• Solo • Capturing Beauty [Alivilda] (Graded)

The cities and villages of Melrath are as varied and diverse as they come. The capital of Raelia is the the jewel of this western kingdom, playing host to a merchants, artisans, Aesir priests, as well as a cut throat political landscape dominated by the nobles of Raelia. To the south in the depths of the Myrkvior Forest lies Melrath's second largest, and oldest city, Fensalir. Here people have learned to live alongside spirits and the natural world by maintaining their loyalty to traditions laid down the first Melrathi. To the east lies the small fishing village of Noatun, and to the western mountains rests the Mer city of Verimeer, the brewing town of Alivilda and the alpine village Vormund.
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Brent Forrester
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Race: Human
Profession: Cartographer
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Capturing Beauty [Alivilda] (Graded)

55 Zi’da – Capturing Beauty

The thick snow of Zi’da covered the village of Alivilda and hugged Brent’s home like a blanket. Despite being an outdoors type of guy, Brent limited his travels outside when it came to the cold seasons of Zi’da and Cylus. The house was warm enough with the constant burning of logs in the fireplace, and Brent sat pensively in his drawing room, gazing out the window at the glittering white landscape.

He knew he ought to be making use of the time to work on his map making, be it copying existing maps or sketching out new details, but there was a pang in his heart of someone lonely. Try as he might, he couldn’t stop thinking of Ashling and what she might be doing in Fensalir on this cold Zi’da trial.

A trip to Fensalir with three nights on the road in the cold of Zi’da would be foolish, although worse in Cylus. It was so close yet so far. For several minutes Brent gazed out the window without really seeing, for instead he pictured Ashling’s face and distinct features. Her high cheekbones, the sharpness of her nose, her hauntingly grey eyes, and most notably the blue-grey hue of her skin. Her hair was tasselled and had a wild look about it and she had youthful features contrasting against the hard look in her eyes. Brent suspected that although she was young, she had seen much in her lifetime.

Snapping out of his thoughts, Brent looked around the drawing room. There were stacks of papers and parchment as well as drawing implements such as ink and charcoal. He has stocked up for the cold seasons so he’d be able to create more maps but a sudden idea came to him to try something a little more creative.

The cartographer picked up a small empty sheet and grabbed a piece of black charcoal. Closing his eyes, he pictured Ashling’s face, and then started sketching out a rough outline of her facial features. He began with an oval for her head, and two smaller ones for her eyes. He filled in the eyes with grey as he sometimes thought of them as deep pools of ash. He added thin serious lips but when he got to her nose, he hesitated. By drawing Ashling’s face head-on, there was no easy way to show the sharp angles of her nose. For a few moments, he found himself frustrated at his lack of ability, knowing all too well that he would make a mess of a portrait if it was on an angle instead of directly forwards.

Brent quickly got up and ran downstairs to fetch a mirror. Staring intently at his own face, he certainly didn’t have her softer lines but his own nose was almost as pointed. He adjusted the angle of the mirror, trying to get a sense of the lines and shadows and eventually decided on an adequate way to represent the nose. It was not ideal, but next time he might try Ashling’s face at an angle to better capture her striking look. Back in the drawing room, he drew two vertical lines for the ridges of her nose, then added softer lines for nostrils. There was still shading to be done, and he hoped it would help make her nose more distinct.

As Brent continued to work on the portrait, he sharpened Ashling’s chin and added small delicate ears. The ears were also tricky, and in this case he was glad of the front facing angle so he could keep them simple and not worry about all the other lines and detail that comes with an ear. Frequently he rubbed out some of the charcoal lines and redrew them with more precise lines. It was already starting to look as though it was being shaded due to all the rub outs, but he wanted to complete the outline before trying to guess how the shadows fell.

With Ashling’s neck outlined, all that was left was her hair. At first Brent thought that this would be the easy part, but as he drew more and more squiggly lines for the wild looking hair, it started to look more like a tangled mess rather than a lady of the wilds. He backtracked a bit and this time when slower, really thinking about how hair tended to form locks. His lines were more parallel, and the curved locks of hair criss-crossed and interwove with each other. It was more time consuming drawing out the hair like this, but it looked better and gave real shapes to the locks of hair.

When he looked at the portrait thus far, the eyes looked rather high on the face and with a frown he tried to think of a way of correcting it. He couldn’t completely rub out the charcoal lines and he didn’t quite want to start from scratch all over again. Then he realized that if he added more hair to the top and turn the existing locks into hair falling over her forehead, he’d be able to extend the head just a little further up to better center the eyes.

Brent eyed the portrait critically. It was alright. Some of the shapes could have been more precise and it was lacking the wild forest look that Ashling had about her. But there was beauty to it too. The solid grey eyes were particularly striking even if just for their unusual look.

The cartographer started shading in the portrait. Starting with the hair, he added texture and light and dark places. Picking up the mirror once more, he studied his own facial features and how the light fell on his face. With a disgruntled frown, he moved his chair over to the window so the light was only coming in from one way, casting obvious shadows across his face. Here was where he could make her nose more prominent! Using his own face in the mirror as a guide, Brent added shadows to one side of Ashling’s face. He shaded in curves for her cheeks and chin, and made an obvious shadow on the right side of her nose. Parts like her forehead, he kept as light as possible, as this was where the light hit. With the shading, the portrait really started to become alive.

He worked slowly, much preferring to incrementally add more grey and black rather than make a mistake and have to rub it away. It was calm and peaceful work. As the drawing neared completion, he started to wonder what he would do with it. Would he give it to Ashling as a gift? Or would he frame it and keep it for himself in his bedroom to remind him of her beauty? Maybe he could keep it over the cold seasons until he got to see her next. Or by then, he might have a much better portrait to give her.

However, there was a nagging feeling in the back of his mind. The more he looked at Ashling’s beautiful yet wild features, the more he thought of the winged lady, Navyri, and how different she looked from Ashling. Navyri had brilliant blue eyes compared to Ashling’s encompassing grey ones. Jet black hair with pale skin compared to the blueish brown. And not to mention the stark white wings. There was passion and defiance from Navyri, yet Brent doubted any chance he had with her despite his hesitant fascination.

Brent valued loyalty and duty to one’s nation, so such idle thoughts of curiosity were distressing, even if they only remained in his head. No, today he was only going to do a portrait of Ashling. Yet even in that conviction, the doors of opportunity were left open for tomorrow or next season or…

With a note of finality, Brent carefully crafted the scripted letters of Ashling’s name at the bottom left of the portrait. On the bottom right, he signed it. It was by no means a masterpiece but it was something. And something to remind him of the forest lady in the cold nights ahead. He slipped the finished portrait into the drawer of his dresser and went downstairs to tend to the fire. His mind still felt torn as he turned the log over and added a new one. Maybe it was just as well that Ashling lived in Fensalir and Navyri was even farther. Part of him was ashamed to be thinking such things of an Outlander, an Outlander who Ashling would surely see as a threat and outsider. Brent hoped such mental struggles would be smoothed over during the cold seasons. At least now he had a vivid reminder of the beautiful forest lady of Fensalir, for there would be cold nights when even the fire struggled to keep the house warm.
word count: 1500
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Pig Boy
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Re: Capturing Beauty [Alivilda]


Brent Forrester


10/10 no magic


Drawing: Outlining basic facial features
Drawing: Drawing a nose head-on is less distinctive than at an angle
Drawing: Using your own face as a guideline for drawing other faces
Drawing: Looking at light and shadow to add shading
Drawing: Hair is made up of locks and interwoven curls
Design: Start light and get darker so early mistakes can be rubbed out


One basic portrait of Ashling (charcoal sketch)





Comments: Such a peaceful and nice story about crafting. I thoroughly enjoyed every detail. You included a lot of what makes a story here, feeling and nostalgia and longing of the character is palpable, and finally at the end he gets something to remind him of that beautiful blue-skinned woman.

I replaced one of your drawing knowledges with design... You can't dump all 6 into one skill, unfortunately. Let me know if you'd like to switch that one out for another, or anything.

Shoot me a pm though, I'm not responding on Discord at the moment.

Again, beautiful crafting thread, I hope to see more from you!

word count: 191
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