throwing around a few more tattoo ideas.


based off a bit of maori stuff. more or less. i imagine if these people were real they would tattoo themselves all over the place and try to show them off (like we do), but for reader clarity it can muddy the silhouettes a bit if you aren’t careful. can take a long time to draw too.


also i mentioned this a while ago but it might be a little hard to see for the casual reader. above is the tattoo design for the main characters of chapter 2, more or less in the colors it would actually be. the dad has the ‘father mark’, basically the full tattoo for the family crest. lain has the ‘daughter mark’, a partial version that would be blended with that of her husband’s family mark if she got married. it’s seen as poor form to have the daughter mark take up too much of the face since it’s basically insulting the husband’s family if they got no space to put their bling on there.
men and women both get their designs when the come of age, so little kids don’t have them.

Tattoos: part 2

Body markings mainly serve an out-of-universe purpose of helping the audience to more easily tell non-human characters apart, but also have justified reasons in the world. Tattoos are extremely common for Arkan characters and are basically coat of arms for the family. The color, position, and design of the tattoos vary widely between cultures and even families, but similar styles obviously exist within close areas. The designs are designed primarily with the men in mind, as they are the ones whom the family line is passed down. Women generally receive father marks, which is about half of their family’s mark – they will later receive the other half of the mark of their husband to symbolize a unity of the two families. It is seen in poor taste for the father mark to be unnecessarily large compared to the husband’s or not leaving enough space for the wife’s other half, though this tends to happens more often than it would seem. Some families, especially wealthy ones, tend to make it almost a competition who can have the largest markings. For the reader this may not be shown in full as it will distract from body language.

Some powerful women that are unmarried may have the entire father mark. It is extremely difficult if not impossible to remove tattoos. They tend to be in areas easily viewable with clothing such as the face, arms and tail (though again for reader clarity this may not be accurately represented). Non-permanent body paint is also used in some circles, often for war or events.

The high Renes view the practice as barbaric. Note that they also treat their ridges in ways that the Arkans think of likewise. Other Arkans also may not tattoo as heavily, like the Otigos. 

Designs can change somewhat over generations, and some add in major family events on the tapestry for instance (e.g. grampa killed a bear so we’ll show him killing a bear in the design from now on). They also change if they find their design is at odds with the popular trends, and can also ‘suddenly’ change to just coincidentally mirror those in power or royalty. Royalty and nobles hate this and will charge commoners if they find their mark to be infringed and the line is often extremely blurred.

Character concepts 1 – Lain

I’ll probably end up posting quite a few of the character concepts I do on the site. I think it’s interesting to show, honestly I enjoy inventing new characters and scenarios more than drawing old ones over and over.

This is Lain, a character I’ve had since the very early stages of this comic back in 2010. Her basic design and personality has remained fairly unchanged since then, which is a far cry from most of the other characters that will appear in the comic. she’s around 17 or so. I’m looking forward to writing and drawing her cause I think her circumstances and personality will make for interesting stories. I don’t plan in detail too far ahead, I find it more fun to have some rough ideas of who she is and where her story goes and basically fill it in and wing it from there. planning too much makes it turn out really stale when I do it.

Main things I’m trying to figure out are minor cosmetic choices. Mainly the exact cut of her tunic, collar, and what kind of circlet she’s going to wear. I want something that doesn’t cover her eyebrows, I’m leaning towards either a thin band tiara kinda thing or a thicker band that goes around behind her head, over her frills, and doesn’t connect on the forehead. she’s come of age but is unmarried, and therefore doesn’t have the family crest facial tattoos like Sago or Jos, but has her own family mark on her tail or back or something. if she got married she would have the husband’s crest tattooed on her face as a symbol of the family unity, like Ausrea. If it was real, likely her current tattoo would be somewhere visible like her neck or arms, but in comic visibility I don’t think it looks all that great to have every single woman’s arm or neck tattooed and confusing the body language.

She started out pretty tall for a her gender, but I feel I’ve been steadily decreasing her height the more I sketch her. I don’t know, I kinda think it feels right if she’s just average or slightly below average. her slender build combined with her pretty long (and kinda goofy) frills and tendency to wear baggier clothes has a good look to it I think.

Stay tuned to see her coming up in the story!

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.