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Alene's avatar


Part of my honours project at university. Eventually I'll be creating a children's picture book, reminiscent in style of 'golden age' illustrations (Edmund Dulac, Arthur Rackham, etc) but using more modern storytelling-through-pictures techniques.

Haven't quite got the style down just yet, but that's okay, as I'm still designing characters. So, I'm looking for feedback on this character, if you'd all be so kind. Help a stressed student out! =D


She's my main character, a princess, with three brothers and a sister, and she's bouncy, vivacious, and forthright. She's about 12-13 years old. And she paints.

Her costume is inspired by Russian costume, as the golden age illustrators often looked to Turkey or China for inspiration, but that really didn't fit with my storyline, so I shifted to Eastern Europe for the costumes (hence the Russian dance pose - makes her a bit reminiscent of my Kiska painting, but never mind). The story isn't really set anywhere, though.

She hasn't got a name yet, so you can suggest one if you like. Her elder brother is called Edmund, so it needn't be a Russian name.


I started her design by looking at a very young Jane Powell, who seemed to have the qualities I was looking for. Hopefully a lot of personality comes across. I'm quite fond of her, but she may just not work for other people, so let me know!

Size: A4
Materials:Winsor & Newton Bristol Board, Winsor & Newton watercolour paints, prismacolour pencils, Ecoline gold oaint (#801) and a Faber-Castell PITT artist pen, size #S, in sepia.
Time Taken: Heaven knows. Slow going, as I'm trying to teach myself to watercolour as I go along. ;)
Post Processing: Just background clean-up and level adjustment in Photoshop CS.

Enjoy! And please let me know what you think! =D
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© 2008 - 2021 Alene
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Alene's avatar
CnHGirl's avatar
I like it, it's pretty. I have a name suggestion; try Adina.
Alene's avatar
Thankyou! =) She's got a name now - Katia - but thanks ever so for the suggestion. It's such a pretty name!
CnHGirl's avatar
:rose: Your welcome. Katia's a pretty name too. :rose:
OginZ's avatar
Great work, really! :)
I like her clothing very much, but I must say my first thought was, as I saw her, that her dress is very unusual, maybe a bit oriental, mixed with the medieval european style, but really something special. And then I read that it was inspired by the Russian costume and it astonished me, to be honest...
I'm Russian myself, but I haven't seen something like that before, though I'm quite interested in costumes. Could you say, please, where did you find your source of inspiration, I'm anxious to see this for me completly unknown part of history :O.

I hope, I may make some remarks, but of course that's your work, so I'm not insisting on them, just wanted to help :). If you wish to have her dress exactly this way, surely it's your right, and it looks amazing, too.
So, especially her wide trousers are rather oriental ;). And the corsets weren't usually used in the past - the woman's ideal of beauty was different, men liked plump women as a sign for their health and fertility. And for a Russian princess high-heeled red boots with turned up toes would be more typical. Like here, the first picture above: [link]

Sorry once more, if it was unasked... ^^;
Alene's avatar
Thankyou! =) Thanks for the :+fav" too!

I use the term 'inspired' extremely loosely. =P Since the action in my picture book is never specifically stated as being in any one country (I even have a 'map'-like image that couldn't possibly be Europe) I wanted contrast between the two 'countries' in the story, and used Russia for one, and France for the other [link] . Basically what I'm doing is grabbing bits and pieces that I like from a country, discarding bits I don't, and creating a new country for what is essentially a fairytale world. Very reprehensible, and the sort of thing I'd never do if I was going for accuracy. =D

So, I got my costume ideas from Pepin Press' A Pictorial History of Costume and August Racinet's The Complete Costume History. Katia here isn't the best example of 'inspired by Russia', as she has elements of generic 'Eastern Europe', Byzantia, Turkey and my imagination in ample supply. Her little headdress is the most Russian inspired here, and the colours and patterns on her clothes come from Russian folk art that I found online. She's pretty young, hence the flat shoes. Her corset became more of a belt (still looks the same, doesn't cinch so much) as this was a very early character concept, and I didn't have time to refine costume details before I painted her. I found belts used like that in the Pepin book's 'eastern europe' section (I must say, I don't trust this book all that much if I'm going for accuracy, but it has very pretty pictures) and I also looked at Fiddler on the Roof.

Having said all that, some of my other characters have costumes that are much more Russian, such as her mother and brother, and to a certain extent, her father. But her sister will have a costume inspired a little more by Western Europe, because she's a fashion-conscious sort of character. =P That's the advantage of a fairy story - I don't have to worry about accuracy all the time, but can design what's best for the character. I think the best way to put it is that I started with Russia, and deviated quite a bit. Sorry if that confused you!

I don't mind your views, and if I really was going for accuracy, they'd be very helpful (thanks for the link, by the way, that's a page I didn't come up with, because I can't search in Russian!) =) Hope I cleared it up for you! And I'm glad you like her costume anyway!
OginZ's avatar
P.S. And on this aforesaid first picture above are the prince and the queen, so maybe it will be heplful for your story and for Princess' relatives' clothing :).
OginZ's avatar
Yes, I thought so, that you describe your own world, and I think it'll be marvellous :). I'm glad, if I could be a little helpful.
Alene's avatar
And thanks for your help and encouragement! =)
Azalie-Insanity's avatar
I love how happy and energetic she seems. I also love the fact that she seems to be dancing in a meadow or along a path. Almost as though she's so happy about something she can't contain it and she has to express it through dance. I can see twirling about and dancing as she goes on her way. Great job.
Alene's avatar
I'm so glad you get all that from this - that's just what I wanted to convey through this character. She's very bouncy indeed! =)
Thanks ever so for the :+fav:s on this and "Jennifer Connelly - Redux" too!
lorely's avatar
cute! would be pretty cool to see the finished product, honours you say? dont happen to know someone named Jeremy by any chance? i cant remeber his last name though, ill have to ask him =)
Alene's avatar
Thankyou! :hug:
I should have a finished book by .... november. ;) And then I have to try and get it published! Arrg!
Don't know a Jeremy in honours. There were two Jeremies in design - Elliot and James Hall.... but I didn't know either of them, as I don't think I was ever in a class with them. Sooo many people.
yume-darling's avatar
I agree with everything that everyone has said already. But I also adore the color scheme! That bright blue goes so well with the red-orange. Complementary colors ftw! :)

My small note would be that the axis of the face seems off. You probably do this already but flipping the picture around (in PS or the actual paper) helps to see errors in stuff like that.

Otherwise, I think you've got the style down!
Alene's avatar
Thankyou! I like bright colours like that. =)
I think I'd definitely better watch what I do with that crown - I think it's that which is making her face seem a bit skewed. But I'll certainly keep an eye out for it - thanks for pointing it out!
11 more characters to go! ;)
Omnipotrent's avatar
Don't know what it is but I LUV the color!
Alene's avatar
That's good! Thankyou! =)
atramentous-rose's avatar
Heya Ali!!
Only thing thats bothering me atm is the top finger on the left, its too thick, I agree with tammy about the long graceful limbs, and by having thin, well developed fingers I think this would help. And maybe a little more detail in teh crown, when I think of Russian princesses, I imaging elaborate head-dresses with dripping jewels wrapped through their hair with colourful cloth.
Apart from that dahl - I can't wait to see the final book! :) Are you going to be writing the story to accompany it or is someone else? Well done on the teaching urself watercolours! Not my fav medium thats for sure - they're pretty difficult!
Alene's avatar
Yes, her hands need work. I've got my hands on ink now, so I can use a dip-pen, not a horrible texta, which should be a help with fine lines and the like. =) I need to practice on hands, too. ;)
I agree, I think her head dress could have a bit more detail and stuff. I'll work on that.

I'm writing the story as well - it's pretty simple, not too many words, because the pictures are supposed to back them up. I'll send it to you, if you like, and you can have a look and tell me what you think.

Thanks ever so! :hug:
atramentous-rose's avatar
No prob Ali :)
Tis great being able to swap ideas about our work even though we don't really get to catch up face-to-face NEmore
Alene's avatar
It is indeed, and such a help (at least, you're a help to me, and I hope I am to you! =P
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