I often start artsy things and I very rarely finish them, but I just about managed to keep going with this one.
It was all inspired by the tarots from Dragon Age Inquisition. All your disciples (followers and advisors) have their own tarots that change throughout the game to represent narritive character development. But the inquisitor has only generic race, class and background tarots. Naturally, a lot of artists have been making their own customised character’s new tarots in response.
Introducing Noon Levallan, my rogue inquisitor. I started out with an idea for three tarots, Herald, Inquisitor and a lover card, but so far I’ve only worked on the first. I tried to keep the initial design simple because I felt it had to work as a graphic piece if it was going to stand up to detail and texture.
Next, I hid all the foreground, leaving the sky and used water colour textures and a lot of custom brushes to get some movement in the background.
Crackling lightning, as it turns out, is a weird thing to draw, so I had a learning experience figuring out how to make it all look like it glowed a bit. I also snook in some subtle demons that are only really noticeable in this close up.
When working on characters, I can’t help but focus on the face. I considered giving her a higher nose arch and the larger eyes of the elves from DA2, but my Levallan just looks like a human with pointy ears. Given the position of the hand, she doesn’t even have that. She looks like my character from the game, but I’m still not sure if that was the right choice.
I had to change the hair when I started painting it in just to vaguely acknowledge gravity, although she certainly has some hairspray or something keeping it up out of her face… maybe it’s the pointy ears!
After playing around with the herald mark on her hand, I was forced to acknowledge the clothing. I spent a few days opening the file and just staring at the blank shape thinking, “what in the world will I do with this?” before going back in and breaking it up into segments. With the help of some more water colour texture (thanks Margo), I finally started doodling into various designs on the clothes until
it was perfect I’d had enough.
The themes I wanted to get across with the tarot were reluctance and divinity. She’s posed looking away and the focus is more on the mark than the person. The light creates a false halo and is reflected by the demons in the background.
This all makes sense if you’ve played Dragon Age, but in case you haven’t, a brief explanation may be required (no major spoilers, I promise, but this is plot). The game starts with the protagonist under suspicion after a major disaster. But the ‘mark’ which has appeared on her hand turns out to be part of the solution. This sets the protagonist up as a messiah figure, arriving in time to save the world and a major part of how you play involves embracing or denying this link to divinity.
It’s a theme I found to be very successfully portrayed and I’m particularly interested in exploring religion in magical settings. The natures of scepticism and faith are changed in a world where demons fall from the sky, after all.
I have no current plan to finish the other two tarots for my Levallan, but it was a fun learning a new approach and finishing a project under my own steam. Let me know what you think and if you haven’t already, go save the world already!
– Shiv (Siobhan)
Siobhan is an artist who was raised on every type of game and make believe. She grew up rescuing fuzzy animals and the occasional princess, slaying monsters and competing with her older brother. Now she’s a fan of befriending monsters, playing co-op and getting lost in a good story. When she’s not gaming, Siobhan works as a 3D artist in Brown Bag Films and enjoys anime, writing and crafts, which is increasingly involving costumes.