Character concepts 3 – armor

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some armor design concepts. on the whole metal is rarely used in Motherland due to a variety of factors, but the majority of regions have access to substitute materials. these alien ‘resin’ compounds are mass-produced from several species of wildlife and have no true real world analogue, though most have properties somewhere in the realm of rubber, chitin, ceramic, and polymer. among a myriad of other uses, they are used to make armor and weapons. it’s a big goal of mine to have some crazy setting weirdness and still try to make designs that make sense. I’m heavily basing armor and weapon designs off of real life ones since they actually work instead of hypothetically work.

pretty much all of the armor shown here would be ‘elite’ models that would be very expensive to create and own. common soldiers and guards would make do with much less. chainmail doesn’t really exist per se due to the tensile properties of resin, the city guards in ch 1 were using scaled or spined hauberks which is much cheaper than plate armor but still fairly effective. many of the (wealthier) renes shown were using plate armor which was inspired by the designs of real life armenian cataphracts, the manicas in particular. i just think they look cool.

Character concepts 2 – helmets

this is close enough to a character concept in my opinion.

it can be pretty tough sometimes but it’s always fun to have to design clothes and armor and such with non-human parameters. Of course the motherlanders aren’t that different from humans but it’s enough. One of my mains goals with this story and setting is to create things that are realistically exotic but could still conceivably exist within the setting. it’s not high fantasy, so I’m really trying to make designs and such that would believably be created by the people there with their resources and technology.

For instance, very little wood or metal is used in the Motherland world. it’s too rare or hard to shape with their resources. Much of the armor used by soldiers and such is a type of molded resin, along with kevlar-like hauberks made out of durable fibers from the local ecosystem. A wide variety of construction methods and designs exist in this era, influenced by cost and efficiency, and of course, looks. Rich people can afford more expensive and efficient protection than your average town guard. armor evolved in real life to counter the weapons of the day and vice versa, and here is no different. That said, the evolution of their technology can be anachronistic at times compared to our own history.

I really want to try to make things that are realistic-looking while still looking cool or at least interesting. A helmet in real life is designed to protect your face first and foremost above looks (with some less than “cool” results for the sake of efficiency), and boy do these characters have a lot of face to protect. a mask that totally covered their entire snout and ears would be very protective and practical, but looks real goofy as a result. It’s a challenge to find designs that do enough of both practicality and aesthetics, but that’s the fun in it.

Malwan, facial recognition, and tattoos

Hey all. just wanted to share a couple of things.



This is the character Malwan that was introduced a few pages ago. He is a city guard, and I imagine is in his late 30s or so. He just has the kind of face that looks like he’s constantly ticked off, but he really isn’t.

When I started solidifying ideas with this comic, I ran into some issues with the character design, which I’ll go more in depth at a later date. However, one of the main problems I kept coming across was how difficult it could be for the casual reader to tell certain characters apart. I find that usually the more alien a character looks, the harder it is to not only relate to them, but it is to tell different members apart. The human brain is incredible at recognizing humans, and we practice at it every day. But, say, try to tell the difference between two iguanas.


(credit to the owners for the photographs)

From a logical standpoint, they have just as many differences in their faces as humans do. The second has a much larger jaw, shorter snout, and protruding lower lip compared to the first. It would be easy to recognize a human with these features compared to one without. But from a ‘human’ standpoint, there’s just something alien about these iguanas. Try to pick one of them out from a crowd of iguanas. I doubt anyone could.  Unfortunately this is also a problem with the species for this story, and one I see many people with non-human characters run into as well.

There are several solutions I can think of. Color is easy to do. Bill and Bob are both crocodiles, but Bill is orange and Bob is purple. Simple. Unfortunately, color also takes much longer than B+W, and I just don’t feel like at this moment in time I have the resources to do it.

Specific clothing to a character also helps a lot, helping the reader to associate a color or pattern or a clothing design to a character instead of a face. Unfortunately, without color this is much more limited.

Stylizing or exaggerating features of a non-human character can help, but I find only if you do this to an extreme degree. For this comic, I’d rather not.

What is my solution? Tattoos.

In Song of the Motherland, characters in many of the countries show their family lineage by tattoos on their faces (occasionally, arms or tails). It’s basically like having an ever-present coat of arms. Every family’s mark is unique in designs and colors. Men and women get theirs when they come of age, with men receiving theirs on their face, and women on… anywhere but their face. Later on if they get married, they will get their husband’s mark on their face as well, a symbol of uniting the two families.

I admit this solution may be a bit cheap, but I think it also provides some interesting opportunities to explore cultural depth and stuff. It may not help tell apart a character in a crowd, but between only two people talking or whatever it might just be the push that is needed to help the reader. That being said, I still try to make faces as unique as I can get away with, but this is more for the reader’s convenience than my own.