Creating your book heroes (Building a fantasy series, part three)

The characters for Spectrum Blade were actually one of the first things I came up with. I spent a long time stewing over rough concepts for each of the heroes that would join the party, in addition to rounding out some villains. But while the characters themselves came together pretty easily, the backgrounds for them haven’t.

Instead of trying to put everything together before I start, I decided it may be best to start with general concepts that can grow organically as I write the story. There will need to be some basics, but those are pretty easy to come by.

I knew there would be two lead characters, one male and one female, and then a handful of secondary characters who play very important parts, but won’t always be in the fray. The hero is Zaide, a young elf with snowy hair and one cut ear. And one of the secondary characters is Resia, Zaide’s childhood best friend.

While Zaide is a foster child, raised in the care of the region’s Elder–a common practice among houses that wish to broaden their child’s horizons–Resia is a native of the forest city they call home. If you saw the world map I shared last week, their home city is the marker directly south of Lake Sian. So far, the name I’m planning for the forest region is Kolmar–making Resia one of the Kolmari.

Most of the Kolmari can be compared to wood elves, with darker complexions, brown eyes, and brown or black hair. That makes Zaide and the other foster children oddballs, with each of them bearing the coloration common in their home region.

Since the goal of being fostered is acquiring the practices of the region they’re fostered in, Zaide spends his days training with the Kolmari soldiers. While Resia would be welcome among them, her interests are more scholarly. She spends most of her time studying history and linguistics, and while she tries to pass her knowledge of Amroch’s languages on to Zaide, who knows whether or not he’s really listening.

As I developed these characters, I decided to do artwork for each of them. With their friendship in mind, it made sense to draw Zaide and Resia together, perhaps during one of her lessons.

Zaide and Resia

And just for fun, you can see the coloring process, too.

Gosh, it had been years since I used Prismacolor pencils. I hit my stride later in the video, but those early experiments were rough. I also decided to do something anime-styled for some reason; heaven knows why, I haven’t done that since I was a teen. Oh well. It was fun! I may use gouache for the next character portrait, but we’ll see. I’d like to do illustrations for everyone.

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