Thus further images and insights as promised…
One day at work, in order to take a break from all my shopping about town and tea making and nail filing (because I was always one to work super hard at the ‘actual’ job … I jest, I’m guessing it was a slow day at the office) I started sketching and Amber and Fao popped out of my pencil. Specifically the second from lower-left drawing shown here where she is leaping forwards:
Amber hasn’t changed much over the years she is however, one character who works very well in carton style and probably not so well in a more literal portrait form, I am still not entirely happy with the last portrait I did.
Still a stubborn spiky-pigtail haired girl with a stupidly huge dragon appealed to me, in a way I guess she made me think of tank girl, a rude, loud and crass woman. Not sure why it appealed to me on that particular day or where her name originated from, she was just Amber as soon as she appeared. Fao on the other hand wasn’t named immediately yet after very little consideration I lazily jotted down ‘oaf’ and my brain made that microwave noise ‘ting’ – ‘alright,’ it said ‘we’ll just reverse that and he can be called Fao,’ – et voila.
On an early rendition of patterning for Fao I was thinking he could have leathery skin:
but decided I disliked the above and went for traditional scales as shown below.
Thought I’d show some of the portrait build ups for Fao, above are the stages of sketching and below the stages of colouring. If you look really close you can probably just about read my scrawled colour notes and see the gathering of tiny pen dots that formed in one corner whilst I was trying to figure this out.
That same day Amber came into being Panda also emerged on a post-it note.
In the first sketch, Panda looked somewhat demure, but she was easy to draw and reminded me of an older character I had called Nami. This older character got her name from a client whose paperwork I filed in my job at Nationwide Insurance Claims. Considering I went through hundreds of paper files every day in that job I don’t know why ‘Nami Aoki’ stuck out at me and lodged in my brain, I also had no idea whether the name was meant for a man or a woman. Much later I ended up watching the anime ‘One Piece,’ and discovered they too have a character called Nami and yes, it’s a girl’s name!
The ring around Panda’s eye was a pencil slip that I decided I liked, and thought then logically that Panda must be her name! Relating back to Nami, I decided Panda’s character must be bonkers, hell, she has a ring around one eye and a split pupil that looks like a plus sign she must be crazy! So from then on whenever something happened to me that I found annoying or frustrating or just a bit crazy I would sketch Panda pulling another insane face.
Also yes, Panda loves to play dress up and is one of the few characters whose portraits I decided to render in two different sets of colours. I imagine she changes hair colour as often as her barely-there outfits. Her extended full name ‘Pandora Young’ came about later as a kind of play on the fact that she’s ‘mad as a box of frogs’ and the idea that one wouldn’t want to open Pandora’s Box. Plus Pandora is conveniently similar enough to Panda for that to be her given nickname.
Now things really got going, or at least got more complex, after I met my now husband, Jethro.
Naturally, I shared my ideas with him and as a keen RPG player, he was instantly intrigued. His first instinct was to make new characters or incorporate older one’s he’d used in his RPG’s.
In fact the below sketch was drawn specifically for a written RPG that revolved around a place called Cold Harbour in The Elder Scrolls universe. Keen RPG gamers will likely recognise the name as a place that Bethesda are currently making an MMO out of, long story short, you couldn’t play in the realm of Cold Harbour in 2007 so we made a written RPG there because, well we could.
The RPG, like most online written RPG’s started in some kind of dungeon or cellar and didn’t last very long. The image of Jet and Cyan however spurred me to make more images of Jethro as a character for my novel. Thus, the rather lazily named ‘Jet Korro’ came into being, one who looks like my love and shares many personality traits including an OCD quirk for symmetry. All of the clothes Jet and Cyan wear, are clothes we own, so their wonderfully terrible dress sense does belong to us.
Jet’s character evolved visually quite a bit over the years, aging perhaps alongside the man himself and getting several haircuts along the way. Most fun of all was making a sketch combining Jet with Panda. (3rd from right above) Perhaps you shouldn’t question the ‘why’ too much on that one.
This is also when Si’Ra, Dirzryn, Charrock and Dro’Zar were added. All of whom Jethro had created for various written role-plays but hardly used with the exception of Dro’Zar (below) who I do believe had made an appearance in an RPG or two before I swindled him away.
I always liked the early sketches of Dro’Zar, something about his character made me want to draw him in a different way to my other sketches. In case you are wondering, Dro’Zar is a Siamese point type of Felid hence the large ears and shape of snout in his final portrait.
So you can blame Jethro for all the x’s,y’s and z’s that are prevalent in so many of our character names!
You can equally thank him for many of our anthropomorph designs, because whilst I was into elves, vampires, and fae he liked the anthros, lycans and greenskins, which pretty much made a perfect balance between us for the things I wanted to create.
I had already drawn Argo (left below), although in the first sketch he was more lizard-like and less salamander-esq as he should be, but of course when Jethro showed me his eagle sketch of Charrock (below right) I just knew the two would make a fabulous haphazard duo.
So far as Si’Ra and Dirzryn go, I think even Jethro will agree that I ended up almost completely rewriting their personalities.
The base germ of their characters is still there but I liked them so much that I wanted them to be important players and fill certain roles within the tale, ergo, some of their original traits had to change. Thankfully, Jethro was happy with the alterations and now agrees that the newer versions are now better rounded and three-dimensional, in fact I think he likes them more than the first versions we had!
Dirzryn (above) is one of those characters whose face I feel like I’ve always known yet pinning down his image on paper I found very tricky in the beginning. His face was stuck in my head and it was super-frustrating to be unable to get it out onto paper. I actually prefer the older portrait I created of him (top left) to the more recent one (top right) and even now struggle to get his face exactly as I see it.
I didn’t have a clue what Si’Ra (below) looked like until I found an image of a Prussian Blue cat, then I knew, yep, that was him.
Our Felid names (that’s cat anthros to you) originated from The Elder Scrolls feline anthropomorphs which are called Kha’jiit, because the writers at Bethesda are obviously markedly less lazily than I who simply chose to use the Latin for ‘cat,’ to name our species.
As a way to mark out our Felid names from those use in the TES universe we decided that their surname and forenames would be written in reverse and that as a social etiquette trait these people would find it rude to be called by one name alone unless they asked.
So for example Si’Ra’s first name is actually ‘Raeemai’ and his surname is ‘Si’ which is shortened then to ‘Si’Ra,’ and even if a stranger were to prefix a title such as ‘Mr,’ to his name he would expect them to cite ‘Mr. Si’Ra,’ and not ‘Mr Si,’ or even worse as a display of ignorance, ‘Mr.Ra.’
I swear I have come to work by the unforgiving mantra of ‘if it isn’t hellishly difficult and complicated you’re doing it wrong,’ because doing things the simple and easy way would just be too clever.
That said that’s all from this post, so until next time keep it convoluted folks! ^_^
Oh and here's two recent 2013 ACEO's of our Si'Ra and Panda, just because :)
Oh and here's two recent 2013 ACEO's of our Si'Ra and Panda, just because :)