Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Fan Art 1: Queen's Thief - Costis & Aris

Costis & Aris
Based off of characters from The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
Medium: Digital
Time: A couple days
Date: June 2016

Other Fan Art for the same series: Sea of Olives

This was a fan art I did a couple of months ago for the Hamiathes' Gift Exchange on the lovely Sounis fan site. I was super excited for the exchange, and I had a bunch of ideas that I wanted to draw, but alas I was finishing my hectic last couple of weeks studying abroad in Italy and thus I did not complete the more ambitious of my planned fan art (which I have since been finishing up and will be posting shortly!). I did however complete this lovely little drawing of Costis and Aris who are predominately from The King of Attolia (Book 3) in Megan Whalen Turner's Queen's Thief series.

[Quick Note: The Queen's Thief series (the actual official series title now { ;) } is absolutely my favorite book series of all time, and Megan Whalen Turner is a wizard of an author. I can no longer remember my life pre-Queen's-Thief series. They are the most amazing work of literary art I have ever come across, and as an author I can only aspire to be half as amazing as Megan Whalen Turner. This is the sort of books series where every single word has a meaning and a purpose revealing more with each reread (yes, even many many rereads later), but they can also be enjoyable on a surface level without delving into the hidden treasures of extra meaning and foreshadowing. The characters are wonderful and a joy to read. The books are a perfect balance of everything a book needs but done in such a masterful way that I consider them more a work of art than a mere book series (mind you these are children's/young adult fiction and written in a modern style {as opposed to the more antiquated style of most of the greats of children's/teen literature} so that really is saying something). I could literally write a whole series raving about how amazing each book is, so I had better get on to my fan art~~~]

Prompt: The prompt I worked off of was from a lovely fellow fan who adored Costis and Aris and their friendship [or a little bit more ;) ]. Throughout The King of Attolia, which is narrated from Costis's point of view, there are several scenes with long time friends Costis and Aris. There is everything from them doing their normal daily duties as guards, hanging out in their free time, worrying about each other (such as when Costis desperately has to plead the King for a way to save Aris), etc. Costis is very just, upstanding, and passionate. He comes from a landed family which is huge as far as status goes in Attolia. Aris does not come from a landed family and cannot afford to be as upright as Costis sometimes. They stay friends through thick and thin despite their difference in status or the trouble they find themselves in throughout the plot of the book.

This is my initial sketch. I wanted Costis (on the left) to be standing openly and reaching up around Aris's neck without care for how awkward the reach or how cumbersome the armor he was wearing. I wanted to witness them spontaneously having fun: Costis, a more genuine and open fun with his best friend; Aris, a more precious fun grateful for the friendship he's found in Costis. I was also working on the design of the armor which needed to both feel like Greek/Roman-ish armor, but also be plenty decorative since as Queen's Guard they were expected to look both impressive and perhaps just a bit ornamental. The symbol on the chest plate was meant to be the lily of Attolia which is mentioned to be on Attolian currency.

This is my completed sketch (in pencil). Costis is smiling unreservedly. There's a bit of funkiness going on in some of the hands and elbows, but the armor looks nice. I also added a second lily on the hip plate.

I decided that I was going to turn this into a digital drawing to keep it cleaner, and besides I think I only had 12 colored pencils with me in Italy and no other art supplies. This is the black and white digital version of the drawing. I decided that I was going to keep it 'sketch-y' and stay simple on the coloring, with more muted, everyday-happy sorts of colors. I wanted a simple clean fill in that maintained the feelings of my sketch.

I wanted both of their hair to be dark brown, but I didn't want them to be the same color. I wanted to give Costis a slight red tinge to his hair (since for some reason I related reddish hair with warmer, more open personalities - not that Costis is that 'warm' per se, but he is very genuine to his feelings and beliefs as opposed to Aris being slightly more reserved and constrained.). I do wish I would have made Costis's hair curlier, but curly hair is hard. 
This is the final drawing with highlights and shadows added. I also darkened Aris's hair a bit, and cleaned up some of the dark sketch-y areas a little. I made the horrible elbow a bit less horrible. There is definitely a lot more I would have done, especially now that I know a bit more about making digital art, but overall I am happy with it and it makes me smile every time I see it :) .

One other note about this pic, where I wanted Costis to have spontaneously slung his arm around Aris, Aris in turn is gripping Costis's shoulder. Though he can't afford to be as impulsive in his actions as Costis, they have an equal, comfortable friendship, that is important to both of them.

I know this is a cheesy over-analysis of one little sketch-y picture, but it goes to show how much I love this series and it's characters, and how even when I'm only making a tiny little sketch-y picture there is so much that I am thinking about and that I want to include to do justice to my some of my favorite characters~~~

Other Ideas:

Below is one of my other ideas for a drawing of Costis and Aris. This one was supposed to be them hanging out in Costis's room when off duty. I really liked the idea, but I had a lot of dimensional issues, so if I do end up completing this some day I will likely just have to start over.

One other idea I had was more of a comic of them eating in the mess hall - starting with when they were younger and became friends (when Costis didn't care about being friends with someone of lower status) and later throughout the plot of the book (for example there was a scene when Costis was ostracized and Aris decided to throw his lot in with him and sit with him anyways). I might still do this eventually~~~

Darn, I should've known that I couldn't keep a fan art post for the Queen's Thief series short and sweet and to the point.

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