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Exalted and Gentle Claw, Before. . . After. . .

My husband runs a game called Exalted. It’s a great role playing game and in many ways is a story of tragedy. You have the power of gods but all the exalted have been cursed. The Great Curse over time changes your greatest virtues and twists them into something else.

So, Kenlon is a fabulous Game Master, and I’m not just saying that because he’s my husband. I’ve been in games where the GM, well, those games weren’t so fun. This Exalted game has been running for two and a half years. He started the game soon after our separation every other weekend but when I started visiting him it changed to every weekend by popular demand from his players. Before I joined the game I helped with the concept of one of the non player characters, a Lunar Exalted (there are different types of exalted) who are bonded to the Solar Exalted.

After helping him refine her character concept and finding a name for her I was asked to draw a portrait of Gentle Claw. She was a fighter (as all Lunars are) but she was compassionate and kind as well. Then, things did not go so well when she came into contact with the Solars, especially with the Solar she is bonded to. It ended with her running away. Then the Solars forgot about her. They didn’t look for her or do anything to help her return to them. And now, she has changed (and if I tell you what I do know about this change the GM will “kill” me as the group doesn’t know what I know. Kenlon only told me because I was not in the game and no plans were being made for me to be in the game at the time.). I was asked to draw her portrait again but with the changes in place. So I did.

First is Gentle Claw as she should be. The second is Gentle Claw as she now is. Click on each image to see the full sized image.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before and After

I have a small light table. I used it to trace the basic features of Gentle Claw and then started to make subtle line changes. She is gaunt looking, much thinner, so her whole face is drawn in, her eyes hollower, hence the dark circles. Her small smile is gone – lips turned down instead, her eyes are narrowed instead of more open, her eyebrows are lowered, no longer up, changing her expression from an open warm one to harsh and cold. Of course she now has boy short hair, and new dark tattoos (all Lunars have tattoos but they’re silver not dark and hers didn’t come up on her shoulders and face, so these are different).

After making all these changes I was still able to see Gentle Claw as she is supposed to be. When I turned off the light table I gasped in shock. I couldn’t believe it. The difference was astonishing. All I had done was change a few lines by mere millimeters and now she looks horrifyingly different.

When I showed the final version to my husband he said, “That’s horrifying.” Which, he confirmed, meant that I did my job right. I felt so bad. This will hopefully help the group to visualize the difference and lead them to question their current assumptions.

Art is an amazing thing isn’t it? Just a few subtle line changes can so drastically change the look of a face. Let alone changing the hair and adding tattoos. A face so nice and kind looking can so easily be changed to something so cold and hard, all because of the placement of the lines were subtly altered. I have never experienced this sort of thing before as an amateur artist. I suddenly feel I have a greater appreciation for the work artists put in to achieve a particular feeling or mood in their work.

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