Nations and shape language

been working on this for a while now. Since there are a variety of people groups and nations in the story, I am doing my best to work on making each nation have shapes (roughly) specific to them. not last airbender level or anything where “this country only wears red clothes”, but still. it’s a hard balance to keep in mind. at the very least, distinct clothing and silhouette elements that represent one nation I’ve been trying to keep separate from other nations.

Up to this point the comic has only covered a single nation, Allano. In hindsight, I probably should have limited the variety of their clothing, but you live and learn. That said, I am consolidating the core ‘essence’ of what the allanos wear and trying to differentiate it with the other groups. i’ve dabbled with the designs of other nations here and there but the past little bit I’ve really been trying to make a concerted effort to make things decently distinct.

In real life of course there is a lot of trends that carry on over the border, but sometimes it is necessary to limit that just so the audience can tell where the heck this character is supposed to be from. at the end of the day it is a loose guide and I won’t lose too much sleep if it isn’t an airtight system.

my main strategy is using designs I like the best on places where I will spend the most time and filling out the rest from there. everything is heavily subject to change as always. I choose to hold off on giving away too many details to avoid spoiling anything interesting later 😉

speaking some NONSENSE!!


language and communication (or lack thereof) plays a huge part in the motherland. generally speaking, the languages shown to the reader will be translated in a form that makes sense to the character’s POV. basically the reader is generally in the dark to the same degree as the characters are.

each language (there are potentially like 7-12) has its own alphabet that will represent it when the characters don’t understand it. there are even different dialects of the same language where two characters may have an extremely difficult time understanding each other (eg creole to scottish) where some letters will appear as english with others as ‘unstranslated’ to seem like an accent. I use fonts from real life languages courtesy of google noto. It makes more sense to me to use a real life language that has been in use for X centuries instead of some random made up alphabet.

The non-english text is not made to be translated irl by the reader and I’m sure is total nonsense to a native speaker of the real life language. That said, I am trying to use alphabets that are either dead or so incredibly obscure to the audience that it will be almost impossible for that confusion to happen. The feeling is more important than what is actually said if you run it through google translate or whatever. And where accents and foreign languages are concerned I’ll try to make it obvious through context that the reader isn’t required to do so in order to understand the story.


Imperial Aramaic (extinct) and Kaithi (mostly extinct) will be likely seen the most. The Rene and Avato languages are the main ones used in the story, even by other nations who speak other languages natively. they are basically the greek or english of their day.

Rene text

This comic is going to show a lot of different languages and accents. I never was too big a fan of the star trek-like tendency of making characters who are from very different regions speak the same language, especially in eras before mass communication or quick travel. back in ancient times it was common to develop extreme dialect differences even in fairly close areas just do to the difficulty of traveling to other regions. i want to try and show that here.

When a character speaks a language that’s foreign to the other characters, I’m generally going to leave it ‘untranslated’, and will avoid subtitles for the most part. generally the reader will be as in the dark as the characters are. i like this. it makes it seem more real. google translate didn’t exist in ancient times. it also kind of adds to the mystery and sense of wonder by experiencing different cultures, at least i hope.


the Rene text above is Gujarati script, a language and alphabet from western India. the font is courtesy of Google Noto, which is a pretty neat project that I would highly recommend checking out if you are also interested in different alphabets and languages. I wanted something foreign (to most americans) but still a believable-looking script. didn’t want something made-up like vulcan or whatever. I browsed through many different ones before deciding on Gujarati because it is pretty unknown in my region and looks very elegant while also simple. fitting for the Renes in the context of the story.

Different languages will be represented by different scripts, but I haven’t finalized most of them yet. I also need to figure out a way to convey accents of languages as well, which is a pretty interesting challenge. will try to avoid spelling out the words (ie texan: “‘ah love ya’ too”) so i’m coming up with other solutions. it’s annoying to read anyway and doesn’t really convey it the way i want.