The Smelly Jaghut - Malazan Inspired Art
In the course of my Dungeons and Dragons game inspired by the Malazan Book of the Fallen series my players had cause to meet a Jaghut. An ancient recluse who won't be that happy that my characters are there, but is stuck with them none the less. Some key factors for gameplay required her to smell, be unkempt, with visual indicators of things she might be willing to bargain for. I had gone for female simply because the majority of Jaghut you meet in the books are male, and for my own enjoyment I wanted some variety. I decided on; matted hair in need of a cut, shabby cloths that could be replaced (Jaghut don't feel the cold so wear very little), body odour (owning a broken bathtub), and an athletic built suggesting that at some point, weapons and armour could be gifted to her. I also went with a relatively neutral pose, with the idea that perhaps as the campaign continued, whatever they had bargained away to her, I could draw onto the character.
My initial sketches held closer to my own ideas of the Jaghut. Described as "Olive Green" I had imaged them close to the dark olives my father loves. Likewise they are described as rather bony and not prone to fat. I am a fan of female characters being more flat chested, as there is an over tenancy towards the busty in female character art, something that I find especially silly for martial women.
However, just as with my K'Chain Che'Malle project, I wanted to get the image as close as possible to how the books describe them, and the fans imagine them. For that I returned to the Malazan Empire Facebook Group in order to receive feedback and critique.
Wonderful bunch that they are I was barraged by comments that she should be busty. was disinclined to concede this point, but they all came at me with page numbers and quotes of Jaghut women being described as "heavy breasted" so what can you do? Also, it seem my idea of Olive Green did not match up with everyone else's, so I found a compromise in the middle.
I had some real problems getting the anatomy right, due to a mixture of not wanting her to look like an Orc, starting with a very skinny reference model, nor wanting her to look too human, tusks and four finger joints aside. In the end I blended a few together, and used the Trolls from World of Warcraft as a proportions guide. I used the amazing work of Bayard Wu as a touch stone for painting a physically strong warrior woman and the nude photography from Emanuel Richard for the wider hips. The facial reference on the far left is (as best as I can tell) “Polaroid at D’Management, Milan.”(if anyone recognises the model so I can link it plase message me). The troll in the top right who's face I adore is drawn by Julia Taylor.
Something that prompted a lot of discussion was the face and tusks. The books are not terribly clear and tusk descriptions range from so small that are only revealed when a character smiles, to massive ones that can stab you through the eye. The face needed to look none human, have the heavy bone structure described, and accommodate these tusks. I went with her having a much wider face than is normal for human woman, but keeping the strong cheekbones to retain some femininity.
After this I felt I was nearly done and asked the Empire what needed improving. One comment stood out to me and started a long chain of conversation. The boobs, I really did not feel comfortable with how large people had gotten me to increase them to, and it seemed others (notably female readers) felt the same way. I was pleased by this feedback as it gave me a chance to fix the issue.
Boobs. Boobs are hard, or more importantly, they are not. When I had scaled up the breasts following everyone's quotations and page references, I had had pretty much selected and enlarged them. But these were the breasts of a flat chested woman, not the mammary glands of a female more heavily affect by gravity. This also gave me a chance to make them smaller, at the same time emphasising how athletic I wanted her to be.
Happy with the result I next wanted to touch on the sarong, I wanted her to really just be wearing an old sack, but it is hard to find reference images of people wearing those. So I tried a more detailed skirt using reference's online. It ended up looking too neat so I ditched the whole idea.
Lastly, the Jaghut are masters of Omtose Phellack the warren of ice, I wanted her art to reflect that. Sadly as this was an after thought her pose doesn't have her casting, so instead I opted for simply exuding cold. I am not 100% happy with the ice effect as it is not something I have done before, but adding the secondary lighting helped liven up the image.
In the Game
My player eventually worked out they could make deals with her. So far they have given her a knife to cut her hair, fixed her bathtub, and supplied her with a meal. She also made a deal for a new, colourful, outfit of high quality (in exchange for explaining some of of the features of the magic house she lives in) and a three course meal involving venison.
Mostly she just grumbles at them, and tells them to stay out of her room.