Welcome to my character portrait gallery

For anyone who is wondering, Wednesday became 'black Wednesday' for me because I cannot draw mid-week!
In fact I'm sure the rainforests mourn Wednesday too by the amount of paper I tear through in frustration... so this is a blog for all who know what like it is to regularly shout at their pencils
Oh yes it's also all about fictional characters plus interviews with them, yeah, that too :)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Alanor O'Danach

At 47years of age and respectable 5ft tall Alanor O’Danach bears the outward appearance of a stern woman, one of great poise and dignity who we mistakenly thought would spend most of the interview looking down her nose at us lowly workers. Instead we find her to possess an inquisitive nature one that reveals a calm, genuine and kind-hearted lady who is more than interested in her current surroundings and the people therein.  

That said we immediately learn she has an intense dislike of being nicknamed ‘Alan,’ and nicknames in general. She professes we may call her, ‘Lana,’ if we must shorten her name, however doesn’t see how anyone can be so lazy as to avoid pronouncing a third syllable. We’ll take it as a given that her husband doesn’t have a pet name for her then.

A well-respected lady of commerce Alanor is also Mathias' younger sister and hence bears the O’Mahryn family glyph on her forehead. Whilst incredibly busy with her own work she has frequent contact with her brother and young niece Tomor. This is partly due to the fact that the O’Danach business ties in well with the O’Mahryn’s, Mathias and Tomor raise and sell wyvern, whilst Devahn and Alanor design, fix and manufacture riding apparatus, armour and clothing. She is quick to inform us that she didn’t marry Devahn because of their obvious business ties but rather that their shared investments led them to meet. 

From the way Alanor speaks of her husband it is clear that she is actually deeply in love with him, which is fortunate considering all drow have their spouse’s family glyph permanently emblazoned atop their left hand. Marriage laws are a serious business in drow society as are the constraints on child rearing. So what if they want to get divorced or the spouse dies? We are sure you are wondering as that was the first thing we immediately cried. Well, Alanor explains that yes divorce does happen and if the reasons are legitimate or a spouse dies then the glyph is merely faded. She explains further that if however the divorce occurs for an untoward reason such as infidelity then the glyph is branded red as a warning to future partners. We think it amusing to imagine a whole bunch of drow wandering around with strings of red spousal glyphs like cheap nightclub stamps all over the backs of their hands. Much to our childish dismay we are swiftly informed that this red branding is a rare occurrence and most divorces are ruled fairly resulting in a faded glyph instead.

Alanor’s personal speciality is dressmaking; she is lead designer for several ranges of thermal and outdoor wear but confesses that her passion isn’t in the practical clothing that forms the bread and butter of their business. It is a rare treat then when she is asked to design a unique item, one with likely limited saleability in the market. The wealthier members of society have on occasion requested she design outfits for them and as a side-project Alanor does make one-off custom clothes that, as her catalogue will attest, sell for hysterically extortionate prices. 

In dealing with customers Alanor tells us that women are unsurprisingly the worst offenders when it comes to demanding alterations and are also the worst when requesting specifics for their priceless gowns. In fact Alanor explicitly details that the things she least likes designing are, ‘frilly frocks, and baroque, gaudy fascinators that those puffed up princesses order and wear for one night only.’ Now aside from the fact that she knows her work is going to spend the rest of its miserable life gathering dust in a closet we assume it pains her to put her name to whatever cheap and tacky eye-catcher is en vogue for those precise five minutes.

After wasting a full thirty minutes talking about fashion we realised it was going to be a pretty dreary interview if we didn’t swiftly change the subject and so set the next line of enquiry to ‘any hobbies that don’t involve clothes.’ Following a raised eyebrow or three and a few flirty remarks at our Freudian slip we were surprised to learn that Alanor is more than adept with a bow and arrow. Whilst she doesn’t profess to be any good at riding or shooting from wyvern-back she tells us she has won many an archery competition in her time. Amused she relays that as a child her eye was so keen her father had hoped the idle hobby would transform into a profession. To this day she tells us she finds it laughable that her father wanted her to be an archer when all she really wanted to do was play with clothes and dress up dolls. She recalls how, in a backwards act of cunning defiance, she would make sure she was seen sneaking from the house with her bow and arrow and heading to the woods, where she would in her own words ‘proceed to sit and brazenly sew things.’

We’re not entirely sure how one ‘brazenly’ sews anything but to avoid stumbling back into a conversation about clothes we ask if she still practices archery. The answer in short, yes she does. Alanor tells us she likes to goes out hunting small game of a weekend with Mathias and Tomor, but ruefully explains how her niece seems to be ‘at that age’ and that Tomor is ‘more interested in chasing after older men than catching rabbits.’

The supportive and accepting type Alanor reveals that she is at times quite literally an agony aunt for Tomor’s woes. Thankfully as an understanding and well-rounded soul she has the patience of a saint and enjoys counselling young people. She relates that if she hadn’t made a success of clothing design she would like to have become a counsellor or teacher. However Alanor informs us that she believes in embracing opportunities as they present themselves and that as much as she loves children her career arrived first.

That’s not to say her career is the be all and end all. In fact she slyly saved the most exciting bit of news right until the end of the interview and then like some clandestine agent suddenly revealed that she is pregnant with her first child! We had wondered why there was a new range of thermal baby grows in her catalogue slapped next to the cocktail dresses.

After an intense round of congratulations and fawning from the staff, we ask if she thinks it will be tricky choosing which of the two surnames to gift to the child seeing as both families are equally prosperous. Alanor smiles broadly at this question and relates that she and Devahn have already agreed that the infant’s surname will be dictated by whichever business is doing best at the child’s time of birth. Now that’s strikes us as special, in a competitive ‘whoever is making the most money wins,’ kind of way, which incidentally doesn’t sit well with the steady and solvent personality we have been presented with over the past hour. All of which makes us wonder what other ‘little’ secrets seemingly open Alanor is keeping to herself.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Beatrix Icini

Special thanks go to Petrina for this wonderful character concept. Inspired by a dream Petrina had, all her fabulously detailed input made writing Bea’s interview a breeze! (I guess that should be a sea breeze? :P)

Standing at a lofty 6ft 5in tall, Beatrix is an attractive and highly knowledgeable woman. One could be forgiven for mistakenly thinking she possesses wisdom beyond her years since despite being over a century old her countenance remains fresh and she appears to be more spry than most of the thirty year-olds in our office. In fact our female employees enviously decide that living on a glacier means Bea’s face got frozen in time and refuse to admit that they wish the same fate applied to their far-less-than-a-century-old wrinkles.

As consolation they point out that whilst Bea may have a stunningly young face she does have thunderously wide hips and carries an unflattering amount of weight on her lower half. They also note that her off-white fur is somewhat grubby and whilst her gnarled yellowing nails might be good for snagging a handful of fish they are in desperate need of a manicure. The men in the office remain mysteriously quiet during this ‘discussion’ whilst Beatrix simply sits and patiently listens to their snipes with a wizened smile in her glittering eyes.

We later learn this was probably because Beatrix dislikes sharing her thoughts if she feels her remarks are unsolicited. That and the fact that being a half-anthropomorphic polar bear, Beatrix naturally possesses a whole host of superior talents, including sharp eyesight, an inborn ability in the water, above average physical strength and stamina, keen ears and an acute sense of smell which she confesses isn’t always a blessing particularly when the local harbour has an overflow of rotten fish.

A modest soul, there is nothing needy about Beatrix, she clearly savours every interaction during the interview but is never cloying or clingy. Her attitude is perhaps much like her attire; uncomplicated and inexpensive, designed for function over fashion with one exception: the jewel that adorns her neck is instantly recognisable, a sizeable and particular-cut sapphire known as ‘star of the north.’ Earning tenure of this gem is no easy task, it symbolises that Beatrix is currently appointed guardian and guide of her northern homeland.
A fantastic listener Bea is a slow and steady thinker; irrefutably considerate she weighs all factors of a situation before reaching a conclusion and despite her swathes of experience never presumes to have all the answers. If there’s one thing that she ardently believes it’s that ‘there is always something more to learn.’

She never actively seeks the company of others but instead allows them to come to her. She knows that people must move in their own patterns and considers their transitions as rhythmic as the flow of the tide. Happily her counsel is often sought. Familiar friends and new acquaintances alike know of her wisdom and that she can be found most days atop Auspoint rock, dreaming and watching the world go by.

Ever-attentive she tries to always be genuinely engaged when conversing, however much to her disdain she sometimes finds the lure of the sea too powerful and drifts off into fantasies of watching the waves and melding with the universe. She is devastated when this happens and apologises profusely when she thinks she has given the impression that she wasn’t paying attention.

Being alone is never troublesome to Beatrix as she uses the solitude to allow her thoughts to drift free until she feels unified with the swirling echoes of the sea and can feel every particle of the salt-tinged breeze running through her hair. Bea is most passionate about water and ice, especially as when the world stands frozen still it provides her with a cool and reflective space for contemplation. She relates that she can think of nothing better than being warmly wrapped in cold weather, steam rising from her wet nose and breath freezing as a cloud of shimmering droplets in the frigid ether. She expresses too that when the ocean is warmer and glassy how she loves the fact that she can look down into the sky and simultaneously witnesses all the colours above and below as though the world is unending. Then lastly she tells us with glee that when the water moves she knows it is the glint of her favourite snack; teeming shoals of tiny, slippery, and crunchy little fish.

When asked about work Beatrix describes herself as currently ‘beyond profession,’ which we assume is a convoluted way of saying, ‘retired.’ As you might expect Beatrix has had many jobs in her lifetime ranging from a jinxed ships skivvy, to wayward lighthouse keeper, to a cartographer and local marine life specialist before finally settling down to open a restaurant and illustrate a recipe book with her own form ‘Gyotaku.’ Now ‘Gyotaku’ was a new one on us so to clarify it is a form, ‘fish slapping’ art. Yes literally painting one side of a fish or other crustacean and slapping said (presumably deceased) sea life against a bit of equally dead driftwood or bark and then admiring the inky results, yum.

Of her less disgusting hobbies Beatrix professes to enjoy sand sculpting and rock painting, gazing at the sea, swimming, sitting on a sun-baked rock and dipping her toes into warm rock pools.

Whilst many goals have come and gone in Beatrix’s lifetime, she claims that she finally feels free of such diversions. Bea states that if the years have taught her anything it’s that ‘whatever we busy ourselves with, the sun keeps rising each morning, the tide will always come in, the big fish still chase the little fish and people will always have questions.’ Somehow all these constants appear to converge right where she sits. So she waits atop Auspoint rock and everything that gives her joy presents itself to her. She credits the place itself for ‘lending an intense sense of insight and comfort,’ a serene contentment in knowing that it is exactly where she’s meant to be.

Bea doesn’t seem to have any particular self-opinion, which whilst it’s refreshing to speak to a non-narcissist it is also strange to hear someone reflect that they find the word, ‘self’ peculiar. She explains that her gaze is so often focused on the incoming waves, or the deeper ocean (we imagine she’s just eyeing up tell-tale splashes of those fish she keeps harping on about), or way out to the horizon her awareness of ‘self’ extends far beyond her physical body.  We suppose that makes sense, as a detached, floaty, ‘everything is one,’ kind of truism.