Okay, so this is a thing I was thinking about doing every now and then, because I write stuff, and I also draw stuff, and puns make the world go ’round.
Character Sketches is (are?) basically going to be a place for me to throw out some ideas, along with some rough visuals, and see if I can make any sense out of them. It will also be a place for me to introduce new characters, experiment with new ideas, and try to crowd-source some opinions without actually having to look at people’s expressions while I do, because face-to-face criticism is scary.
In short, I’m carving out my own little space on this podcast, and I’m going to be filling it with a bunch of work in progress from my various novels and assorted projects.
This week, I’m starting to rough out the costume design for a team of magical girls for a series I’m tentatively calling Star Bound. The premise is: there are wars raging across the dimensions. In one of these dimensions, the star Polaris is defeated in battle and shatters, her fragments falling into our reality. Each of the twelve fragments is found by a young person, who becomes one of the Knights of Polaris and is charged with protecting Earth and our dimension from the evils and wars that would try and destroy it.
I was basically dared to write a magical girl novel, and far be it from me to turn down a writing challenge!
Every magical girl group needs a theme, so I’ve decided to go with the Western zodiac for this one. I’ll be getting into the specific characters further down the line; for now, I’m just looking at the over all costume design for the Knights.
There are some things I’m sure I want to keep consistent for each knight; the earring in the right ear is the fragment of the star that contains their power. I like toga-style drapery, although it’s got nothing to do with either knights or the zodiac, and I feel like some kind of floofy skirt or bow is basically mandatory in the magical girl genre.
I also like the idea that each girl (or maybe boy? who knows!) has their hair and eye color change when they transform. One thing that always really bothered me when I watched magical girl anime – or superhero cartoons, for that matter – was that nobody would recognize the hero, even though they look basically identical to their normal secret identity self. So my idea here is that each knight’s hair is a silvery, shimmery color with undertones of whatever color their outfit is. Virgo has shades of green and creamy yellow, and Aquarius has blue and … lighter blue, I guess? It’s hard to convey that in a quick sketch. Scorpio looks less like she’s got undertones of red and purple, and more like her hair is a deranged candy cane. Nonetheless, that’s what I imagined in my head.
I’m taking the colors themselves from various online astrology sources – my targeted ads are now starting to offer me healing crystals and palm readings, and I’m wondering if I should have done all of my browsing in an incognito window. I’m not sure if I like the results that’s getting me … powder blue and purple doesn’t exactly scream “centaur archer” to me, although it’s definitely pretty? And if I change that, I’ll have to invent my own color scheme, and that’s a pretty daunting idea, so I may just leave it to the astrologers and take the consequences as they come.
The other thing I’m really trying to work on at this point is how to make each costume recognizable for the zodiac sign that it represents. Some of them feel like they’ll be easy – Taurus, for example, doesn’t seem like it’ll give me much trouble. Scorpio seemed simple enough; a pattern like scorpion legs on the boots, a long braid to represent the tail, but I have no idea how easily that will translate. Then I run into other problems, like the fact that Aquarius, for all that it’s the waterbearer, is actually an Air sign. I’ve got no idea to what extent I want to actually pay attention to that. I’ve given her little bubble bombs for now. Bubble are both air things and water things, so that seems safe enough, but when I get to Capricorn the goat-mermaid-earth-sign I think I’m going to run into trouble again.
I think what I’m learning here is that character design is complicated, and crazy colorful thematic costume design isn’t so much complicated as it is insane!
Tune in sometime in the indeterminate future to see how the rest of the designs are coming along!