As one of the central characters of my story, The Legend of Nariko : Mark of Silverfrost, I spent a fair bit of time trying to figure out how best to portray Asandra, The Bloodfire. Early on in the character’s inception, I was enamored with the spirit of rebellion against a tyrannical empire. The willful hope of revolutionaries seeking a better life for all, its a narrative I’ve always enjoyed. I wanted to manifest that idea, that motivation, into a character. But I didn’t want her to lead a new rebellion from the start, but be a strong enough leader to gather the fragments of her people and rebuild them, re-kindle that hope. From that idea, Asandra was born. When I first thought up of Asandra, I wanted her to be several different concepts and struggles rolled up into one particular life. She was always intended to have a strong presence that would lead others into battle.
I tried drawing out an anatomical sketch of the pose I wanted for Asandra. At first I thought of her in an action pose, maybe readying a slash across an opponent or leaping from the rooftops upon her enemies, but that didn’t seem appropriate for who she was. This is a stoic character who stands for her people above all else, a warrior among the poor and downtrodden. As such, I tried to give her a more ready-to-defend-her-people pose.
The first thing I had to consider when creating the look of Asandra was “who exactly is this person?” I grew up with Samurai Jack as a kid and always loved the romanticized idea of the Ronin, a samurai without a lord. At first I tried to envision what a female samurai would look like in the context of the world I created. Heavy armor didn’t make sense as she was no lord nor was she part of a formal military so the question became how to design a female samurai-like character without heavy armor. What I struggled most with was the idea of a “Battle Kimono.” All of the images and references I could find showed more of a dress-oriented style which I wanted to avoid. Instead I ended up basing her robes around the idea of a kimono while still remaining mobile and not as flowy (the practical impractical combat clothing as it were).
The next question revolved around the design of her weapon. While Asandra was based on the idea of a Ronin, a katana didn’t fit her backstory. I decided that a great sword fit her style of brute force over finesse as her teacher was more of a savage warrior than an artful swordsman. As such, the weapon itself is rather spartan in design.
The end result is an ink outline of Asandra, The Bloodfire, ready for combat in the defense of her people. In the final design I added a bit of armor (leather vambraces) as that didn’t seem completely out of the realm of possibility for a warrior of the poor.
Hoping to publish a colored version soon!
Also planning to do a few of these character designs and sketches for more characters from my book, The Legend of Nariko : Mark of Silverfrost