I decided to take some time to do a portfolio piece, since I have a bit of a lull in work right now, and painting a Magic: the Gathering character seemed like the best thing I could possibly do, because boy oh boy do I ever want to do some Magic art. (Chandra Nalaar is a character in the Magic: the Gathering card game, owned by Wizards of the Coast and their parent company Hasbro)
So anyway, I chose Chandra Nalaar. Why? well...
Chandra Nalaar was one of the first five Planeswalkers in the game, and coincidentally, Lorowyn, the set they first appeared in, was when I started playing the game. This basically ruled out painting any walkers beyond those five.
But much more importantly, I feel Chandra has been more and more misrepresented over the years. The original card art for Chandra roxiecards.com/wp-content/uplo…
, by Aleksi Briclot, depicted a woman who was serious, angry, possibly paranoid in her expression, and powerful. Her pose is wide and powerful, showing she's ready for anything that might be thrown her way. The scenery shows she chooses to wander into dangerous areas. Her armor is thick and heavy seeming, and is roughed up, indicating she uses it regularly.
In newer versions of Chandra she's presented in a more sexualized fashion. I'd like to specifically talk about the M14 promo art media.wizards.com/images/magic…
, by Brad Rigney, as I feel this is the furthest from the original art in terms of its representationn of chandra. In this image, she is now a smiling seductress. Her once roughed up full chest armor is now literally a bra. The remainder of the armor has been made much more dainty and highly polished as well, indicating she cares more about how attractive she looks than the function of what she's wearing. Her stance is much more feminine than earlier art, showing off her figure, instead of presenting a powerful structure. And her body has actually been augmented to the point of being anatomically incorrect. She's about nine and a half heads tall, instead of a more correct seven and a half to eight. But despite her added length, her breasts are a half a head-length too high, and the crotch lands exactly where it should in relation to the top of the head. This means there's a head and a half, at least, added to the legs alone. So, this version of Chandra has been objectified from its clothing design, to its pose, to its expression, to its very structure.
I don't want to make this a critique of Rigney's work though. Frankly I don't think my level of polish is even near the same realm as his. But more to the point, this is just one example of a sea of art that shows a similar version of this character. So, the question is which version is correct, given her past in the story? Who is Chandra? a smiling seductress, or an angry and paranoid fighter?
According to the wiki on Chandra, she actually caused mass destruction with Fire Magic (strictly banned in her culture) in protest of her arranged marriage. This means any depiction of her trying to entice any random viewer is just incorrect. The destruction she caused was so extreme that it was believed by the plane's rulers that her entire village was composed of dangerous fire-mage rebels. Soldiers were sent to dispatch the people in the village. They were locked in huts, and the huts were set on fire. Chandra fought against the soldiers up until the entire village, including her family, was dead. She planeswalked for the first time just before she was about to be put to death.
After reading this, I felt depicting Chandra as a person that wandered planes in search of herself would be somewhat appropriate. She has no physical home anymore and feels responsible for the loss of the one she once had. I imagined she would seek out hellish environments, because she might feel she belongs in such a place. She's lost, angry, and sad.