I’ve been told I write strong female characters, which is good, because so far the majority of my protagonists have been female. It’s nice to know I do them justice and create characters that both men and women enjoy following.
So it’s no surprise that last week, while browsing for inspiration, the image below caught my eye. The character is sensibly clad, and looks like a formidable fighter, someone you’d approach with caution, no matter who you were. Impressive, because the realistic depiction of female warriors in sci-fi/fantasy isn’t exactly the norm. I clicked through, curious about the artist, and discovered she had included a short brief with the image. It deepened my appreciation for the artwork, and I share her sentiment. It’s the main reason I try hard to craft female characters that are just as complex, strong, confident, and independent as any male protagonist could be.
I contacted the artist and asked if I could repost her comments along with the artwork, because they're a good complement to the image. She was kind of enough to allow it, and I've included them below,
"Hilda" by Ros Kovac
I've expressed my thoughts in regards to the female representation in fantasy settings, few times in the past.
In short: I understand why artists make depictions of women that focus on showing off her body, instead of armor protection; I get the appeal of making huge breasted girls in high heels, that can magically kick ass. I totally support the right of artists of making chainmail bikinis, especially when they don't have any say in the design, because they're hired and respond to an Art Director. However, the fact that I get it and don't demand for them to stop, in the name of what I consider appropriate, doesn't mean that I like the bikini armor, or the bimbo that only serves as eye candy to sell a rather mediocre product.
Instead of whining about "why no one makes female warriors that I, as a woman, find appealing!?", I took on the task of creating a rather simple design of a woman that could potentially kick ass, but still appealed to what I find physically/visually attractive as an artist—mostly because I like painting attractive people, and this is a personal work, so I just have to please myself for once!—and that's how Hilda was born.
"Hilda" was just a quick name that came to mind after finishing the work, since "Generic barbarian woman" was too bland for a title. I mostly focused on the aesthetics aspects, especially the armor, taking into consideration what I expressed above, my parameters were:
This is by no means an attempt at a statement, lecturing or trying to tell people this is the right thing to do with female characters. It was simply, a very fun exercise I made between client works, which had been occupying my entire time lately.
Thanks for reading,
You can check out more of Ros’ work at the portfolio links above. And if her comments resonate with you, share the link. Who knows, maybe we can inspire others to think a little differently about character development, regardless what form it takes.
Sometimes, all it takes is a single image to bring a story to life. It could be a scene or location, from the past or the present. Where the image falls in the story timeline isn't important. If it can help you better visualize the world(s) your characters occupy, then that’s all that matters, because the better we're able to visualize our settings and scenes, the more vivid and detailed our writing becomes.
If you’re writing science fiction/fantasy, at some point, you’re probably going to want to develop a world or location with a sense of character and personality that sets it apart from the familiarity of Earth, past and present. Whether you’re looking to add a touch of wonder to a new world, or imbue an ancient culture with a sense of honor and timeless tradition, the images below are bound to set your Muse on the path to conjuring something majestic.
Click to enlarge images.
I like to people watch (airports are one of my favorite places), so I guess it’s no surprise that I draw as much inspiration from character portraits as I do from looking at scenes and settings, perhaps even more when it comes to story development. Just as in real life, there’s a story behind each face. Eyes hint of pain, joy, confidence and love; scars raise questions; and clothes, accessories, and hairstyles can reveal so much about culture. It’s amazing, the number of questions a face can conjure in one’s mind. For writers, these questions beg to be answered, and in the answers we discover a story waiting to be told.
Below are a few interesting portraits I've collected from various artists, characters that, for whatever reason, I find curiously compelling. They may be the protagonist of a great adventure, or simply a minor character that brings a touch of color to a single scene. Whatever the case, most would make great additions to any sci-fi/fantasy world. You can mix and match, or develop around them as they are. Character portraits merely serve as foundations, starting points to jump start your imagination. If you ask the questions, and let your Muse provide the answers, you may discover a new character worth writing about.
Need help with the questions? Pick an image that interest you and try some of these.
Click for full-size image.
I often mention how images inspire me to write, and share a lot of the really cool stuff I find—pictures that stir my imagination, make me long to be in far off places and speculate about the future. But just as those images conjure ideas of places, characters, and scenes I’d like to write about, I also collect images that help me envision my settings and scenes more clearly. For me, observing these images is like being there, and I find all kinds of little details I can use to develop my own unique setting.
We've all heard the saying, “Write what you know.” Well, most of us have never been in a starship hanger bay, but by studying a variety of images, we can make observations and collect enough details, to paint our own picture. And by mixing, matching, and adding our individual perspective, we can create a hanger bay that’s unique to our ship and our story, and full of colorful, descriptive details that help ground our readers in a setting that feels a little more real because we were able to be specific.
Truth is, no two writers will look at anything and describe it the exact same way, so it occurred to me that, like writing prompts, these types of images might be fun to share as well. And, we all know you don’t have to be a writer to appreciate a good futuristic setting. We sci-fi fans love just about anything that stirs the imagination, and these images do just that.
So, that said, you can expect to see similar posts like this in the future (minus the long-winded introduction, of course). Let me know what you think. :)
First up is “Arbor Vitae” a terraforming station created by environmental artists Philip Klevestav and Helder Pinto. There’s an impressive amount of detail in these images, and although your story may not need a terraforming station, chances are—if you’re writing science fiction, that is—there’s at least a scene or two taking place in some kind of facility. “Arbor Vitae” has enough detail to spread around just about any type of futuristic setting.
Also, if you like these images, check out the artists’ websites. They both have a lot more environmental work in their galleries. www.philipk.net and www.helderpinto.com
So many details—the curved outer window, with orange markers; the upper level along the left side; the holo-image and cables hanging from the overhead projector; the shine of the floor plating; the exposed conduit running along the floor and up from the center well; the hard light stations around the room; the ventilation ducts at the base of the window. Take your pick.
Same room, different angle. You can see a lot more ceiling detail and the texture of the wall panels.
The lighting is nice, as is the grated floor, and if you look close, the walls appear to be sweating. I also like that open area in the middle of the pic. Nice place to stage a fight. That drop would make a serious obstacle for the characters to avoid, or use to their advantage.
The upper level: main console and smaller hard-light stations; different sized floor panels; exposed conduit; the lower level lighting is much brighter than the softer recessed lighting overhead; and the whole level has a darker contrast to the natural light illuminating the main floor.