Skimpwear! Armor or No Armor?

Believe it or not, I do have practical reasons for putting some of my female characters in skimpwear. So, you do not believe me. Figures. No … I did not mean figures were the reason for skimpwear on my characters! Well, maybe just a little. Anyway, for the heck of it, I thought I’d post my own personal thoughts regarding skimpwear in my stories and images. This is my own personal thought about the subject, and certainly not universal much less applicable elsewhere. Unless you want to start calling it the Boutwell Doctrine, in which case I’m vainglorious enough to like it.

First, I want to get several overused cards off the table.

1. Skimpwear Is Historically Inaccurate

Of course it is. What about the word fantasy in Fantasy don’t some people get? 95% of what appears in fantasy never happened in the history of our species. As a writer whose name I now forget once said, “Never let historical fact ruin a good story.” He also wrote historical fiction, so if he can bend the rules, I can shatter them. I’d say the same about “scientific fact.” If you want fact, read non-fiction. Fiction is about the story.

Or is it inaccurate? According to the Romans, the Picts fought stark naked. Considering the Romans built a wall to keep the Picts out of Britannia, and the Romans were not known for being craven cowards, I tend to believe them. So, there is at least one historical reference for minimal garments in combat.

2. Skimpwear Is Sexist

And? People who say that act as if sex appeal is a bad thing. But we are talking about a group who believes they were all immaculately conceived. I don’t believe any artform should be politically correct. It should be politically challenging. Right now, nudity and sex are politically challenging because both the Right and the Left in the USA hate those subjects. So bring it on! Rattle those cages!

Of course skimpwear is sexy. Look. We create our own personal fantasy women, and there is nothing wrong with that. Many of us also create our own personal fantasy men, and there is nothing wrong with that, either. I’m going to dress my characters to accentuate that fantasy interest. Ultimately, they’re for me. Yours are for you. If other readers/watchers want to join the party, so much the better.

I do understand the issue of putting a woman in a bikini while the man is fully dressed. That is not my fault! Not in 3D art it isn’t. Conan and Red Sonja are the visual standards for protagonists in Sword-and-Sorcery Fantasy. They’re both half-naked. I want my SnS characters to follow the standard. It’s easy in writing, or in hand drawn art. It isn’t so easy in 3D. There are closets full of good Sonjaesque outfits in 3D for women. Can’t say the same for guys. Unfortunately, few 3D content creators have made decent men’s skimpwear. I would put a guy in a codpiece in a nanosecond if one existed. In 3D, I’m stuck with what I can buy. In a written story, I’m an equal opportunity skimpwearist.

Why? Let’s get to that, shall we?

WARRIOR VERSUS SOLDIER

That is it right there. In my mind, at least.

As a subgenre of Fantasy, Barbarian/ Sword and Sorcery Fantasy differs from the Epic Fantasy in many ways. The primary difference is SnS revolves around a solitary figure on a personal mission, while Epic revolves around a team out to save the world. The solitary in SnS may pick up friends and associates along the way, and the team will break up at some point, but the focal points remain fairly fixed.

In my mind, that solitary figure in SnS is a warrior. The team member in Epic is a soldier. There lies the difference that determines their choice of clothing.

I’m going to pick a female warrior because they receive the brunt of the skimpwear condemnation, although most of these points are applicable to a man. She is essentially a lone guerilla. She doesn’t fight for flag, country, or king. She fights for herself, and a worthy cause. Hit and run is her specialty. She has no shame in retreating to a more advantageous position. It isn’t cowardly to refuse to attack a fortified position staffed with 100 archers. It’s practical! Stealth is her primary weapon. Sneak in behind the enemy, slice his throat, move on.

If she fights face-to-face, then she needs a woman’s advantages. A man generally relies on his brute strength to power his way through a fight. Forget the five minute broadsword fights you see in movies. Those didn’t happen. Those guys spent more time glaring at each other while they rested than they did dueling. The fencing duel belongs to the foil of the Musketeer, or to the katana of the Samurai. Anyway, even given the astonishing weight of a basic hand-and-a-half sword, or maybe because of it, men will still rely on their muscles to put power behind that swing. Women don’t have that upper body strength. They do however, have much faster reflexes, superior speed, and better agility.

Any solitary guerilla female warrior isn’t going to want her reflexes, speed, and agility compromised by extra weight. She wants to dance into combat, slice, and dance out as fast as possible. To me, then, the lack of armor is a tactical enhancement for those assets, counterbalancing her lack of strength. Nothing to bind the arms and legs, so she is free to move as quickly as possible.

Then, there is that stealth issue. Armor clanks! You can’t sneak up on someone wearing fifty pounds of scale or plate. The scabbard is going to be noisy enough as it is. No sense in our warrior giving away her location when she’s trying to work her way around the back of the target’s neck.

Skimpwear is practical for the female warrior. It’s practical for the male warrior, too. Just because he has that upper body strength doesn’t mean he wants to waste it lugging around an iron oven all day. Oh yeah. Armor is hot.

Not so for the soldier!

From seasoned general to puissant knight to raw recruit, that soldier is a brick in a wall. That wall needs to withstand a tremendous amount of punishment and hold. If it moves at all, it should move forward. Whether the soldier is a Roman at Alesia in the 1st Century BC or an Englishman at Agincourt in the 15th (the rough era upon which most fantasy is based, if it’s based at all), he’s going to face a variety of opponents. First, there will be a cloud of arrows shot at him from legions of archers. Then, here comes the cavalry, armed with ten to fifteen foot long lances, on horses traveling at 20 mph. Finally, he will face swordsmen. That soldier best be wearing armor, or he won’t survive more than thirty seconds. He does fight for flag, country, and king, and those three need him alive to fight again tomorrow.

Even women in soldier’s positions wore armor. Yes, they did fight. I’m thinking of the Vikings. In recent years, archeologists looked at the pelvic shape of bodies in Viking graves and noticed that half the raiders and traders were women. While Viking armor was minimal (boiled leather and chain), they did wear it. Vikings weren’t stupid.

So, if our warrior woman were a soldier in an army, you bet she’d wear armor. I just don’t create stories that involve organized armed forces, preferring to focus on just one character who moves fast.

MY CHARACTERS

Let’s apply this to my characters, namely Elisabeth Lovejoy, Aura Lockhaven, and Barbara the Protector. Elisabeth and Barbara are both warriors, so they wear skimpwear for the reasons I outlined above. Aura is an enchantress. That is a different cat up a different tree, but I’ll cover it anyway.

Skimpwear

Given what I just said about warriors, why do Barbara and Elisabeth dress so differently from each other?

Because I want them to.

No, that is a legitimate reason. What is wrong with answering “Why do you …?” with “Because it’s what I like.” If the questioner doesn’t care for that answer, that’s his problem, not mine.

From a practical standpoint, Elisabeth and Barbara have different jobs, requiring different clothes.

Elisabeth is a serious character in a serious written story. She’s a monster hunter. She is more likely to face claws than arrows, so she needs to dodge fast instead of standing there and taking it. So, while she doesn’t wear armor (she has a reason), she does cover 90% of herself in leather, showing only the mid-thigh and upper chest. Elisabeth wouldn’t dress like Barbara. She doesn’t have a sense of humor. Her clothing fits the parameters of her personality and her role in the books. I leave the barely there outfits and near nudity to the enchantresses in the Aura stories. It fits them better in the overall scheme, and is much easier to describe in words.

Barbara exists on DeviantArt and is essentially an adult comic book character. She is just plain fun, and funny. She isn’t meant to be serious. That body? Come on! So, her clothes are also just plain fun. Even so, her clothes do fall within the parameters of Red Sonja.

As for Aura, she is a different character and walks between two extremes. She is a spellcaster, and spellcasters have totally different wardrobe requirements from warriors and soldiers. Even so, the fully covering versus skimpwear debate is applicable. I come down on the skimpwear side for her, and to me, it’s practical.

Epic Fantasy usually numbers a wizard among the protagonists, from Gandalf in Lord of the Rings to both Richard and Kahlan in Sword of Truth. In Sword and Sorcery Fantasy, the sword is usually the domain of the protagonist while sorcery the domain of the villain/ess. I chose the sorcerer for the protagonist simply because I wanted to. A long time ago, I outlined why my protagonist is a woman instead of a man, and that still holds. Besides, Aura began as an enchantress on her very first day of life nine years ago and I see no reason to change her role.

Spellcasters dress differently in the two subgenres. The standard for women spellcasters in Epic is toward the elegant and full covering. That certainly fits the more poetic nature of Epic Fantasy. In SnS, it’s toward nudity, but we are talking about seductive villainesses. As an action oriented subgenre, that also fits. Those are standards simply because it’s what J.R.R. Tolkien and Robert E. Howard did, so there are plenty of exceptions to both.

Aura is a Sword and Sorcery spellcaster (naked), but she’s also the protagonist and a force for good (elegant and full covering). So, what do I do with her?

I split the difference.

There is also a real life example of the two extremes. I know some Wiccans. They tell me that they love long, flowing gowns. Who can blame them? Talk about glamour and elegance. However, those angelwing sleeves love to find their way into candle flames. So, they practice their rituals nude, or skyclad. Cloth also absorbs magical energy, and they want as much free energy as possible. The foundation for Aura’s magical system is Wiccan. It’s the one I know, and it gives her a realistic feel.

Again, I split the difference.

Aura does wear a dress in the opening trilogy, but not an elegant one. She suffers low-self esteem and wears a brown dress that she believes helps her hide from view. It doesn’t. A redhead can’t hide in a town of blonde and brown. It also doesn’t really fit her emotionally despite her insistence, and by the end of the opening arc, will be reduced to a rag. Her more familiar red outfit is a gift. When she receives it, she is told “Stop trying to hide yourself.” She will grow to accept that. Even though most enchantresses wear filmy little garments that don’t cover much, and Aura would rather be a nudist, she does honor the law and people’s sensibilities. So, in the context of the story, she herself splits the difference between the full dress of many and the nudity of her own magical order.

Besides, it’s what I want Aura to wear.

Why I Write What I Write

Almost every writer has the same reason for writing. He or she is a natural storyteller and just can’t stop. Words flow in the mind like blood flows in the veins. The reasons for writing what we write vary. It is as individual as each writer.

My reasons for writing fantasy fiction are based on two sayings by two different people.

The first saying is by Ann McCutchan, my creative writing professor when I was at UNT pursuing my master’s degree. On the last night of the last class before I graduated, Professor McCutchan said, “Go home and look at your book shelf. See what you like to read. That is what you should write.” To call that profound is an understatement.

I love reading fantasy fiction, as well as the myths and legends of Northern Europe, Greece, Persia, and oh heck, if it has a plucky hero, I’ll read it with relish no matter the culture. They resonate with me. They are tales of strong men and women, doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. They are heroes and heroines, throwing themselves at the face of evil. They fight for family, friends, and village, and not just for king and flag. They outwit or outfight the bad guys. In those stories, the good guys can win.

Besides, I like magic and swords. They don’t really fit well in science-fiction, Star Wars notwithstanding.

That is what I love to read. So, it’s what I write. The Aura Lockhaven stories hearken back to those tales. They are old-fashioned sword and sorcery adventures, heavy on the sorcery as the protagonist is a wizardess. I like reading morally ambiguous stories, such as A Song of Ice and Fire and The Sword of Truth, but I don’t want to write them. Not yet. They are too much like listening to the evening news for me to do more than just read. Old-fashioned adventure is as far removed from the evening news as day from night. In adventure, the good guys can win. In our world, they can’t. Well, I want them to win.

The second saying is by Walt Disney. He said, “I would rather entertain and hope that people learned something than educate people and hope they were entertained.” This was his goal with the movie Bambi. He wanted to educate people about the danger of unattended fire in the forest. It astonished Disney that he also cut deer hunting in half in one year. I still hear “I don’t want to kill Bambi” from hunters who will bag anything but a deer.

My stories are entertaining. They are a diversion from the evening news. Right now, America could use some diversion from the evening news, and I could use some diversion from Americans needing some diversion from the evening news. In the process of writing an entertaining story, I underlie it with a philosophical foundation. That way, I hope to educate, enlighten, and encourage the reader. That’s a much better way of exhorting the reader to try the impossible than a lecture.

I won’t go into details, but what my beta reader learned from A Path of Stones astounded me. It was not my intention. It was simply a pleasant side-effect of trying to ground a fantasy in as much realism as possible. That is not unlike Disney inadvertently changing the minds of millions of hunters. I’m interested to see if the story has the same effect on other readers.

How about you? Why do you write what you write?
 

Two Thousand Words Per Day

Stephen King once said that a writer should write 2,000 words per day, if he’s a serious writer.

I scoffed at that. It seemed like such a small number, such an underwhelming goal. After all, I can amass 10,000 words in one day.

When I feel like it, that is. I don’t often feel like it. That word count burns me out after about two weeks. Then, I go for months without typing a single word. It also leaves no room for other important things in my life, such as eating lunch. Novels are not written in such a way.

Novels are written through steady and deliberate progress. It may not look like much on any given day, but slow and measured is how some writers become prolific authors. Ian Fleming wrote the thirteen James Bond novels (as well as a collection of short stories, a travelogue, and Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang) in as many years by writing only one hour every morning, but doing so every day. Kim Harrison wrote the thirteen book Rachel Hunter series within ten years, by writing a little bit each day. It’s how Charlaine Harris wrote not only the thirteen books of the Sookie Stackhouse series, but also the eight in the Aurora Teagarden series, the five Lily Bards, and the four Harper Connelly mysteries. That is a total of thirty novels, all since 1990. George R. R. Martin is not known as the world’s fastest writer, but he writes tomes — tomes, I tell you, tomes — all while advising a major television show, serving as editor for various anthologies, and appearing at most major conventions. He does it all by writing something every day. There is no denying that Stephen King is one of the most famous and most published writers alive. He reached that level by following his own advice, writing 2,000 words in the morning on new Novel C, revising older Novel A in the afternoon, and leaving completed Novel B “baking” in a drawer for six months.

I’ve been writing as a hare, when it’s the tortoises who do all the publishing.

I am taking another hard look at Stephen King’s guideline. It seems to be the cure for my troubles.

There is much to recommend it. Two thousand words per day is about two to three hours of work. That leaves plenty of time during the day for meditation, yoga, weight lifting, going for long walks, and doing other important things like eating lunch. It allows time to revise the writing from yesterday. It also leaves time to work on my 3D art. All before my wife comes home, when I can spend time with her or read instead of working on art or revisions. I can have a life and a healthy one at that.

When one looks at averages, 2,000 words is a considerable amount. It’s eight pages, double spaced, twelve point type; the typical format most writers use for drafts. The average blog post is 1,000 words (this one measures 1,100). The typical short story is 5,000, while novel chapters usually number around 7,500 words. So, in one day, I could write two blog posts, almost half a short story, or a fifth of a chapter.

With five work days in one week, that’s 10,000 words per week. In terms of ink, that’s forty pages, ten blog posts, two short stories, or a chapter and a piece.

Let’s go further. There are 52 weeks in one year. Assuming a few weeks off for holidays and vacations, plus days when depression strikes or the brick factory next door reminds me that I have sinuses, I’ll give an average of 46 weeks for writing.

At the rate of 2,000 words per day, and 10,000 words per week, that’s 460,000 words in one calendar year.

You just arched an eyebrow.

How does that compare into books?

J.R.R. Tolkien’s entire Lord of the Rings trilogy averages 455,000 words. Itty bitty The Hobbit is only 95,000.

A Game of Thrones, by George R. R. Martin, is 248,000 words.

The Sword of Shannara, by Terry Brooks, stands at 265,000 words.

Pawn of Prophecy, the beginning book in David Edding’s Belgariad (itself part of a much larger multi-series epic narrative), measures a tidy 104,000 words.

Terry Pratchett was somewhat Hemingwayesque. His first Discworld novel, The Colour of Magic, comes in at only 73,000 words.

Robert Jordan’s Lord of Chaos, the longest of the Wheel of Time novels, is 389,000 words.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by J.K. Rowling, the longest in that series, is 257,000 words, while The Philosopher’s Stone, the shortest, is 77,000.

Wizard’s First Rule, the opening book in Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth saga, is 315,000 words.

That’s the fantasy genre, known for its bloated volumes. What about mainstream literature? Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace is the gargantuan chart topper at 587,000. Margaret Mitchell came close, but no cigar for Rhett, with the 418,000 word length Gone with the Wind. Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove measures 365,000 words. Herman Melville averaged 206,000 with Moby Dick, while John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath seems puny at 165,000 words. Harper Lee filled To Kill a Mockingbird with 100,000 words, and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s tiny The Great Gatsby contains a mere 47,000. Ernest Hemingway’s spare The Old Man and the Sea is technically a novella at 26,000 words.

At the pace of 2,000 words per day, the only novel I named that could not theoretically be written within one year is War and Peace, but a tremendous dent could be put into it.

That changes things, doesn’t it.

I like novels in the 110,000 word range. In hardback form, that’s easy to hold. In paperback form, the print is larger. So, using Stephen King’s method, with my preferred novel length, I could write four novels in one year. I don’t know of any writer who is that prolific, including Mr. King. Given my penchant for heavy revisions, at that pace, two novels per year is not unreasonable. That’s a heck of a lot better than what I’ve been accomplishing.

I’m going to experiment with the remainder of 2015. We have 18 weeks remaining to us. Give time off for the various holidays, that’s 15 weeks. Or, in Stephen King’s word count plan, 150,000 words. At that rate, I can finish the first draft of the already started A Path of Stones, and plunge well into the first draft of The Fires of Tallenburgh Hall. Considering that The Valley of the Mystic Moon (book one) is already finished, the opening trilogy of The Chronicles of Aura Lockhaven should be nearing completion by January 1.

That would be a wonderful way to greet 2016.

Shadows Behind the Characters

A backstory is almost as important as the main story itself. In fact, I would argue that it may be more important. Its presence can change the main story in profound ways.

I recently returned to The Adventures of Aura Lockhaven following a six month vacation, during which I worked on an epic fantasy arc.

For the epic, I wrote a backstory. Epics require backstories of, well, epic proportions. They have to explain the rise of empires, the clashes of kingdoms, and include sweeping curses and unavoidable prophecies. Otherwise, they just don’t satisfy. That backstory ended up being a twenty page journal of one of the original participants, explaining a war within a war within a war.

When I returned to Aura, I realized that her story did not have a backstory. She had a backstory, and so did her country, but her magical order just existed. I decided to change that.

As the Aura Lockhaven series is a set of standalone adventures centered around one character, the backstory for the Order of Enchanters needed to be more intimate than that of an epic. I decided on a generational clash within a family that affected her entire order, eventually affecting her. A mere three pages did the job.

That one backstory changed the tone of the first novel, and the entire planned series. Before, The Valley of the Mystic Moon was a charming romp, in which Aura undergoes nine tests to become an enchantress. Now, with that backstory in place, it’s far more somber and dark. The Order of Enchanters is listless and dissolute. The rest of Ayrdland believes the enchanters are extinct because they’re too busy drinking, humping, and fighting each other to bother with the outside world, all because of that family squabble. Aura really doesn’t want to become involved with them, but they can help her achieve her goal of being a better magician for her village. Now, I have some genuine conflict, other than a duel with the villain and fleeing from trolls. The nine tests structure no longer works. In its place, a new one is rising. In the process, the other characters changed to fit. Some became more serious. Others became more humorous. Others became more diabolical. Still others moved from far in the background to up front.

In other words, it is a far better book now, all because of that little three page backstory.

Those Crazy Ideas!

Writers of speculative fiction are often asked where they find their ideas. Pull up a chair, and I’ll tell you where I found mine. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In my case, a picture may be worth 100,000 words.

At the moment, I have four series planned: The Chronicles of Aura Lockhaven, The Geilltiad, Tales of the Sarethian Seven, and one that I’m calling Jenny and Sam. Three of the four began as 3D art renders that I made for entirely different purposes.

Aura was the first, and she still reigns supreme as the queen of my fictional universe. She began as this:

Aura 2010 - 4

I called this one “Miss Barbarian, July, 2010.” Yep, she was supposed to be a centerfold from a barbarian magazine. Obviously, I did not know what I was doing with DAZ Studio at the time, because this render sucks. Yet, of all the ones I’ve done, this one is my favorite because of what happened immediately after it finished baking on screen. As I looked at it, I had this little mental conversation with myself:

“What makes a woman dance nude in a forest on fire?”

“Well, she’s an enchantress.”

“What does that mean!”

“She’s a sex magician.”

“Oh.”

It made perfect sense to me. Yes, I talk to myself. When I answer myself, wonderful things happen.

Within minutes, I named this enchantress Aura Lockhaven; Aura because it’s mysterious and ethereal, and Lockhaven for Loch Haven Park, one of my favorite places in Orlando. Within an hour, I began work on a graphic novel, which I ended up shelving a year later to concentrate on graduate school. That graphic novel provided the foundation for the written series that is underway. One and a half novels later, I have outlines for an additional ten stories, spanning Aura’s first years as an enchantress.

The Chronicles of Aura Lockhaven is based on this one primitive render. The render inspired the character. Once I had the character of Aura, I followed Stephen King’s method of throwing her into an interesting situation and listening to her tell me what she did from that point forward. Aura is still telling me about her adventures.

The Geilltiad is a trilogy that I plan as a spin-off of Aura to provide a backstory for her country. When I transferred Aura from England to the fictional country of Ayrdland, I lost all of that wonderful English history and myth. I had to write my own. Ayrdland was once the Island of Geilltia, and its fall to my version of the Romans is dark enough to warrant a tragic fantasy. It will be my tribute to George R. R. Martin: people will die. Of my four series, this is the only one that has any sort of traditional inspiration.

Like Aura, Tales of the Sarethian Seven began as a render, but this one was more involved and more advanced:

barbarian wall

I called it “Barbarian Wall.” The more I looked at it, the more I liked it. I fell in love with these four barbarian warrior women who protected a queen in a strange land. As a fan of The Magnificent Seven, I decided to add three more characters to the team of barbarians, resulting in “The Rat Hunt”:

rat hunt

For the heck of it, I sat down one morning to write the characters’ biographies, just in case I rendered a few more pictures. I spent more time creating their names than I did on any other project, save the creation of Ayrdland and the continent of Sareth. You can read about naming the Sarethian Seven here. One week later, I had an almost 200 page book of tales about their lives and adventures. I named it Tales of the Sarethian Seven.

I decided to place the Sarethian Seven in Aura’s world, but 1,000 years earlier. I wrote the stories as if told by Henry Lockhaven to his eight year old daughter Aura. The tales inspired her to keep trying when her world turned dark. Tales of the Sarethian Seven is on the shelf at the moment. When I need a break from my big projects, I write another tale. Eventually, I will publish it. I’m not sure if I’m going to leave it as a one volume collection of tales, or break a few out into novels.

The final series, which is filed under the working title of Jenny and Sam, had an even more bizarre origin. It, too, was inspired by a single 3D render:

leopard girl

This one is titled “Leopard Girl.” Originally, the character of Jane Syren (the woman in the render) was a model I developed solely to test different skin textures under different lighting conditions. One day, for a lark, I put her in the Jungle Girl outfit. The result left me howling, “She looks like something out of a B-movie!” Click! I added the temple setting, the giant python, and the gorilla with the machine gun. YES! It needed more, and the result can be seen in the final render above. I made it simply to do something funny. You can read the original concept here.

Once again, a story oozed out of the render. The render quickly became a publicity still from the B-movie Leopard Girl. Who were these people? Not the characters in the scene, but the actors playing the characters in the scene. Jane Syren proved to be the central character. I began writing what I thought was a tongue-in-cheek comedy, but Jane had other ideas. I listen to my characters; they know more about their stories than I do. So, Jane’s tale quickly evolved into a dark fantasy with shades of horror. I am writing the novelized movie script, as a pulp magazine series. It fits within the framework of the rest of the novel, as a story within a story. The main story is about latent hereditary witch Jenny (Jane’s real name), a shaman, a sorcerer, and a demon, all at odds with each other on location with the cast and crew of a movie. Yes, I am keeping the gorilla with the machine gun. As an homage to those wonderful drive-in popcorn movies of the 1950s, I’m calling this novel Leopard Girl. This is turning into an urban fantasy, if it can be called urban in rural Florida in 1957.

Leopard Girl has shot to the top of my project pile. Aura is still the queen of my characters, but I want to give her more time to tell me her story. I’m still not sure Jenny’s life warrants a series, although the character of Sam (the shaman) is my first male character interesting enough to carry his own story. We shall see.

I will not be creating any new original renders in the foreseeable future. I do not need a fifth series in my stack of projects! Instead, I will be “illustrating” the stories I have, mostly for the fun of it. That often helps me design a costume or check a character’s appearance based on how I wrote it. I will leave you with a render showing how that works. Besides, Aura insists. The following render is Aura’s portrait, based on how I describe her in the book. The costume isn’t accurate, but I have not learned the knack of designing clothes for 3D art. It’s close enough. Hey, Aura is an enchantress — she can get away with wearing that. She is a far cry from that original at the top of this post, both as a render and as a character.

aura for picture frame

All names, characters, situations, and artwork are copyright Nathan Boutwell. Don’t even think about it. I have lawyers.