovan.  (Definitely no subtext there!)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Old to New 12: Vavnica, Tough as Nails, yet Sweet as Antifreeze

{Theme Song: The Ghost Inside, Broken Bells}

For a change, today we venture North to Siskad.  Here is a small island that's managed never to be conquered by convincing the world they want neither the miserably cold, unyielding land, nor the contrary, abrasive Siskadians.

While this strategy works well in deflecting would-be tyrants it doesn't exactly make Siskadians a Popular people.  Fortunately, they don't particularly care.  It's a hard life in Siskad and sometimes little things like "feelings" must be overlooked.

Yet here again Siskad is as contradictory as its people.  While everyone is expected to work hard and use any special talents they have for the good of all, their personal lives are considered just that - personal.  Despite a Siskadian's general prickliness and well fortified heart, almost all marry for love and a Separating (called just that with a Capital "S") is almost unheard of and mourned like a death in the family.

Vavnica is a fairly typical Siskadian, if perhaps more internationally aware.  From an early age Vavnica trained in infiltration, stealth and information gathering.  She excelled, but hated the life.  Using those same skill sets, Vavnica escaped her schooling in order to run home to her mother.  This ended after her mother's death in Vavnica's teen years.

Vavnica only lasted a few years longer in her selected profession before she was "retired" due to perceived instability.  With such an unusual resume and not much in the way of job prospects in Siskad, Vavnica chose to leave and offer her services to the Humanitarian-minded United Champions of the Defenseless (UCD for short).

Her background combined with her intense, but cool facade can make other UCD members nervous at times, but no one doubts her abilities.  Time and again she proves you Don't want to come up against Vavnica Peerkchnes.

My first drawing of Vavnica has been touched up a bit, so I also included my second - my update is something of a mish-mesh of the two pictures anyway, rather than a straight redo.

I know when I posted Aiya I complained about the difficulty of dark skin - now I must add that extremely fair skin isn't a breeze either!  It's ridiculously easy to "muddy" the color, and my first layer in marker had WAY too much pink.  I had to go over her skin several times with colored pencils before I finally got it right - though even now I worry she has too much color...

I also included another picture, an early attempt at greater realism.  A straight take on picture one, this was done on scrapbooking paper using Crayola colored pencils, so be merciful =]

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Old to New 11: Emis, the Noble Commoner

{Theme song: Please Don't Find Me, Civil Twilight}

Another day in the dichotomous world of Tierrine...

Emis (said Ee-mis) is Benedette's distorted Noble reflection.  Whereas Benedette was a winged child born in a common family, Emis comes from an Elevated family, but was the only child in her generation to turn out Common - wingless.

Her family lived in denial for a long time, claiming their beloved daughter was just a late bloomer.  After they finally came to accept reality they continued to use their influence to ensure she received the best of everything and was that rare Commoner welcome in Elevated circles.

Even at an early age Emis recognized the futility of this, but tried to belong for the sake of her family.  When her childhood friend declared his love for her and intention to marry her, common or no, Emis realized she also had to stop pretending.  She could never marry her winged love.  What kind of life could they have when he was destined to live in the clouds while her feet were stuck firmly, pragmatically on the ground.  It would condemn him to the same limbo she occupied.

Emis left home that night, firmly but lovingly cutting ties with her well-meaning Elevated family and friends.  She needed to learn to be Common if she ever wanted to find her place in their world.  It's never easy to start over from scratch, but Emis has so far managed to resist giving into the temptation of self-pity or bitterness.

Another straightforward update - just a bit of extra embellishment.  Redone in Copic Markers.