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StephOBrien's avatar

Flowery Princess Swordswomen

I was working on the latest page of Just Cause, and Undyne had a fantasy about a battle between flowery princess swordswomen. Of course, knowing my tendencies, you had to know I wasn't about to just make a small, simple panel for that. No, if I'm going to draw a flowery princess sword fight, it's going to be a full print-sized beast.

A week of work later, I've discovered that realistic plate armor is far more complex than I'd ever realized. SO MANY joints, seams, and fortune cookie-like elbow guards that I never knew existed. Also, the excuse some costume designers use for dressing their female characters in basically lingerie (she needs to be able to move freely!) is apparently BS; well-crafted armor has a better range of motion than its wearer. Also, boobplate ('breastplates' that cup the wearer's boobs and accentuate their shape) is asking to get stabbed by your own armor. Hence the lack of noticeable boobs on these ladies.

I chose the flowers for their outfits based on the meanings of the flowers, and the image of their personalities and backstories that I have in my mind.

The one on the left is a disgraced princess who was discarded by the royal family while their country was at war. Despite being rejected by her family, she continued to care about her people, and is determined to protect them, even if it means putting herself on the front lines.

Her flowers and their meanings are:

Coriander: Hidden worth.

Black-eyed Susan: Justice.

Anemone: Forsaken.

The one on the right is the beloved daughter of a protective family, and was told to stay away from the battle despite her outstanding skill, strength and agility. But when she saw soldiers limping home from battle, and heard of the devastation that her kingdom's villages had endured, she couldn't bear to sit in safety while they suffered.

Her flowers and their meanings are:

Wallflower: Faithfulness in adversity.

Heliotrope: Eternal love.

Dog rose: Pleasure, pain, healing, secret love.

And so, the two princesses met on the battlefield. Neither knew who the other was, or how much bravery and love for their people they shared, or what they would come to mean to each other as they fought each other to a draw over and over again.

Neither of them expected that the more they learned about each other, the less they would feel like enemies, and the more they'd realize they were kindred souls.

By the way, in case you're wondering why they're not wearing helmets, there are two very good reasons for that.

One is because this is Undyne's fantasy, and she's the type to whip off her helmet right before a battle. And the other is so you can recognize their faces when they kiss in the next panel. Because Undyne fantasizes about forbidden romance, too.

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Thelightsmen's avatar
Heya! Greetings from :iconprojectcomment:

I like battle scenes in general, whenever I see a picture depicting two characters about to clash it always gets my attention, so I thought I'd give it a closer look and after some thought I decided to leave a nice comment detailing what I like and what I think can be done better :)

Lineart: good!
  • Despite the fact that this particular piece does not have any sort of defined lines, I can tell you have your ways of making them look steady whether you use a pen tool or just have very good pulse.
  • I love how you took your time to detail the armor plates on their limbs and how you did your homework when it came to how they're actually supposed to look.
  • However I think you could've added a couple extra lines to give mo details to certain elements, like the hair of the blonde knight, the handle of both swords, a line right between the edges of the blades to give them some depth and make them less 2-d and some fold on their clothes to make them look less bland and some extra lines for the skirt of the one on the right.

Color: good!

  • My first guess here is that you tried to go for a minimalistic style, just flat vibrant colors and a dark background to make them stand out
  • None of the colors feel too off or too strong to create any sort of issue to me so you did a good job on that!

Anatomy: very good!

  • The proportions for both characters look okay, each of their limbs appear to have the correct length and their poses look somewhat believable (which is something I'll talk about later on).
  • Nevertheless, the shape of their heads, hands, and feet look very nice! which is something people always struggle with, good job!

Posing: bad/needs more thought

  • However I have to say that the way they appear in the picture looks kind of... stiff and emotionless, the one on the left doesn't look like she's charging to battle despite having such a menacing stance, while the one on the right is... jumping? away from the battle?
  • (Right knight)Allow me to elaborate on the last point, while the girl on the right looks like she's about to swipe the sword against her opponent her hair is going in the complete opposite direction! something that is really off putting in this situation, in addition to that (and this one is a personal point of view), her torso doesn't look turned around enough for her to actually attack on the air, so it almost looks like she's actually falling on her back.
  • Also, the way she's holding her shield (Im assuming that's her shield) so close to her chest in midair looks unconfortable and weird to me, and the fact that there's no shading or any extra detail makes it look even weirder.
  • In addition to the point above, her sword leaves me completely baffled, the overall design looks very fantasy like but also extremely uneffective, at first I thought it was just really long but going farther into the distance, and the but the position of the hand grabbing the handle tells me that's its actual length.
  • (Left knight)Following on the one on the left, the blonde hair waving in the air and her green skirt going in the same direction plus the way her legs are positioned tells us that she is running, but the feet being relatively close to each other and to the ground as well plus the almost vertical torso which is not leaning forward tells us otherwise.
  • As a small side note, I think the way she's holding her sword is a little awkward, that is not a convenient pose for a slash and doesn't look to efective when stabbing if you ask me, also considering that they're both already really close, I don't think  she will be able to attack properly when they clash.
  • I also noticed none of them have ears, or at least I can't seem to spot them.

Shading: non aplicable/try adding some

  • I can't really say anything about shading because there's none, but I think you should add it in these type of drawings because they help turning 2d objects into more 3d-like ones, some shading could've added a lot more depth to the characters and make them look less bland overall, as well as it could've fixed the inconsistencies regarding the swords and the shield of the one on the right.
  • Also, shading and/or lightning is important when it comes to armor because it can help to state what material are they made of, in this case some shading could have added some shining to the armor plates to make them look like actual armor.

Background: Averange

  • I'm sure you already have a bunch of ideas as to what bg to make for this, but if I can suggest you something, try going for a more neutral color next time, or maybe use some gradient effects because I think the pitch blackness of the bg makes it harder to appreciate the knight on the right, not only because of her armor but because of her skintone and hair.
  • If you want a suggestion for the bg, I'd say you add a couple more soldiers charging in the background, and a battleground with shot arrows, smoke, some bodies here and there and some soldiers already fighting :)

I like the extra touches to the armor of both knights, I like the colors chosen and the overal design of their clothes:)
But the overall picture seems devoid of life and uninteresting overall, the faces of both characters hardly have any difference with each other and I don't think they reflect their actual feelings, their poses look stiff and sort of uninteresting, and the lack of background doesnt add anything else to the picture. :(

But I can see you're putting effort into it and that's what it matters, I may not be too fond of this piece but I'm sure with time you'll create one that will leave me speechless, (and everyone else too)

I hope this can be of some use to you in anyway :)
Have a nice day


StephOBrien's avatar
Thank you SO much for the long and detailed comment! I’m sorry I didn’t reply earlier; it was a hectic week, and I wanted to give this the time and attention that such a well-thought-out comment deserves.

I do use a pen tool – I’ve found it’s invaluable for making smooth lines and edges, and even a smooth brush stroke can’t quite measure up to it. :)

I’m guessing you aren’t familiar with the term “WIP”, and/or didn’t read the description (understandable, since it’s a textwall). WIP stands for “work in progress”, and in my textwall, I noted that I do plan to add a background and shading in the future – maybe a few different versions, with different shading depending on the background and corresponding type of lighting. When I add the shading, there will be a LOT more detail in the blonde knight’s hair, and more folds in the skirts.

I really appreciate the compliments on the anatomy, colors, lineart and proportions. The posing is the part I struggled with the most; I was going for a midpoint between realistic practicality and anime-ish high-flying fanciness, but without movement lines or other panels leading up to it, it was difficult to convey the characters’ movements in a way that everyone could understand.

To give you some context: they were both charging each other, but then the one on the right dropped down slightly, at which point the blonde woman raised her sword for a downward stab. Then the brunette surprised her by leaping into the air, spinning clockwise for a backhand swing. (The spinning is why her hair is going in different directions, and she tucked her shield against her abdomen so it wouldn’t get in the way.) The spikes on her sword are partly to make it look cool, and partly to hook her opponent’s sword and/or shield and wrench them off to the side, leaving their wielder vulnerable. Basically, I knew what I was going for, but not how to convey it without motion lines.

You make a good point about the blonde’s legs being too close together; I should fix that before I make a completed, shaded version with a background. Thanks for catching that. I do tend to make running characters’ torsos too vertical, so thanks for the reminder – though in this case, I think I’ll chalk her torso position up to her trying to rear back to prepare for the unexpected aerial assault. So much to convey without context or motion lines! Maybe I bit off more than I could chew that way.

And speaking of catching things… THE EARS?! AAAAUGH! I swear, no matter how many hours I spend nitpicking over a picture, there always seems to be one thing I missed. My sister even reblogged a Tumblr post with a picture of a freaked-out guy and the caption, “That look you get when you notice a problem in a picture right after you posted it”, and commented that I’d probably relate to it on a spiritual level. YUP. To be fair to myself, I was getting severely burned out on this picture by the time I decided to post the WIP, but still… THE FREAKING EARS. Thanks for pointing that out.

Once again, I really appreciate the comments and the detailed constructive criticism, even if the latter left me internally screaming about ears. Thank you so much – this will help a lot when I create the completed version(s).
Thelightsmen's avatar
Good to see you found my comment helpful :)
And yeah those sneaky ears... I used to not draw them at all at first but then it became a habit to do them so I never forget to draw them haha.

I'm looking forward to see the finished version of this!
StephOBrien's avatar
I don't usually draw them because in most of my pictures, the characters' hair covers them. This time, the characters' pesky momentum took away that shortcut, haha.

My primary priority for my art is currently my ongoing webcomic, but I plan to work on this bit by bit on days when I have more time for drawing. I look forward to sharing the finished version with you. :)
Izvin's avatar
Undyne has rather interesting fantasies. I have to agree with IckleVoldiePoo. I look forward to that shading and background. This being Undyne's mind, there should be some water. How about deep forest? Dark green trees on steep slopes would cover uper part of background, shadows (and perhaps mist) deepening in corners and tiny bit of skies in the middle of top casting central brownish rocky bottom of glen with some lovely trickling streams, where the fight takes place, in cold dim light... Wadaya tink? Woohooooo! 
StephOBrien's avatar
Ooh, I like this idea! *Makes a quick, messy concept blobsketch* ... *Also makes up the word "blobsketch"*

Something like this? With the light of a full moon coming from above and behind the 'camera', so the swordswomen can be well lit?

Flowery Princess Swordfight bg concept by StephOBrien  
Izvin's avatar
Nice, it is very close. I thought of daylight, but moon will be excellent, in fact probably better considering it is dreamscape. I'd just like to say, that winding stream instead of straight one would look more natural. Also I kind of imagined that water would flow in various bigger and smaller parting and again joining tiny shallow streams. Perhaps that and all the rocks and roots and forest soil is too detailed and difficult, even distracting. In fact, them being flower knights, grass might really be better. Still, few stones in the water and among the trees would be gorgeous. 
And word "blobsketch" sounds wonderful.  
StephOBrien's avatar
Ah, I guess I'd misinterpreted re: the light; you said "cold dim light", which made me think of moonlight, thus the night sky.

I agree that a winding stream would look more natural; the finished product would have a more complex and textured waterfall, and the stream would probably twist to the side and disappear for a bit before reappearing in the foreground. I'll probably poke at this picture bit by bit between working on Just Cause panels, and during that process I'll tinker with the elements of the background to see what I like.

Thanks for the feedback and suggestions. :)
Izvin's avatar
It is not like "cold dim light" in speciffic description of time of day. And moonlight is indeed rather cool and weak, so...
Sounds good.
You are welcome.
StephOBrien's avatar
I guess I just tend to associate the run with warmer, brighter light, though a forest canopy or evening/early morning could have that effect, too.
Izvin's avatar
Yop, start fighting at twilight, end up kissing by the time night comes and once it is there, well... There are hours of time for interesting escalation. 
StephOBrien's avatar
And just hope none of their fellow soldiers happened to stumble upon them. :P
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IckleVoldiePoo's avatar
I like the poses and the attention to detail in the armor is great! You really did your research. =) I recommend working on the hair a bit for next time so that it flows more, rather than goes out like sticks. Overall you did a very nice job with this!
StephOBrien's avatar
Thanks for the compliments! The armor took forever, so I'm glad the research and attention to detail I put into it shows. While I took a bit of artistic liberty in a couple places, I based the blonde princess' armor fairly closely on the armor made for King Henry VIII, and the brunette's on Doctor Tobias Capwell's awesome-looking suit. (Seriously, look at this armor, this armor is amazing. I have no reason to wear armor, but I'm still kind of drooling over Dr. Tobias' gear.)

When you say to work on the hair so it flows more, do you mean adding stray strands so it isn't all in a few coherent clumps?
IckleVoldiePoo's avatar
Oh wow, those ARE really cool! The detail on the second one is crazy! 

Party, but also have it go different directions. Even when moving straight forward, even the thickest hair is light enough to go crazy (assuming its long enough, which for your characters, it is). In this stock image (… )both women are running in the same direction and the brunette's hair is going back because of the length, but the blonde woman's hair is going all over the place and clumping together in different ways while still being pulled backwards.
Did that make sense at all?
StephOBrien's avatar
Yes, that makes a lot of sense. Thanks for pointing that out! When I do the shaded version with a background, I'll keep that in mind and add some strands going in other directions.
WasfiAkab's avatar
Love the action
It has a very fluid movement
StephOBrien's avatar
Thanks, I'm glad to hear the movement came across well. It took a lot of tinkering to get the poses right, so I'm happy it paid off!
ClockworkMultiverse's avatar
StephOBrien's avatar
Thank you so much! Hug 
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