Friday, July 28, 2017

Euphemia C(li)ne Britannia

There is obviously a character with whom one of the heroines of Code Geass matches among Sunrise’s other giant robot franchise, Gundam. One of them is a princess, the other is treated as one. Both have tremendous lengths of bubblegum locks. Of course, as you can guess from the title, I’m talking about Euphemia and Lacus.

Origins

The two young ladies have very different roles in their stories, despite filling the same – or at least very similar – vein of thought as characters. Despite the rancor each character earns in some segments of anime fandom, I have long adored both characters. In many ways, the long odyssey of Anzu’s Soul Fragment Arc in the First Moon Saga was born precisely because of my want to set the stage for Lacus to be involved in First Moon. I originally came up with the idea of having Lynette and Yami’s son look like Lelouch so I could shoehorn a means for having Euphemia survive when I did the overall tie-in I was planning for First Moon’s Nocturne.
Since then, I’ve done a back and forward dance across stories in the Book of the Shadows realm, at time Euphemia being Lacus’ descendant, at others Lacus being Euphemia’s descendant (in different universes, of course). When I decided to craft the Two-Six named Hime, I had trouble deciding between these two, but ultimately I chose Euphemia because in the long run it seemed more likely, or at least easier to envision, arriving at a Lacus Clyne down the generational line that has Euphemia predating it, than arriving at Euphemia on a generational line with Lacus predating it.












There are a number of images floating about the internet featuring Lacus and Euphemia together, or having swapped outfits or hairstyles. There’s even one with Euphie wearing Lacus’ dress, and C.C wearing Cagali’s. So, in that regard, this isn’t a novel creation.
I created the line art for this take on the merger of the two several years ago, and with the launch of First Sun, where Euphemia plays the most prominent role to date, I thought to go back and add some color to that project.

General Design Concept

It’s a really simple project, merely Euphemia wearing one of Lacus’ dresses. I changed a couple things about the dress, however. For one, it is longer and more “complete”, by which I mean that it isn’t shorter in the front than the back, the way Lacus’ is. It doesn't have the same translucency as Lacus' either. I didn’t keep the detached arm ribbons or wrist gauntlets. I also changed the chest area, the front rising up to almost the point of reaching the collar bone. Lacus’ dress is one of her most revealing, going only about halfway up her chest and featuring a fairly deep V cut in the center. The design here for Euphemia is certainly less practical, though. The color is that of Euphie’s most common dress, the big feather/petal-shaped one.


Noteworthy Details

The shoes she’s wearing actually come from one of my favorite promotional images for Seed Destiny. They are wearing these shoes, Lacus’ being pink and white, Meer’s red and black. I split the difference for Euphie’s shoes; black base and pink accent.
The hairstyle is based on the one she wears when in her role as Governor General. This exact lay comes from an image that was either cover art or a promotional piece for the Nightmare of Nunnally manga, wherein at the later stages Euphie becomes ruler of Britannia. In her role as Governor General of Area 11 in the anime, I’m not sure what to call the head/hair accessory she wears – I don’t think it’s actually supposed to be a crown – but I replaced it with an actual crown. As best as I recall of the anime, and what minor searching I did online, there is no actual “crown” shown for Britannia’s ruler in Geass, the closest being that absurdly large hat Lelouch wears when he takes over. Wasn’t about to do that here, so we get this simplistic tiara. A little tidbit that comes into play later in the First Sun Saga, the jewel in her crown is called “The Eyes of the World” and is of some importance.


Background

The last things I did was the background. I had a few ideas, but none took off for me quite like this one. It’s roughly based on an image I think is from one of the drama CDs for Geass. I started with the intention that I would use mostly the same scene, but shrunk and recessed the view of the villa (castle) more. This was to be in preparation to have a night sky filled with fireworks. But, I talked myself out of a nighttime scene, which thereby axed the fireworks idea. So, instead it’s just a partly cloudy daytime sky. With the absence of the soft focus of the reference image, and an overall lack of figures, mixed with the diminished view of the castle, meant that there looked like a lot of empty space. I set about the business of gussying up the field, sky, and mountains.
I’m very content with the sky. The mountains are fairly good, as I experimented with using shadow to create depth rather than hard outlines. Definitely is a skill I still need work on, but this attempt isn’t too terrible. Similarly, the water is lacking something. I don’t like the way I handled the light blending and reflection, possibly because I’m more accustomed to having something that needs to be reflected in the water (sky, shoreline, etc). Here, because of the positioning, and because of the lighting on Euphie that was done first, you don’t get that, and I suppose I just couldn’t find a “rhythm” to how to add the right highlight and shadow to the water. Again, like the mountains, it’s serviceable, but could use a more skillful touch. Lastly is all the greenspace.
The grass and trees are probably the largest component to this image beside the sky and Euphie herself, which was not at all my intention at the outset. I ended up deciding to use the furthest most area of greenery as a tree line or forest sort of area, the darkened tops demonstrating an area of something in the sky blocking out some of the light (probably clouds, but I’m open to more nefarious options). I started out with a plan that featured a bit too much detail in terms of the grass than would be consistent with the overall work. I did that detailed bit with the tall grass at Euphie’s feet. But, it looked awkward for the overall image. It looked almost as if grass was growing at her feet – an interesting idea all its own, but not what I was intending, and not appropriate for this particular piece.
Because of that, I went back and added a number of spots with the same pattern, intending it to look more like patches of overgrown grass. But these didn’t look right either. It was too detailed relative to the rest of the grass. I tired adding a few more patches, hoping that if I spread it about more, the effect would take, but not so much. So, after having reached the point of no return, the only thing I could do was go full-bore and add complete detail to the grass. This was time consuming as heck, because I quite literally drew every blade of grass by hand for two thirds of the area covered by grass. After hours of that, I finally caved and just used a “scratch” brush to do that last 1/3 of grass (the area between the tree line and the dark strip below that denotes a bit of a hill).


Conclusion


At the end of the day, this is a piece I'm very happy with. Again, knowing the... intense... feelings these characters on their own generate, and likewise that which they get when crossed-over, I'm sure this won't be a particularly popular piece. But, oh well. 

I do have another project for Euphie in the works, but no timetable on that one. And, I've got a nice and simple C.C one as well, the one I originally wanted to get out this past Tuesday. There's also still a project featuring my original character, Nikkita. And, I know if I dig around there's a dozen or more other projects that need attention... if only I had the time... 

So, until tomorrow.