Ronou’s Redesign

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Ronou Through the Years

Hello! I’m continuing the developmental doings with a post about the major makeover of our prime protagonist!

From Boring to Brave

Ronou New

…Or at least I’d like to think so!

Ronou's old design, as drawn by Tom Bancroft!

Apart from a little elemental influence, not a whole lot of thought was put into the majority of the main characters’ designs when I first drew them in 2003. The first doodles were a product of some mix of stirring ideas and classroom boredom. (And ultimately, the most productive thing that has come of my old love of role playing games.)

That said, apart from the fleshing-out of my drawing abilities and some changing details, their basic designs have not changed very much in ~10 years — except Ronou’s.

Ronou faces

A True Protagonist

As the poster child of this comic (along with Mune, but a bit more weight is put on Ronou), Ronou has lots of responsibility and lots of things to represent and embody. The other characters haven’t changed very much in appearance since their first show in-comic (except clothes-wise — I can’t wait for that post! — but not so much their faces) because their looks still basically represent what they are. Mune, a deceptively gentle-looking and intelligent Water Mage. SabĂ©r, reticent yet powerful and multi-skilled, like Earth. Sarn, unpredictable as Fire and also witting (and capable of arson).

Ronou and Mune Designs

Yet Ronou, the determined and fun-loving wonder of Wind — Ronou’s look fit the bill, yet it was…boring. When you see her old incarnation, your mind isn’t prompted to say, “Who is he? What’s his story?” Except for the fountain hair. That was something, I guess.

I can’t add embellishment to a character just to make up for their essential boringness, though. It has to be genuine! Perhaps an overhaul was in order. And so it occurred!

My true hope is that Ronou relates to people. She tends to go with her gut — though her impulsiveness doesn’t mean she won’t learn from her mistakes. Going with the flow is a Wind sort of thing, and it’s with that spirit that she leads the story!

What Does a Change in Appearance Mean?

For the most part, it’s just that. I didn’t have to alter the script beyond the pronouns for this purpose — except for a couple situations made slightly more interesting. It made me realize how flexible this character is — though I started thinking that a female role would have always been more believable.

Ronou's new design, as drawn by Ryan Estrada!

There are practical reasons behind these changes as well. Ronou’s hometown, Clayden (which gets its own post a little ways down the road) is a heterogeneous village composed of different people from different places over time, only having, in recent years, built up generations of families. For Ronou and Mune to have looked so similar doesn’t make much sense. I liked Mune’s design as it was (and it seemed to be a favorite among readers back in the day — I’m glad!), so I decided to mix it up with Ronou’s.

Ronou's Hair

As for the genderswap, I find that most of the characters I’ve ever written are male — even from the stories I made as a small kid. That appears to be my preference, too: I tend to gravitate toward and root for the male characters in things, if only because they are the likable main character with all the focus. (Think about it: creators tend to make central characters that relate to them, both visually and in, well, character. Why didn’t I?) Without politicizing it too much (because I’m driven by my inner voice more than anything), there are not enough cool female protagonists in the media that I consume — and definitely not in my own work. So, during this opportune moment of overhaul, I created one. And she’s in it for the long haul.

Got any questions? Don’t hesitate to send ‘em my way!

Coming Next:

  • Sibling Rivalry
  • Signs of Civilization
  • Nice Getup, Pal!
  • Areas to Explore
  • Ronou’s Hometown, Clayden
  • Dark Hybrids and the Ones Who Control Them
  • And more!