Wren Valen was a character I designed when I was single and lonely, and it shows.
But while I’ve been making children’s books for a while, I recently realized it’s really my whole thing. My ideal reader is 9 or 10. He doesn’t need scantily clad heroines. And my branding especially doesn’t need scantily clad heroines. It needs to tell parents, “these books are fine for your kid.”
Which has put me in a sort of dilemma. My wife has long said I need to tell the rest of the Wren stories. I could tell them just for her, as written stories. But there’s nothing in the plots and I have planned that isn’t suitable for children. Just skimpy costume design.
And skimpy costume design is not necessary, even though it fits the character’s personality and activities (she’s basically a sky pirate). For you see, in the first pair of Wren stories, the ones that hooked my wife, she got a shevlar harness at the end. A shevlar harness is a tight outfit that serves as the anchor for armor summoned from the aether. I’ve drawn her a couple times in the past in said harness, with various amounts of other costume over the top of it:
Which leads me to a couple of questions:
What would she choose to wear over the harness? What are the various possibilities? Which would she choose and why? And can I design the harness and/or the outfit she would wear over it to be good to animate?
After all, she went from this: to this: specifically because the skimpier outfit reads better when animated. Arms and legs are clear, the costume isn’t a jumbled mess. And in addition to reading better, it also animates better. The crop-top “woman boxer” look I’ve adopted most recently also conveniently separates out each of the parts I am liable to move independently:
When I animated John Michael breathing, I was able to scale and alter his tummy and ribs differently, as I did with Wren, but it was nowhere near as elegant because I had to ensure his shirt looked continuous:
Anyway, today I decided I needed to start investigating a Wren redesign, so I can write Wren stories in kids’ book format, and thus please my wife, myself, and my customers.
Here’s my working file, with past imagery for reference:
- Harness, covered with boots and bucklets
- Harness, covered with pirate outfit
- Harness, pirate top
- Harness, pirate bottom
- Harness, light armor
- Harness, dress
- Harness, cloak
1, 2, and 3 look fine and are reasonable. 5 looks wrong. I’d probably want to replace the leather boots with proper greaves instead of having the greaves go into the boots. 6 is cute, but doesn’t feel like the character. 7… 7 makes sense. Wren wouldn’t want people to know she was wearing a shevlar harness, especially before she gets armor chips for it.
Right now, my favorites are 2, 3, and 7. 7 seems most likely. But I think another round of designs is in order.
Decided A) I needed to give the light armor a proper shot, which meant separating out the boots and B) I might want to retry the dress not because it will be Wren’s main design, but because she might want to make social calls. So I did the harness without the boots and bucklets, gave the armor and dress a second go, and then did a trio of variations on the cloak.
I think I had better sleep on it before I try my hand at round 3.