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The Golden Compass: Mulefa

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By Zirtavia   |   
© 2007 - 2020 Zirtavia
For those of you who have read Philip Pullman's ingenious His Dark Materials series (GOLDEN COMPASS MOVIE ON FRIDAY OMGOMGOMG), especially The Amber Spyglass, this creature may look familiar.

For those of you who haven't read them, go and do that now. OK. So, this is a sentient being called a mulefa. On the planet on which they live, there are no vertebrates. The skeletal structure is a diamond frame (if you looked at this animal's skeleton top-down, its back would be a diamond). Therefore, they have one leg in front, one leg on each side, and one leg in back. This species is the dominant species of their planet, them being very intelligent and possessing trunks with which they can build things and communicate visually.
The world has natural, flat pathways, and there are large trees that drop huge, round seedpods with holes through their centers. The mulefa have evolved large claws on their front and back legs, and they put these claws through the holes of the seedpods, effectively making wheels.

I think this is the most amazing fictional species ever conceived, and its bizarre physical characteristics make them a joy to draw. But nonetheless, I find that there's a dearth of artistic depictions of them. During my astronomy class, I sketch them endlessly on my notebook. I figure this is my brain responding to talk of distant planets with the only depiction of extraterrestrial life that interests me.

I've never drawn them with a long tail before, but besides the visual appeal, I figure it would be a useful balancing element for an animal that spends most of its time freewheeling, and therefore changing direction by tilting. =D

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anonymous's avatar
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heyheyyy's avatar
heyheyyyStudent Traditional Artist
floppybelly's avatar
floppybellyHobbyist Artisan Crafter
The touch of jewelry is a nice one, it really hits home to remind us of the sentience.
Ronie-chan's avatar
Ronie-chanStudent General Artist
oh i love this drawing.
i tried to draw Mulefas once but it came sooo crappy i left it..
but now i wanna continue, after i saw this drawing!!=D
NebulaDraconian's avatar
NebulaDraconianProfessional Artisan Crafter
OMG soooooo much like how I imagined them!!! I pictured the horns to be a bit longer, but I'm not sure why. Love it!
Maoosica's avatar
wow wow wow wowz!!!
that is the most beautiful thing connected to "golden compass" i have e-v-e-r seen!!!
i never imagined it like that but i believe it exists, so someday ill have to try draw it...
again, thats soooo beautiful!!
shadow-crow's avatar
shadow-crowHobbyist Traditional Artist
I always tried to see them in my head, but the image was not clear.
Now, that will be better!
You know that you are the only one I saw to draw a Mulefa?
Good job.
Keep going!
Zirtavia's avatar
Thank you very much!! I'm glad to help ;) They're a lot of fun to draw, too :D
lastchances's avatar
I want to read those books so bad,
but the Pope says I'll go to Hell if I do.
It might be worth the risk ;)
You don't need me to tell you that you're an amazing artist.
So, I won't.
Zirtavia's avatar
Oh, they're so good. They are somewhat anti-religion--it's up to interpretation, but the main characters may or may not actually kill God--but it is mostly against religion that's taken over society. I think it's more of a treatise against religion that's gotten way too power-hungry than against religion altogether.

But the books really are fantastic.

Does the Pope really say you'll go to Hell for just reading them? 0.0 I thought it would be more for acting on sinful impulses inspired by them. They're really trying to nip it in the bud, I guess.

And you don't need me to tell you that your artlove is really, really appreciated. But I will anyway: Your artlove is really, really appreciated. :heart:
lastchances's avatar
Haha, I don't know if it was the actual Pope or not,
but the church condemns them as they do Harry Potter.
I think he actually said in an interview that he wants to kill God, which is by all means, fine with me.
So, the Catholics did what they do best.. Condemn shit.
Shishka0441's avatar
wow that plays tricks with my mind for some reason 0.o It is beautiful in so many ways...i want to write something about it
Zirtavia's avatar
:nod: You absolutely should. The anatomy of this species is, to me, one of the most beautiful things to ever come out of fantasy literature, and they deserve to be fanficced if anything or anyone does (HarryxSnapexDraco threesomes! OH NOES!).

Speaking of which, have you read His Dark Materials? If not, please do, and you'll be even happier than you already are! (Unless, of course, fantasy/sci fi is not your cup of literary tea. What is, anyway? :-?)
Shishka0441's avatar
my cup of literary tea is a Michael Crichton book, so I am sure I will love it, no I have never read it but I am looking it up on the library webpage as I write this. Thank you very much for the reference :D
Zirtavia's avatar
Michael Crichton sounds familiar.

To the Internets! :omfg:
Shishka0441's avatar
Congo, Jurassic Park, Sphere, Lost World, Andromedia Strain, State of Fear, Next etc.
WonderDookie's avatar
WonderDookieHobbyist General Artist
Nice interpretation. The long tail was a nice touch. The whole time I was reading Amber Spyglass I was trying to wrap my mind around how a creature like that would even look. My mental image was actually a lot like this.
Zirtavia's avatar
Cool to know, thank you :) Looking at it now, I think I may even have given it a longer tail, and made it more substantial, given more paper space. Real balance fiends like cheetahs and snow leopards have really disproportionately huge tails--though now I think of it, herbivorous quadrupeds that need balance--like mountain goats--have no tail to speal of. Wonder why.

Sorry. I'm thinking in writing :D My parents joke that one of my hobbies is evolutionary biology.
floppybelly's avatar
floppybellyHobbyist Artisan Crafter
I'm following your train of thought here- Seems like the cheetah is more about momentum, and maybe the tail helps with changing direction of so much force... Whereas the goat is just hopping a bit, not really building up much speed in any one direction. In the case of a Zalif, it would seem like a longer tail might be the way to go. I'm having trouble remembering, did the books mention a tail at all?
WonderDookie's avatar
WonderDookieHobbyist General Artist
Well there's nothing wrong with an evolutionary biology hobby. I studied it a bit myself at the university.

Personally I think that the long tail would look pretty cool. If only from an aesthetic/symmetrical point of view. Sort of balance out that trunk.
silvermoon16's avatar
omg can you belive how much the film strays from the book?????
i didnt think that the mulefa would look anything like that
i thought that they would have one big weel and an elafants head with there legs coming out diagnolaly??????
i gess everyone emagens them differanty

im apouled at how much they got wrong walst making it are u ??
Zirtavia's avatar
I actually haven't seen it yet. I have to say, the accuracy of the dialog in the previews impressed me, so I thought it would be accurate overall (some of their lines were, word for word, quoted from the book, which I don't usually see). Sad! Oh well. It'll be a rollickin' good time anyway.

I've known people who thought they had wheels on all four feet and were fat...everyone sees them differently. This is the design that makes the most sense for me, though. I always pictured them with a build rather like an antelope's, only more substantial and...diamond-shaped :D
silvermoon16's avatar
did you know that they called armoured bears ice bears ?
i read it and then when i read it again when i was older i realized that my picture of the mulefa was wrong in my head because it had a star shaped spine instead of diamond
Zirtavia's avatar
Yes, the "ice bears" was the only thing I noticed that seemed off. I suppose that I can't hope for them to mention panserbjorne, can I? :D But it would be nice if they would at least use "armoured bears"; ice bears could be read as regular polar bears. Though really, I don't think that that particular discrepancy detracts too much. Nor, really, does Nicole Kidman's blonde-ness, from what I hear; apparently it adds some stunning visual appeal. Though I really do have to see it for myself.

A star-shaped frame. Wow! That's be a fun thing to draw =)
silvermoon16's avatar
yes it would be good if they called them panserbjorne
its good that the girl who plays the roll of Lyra has read the books thought
anonymous's avatar
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