Monarchs of Duality

Yet another entry from's regular Character of the Week contests. Except, this time we had to design a pair of characters, each one a monarch representing opposites.

Sometimes open endedness is a good thing and sometimes it just... ends up being overwhelming. I began by breaking it down into a list of things I thought might work well as personified opposites.

Color | Grayscale
Sun | Moon
Good | Evil
Fire | Water
Hatred | Love
Tiny | Mega
Magic | Machine
Ancient | Future
Natural | Synthetic
Occident | Orient
Surreal | Real
Sound | Silence
Life | Death
Masculine | Feminine
Curve | Angle
Heat | Cold
Logic | Emotion
Excess | Minimalism
Leisure | Toil
Chaos | Order
Decay | Freshness
Safety | Recklessness
Thought | Action
Pixel | Atom
Up | Down
Empty | Full
Violence | Peace
High | Low
Speed | Slow
Complex | Simple
Soft | Hard
Sleep | Waking
Still | Motion
Pristine | Messy
Ordinary | Strange
Sweet | Savory
Plus | Minus

Not all of those are exactly opposites, but I was just writing down anything I thought I could use. As it turns out I thought the first idea would be the most fun to pursue so I started thinking of ways to turn color/grayscale into characters.

One of the first things was to try to figure out what kind of personality they would have and how this would show through their poses.

I was afraid having the grayscale queen appear sullen and having the color king look bright and happy might be too predicatble, so I figured why not reverse those and see what happens. Around this time I was also working on costume ideas on paper, which I began to explore after I was pretty happy with the poses.

For the queen I was thinking of going in the mime direction at first, but I didn't really like how it turned out so that was scrapped pretty early. I went through a bunch of different ideas for a black and white aesthetic within her clothing patterns (dice, dominoes, old cartoons...) but none of them really seemed to mesh on paper. I definitely wanted to keep the idea of a fan representing the value scales though.

Working on the king was difficult for its own reasons. Of course I wanted to go crazy with colors, but at the same time I didn't want the costume to look like a rainbow vomited so I tried to keep at least some sense of control. Some parts aren't regal enough and the balance of colors isn't quite right yet. A lot of error solving and getting ideas as I went along led to the final result.

I went with a cloudy aesthetic for the queen since I thought it would compliment the king nicely, and it looks a bit more regal than her former appearance. I made a few changes to him as well in terms of emphasizing a wider range of colors and adding some touches of reference to light, prisms, etc. Overall a fun project, and of course good practice. I'm going to try to keep doing these regularly, they've been a good way for me to get back into drawing more personally influenced work alongside client obligations.