Bridge to the Blooming State

As she followed the strange man, Savali kept a cloaked hand near her sword, and a firm grip on Battery’s reins. The man, who called himself Flint, had already shown them warmth and hospitality that she didn’t expect from the Broken State. All the written word she could find on this place warned of a desolate, hellish labyrinth of concrete and rust, home to the last dregs of a failed world who would pick you clean for a thumb’s length of copper and a pair of shoes. Instead, it was a lush garden that ran to the horizon and returned the scent of innumerable flowers, clearly cultivated by a humble people who had lived in harmony with the land for centuries. Strange gods wearing boastful coats of ivy stared out at her from their ancient ornaments as she crossed the bridge into their heartland with utmost caution. Diplomatic as her mission was, she couldn’t help but break her composure to gawk at the city’s immense quilt of green, the likes of which she’d never seen.

“Hey!” called Flint from several meters ahead. “You wanna keep up, greenhorn?” Savali must have slowed more than she realized. She quickened as the man chuckled and carried on. “As I was saying, it’s all about the acidity of the soil! See, this lovely blue shade here…”

The character designs and story came about as a result of an exercise with friends called “gimme a name.” After plunging headfirst into a background concept that I’d had on the back-burner for a while, I reached a point where I was so stumped on how to take the piece forward subject-wise, that it needed just a little external push. I popped into Discord and put out a vague query for names; fantastical, modern-day, silly, or otherwise. Two chimed in with “Savali Reyne” and “Flint Yamada.” The rest is history. This is usually my favorite way to prompt character design exercises in the sketchbook, but I’d never used it before in a full piece. It felt kind of freeing to acknowledge this sense of community as part of my “real” creative process.