I took a short break from translating my novel, and decided to work on some art. I was actually hesitant to take a break, because the last few chapters have gone really well; I felt like I stumbled less often over little words, mostly thanks to the vocabulary I’ve amassed working on the previous chapters, but also because I learned to manage my time a little better. But I had arrived at my 2-month mark, and I felt it’s time to produce some new art content. I wish writing drafts could be as shareable as sketches, but I haven’t figured out how to make those interesting enough to share on social media. As it is, every time I’m focused on writing, it seems as if I’ve gone MIA.
Anyway, I got an ask on Tumblr some weeks ago where I talked about Anina being touch-starved, and since then I couldn’t get Sanino hugs and friendly touches out of my head, so I thought they would make a good concepts for artwork. The hugging sketches are actually from the ending scene of the novel! The other two are just hypothetical, though.
And I also managed to make a guide to the Kataman abugida! A friend of mine had asked what the ka character looks like, since she wanted to draw a fanart of Anina with it. At that time, I hadn’t developed the symbols yet, but it was the reason I started to think of making one. (By the way, my friend did make an awesome fanart, using baybayin as a substitute while I got my act together.)
Here’s the blurb I wrote on Tumblr:
[The Kataman abugida] is obviously largely based off of baybayin, especially since Katam is one of the regions analogous to the precolonial Tagalog region.
The major difference is that there’s no inherent vowel here, whereas baybayin has an inherent vowel ‘A,’ and if there was a consonant that wasn’t followed by any vowel, that consonant disappears altogether. Spanish colonizers tried to use a virama to “fix” this trait of baybayin, but according to this post, the natives weren’t fond of the idea because it didn’t align with their beliefs about the language.
I made the decision to go without inherent vowels altogether in the Kataman script, because it’s a scripting language for magic, and I figure it needs more precision for the magic to take. (Not saying that baybayin isn’t a precise writing system; it just… wasn’t used to activate magic scripts, I guess?)
Anyway, if some of the symbols look like their corresponding alphabets, it has more to do with me being quite unimaginative haha, and less to do with the fictional world at large.
(Again, I’m just going to re-post what I wrote on Tumblr, because for the first time I was actually kind of verbose about an artwork.)
Now that I’ve invested in a good monitor that actually has relatively accurate colours, I figured I experiment a little bit more with Sano and Anina’s skin tone, something that was a real challenge to locate with my blue-tinged laptop screen.
I know I edited a bunch of my artwork a few months ago to fix their skin tone, but I’m not completely happy with it either. Sometimes, at a quick glance, they would seem too red, unnaturally red, like they just came out of a blazing sauna after being trapped in it for 10 hours.
It’s really hard to settle on a definite colour, because colour is relative, and I know if I put them on a non-white background, it would have to change again. But I wanted a reference at the very least to help guide me once I start adding in more colours. The strangest part about this exercise is that every skin tone I experimented with seemed like “the one” while I was working on them XD. I was like, “Yes, that’s exactly how I imagine them” for every single one, lol. These 6 were the ones I liked best, and right now, I’m leaning towards D or E.
If I seem oddly fixated about their skin tone, it’s because I really want there to be no question that they’re dark-skinned. It’s so rare to see dark-skinned Filipinos in entertainment in the Philippines, let alone ones who are in lead roles. I actually saw a couple of documentaries (this and this) that showed how ridiculous skin-bleaching has become in the country nowadays. It’s shocking.
But it’s not like Sano and Anina are dark-skinned as a response to this. They’ve been canonically dark-skinned since inception. It’s just that I don’t feel as if my artistic skills have showcased that in the past. So here I am clearing up any ambiguity. (Also, Sano and Anina have average skin tone in my world; everyone is either as dark as them, or slightly darker/lighter. That’s why I really want to settle on a tone for them, because they’re going to be my basis for other characters.)
Also, set 1 and set 2 have different shades of hair. Sano and Anina have black hair, but painting with black had always felt a little weird to me. I think their warm skin tone makes their hair have cooler hue, almost like blue or purple, and it just never sat right with me. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. So in the past, I settled with painting their hair dark brown. =/ Hopefully I’ll figure out how to actually paint black hair.
I don’t know if I’m going to be updating any of my old artwork. Maybe if I’m feeling quite industrious. I feel like it’s important for me to at least fix what I consider to be “official” artwork, like the header for my website, but I’m worried that the composition for those won’t really support darker skin colours =(.