Open letter to Fantasy Artists...or whoever cares!... - Page 3
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  1. #61
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    Dwarves should obviously be white, since they spend almost all their time underground, where no sun reaches them.

    Orcs, goblins, trolls and so on are either green, black or grey. So making them dark skinned makes no sense.

    Elves... I always thought of them as pale. As if sun light is something that don't really become them. But perhaps black elves wouldn't be so strange. There are forest elves... How about rain forest elves? They could be living as one with the forest, having cute little monkeys as companions or hunting together with big cats.

    Or desert elves, riding their camels, or something similar, as lone and wise wanderers of the sun burned sand dynes.

    Just trying to come up with a few ideas

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    Quote Originally Posted by tobbA View Post



    Elves... I always thought of them as pale. As if sun light is something that don't really become them. But perhaps black elves wouldn't be so strange.

    there ya go --> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_elves

    http://forgottenrealms.wikia.com/wiki/Drow <--




    Last edited by biglu; December 14th, 2009 at 02:17 PM.
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    The lack of diversity is pretty much up to who ever is producing the works right? The guys with the money..

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  4. #64
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    OmenSpirits is offline Commercial-Illustrator in-training, NOT an artist. Level 13 Gladiator: Retiarius
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    supply=demand.

    diversity is not a given.

    no demand, no supply.

    anyone screaming for a hd-stereo vhs player?

    no.

    then no one's going to create it in abundance.

    "Everything must serve the idea. The means used to convey the idea should be the simplest and clear. Just what is required. No extra images. To me this is a universal principle of art. Saying as much as possible with a minimum of means."
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    Quote Originally Posted by tobbA View Post
    Dwarves should obviously be white, since they spend almost all their time underground, where no sun reaches them.

    Orcs, goblins, trolls and so on are either green, black or grey. So making them dark skinned makes no sense.

    I won't argue with the dwarves part, as I could see your logic with that, however when it comes to orcs, goblins, and trolls your argument makes no sense at all. They can be black or grey, but making them dark skinned makes no sense? Skipping the obviously issue with black, what about grey? Grey and green come in a variety of shades and, just like humans, I see no reason for the mentioned races to not have that same diversity. And why must they only come in these three bases? The same thing goes with elves, and dark skinned elves isn't a foreign concept. I did like your idea of elves in a variety of forests, and could imagine ones to reflect all shades you'd find in humanity- like African, Native American, European, etc.

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  6. #66
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    Haven't read all the posts, so sorry if someone already mentioned this.

    Most western fantasy themes are based on medieval European history. As such, the imagery is best if it matches. If you are going to base high-elf armor on some sort of overdone German Gothic plate armor then it is usually best to match the races to the historical groups that would be wearing something like that.

    Every time that I see anything fantasy that includes a group that seems out of place I have trouble suspending disbelief. It feels like the creator has lost track of his/her genre and is instead trying to make a statement. Statements in art are great for art that is meant to make people think outside the box and jar their sense of reality. Its not great for art that is meant to help someone get lost in a story.

    However, this does not mean other ethnicities cannot be shown in fantasy work, however you would have to create an entire believable culture for them, not just drop in a few token black elves. Just as western history is studied for the white groups that you see, ancient east Asian cultures would have to be studied for Asians, and different African cultures for blacks. It is doable, I've seen fantasy images that have included interesting Middle Eastern cultural references, I'm sure it could be done with others as well.

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    Ok, honestly, what the hell is it with that authenticity argument? We are talking about general fantasy illustrations with monsters, dragons, magic, ridiculously huge or useless armoury or even weird technology - and you think a different skin colour is unrealistic?!? WTF?! This is probably one of the laziest excuses ever - and that from an art community that is usually encouraging its artists to think outside of their comfy little boxes. Guys, I am disappointed.

    Yes, there is a certain branch of fantasy that tries to be more or less authentic but for the most part it's just some made up shit. Even a classical fantasy setting with heroes of different ethnicities are not that impossible and awkward as you make it look like. One word: Earthsea. But I forgot, how would you know about it? Every possible incarnation of the books are blatantly whitewashed - including the covers, live action and even animated movies.

    And this is absolutely the issue with fantasy art: When in doubt default it to white! Hooray, everybody is happy! \o/

    NOT.

    It is generic, it is boring and as artists we should challenge ourselves to think outside of the box. Challenge the genre conventions and do something different. Dare to be different! Stop making cheap excuses!



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  9. #68
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    Yeah... But they're black, not black

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    Quote Originally Posted by R a n d i s View Post
    what is this about? sorry for asking but by the time i get to the middle part keep forgetting how it started.

    What diversity? i thought we were talking about chicks in fantasy painting.
    Chinese wicking? White chicks wearing samurai armors? Eskimos in knight armos fighting dragons or what?
    I don’t get what your point is.
    Fantasy is popular in every country, and be assured they all do have their own styles, characters and stories. There are no white chicks running around in thai fantasy stories.

    Artists abroad who does not imploy a 50% b&w distribution are obviousely influenced by racist rearing.

    Corrective actions have now imposed a standards that all fantacy worlds should be morally and politically correct and the whole Harry potter series will face some rammifications. The Brittish is a good place to start.

    I havn't noticed what good a point this actually is. I've switched to only whatching creative material that wears the one nation stamp.



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    seriously.

    have you ever seen a white dude in a Chinese fantasy movie or a novel?
    That goes for every country, every single country has their own entertainment industry with their own heroes, movies, novels, comics and artists.

    Some products happen to become so popular that they start translating and distributing them all over the world but you hardly can ask the authors, painter and movie maker to concentrate on a international market using some weird chart of how many Asians and how many white or black people a product must have to be politically correct.

    What is this whole assumption based on? On the forum posts here?
    Or is there some Or is there some global HIGH fantasy achieve organization that is discriminating fantasy characters other white chicks with huge boobs?
    Never heard of that.

    If this is about the images posted on the art forums, check the member stats and have a closer look where the majority of members is coming from.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pretty_Angel View Post
    One word: Earthsea. But I forgot, how would you know about it? Every possible incarnation of the books are blatantly whitewashed - including the covers, live action and even animated movies.
    Not the first edition ^^


    But yeah, I get the authenticity card if we're discussing a historical piece or something that is trying to stay very close to western mythology (like King Arthur), but I don't get how it would be weird to have minorities in Middle Earth or any other totally made-up world.

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    @Dierat: Yay! It's also the only example I know of that is at least trying to stick to the right skin colour. Sadly, some people won't probably even notice that because you know, Earthsea is high fantasy so he must be white! /facepalm

    @Randis: It's not about being overly PC. It's all about thinking outside the box.

    Seriously, if you are drawing the same copy & paste faces and put them into your SB here on CA sooner or later someone will come and say "Dude you're drawing the same shit over and over again - try something new!"
    SpookSquad is simply saying "Guys, you fantasy artists draw the same shit over and over again - try something new!"

    Is that so hard to understand? Would it kill you to think outside of your "fantasy = Europe = white characters!" box just for once? Not to be overly PC but to expand your artistic horizon? We are all creative people here. Nothing would hinder us to create anything we want outside of any genre conventions.

    What's even more puzzling: Why has this to be an issue at all in an artistic community like this? I'd actually rather expect you to say "Yeah, why not? Let's get it on!" Instead I see people pulling out all kind of weird excuses to their defence as if SpookSquad suggested a totally horrible thing that would kill art forever... or something like that. What's up with you guys? O_o

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  16. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pretty_Angel View Post
    Ok, honestly, what the hell is it with that authenticity argument? We are talking about general fantasy illustrations with monsters, dragons, magic, ridiculously huge or useless armoury or even weird technology - and you think a different skin colour is unrealistic?!? WTF?! This is probably one of the laziest excuses ever - and that from an art community that is usually encouraging its artists to think outside of their comfy little boxes. Guys, I am disappointed.

    Yes, there is a certain branch of fantasy that tries to be more or less authentic but for the most part it's just some made up shit. Even a classical fantasy setting with heroes of different ethnicities are not that impossible and awkward as you make it look like. One word: Earthsea. But I forgot, how would you know about it? Every possible incarnation of the books are blatantly whitewashed - including the covers, live action and even animated movies.

    And this is absolutely the issue with fantasy art: When in doubt default it to white! Hooray, everybody is happy! \o/

    NOT.

    It is generic, it is boring and as artists we should challenge ourselves to think outside of the box. Challenge the genre conventions and do something different. Dare to be different! Stop making cheap excuses!

    All art requires research (even drawing upon personal knowledge is a form of "research" by my definition, though nowhere near as good as buckling down and pulling out the history books); imagination is not a turd you can just pull out of your ass. You can't just say "oh, its fantasy, just think it up and put it in there." Fantasy requires suspension of disbelief, and the best way to bring that bout is to ground the fantasy with something believable.

    Think of it, so far the fantasy movies where susp. of disbelief is easiest is the Lord of the Rings trilogy. This is because Weta did research like no other, tons and tons of it, making sure that every culture Tolkien wrote about had a basis in actual ancient cultured to be found in Europe, that everything fit together, and every little detail matched the culture that they created. Yes, its a world with dragons and orcs and dark lords, but it is a believable one. If they had decided to suddenly drop a black guy into the middle of it the decision would have been purely based in politically correct tokenism and totally broken with all the awesome research that they did.

    A good example of a film without such research would be New Line Cinema's 2001 "Dungeons and Dragons." In fact, it has a black guy, and seeing as you don't like believability I highly recommend that you watch it.

    Last edited by Peter Coene; December 14th, 2009 at 12:03 PM.
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    I feel like a little african boy watching harry potter. Yo where my party at?!

    I don't know if I'd be able to lose myself in the movie that way. I'd most probably think stuff like, "crazy white mofo's" and start making youtube "harry is a fag" clips.

    Wait till they make an all black fantacy film, then you'll hear about how obvious this stuff is.

    Buy "One nation" art. Throw that crap out of yo video store!!!

    LOL!!

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    Ok, I apologise in advance for another multi-quote wall of replies... I'll try and keep it short...

    Quote Originally Posted by MrSmith View Post
    ...
    on a different note, i do kinda hate that authenticity is such a huge concern in today's world. Shakespeare wrote incredible works about people and places he had little if any experience with. in today's world that would be difficult, as modern society demands authenticity over good story. maybe its better this way, in the interests of not offending anyone, or maybe not....
    Seriously, with Google and Wikipedia, it's easy to pick up enough knowledge to pull off an image that makes sense. We are not in 1200 where artists drew animals on 2nd hand recollection of someone who had a glimpse of that animal and it ended up looking nothing like the animal. It's often as easy as typing a few words in Google image. If we can make authentic looking dragons, we surely can pull off an authentic looking person of a different ethnic background.

    Quote Originally Posted by Culo View Post
    Is it honestly that big of a deal? i mean, within the area of "art" there is illustration, and of the hundreds of niches of illustration, one of the niches happens to be somewhat lacking in ethic diversity of it's scantily clad women. What about men too? every elf, hobbit, and dwarf is some half breed white person of some sort too.

    I'm sure if the world lives to see the year 25,000 nobody is going to die over this topic, people arent going to be lynched, children will be safe, nobody is going to starve, or be ashamed.... Does it really matter in the grand scheme of things? no...
    Well, I would say that cultural prevalence is a bit of a symptom rather than a cause, but it can be used as a tool too. The fact that some ethnic backgrounds are more proheminently displayed in the media means a skew in content, the skew in content means that some issues are not covered, the fact that some issues are not convered mean that stuff happens and the mdeia never transmits this information to us, the fact that we don't get the info means we don't take action and people die from lack of action everyday. It explains why genocides in Africa get covered 5 minutes on the news in North America when they happen but every single country in the world heard of the 9/11 thing to no end for months.

    Quote Originally Posted by tobbA View Post
    Dwarves should obviously be white, since they spend almost all their time underground, where no sun reaches them.

    Orcs, goblins, trolls and so on are either green, black or grey. So making them dark skinned makes no sense.

    Elves... I always thought of them as pale. As if sun light is something that don't really become them. But perhaps black elves wouldn't be so strange. There are forest elves... How about rain forest elves? They could be living as one with the forest, having cute little monkeys as companions or hunting together with big cats.

    Or desert elves, riding their camels, or something similar, as lone and wise wanderers of the sun burned sand dynes.

    Just trying to come up with a few ideas
    If everyone was like you, there wouldn't be work for concept artists, we'd all use the same designs and be done with it. I think you should seek out employment in accounting were doing the same thing all the time is actually a quality.

    Quote Originally Posted by R a n d i s View Post
    seriously.

    have you ever seen a white dude in a Chinese fantasy movie or a novel?
    That goes for every country, every single country has their own entertainment industry with their own heroes, movies, novels, comics and artists.....
    China is special because they have (or used to) limited access to foreign material. Actually, if you watch anime or read manga, a lot of the characters look caucasian, if you look at posters of japanese bands, many dye their hair in colors that causcasian people have. I even found some make up magazines about how to make black people look lighter and change their traits to look more caucasian. That is what happens when a culture or a group is consistenly raised about the others. No one said it was a conspiracy, the only ones who talk about conspiracies are the ones ridiculing the issue. I personally think the issue is ignorance and laziness.

    I have to add that I love the illustration for this story:
    The Horrid Glory of Its Wings

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  20. #76
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Coene View Post
    Think of it, so far the fantasy movies where susp. of disbelief is easiest is the Lord of the Rings trilogy. This is because Weta did research like no other, tons and tons of it, making sure that every culture Tolkien wrote about had a basis in actual ancient cultured to be found in Europe, that everything fit together, and every little detail matched the culture that they created. Yes, its a world with dragons and orcs and dark lords, but it is a believable one.
    Um, are you serious? You're telling me that all cultures in fantasy novels have to be based on actual civilizations in order to be believable? I think what's important is that the elements of the imagined civilization fit together in a way that is believable, not that they are exact replicas of existing culures.

    For example: hobbits. Are you saying that when you read the books, you thought "Holy shit this is totally unbelievable! Little people, wtf those don't exist in Europe!" Probably not, right? I mean, what does it really matter if they're really short as long as it fits with their personalities? They're little people who have small lives based around things like beer and tea time. Tolkien was talking about how people who do not appear to be very impressive on the outside can still make large changes in the world. Their characteristics fit with their purpose in the story.

    If Tolkien had wanted to make some of the people in the books dark-skinned, it would not have been weird (assuming that he treated it with care). Can you imagine the riders of Gondor as tall, dark, looming black men? I can. I think you could make all the caucasians in Middle Earth black or brown of slightly tanned and it wouldn't have changed the story. Tolkien chose not to, obviously, but the point where is that it was his decision as the author.

    If I decide to write a fantasy novel, I can make people darker or lighter or taller or shorter or fatter or fitter, whatever I want, as long as it fits the purpose of the characters. If the riders of Gondor had been hobbits and the denizens of Hobbiton had been tall muscular dudes, that would violating the suspension of disbelief. But people other than caucasians being represented is not. It's all about how you do it. If you drop a single black guy into the story, then of course that's going to be weird. Not only weird but it suddenly makes how white the rest of the cast is really obvious.

    When you start talking about the movies, then you're talking about the adaptation of existing concepts into a different medium. If the developers of the movies had started color-coating characters just to be PC, that would have been weird and kind of offensive, just as when someone makes a movie full of white people based on a book full of dark-skinned people.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Qitsune View Post
    If everyone was like you, there wouldn't be work for concept artists, we'd all use the same designs and be done with it. I think you should seek out employment in accounting were doing the same thing all the time is actually a quality.
    I honestly have no idea what you're refering to now... ?

    And since when is giving someone a different skin color an innovation? Sounds more like the 57th season of some american sit com, and they're pondering what they heck they'll do to make it more interesting, and then someone brings up the brilliant idea. "Hey! How about we bring in a black dude, that'll shake things up for sure."

    Also. Doesn't the industry use all the same designs over and over again allready? Because all I see is big guns/swords and armor, "gritty" looking creatures and vehicles.

    I'm all for innovation. But when I think about making something different and exciting the first thing that comes to mind is not to change the color of the characters skin.

    Quote Originally Posted by SirCalypso View Post
    I won't argue with the dwarves part, as I could see your logic with that, however when it comes to orcs, goblins, and trolls your argument makes no sense at all. They can be black or grey, but making them dark skinned makes no sense? Skipping the obviously issue with black, what about grey? Grey and green come in a variety of shades and, just like humans, I see no reason for the mentioned races to not have that same diversity. And why must they only come in these three bases? The same thing goes with elves, and dark skinned elves isn't a foreign concept. I did like your idea of elves in a variety of forests, and could imagine ones to reflect all shades you'd find in humanity- like African, Native American, European, etc.
    All I meant was that they're black/green/grey allready. No sense in trying to make them blacker...

    Last edited by tobbA; December 14th, 2009 at 01:33 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Coene View Post
    All art requires research (even drawing upon personal knowledge is a form of "research" by my definition, though nowhere near as good as buckling down and pulling out the history books); imagination is not a turd you can just pull out of your ass. You can't just say "oh, its fantasy, just think it up and put it in there." Fantasy requires suspension of disbelief, and the best way to bring that bout is to ground the [...]
    Honestly, since when is "laziness" a good excuse here on CONCEPTART? If people are too lazy to do their research they deserved to be called out on that not to give them a comforting pat on the back like "Aww man, it's really hard to pick up a book and read it. I can totally understand you!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by dierat View Post
    Um, are you serious? You're telling me that all cultures in fantasy novels have to be based on actual civilizations in order to be believable? I think what's important is that the elements of the imagined civilization fit together in a way that is believable, not that they are exact replicas of existing culures.

    For example: hobbits. Are you saying that when you read the books, you thought "Holy shit this is totally unbelievable! Little people, wtf those don't exist in Europe!" Probably not, right? I mean, what does it really matter if they're really short as long as it fits with their personalities? They're little people who have small lives based around things like beer and tea time. Tolkien was talking about how people who do not appear to be very impressive on the outside can still make large changes in the world. Their characteristics fit with their purpose in the story.
    You are taking what I said out of context. What I was referring to is that if you look at the cultural details you will find that, for example, the architectural details, armor, weapons, everything carried by anyone with the exception of perhaps the Orcs is based in recognizable historical artifacts and styles. The Dwarfs are basically short vikings, the Shire is basically like Pastoral England with the Hobbits being miniature country bumpkins with hairy feet. The Rohirn halls and Armor are examples of Anglo-Saxon ornamentation which heavily rely on equine motifs as they are known for their horsemanship.

    Yes, dwarfs and elves are fantasy elements. Because of this they require elements of reality to make them believable, which is why they were handled as they were.

    And the idea of "impressive on the outside, etc, etc" was only a small part of what Tolkien was doing. Tolkien was a professor who specialized in dead languages in Europe and the culture's surrounding them. He was one of the few authorities on Anglo-Saxon language at the time. His books were an attempt to capture the beauty that he found in the old epic legends that could be found in the texts that he studied.

    Also keep in mind that while there were no elves or any of those other things in Europe, there were plenty of stories about them, and to read the old texts and legends is is easy to imagine that there were. However, its not quite so easy to imagine them as being of African descent.

    If Tolkien had wanted to make some of the people in the books dark-skinned, it would not have been weird
    Yes it would have. It would have gone entirely against what he had spent a lifetime studying, and would not have matched any of the cultures that he admired.

    (assuming that he treated it with care). Can you imagine the riders of Gondor as tall, dark, looming black men? I can. I think you could make all the caucasians in Middle Earth black or brown of slightly tanned and it wouldn't have changed the story. Tolkien chose not to, obviously, but the point where is that it was his decision as the author.
    If you are going to refer to different cultures that he created get them right. The well known horsemen were from Rohan, not Gondor. "Assuming that he treated it with care" would require assuming that he researched the cultures, which would require changing the story. African legends are very different than the European legends that Tolkien was inspired by.

    If I decide to write a fantasy novel, I can make people darker or lighter or taller or shorter or fatter or fitter, whatever I want, as long as it fits the purpose of the characters. If the riders of Gondor had been hobbits and the denizens of Hobbiton had been tall muscular dudes, that would violating the suspension of disbelief. But people other than caucasians being represented is not.
    That is only true so long as their costumes, their culture, their fighting styles, their weapons, etc all match with your decision to do so. Every decision in how something is depicted, including decisions in skin tone, requires quite a bit of thought and understanding.

    It's all about how you do it. If you drop a single black guy into the story, then of course that's going to be weird. Not only weird but it suddenly makes how white the rest of the cast is really obvious.
    And making an entire black race in the story requires adjusting the entire world in which they live. Dropping the one black guy in doesn't make sense, and dropping the race in only makes sense so long as changes are made. Instead of an alternative version of Europe you suddenly have an alternative version of something else.

    When you start talking about the movies, then you're talking about the adaptation of existing concepts into a different medium. If the developers of the movies had started color-coating characters just to be PC, that would have been weird and kind of offensive, just as when someone makes a movie full of white people based on a book full of dark-skinned people.
    I am talking about the genre. Paintings are not the only thing that can be called "art." I assume that by talking about the fantasy genre one is referring to books, comics, paintings, games, movies, and any other media that has been or can be used for the purpose of the fantasy genre.

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    Peter - I agree with some of your points and disagree with others. In general I feel like it is unnecessary for a world that is inspired by or based on western mythology to have western-looking people. Obviously Tolkien had a specific vision for his work and made decisions to create that vision. It was his decision to make all the characters white, and I believe that if he chosen to make them other than white, it would have worked. I would expect that if he had made that decision, he would have altered the particular details of art and architecture in this world to make it a more ambiguous reference European history, and I think that would have been fine. But my main point is that, in a fantasy world, it is the author's decision to make the characters white or black or whatever, and if it is treated with care, it will not affect the audience's ability to believe it. The closer you get to following a specific story (in history or mythology), the harder it will be to alter things like race and gender and still make it believable (like a King Arthur story where there are female knights or black royalty), but if you are creating a world that is loosely inspired by mythology or existing fantasy traditions, you can make the world your own and still make it believable. It was Tolkien's choice to follow his European inspiration very closely, and I am not trying to say that he should have done it differently - just that if he had wanted to do it differently, he could have and still made it work.

    In reference to elves of African descent being weird to you, I think you're basing your imagination of elves and fantasy creatures too much on tradition. I know the drow have already been brought up in this thread, but I think they're a good example of this. Salvatore made a fantasy universe in which there are dark elves, and because the world was well imagined and thought-out, it feels perfectly believable. They are not African elves, but neither are they the traditional white elves with long blonde hair etc etc. I don't have any examples on hand, but I have also seen drawings of elves that are jungle-dwellers and coppery-skinned. I don't find that weird. Maybe at that point it just comes down to personal opinion and taste.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pretty_Angel View Post
    Honestly, since when is "laziness" a good excuse here on CONCEPTART? If people are too lazy to do their research they deserved to be called out on that not to give them a comforting pat on the back like "Aww man, it's really hard to pick up a book and read it. I can totally understand you!"
    Since when was researching European history lazy?

    It is European history that captures the imagination of most western fantasy writers and therefore that is what they use as an outlet for their imagination. This is not laziness, it is where their passion leads them.

    Is it racist? I don't think so. It's not that by drawing white people they are trying to exclude others or mistreat them, but just that it does not mesh with the type of fantasy that the majority of artists are going for.

    And I'm not saying that there are no artists to display non white characters, for example, the characters in this piece by James Gurney appear to be Arab:

    And this one includes what appears to be blacks, Asians, and whites


    He was just one artist who comes to mind. I'm sure there are others that do similar things as well. As for those that don't, I don't think they are being racist, but just that they are drawing what they want to draw.

    I gueass the point I'm getting at here is that I don't feel there is some urgent need to make fantasy work contain black people. If they fit in the piece then they belong in it, if they don't then they don't.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dierat View Post
    Peter - I agree with some of your points and disagree with others. In general I feel like it is unnecessary for a world that is inspired by or based on western mythology to have western-looking people. Obviously Tolkien had a specific vision for his work and made decisions to create that vision. It was his decision to make all the characters white, and I believe that if he chosen to make them other than white, it would have worked. I would expect that if he had made that decision, he would have altered the particular details of art and architecture in this world to make it a more ambiguous reference European history, and I think that would have been fine. But my main point is that, in a fantasy world, it is the author's decision to make the characters white or black or whatever, and if it is treated with care, it will not affect the audience's ability to believe it. The closer you get to following a specific story (in history or mythology), the harder it will be to alter things like race and gender and still make it believable (like a King Arthur story where there are female knights or black royalty), but if you are creating a world that is loosely inspired by mythology or existing fantasy traditions, you can make the world your own and still make it believable. It was Tolkien's choice to follow his European inspiration very closely, and I am not trying to say that he should have done it differently - just that if he had wanted to do it differently, he could have and still made it work.

    In reference to elves of African descent being weird to you, I think you're basing your imagination of elves and fantasy creatures too much on tradition. I know the drow have already been brought up in this thread, but I think they're a good example of this. Salvatore made a fantasy universe in which there are dark elves, and because the world was well imagined and thought-out, it feels perfectly believable. They are not African elves, but neither are they the traditional white elves with long blonde hair etc etc. I don't have any examples on hand, but I have also seen drawings of elves that are jungle-dwellers and coppery-skinned. I don't find that weird. Maybe at that point it just comes down to personal opinion and taste.
    I think that when it comes to elves the problem is that we are using the term "elf" which causes us to lock in to European mythology. However, even in Western mythology there are so many terms for them that its not even funny. I am certain that similar beings probably show up in African mythology as well, and using African terminology for them would probably be less jarring to those who are already steeped in fantasy culture.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pretty_Angel View Post
    Is that so hard to understand? Would it kill you to think outside of your "fantasy = Europe = white characters!" box just for once? Not to be overly PC but to expand your artistic horizon? We are all creative people here. Nothing would hinder us to create anything we want outside of any genre conventions.
    I think people are trying to explain here that it looks the way it looks beacause of this dominant "Tolkien" type of fantasy in popular culture. It's not like making anything outside that box doesn't make sense or is impossible. You can make some fantasy setting which could focus on area where cultures clash and it's realistic at the same time (even based on Moors and Spain/Portugal in medieval times). You got Robert E Howard, Ursula Le Guin and many other books which explore these things. These writers however didn't put different races just for the sake of being original. It was just important how it all works and what is the general atmosphere.

    When making illustration you don't have to think too much about these things. You can make eskimo girl wearing samurai armour and riding a camel through dense rainforest. Is that very out-of-the-box ? I don't know. Sounds like trying too hard to be original.

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    And I guess I should mention the Wheel of Time series. I'm not sure if there are actually black people in it, but it's got a lot of varied cultures and ethnics... Altho the world where the story takes place is relatively small. I can imagine it's the size of Europe, I never checked exactly, so a huge ethnical diversity would make little sense...

    Something that would be weird is a book taking place in a tropical climate full of blondes and red heads... or a northern climate where everyone is dark skinned and black haired. But I don't think I've ever seen anything like that.

    And, I guess, chiming in with Peter. Middle Earth is based largely on Norse mythology. Therefore the ethnics of the people there are as such. If I were to base a fantasy novel on some part of african mythology, I'd obviously make the characters black... But then I'd probably refrain from putting elves in it. I'd make them something else from african mythology. Just as The Twelve Kingdoms novels take place in a world based on chinese mythology. There are no elves in there, but unicorns, demons and shape shifters...

    The simple explanation that things are as they are, is that in sci-fi and modern day stories, cultures mix in a totally different way than they do in a medieval setting... Also skin color seem to work different for different races. Human skin changes in order to protect against/recieve more sun light. While some, elves, orcs, trolls, lizards, cats change color to blend in with their enviroment/for some other unknown reason.

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    the story should drive the racial makeup characters. if it makes no sense to add races arbitrarily in a particular story, and you are doing a disservice by adding them.

    and going out of your way to change a story to features some sort of racial diversity is, in most cases, a terrible way to go about it.

    but on the other hand, i'm pretty much over the whole LOTR model of fantasy. time to try something new. but that doesnt necessarily mean "drawing more asians" or something.

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    Peter Coene & Farvus

    You are both missing my point by a few yards. No one is saying you should not do research. No one is saying you should just randomly put ethnic characters from all over the world into a medieval England. Of course you do need to put some effort and thought into your creation.

    The point that I was merely trying to make is that with all the possibilities that the Fantasy genre offers people are for the most part still sticking to the same kind of stuff not daring to step out of line for whatever reason. It's sad to see that the Fantasy genre with all its possibilities isn't explored as much as is could be. You have few exceptions like Ursula K. LeGuin - but why leave it at that. Why don't we have more people like her stepping out of line? Why don't we have more people exploring things outside of the ordinary generic European fantasy setting?

    Look, as a painter you do not even have to think of a whole universe. You do not even have to study decades like Tolkien to put together a believable fantasy concept illustration. You just need to be able to use your resources/knowledge right. You have a lot of creative freedom - why not use it?
    Paint people of different ethnicities! Don't feel comfortable with mixed up cultures? Fine, do some research and find elements that fit! What is the problem?


    And btw. "Avatar the Last Airbender" had Inuit fighting with magic martial arts and a boomerang, travelling across an Asian fantasy world on a 6-legged flying bison with a huge arrow on its head. And it worked!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pretty_Angel View Post
    Peter Coene & Farvus

    You are both missing my point by a few yards. No one is saying you should not do research. No one is saying you should just randomly put ethnic characters from all over the world into a medieval England. Of course you do need to put some effort and thought into your creation.

    The point that I was merely trying to make is that with all the possibilities that the Fantasy genre offers people are for the most part still sticking to the same kind of stuff not daring to step out of line for whatever reason. It's sad to see that the Fantasy genre with all its possibilities isn't explored as much as is could be. You have few exceptions like Ursula K. LeGuin - but why leave it at that. Why don't we have more people like her stepping out of line? Why don't we have more people exploring things outside of the ordinary generic European fantasy setting?

    Look, as a painter you do not even have to think of a whole universe. You do not even have to study decades like Tolkien to put together a believable fantasy concept illustration. You just need to be able to use your resources/knowledge right. You have a lot of creative freedom - why not use it?
    Paint people of different ethnicities! Don't feel comfortable with mixed up cultures? Fine, do some research and find elements that fit! What is the problem?


    And btw. "Avatar the Last Airbender" had Inuit fighting with magic martial arts and a boomerang, travelling across an Asian fantasy world on a 6-legged flying bison with a huge arrow on its head. And it worked!
    you're saying "whay can't fantasy artists be more creative" which i agree with, but i dont see what any of this has to do with race (though this thread is going off in a million different directions it seems). i would definitely like to see more creativity.

    the only problem is the politically correct elements out there waiting to pounce on the slightest inconsistancy as racist. and the old "write what you know" argument, which is still true in most cases.

    (btw i lump painting and writing in together since i have to have some sort of narrative story in mind when painting)

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    dragons, and all that shit are legends from medieval times. Most fantasy is based around those legends, thats why having dragons and shit makes sense, but not having unjustified ethnic diversity. Just like there isnt black people in princess mononoke, it wouldnt be consistent.

    You are doing medieval fantasy because it's known to people, that's the point of it, to have some common ground so the world isnt so dense to the viewer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MrSmith View Post
    you're saying "whay can't fantasy artists be more creative" which i agree with, but i dont see what any of this has to do with race (though this thread is going off in a million different directions it seems). i would definitely like to see more creativity.

    the only problem is the politically correct elements out there waiting to pounce on the slightest inconsistancy as racist. and the old "write what you know" argument, which is still true in most cases.

    (btw i lump painting and writing in together since i have to have some sort of narrative story in mind when painting)
    I also welcome all kind of innovations in Fantasy. But ethnicity shouldn't be excluded from this. A lot of people here arguing like it wouldn't make sense for Fantasy to include people of colour. Fantasy doesn't automatically mean white European setting.

    And just to say it once more: It has nothing to do with being PC. Forcing people to be PC doesn't change shit in the world. Even more so for the entertainment industry "being PC" just means including all kind of stupid stereotypes into your stories which are even more frustrating. Does it help to give minorities better reputation when you just stuff them in the same old clichéd parts like "the bad guy", "the stupid sidekick", "the black guy who dies first"... ? I don't think so.

    As an artist I am more interested in really honest interest and diversity in depicting all kind of different people. We all look different and it makes the world more colourful and interesting. It would be pretty boring if we'd all be the same, wouldn't it? So why not include a bit more of this diversity into Fantasy?
    As you see in this thread, when you have the premise to create a fantasy character that is not based on the generic white European prototype you really need to start your brain engine. I see a lot of people are already failing at that with all that "OMG, a black fantasy character! How can that be!? Blasphemy!" undertones. lol
    But honestly these are the kinds of things that keep you on your feet as an artist. I'd be actually worried if I'd find the idea of all kinds of ethnicities stuffed into one Fantasy setting impossible or not worthy to even think about such a thing.


    sodAp You can find dragons in cultures around the world - not just in Europe.

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    sodAp - What's missing in your post is the fact that medieval is just period of time in world's history (somewhere between 5th and 16th century). It existed on every other continent on earth .
    Every culture has it's own legends and fantastical creatures. You can make epic scale fantasy story based on African legends. Maybe there won't be elves or dwarfs but there are for sure some other creatures that can be transformed into race. Tolkien doesn't have monopoly for fantasy genre.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pretty_Angel
    The point that I was merely trying to make is that with all the possibilities that the Fantasy genre offers people are for the most part still sticking to the same kind of stuff not daring to step out of line for whatever reason. It's sad to see that the Fantasy genre with all its possibilities isn't explored as much as is could be. You have few exceptions like Ursula K. LeGuin - but why leave it at that. Why don't we have more people like her stepping out of line? Why don't we have more people exploring things outside of the ordinary generic European fantasy setting?
    Of course there are people exploring non generic fantasy. You won't expect revolution in that though. Non original crap stuff will always be 90% of everything according to Sturgeon's Law .

    I personally got bored of any type of fantasy stories and focused more on sci-fi which doesn't seem to stuck in one type of setting. When it comes to different ethnicities - I already played with that when trying out different face features and skin tones. For example I painted one face and transformed it's proportions to get more asian, black, caucasian feel. I has never been my life mission to incject ethnical diversity though. Maybe I'll try to explore that more deeply later. For now it's just not my main interest.

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