I was really worried about these next few topics, as they’re definitely out of my comfort zone! I have never drawn a mech in my life, for example! I’ve always wanted to try more object and environment art as I think this could be great fodder for building my own worlds and also for portfolio pieces for Magic the Gathering and more.
I gotta say after pushing myself with these, they’re some of my favorites from the challenge list thus far!
18. Magical Materials
There are a number of magical materials in the world of Exalted, all of which resonate best with the Exalted. Solars like Kalara resonate best with Orichalcum, gold that has been infused with the radiance of the Unconquered Sun, himself.
For this topic, I explored different approaches to portraying this metal, from a manuscript page talking about the alchemical processes involving mystic mirrors you can use to create it to the natural quarries high in the mountains where the sun’s radiance blesses the ‘blood of the earth’ (magma) to create naturally occurring orichalcum.
I also chose a more Hindu-inspired depiction of the Unconquered Sun, as he’s usually more Roman-inspired in the setting.
19. Favorite Weapon
This topic came easy, as there was always a weapon that stood out to me during our Exalted games! In one adventure, Kalara and her Circle of Solars faced off against their dark counterparts, the Abyssal Deathknights. Kalara’s opponent in this battle was Crown of Thorns on the Head of the King Who Never-Was who wielded warfans fashioned from soulsteel, an abominable metal created from trapped souls, among other dreadful components.
Called the Eyes of Lord Automeris, when Crown of Thorns activated his weapon, the souls trapped in the soulsteel would appear to writhe and wail silently on the surface while a conspicuously closed eye on the fans would open fully, revealing a terrible red open eye that allowed him to impose his will on others, while also filling them with fear. The fans were inspired by the Automeris moth with its shocking eye markings that look like a starry sky.
Thankfully, Kalara was able to use her strong will to shrug off Crown of Thorns’ mental attack and end the Deathknight in a flurry of shots from her prayer piece guns before he could impose his will again. Despite their short battle, I never forgot the sheer coolness of this Deathknight’s fans created by my Storyteller (Exalte’d version of the Dungeon Master)!
20. Favorite Artifact
Artifacts, items of wonder from a lost age, represent some of the coolest flavor in the Exalted setting! It was difficult just to pick a couple because there are so many interesting choices.
I chose the Sorcery Catching Cord, which allows its user to catch multiple spells and release them at a later time by untying a knot. The design for this straw hat sorceress wielding orichalcum cord emerged from an old concept for a sorceress Twilight Caste who has appeared in Kalara’s story and our game on occasion as a healer, demon summoner, and bathhouse owner. I love her design so much that I’m really going to have to do more with her!
Next, we have the Infinite Resplendence Amulets, amulets of various magical metals that create clothing for the user with various properties. Orichalcum amulets create clothing constructed out of light, adding to their beauty in the eyes of onlookers. I couldn’t resist creating a decadent Solar decked out in orichalcum clothing made of pure light!
The pinnacle of First Age tech and magic, Warstriders were grand vehicles of mass destruction the Solars of old rode into battle. Over time, they have been lost to the ages or enshrined and protected. We never discovered the Warstriders of our characters’ First Age Incarnations in our campaign, so this was an opportunity to let my imagination run wild with the organic mech aesthetic I love in Zone of the Enders 2 and Warframe. I adore Exalted’s unique flavor that’s taken the scifi mech concept and blended it with mystical imagery.
The sketches explore moments in time, from Kalara discovering the warstrider enshrined in a hidden temple where she meditates to bond with it, to her finally being accepted by this sentient weapon.
The warstrider itself was a very spontaneous design inspired by Kalara’s connection to fire, the warstrider having fire hair and other elemental connections in its ornate swirls. I imagine in battle this warstrider sends her floating wings out for slashing damage or to use as a mechanism for ricocheting energy shots in normally impossible angles. She is as yet unnamed, so feel free to suggest a name for her in comments!
I had to stop myself from making more thumbnails because I can see so many more moments spent earning this warstrider’s trust and bonding with or other scenes of derelict warstriders blended with the low tech world that has sprung up around them.
Here we are at less than 10 topics to go. I’m almost done! I hope you all have been enjoying this diversion thus far. Have you seen any topics you’d like to see more of? I keep having to cut myself off from spending too much time following a tangent down another story rabbithole (which is always a good sign!).
More soon! I expect I’ll be wrapping this up in a couple more compilations.