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.