I really like thematic groupings — they give me the inspiration and structure I need to push past executive dysfunction. I’ve found this is especially true of my drawing practice. Deciding what to draw next has been challenging for me unless I have an outside impetus (like Yuletide or a fanworks challenge week) or some sort of organizing rubric (like various pairings as their ballroom dance forms).
One of the things I enjoy about MXTX’s work is that she has a pool of tropes she likes, and she returns to it often (long separations, opposites attract, brother/sibling relationships, etc.) But each time she does, she deploys it in an interesting new iteration. That also means that her stuff is really great for crossover thematic groupings.
There are three groupings that I particularly enjoy and wanted to explore in my drawing practice. The first is Sibling Revelries (consisting of Shen Qingqiu & Shen Yuan, Lan Xichen & Lan Wangji, and Shi Wudu & Shi Qingxuan, plus maybe Liu Qingge & Liu Mingyan, but then I’d have to include the Nie bros, and it starts to get unwieldly by the time I’m trying to shoehorn in Xie Lian & Qi Rong even though they’re cousins…)
Another one is Danger Noodles, consisting of Zhuzhi Lang, Jiang Cheng, and Banyue (JC might not be explicitly a snake, but he’s so hissy all the time and he’s got Zidian and I think it works conceptually).
And finally, there’s my Fan Boys: Shen Qingqiu, Nie Huaisang, and Shi Qingxuan. That’s the one I decided to work on to practice my next set of goals – hair, poses, and clothing folds/styles/decorations.
But as I was gathering reference photos, I kept coming across Chu Wanning pics from the live action production. And my friends and I are going through Word of Honor right now, so Wen Kexing was also floating around in my head. Before I knew it, I had FIVE people shoving into my little thematic grouping.
So I drew them all, because why not.
I started with just mapping out the general layout of the piece to sort of get the flow of the figures. and how they fit together visually. I also had this inspired idea to have a blended background of elements associated with each character:
This caused a bit of a quandary because I can’t think of any element strongly associated with Wen Kexing. Ghosts? Walnuts? Zhou Zishu’s shoulderblades? Help me if you have a suggestion!
Then came sketching out the figures in frames and then boxes. I’ve been getting pretty good at this, I think. And it’s sort of fun to see it coming together, so I figured I’d share it.
(what really amuses me is that in addition to increasing detail on the figures, I increased detail on the background. There’s no REASON to, but… I did anyways).
Then came the sketch where I put clothes and stuff on the figures. Again, I probably put in more detail than needed, but it’s good practice.
And finally (for now), the lineart. I will undoubtedly fiddle with bits of this once I get to the coloring stage and realize I don’t like a particular element or it doesn’t connect right with the other line elements (this is especially true when I realize things like this sleeve doesn’t connect in that way), but I’m generally really happy with how this is shaping up.
Man, coloring this is going to take forever. Maybe I’ll make it extra hard for myself and try to do it with watercolors or coloring over lineart or something.