I've been divorced from Tumblr for a while now, but recent events have gotten me looking back through the tag of fanart I commissioned from the platform's artists. Much of it is of little-appreciated characters who have some sort of foothold in my heart - many of my commissions were attempts to redress the balance on that account. It might seem odd that I didn't gravitate more toward commissions for the characters who are dearest to me, like Ghaleon: the answer there is that I didn't want to give them bad fanart in case something went awry. (This hardly happened, and looking back, I see that I got downright criminal bargains for the work I purchased.)
So here we go. Artists Tumblrs etc. are linked when possible, but a few folks are lost to time, it seems. (But speaking of which: Tumblr and I might be getting back together for a brief period if I can make that Funato commission happen. That work will demand a wider audience.)
Wriph & Wraph here are henchwomen for the requisite RPG Hot Wizard in Popful Mail. I've always liked their designs, color schemes, and U.S. names. The artist, meka, had a fun & sexy style, so I thought she'd be a good match for the characters, and that proved correct. I like their bounciness; the fun look has an appeal of its own yet is in line with the light & bubbly Popful Mail style, and the expressions are on point. (Pencils.)
Idol is one of the villains of the Magical School Lunar manga; he replaces Memphis and acts as an acolyte of Barua, here promoted to top banana. Idol, I feel, is the only Lunar villain besides Ghaleon who really works. Zophar's fine for what he is, but that's just a generic "dark god" character, and his design is distractingly weird. Barua & Memphis simply follow Xenobia in the "hot trashy Vile Tribe villain" mold. Those who came after are bald attempts to rip off Ghaleon by lesser talent. Idol returns to Ghaleon's vein of sympathetic, complex motivation in a story that's his own: he fell in love with and attempted to start a family with a human woman, but when their neighbors in their village found out his secret, they turned on Idol's then-pregnant wife and, in an honestly brutal scene for a Lunar story, stormed her home as a mob and murdered her. Idol finds his wife's body and incinerates her attackers in reflexive horror when they attempt to do the same to him.
The incident comes off as a fridging in thumbnail but comes into its own with its presentation of the emotion involved: the wary dread & disbelief of the wife in the face of the hate-filled accusations and sudden, unapolgetic savagery in such a cozy, domestic setting; Idol's utter, stunned horror in finding his wife; the grim, bitter practicality in Idol's subsequent attitude, the province of a man who truly has lost everything. The MSL manga is one of the few Lunar properties that comes to honest grips with the injustice of the magic race's treatment: Idol isn't a big bad god but a dad fighting to save a little girl. The story remembers that villains are at their best with sympathetic motivations, keeping touch with Idol's past self in his memories of his wife and his despise of the company he has to keep.
One problem: the art style used in the MSL manga is very angular and weird, with long, spiky hair everywhere. In revisiting it to make scans of Idol for reference, I discovered that I had misremembered his design completely. In my memory, perhaps influenced by his defining scene of immolation, Idol had a long, flame-red ponytail; in reality, he has a light-maroonish spiky mop and a crenelated pea-green belly shirt. It works in the monochrome manga and the artist's unique style, but I thought it difficult to transfer, so I asked the artist, DiaXYZ, to take what latitudes she deemed necessary for the piece. She really pulled it off. I particularly admire how she took the design's bunch of disparate hues and made them look not only unified, both internally and with the memory of Idol's wife in the background, but also suitably somber. It gives the scene and character a gravity that doesn't come naturally to the original art style.
Also: I very much like Idol's expression in the rough sketch.)
I just freaking love this. There's no shortage of Kain Highwind fanart, but the costume's the thing here: it's taken from an elaborate doujinshi stationery illustration by Kei Takano. Kain's been flanderized over the years, taken from a struggling, mostly-noble warrior forcibly corrupted by his negative emotions to a willing lackey for any evil you got, so it cheers me to see him reenvisioned as a shining paladin. It beats the hell out of that After Years outfit.
I wanted more of this Kain, but as you can see, the costume is visible only from the waist up. I asked the artist, Autumn-Sacura, to extrapolate, using the same shading style she applied for a 100-work palette challenge. I love the choices: the enhancement of the presence of gold and white to compliment Kain's long blond hair; the teal lining of his cape to complete the heavenly palette; the maintenance of the darker elements for grounding & contrast; the decision to let his hair fly gloriously free. It all turned out smashingly. (Sketch; lines.)
I love tinsil's work for its character, humor, and utterly superb sense of color. This is the first of four commissions from this artist; they turned me down for the fifth, and I took the hint.
Like most Mana titles that aren't Secret, I wanted to love Children of Mana but ran afoul of the ill-designed gameplay. I love the Mana aesthetic, though, and I kind of liked Tamber's style, which reminded me very much of tinsil's vibrant palettes. (I also felt she kind of got short shrift, as Children will complain vocally if you main someone besides the stock swordsboy character, so I felt a bit of protectiveness toward her.) I asked for her in a typical Mana forest and got this cozy scene, which dovetails nicely with my feelings toward the character. The art got her in a good place.
I don't need to introduce these two. Adorable. My favorite touch: the artist, ohhicas, even added the little rainbow embroidery on Dain's collar.
And again from ohhicas. Also darling. Sometimes, art & friendliness just speak for themselves. Speaking of which:
Tatto from Popful Mail, again from tinsil. This is one of the best renditions of this character I've seen. The core of good and friendly and helpful but in over his head but still moving forward regardless really shines through.
This artist, littleboopoo, was offering monochrome + one color commissions, so I asked for Latona singing in the ruins surrounded by bluebirds. The bluebirds were intended as a bit more Disney Princess than they came out, but the stark black & white suits this elegant maiden of classical tragedy.
Kathisofy is a long-time Angelique fan, so when she began offering commissions, I thought Lumiale would fit nicely, and that was right. Those colors and the interplay of light are worthy of Lumiale's name!
The Angelique franchise is populated with so many colorful, engaging characters, but if I had to choose a ride-or-die fella from the franchise, the self-sacrificing priest Mathias would be it. He's part of the Neo pocket-universe spin-off, the equivalent of a pope of the religious order of his little world, serious and dedicated to his people and purpose. Then he's suddenly pulled aside and informed that his lifetime of dedication means nothing, because it's time for the smarmy little dauphin shit - a child he's looked after since toddlerhood, with Chosen One magic powers but absolutely no empathy for any other living creature - to take over, and could he please, quite literally, kill himself now, as his life is utterly without worth except as a great holy placeholder for an entitled brat. (If he will not end his life himself, he will be helped along in this regard.) He responds with despondence - and then decides to murder those fuckers, going classically mad in a supremely entertaining way while remaining a distinctly smart plotter when faced with the necessity of fighting for his own survival. (Until the show's writing crashed into a tree, that is, but that's for another discussion.)
Anyhow, Angeliquers love celebrating their faves' birthdays, and I was running an Angelique Tumblr at the time, so I asked tinsil for a pic of him holding a birthday cupcake, so he could finally have a little something just for himself. I love the colors and seeing a small smile of contentment on Mathias's face.
ScrambledMeta - who, alas, has fled to another handle of which I know not - was offering Super Mario Maker costumes. I paid what was really a pittance for a few Baten Kaitos folks during the Spiriter Week fan celebration, and I should have gotten more of the cast done. He's great at creating sprites in line with the simple SMB style that nonetheless retain the subjects' character. He even got the distinctive wings on Kalas. (And a suitable scowl. And his stupid hair.)
(Is there any other RPG, or other game period, where the fan base hates the main character as much as Baten Kaitos? It's not serious in Baten's case - mostly - but mutually-agreed "yeah, fuck that guy" energy.)
And ending on the opposite note for Baten Kaitos energy. This is another piece by meka, which again uses her style's aforementioned bounciness to good effect, in a different way. I love Xelha and Lyude's characters individually, and they such have a friendly rapport and understanding in their interactions - they're both thoughtful and responsible yet determined to be outgoing and make the best of things. And they're both sweeties, as you can see here. (Stationary gif; pencils.)