This post is about my current style of doodling, which has been heavily influenced by Chinese characters. The story begins in 2004 when I first started to study the Chinese language. I was attracted to Chinese primarily because of its written characters. They are visually appealing to me because they are glyphs. Each character has an intrinsic meaning unlike the letters of the English alphabet that need to be combined to form words. You can literally see the meaning of some characters. Some examples are: 木，火，山，手 (wood, fire, mountain, and hand, respectively). Other characters have patterns which suggest their meaning. For instance, three dots on the left side of a word suggests a meaning related to water or fluidity. Some examples are: 酒，海，渴，流 (alcohol, sea, thirsty, and flow, respectively). The symmetry and shapes of Chinese characters really speak to me. The more complicated the character, the more I like it. Perhaps for this reason, I chose the Chinese name 钱达友.
Let me stop here to disclaim that I do not think I write beautiful Chinese characters. In fact, most Chinese probably would look at my characters and recognize right away that they were written by a foreigner and/or a small child. However after writing thousands or tens of thousands of characters I began to get a sense of the atomic parts of each character. As I acquired this knowledge, my doodling began to evolve and incorporate the strokes used in writing Chinese.
Let me stop again to disclaim that I almost used the word “draw” just now, when what I really mean is “write”. This is a common mistake that Chinese students will say. Indeed I do feel like I am drawing when I write Chinese. Maybe that is what I find so enjoyable about it. I’m not writing an essay, I’m drawing pictures!
So anyway, my doodles changed. I guess there is not much more to say about that, for now. Throughout this post, you can see some examples. The rest of this post will be on some back story of each doodle and my vision for them in the future.
The Fincon Master, also known as the Hexacant, is an evil magician who lived long ago. His powers were such that he could control the Fincons, small flying menaces that individually were not dangerous, but in swarms could devour entire armies. For a time, the Hexacant was revered by his people and his wrongdoings went unnoticed. His injustices were eventually outed by a young man who would later become the Chief. The Hexacant fled into the caves where few would follow. He journeyed deep into the earth pursuing arcane knowledge. In the lair of the Borchax, he met his doom. Ages later, a group of adventurers would undertake a perilous mission to recover his body and restore him to life. The mission would cost all of them their lives. But that is another story.
Deep in the jungles of the Shadow Island, there was a hut that few had ever found, and fewer yet had ever approached. It sat on a raised wooden platform and was ringed by the heads of seafarers who were unfortunate enough to be marooned on that island. The denizen of the hut was the steward of the island’s one lake, a portal to the land of the dead. Everyday the lake’s waters restored it’s guardian’s to youth. This blessing came also with a curse which caused the guardian to live in constant fear and suspicion. For their reign lasted only as long as they were not slain by the next steward, in the same manner by which they had inherited the position.
The Elementalists are worshipers of fire in all its forms, the highest of which are the stars of the heavens. For this reason, they are sky watchers, tracking the movements of all the stellar objects. The Elementalists believe the future is written into the stars. Their astronomers are said to predict future events by tracing the constellations and chanting aloud. In actuality this tradition is one of story telling: the greatest bards inspire claims of divination because they have internalized the stories in all their forms. The eyes of an Elementalist have their own magical properties. They are imbued with the fire of sight, giving them the ability to see in the dark. They can also read the magical runes of the Elementalists which are invisible to laymen.
So what is my vision for all of this anyway? Well as you might have read, I do have lots of loose story elements and random doodles. I hope to someday compile these tidbits into a full length novel (or at least a compilation of short stories which form the basis for a mythological universe). Eventually, I would also like to design a role-playing game around these elements. I hope you enjoyed them.
Zhongwen.com – Awesome Chinese resource
The King of Nemi – I shamelessly ripped this motif.