The hilarious front line in the tragic war against ridiculous female armor
Month: June 2018
5th edition Dungeons and Dragons’ human outlander is one painfully generic archer design, scoring low on bingo mostly due to sheer lack of inventiveness.
Nonetheless, like quite a few official female warrior illustrations from that edition of D&D, biggest problem with her is that she looks almost legit, with some practical-looking shoes, pants and costume made of plausible materials… only to be ruined by nonsensical top, adorned with a pauldron, just as an added insult to the simulated practicality.
The second most ridiculous thing about this pic is that its followed almost immediately by the rather awesome “Soldier” background’s illustration:
The most ridiculous thing about it is that it represents the “Outlander” background, which is supposed to represent an individual who has lived isolated from society out in the wilderness.
In a weird designer leather bra thing… apparently…
It really says something about fantasy art that the thing people seem to remark most on in my work is the fact the female armor I draw is ‘functional’ with out and sexy bits out there showing. Something I just think of as “well you wouldn’t want to get stabbed in the navel… so lets put some studs and leather there” is so foreign to some that it sticks out. But, it really shouldn’t stick out. People shouldn’t even notice that. And that kind of pisses me off about the other artists out there. Look I am not saying every character has to be all covered up and armored, if it is a female/male rogue who uses her god given talents to subvert, distract, and get what s/he wants by all means show some skin.. .but if it is a paladin, warrior, anything that needs to be heavily armored then put some damn good armor on them! And despite what some art directors think, a girl can look pretty damn hot in some nice, functional, armor with out her tits flopping about. And if you are an artist and the only way you can make a female attractive is by showing her ass or cleavage, you are a BAD ARTIST, go practice.
Bolded for emphasis.
It’s really a painful realization that bikini armors are so ingrained in the collective consciousness that actually protective female armor stands out as novelty.
Which also proves just how bullshitty the “skimpy costume design is creative” excuse is. If it was so, people would be more surprised by it than by costumes that do provide cover. Yet here we are and no-one’s shocked by the sight of bikini armor anymore.
This kind of double standard really points out our culture’s idea that (White) Man is the norm, and is thus allowed to be other things than just Man. Meanwhile, Woman is like its own all-encompassing descriptor. Once you’re a Woman, you can’t be anything else, so everything about the Woman has to point out how Womanly she is.
And we can’t give her armor that doesn’t accentuate the fact that she’s a Woman, because then she’ll be like the Man! We can’t have that! And then we end up with Bingo material.
Jarvan of the Thousand Abs
My first sexy man redesign (and, as far as we can tell, first stream done along with Icy), was Jarvan from League of Legends.
The initial thought was very basic: leave those enormous pauldrons while exposing most of his torso and also thighs. Then the idea to give him infinite abs was brought up and here we are.
While for thunder thighs I used some photo reference, with abzilla I was deliberately ignoring any anatomical knowledge. This was my homage to all the “creative” ways in which female bodies, especially boobs, tend to be drawn.
Every year when E3 comes out, I know that there’ll be at least one title that chooses the event to highlight to the world just how ridiculous their design decisions are: This year, so far, the number one contender is: Strange Brigade
The best that can be said for it is that in terms of impracticality they were at least different in their terrible design decisions – sadly they more than made up for it with the baffling racism.
The premise is in the 1930’s a forgotten ancient Egyptian witch queen has awakened from the dead and only a group of four intrepid adventurers can stop her – specifically by slaughtering wave after wave of zombies and monsters. The three white adventurer’s (two boys, one woman) dress in pragmatic adventuring outfits with pants and boots; and the black woman gets this hideous faux romper (this link nsfw), body paint, scarification and sandals.
Not only is this costume impractical for adventuring, completely at odds with 1930s sensibilities and general design – but this is a classic example of exotification. Her body paint and stretched ears seem to be inspired by the Mun people (adjusted to look more appealing to western audiences) and the red mud in her hair inspired by the Himba people (again changed for western audiences). These two groups lived 2,500 kilometers from each other (about the same distance as Switzerland to Turkey) and it seems more than likely the designers didn’t do that much research to learn the names or locations. Mostly she seems inspired by some of Grace Jones (who was born in 1948) movie personas.
This seems a particularly baffling bad decision to be proud of given that a huge factor cited in the the massive success of the Black Panther movie was the incorporation of actual African designers in making fantastic visions of Africa.
While looking into this, I was unable to find a name for this character, or any explanation for her design (such as naming inspirations) but I did find they have exactly one closed/locked thread in their Steam Discussions:
The thing about how women in comics used to be drawn and sometimes are still drawn, you can only really understand the difference between an action girl being forced into unrealistic sexual, sensual positions, and an actual strong and well posed, empowering but still sexy female character, when you see what it looks like to have male characters depicted in overtly sensual poses
And I’m not talking about the Hawkeye Initiative or any given parody
I actually want to draw a comparison using art by Kevin Wada
Kevin Wada is a proud part of the LGBTQ+ community and he has this unique ability to sexualize mainstream male heroes without it looking like a parody. He draws covers for multiple big comic companies and his style reminiscent of old fashion magazines, drawn largely in traditional watercolor, has made him a stalwart of the industry.
He also draws a lot of naked Bucky Barnes.
Anyway, I want to talk about how interesting his art is, the difference between his power poses and his sexy poses for male and female characters.
A typical power pose for a male comics character would look like this
Whereas every so often with female heroes you get something like this
Not all the time, of course, but it happens and it happens in the wrong places. You wouldn’t be posing like a cover model in the middle of a battle, you really wouldn’t.
But when it comes to Wada and male and female characters, the difference is pretty clear.
When he draws male characters, they more often look like this
Sensual, in a pose you wouldn’t usually see a big, muscular hero doing. If not that, then playful, sexy, for looking at, but nothing about their anatomy overly exaggerated
How he draws women is also very clearly different from many other artists, from sexy pose to power pose.
Still posing for the camera, still to be looked at, but very, very different from how we’ve seen female characters portrayed in mainstream comics in the past.
And I guess it’s really just a matter of variety? Objectification in art is a long time debate and appears everywhere always, but for all that we can argue about its impact on popular media, there are a few things I know for sure:
1) having a female character pose like a playboy cover girl in the middle of a battle scene is just Bad Art and y’all need to find better references
2) female power poses will never look quite as right as when they’re drawn by people who know the value of expressing personality through pose (it’s basic animation principles and some artists still need to learn it) and who actually know what a female character’s personality beyond “sexy”
3) Iron Man or Batman posing like they’re about to beat somebody up is 100% not the same as a fashion drawing by Kevin Wada where a Typical Beefy Action Guy gets to pose like a flirty pretty boy
4) the MCU films have figured out the value of pandering to female audiences by sexually objectifying all their male action heroes while simultaneously appealing to the male demographic’s action movie power fantasy. Quoting Chris Hemsworth and Taika Waititi: “I’m not a piece of meat” “Uh, yes you are.”
They definitely struck some kind of balance there.
Also, more important than this entire post: y’all should follow @kevinwada on Tumblr and give him love because his art is divine and his talent beyond words
We featured @kevinwada‘s Naked Snake last year and mentioned (as a couple times before) that if you really want to see the principles male gaze applied unironically to masculine characters, you gotta find pinup done by a male artist who’s into men. And Wada’s artwork is a great proof of that, without resorting to pandering exaggerations (which belong more to parody art).