As I embark on my blogging adventure, I thought that a nice place to start would be the title of my blog, and this whole "pandalion" thing. Because, well, the pandalion is quite close to my heart and I think she deserves a bit of explanation :)
In the beginning..
The pandalion's origins come from my love of animals, and my love of drawing. It began in the year 2000. (*starts humming pulp song*). Aged 15, I spent a lot of time online and browsing sites to do with my favourite things. One of my favourite things was the disney film The Lion King, and lions were pretty much my favourite animal. Top of the food chain after all, how can you get better than that? :D At some point I discovered an online art archive completely dedicated to The Lion King fanart (http://fanart.lionking.org/ which exists with pretty much the same site design today - a fact I really like, that they haven't just redesigned out of boredom or something :P anyway that's a topic for another day ;)
So anyway, I joined the community and browsed the art and although I'd never been hugely into drawing before that point, I found it really inspiring. One thing that seemed especially fun about it were that people designed their own characters based on The Lion King universe - most commonly lions, but any species that fitted into the universe of the film basically. I think everyone likes customisation, especially if you have an artistic side - this was essentially a chance to have your own little part in The Lion King world - a character *you* designed, which could be based on yourself or things you like - whatever you wanted! And once people had their "personal characters" dreamed up, it got even better, you could then trade art with each other to receive drawings of your character, in exchange for you drawing someone else's character. This was fun because it was a) a great way to meet people and make friends, b) an inspiration point for your own drawings - the challenge of interpreting somebody's character in your own style, and c) a chance to build up a collection of art of your own character in lots of different styles.
Anyway - back to me. Like I said I didn't draw much before this but it sounded like fun for the above reasons and my fondness for design, so I created and drew my first character.
More of a brown lioness than a pandalion
My first character was fairly boring. She was pretty much just Nala from The Lion King, but with brown fur (because I have brown hair XD) even her name wasn't very original.. Nala-the-lioness. But still, my 15 year old self was just starting to explore her creativity, so. :P
I started (attempting to) draw "Nala-the-lioness" and I used Paint Shop Pro for my first attempts of digital colouring. I love the use of comic sans and the wood texture underbelly in this picture. XD My drawing left a lot to be desired of course, but something I do love about my 15 year old self, is that she didn't *care* how good the drawings were, she was having fun, and she kept drawing and drawing and drawing, and naturally getting better. Bit of a sidenote, but I'll say this is one quality I wished I could grab hold of more these days. When you become a professional and a perfectionist it's hard to design without over-thinking, or to draw without wanting it to be perfect and being disappointed all the time. Drawing in recent years has given me more anxiety and disappointment than fun, which is a sad thing, but something I'm trying to escape - and I think the key there lies in not trying so much!
So, anyway, (and I will get back to the "pandalion" soon ;) , I kept drawing, trading art with people, for the next year or two, and I improved quite a lot in that time as most of us there did.
Creep was another lion I designed. I was quite a big Radiohead fan at the time, and he was based on the song by them. These pictures show a couple of different drawings of Creep. Although the second is still nowhere near amazing quality artwork, I had improved - my drawings loosened up a bit, and became more natural and less stiff, I started trying to give more expression to them, and my digital colouring became a bit more subtle. It's something I enjoy looking back at, if most of all to say - keep doing something you love because, you will get better and *don't* try too hard because it could hold you back. ;) And now we get to the pandalion... After a couple of years being active at fanart.lionking.org , I drifted away to dabble in other creative things - drawing other things, making websites, discovering Final Fantasy videogames for the first time. In 2005 I got the urge to return to lionking.org for a while, and when I did so, I decided to try for the second time at designing my own character.
Xander was born. She wasn't originally a pandalion, just a lion with panda colouring. Her most distinguishing features were her brown panda colouring, and her red scarf and gloves. I think she was brown and white because a) I was inspired by a brown plush panda toy I had, and b) it's easier to shade than black and white ;) Like my first lion character, she wasn't exactly based on me, but she became my "personal character" which I suppose is a bit like an internet pseudonym but in liony form ;)
A little later I worked on her design a bit more and confirmed some of her features, a blue braid, a bamboo marking, and a little x below her left eye, being the mainstays.
As I said, although Xander originally started as another "Lion King" world character (and hence, a lion) she evolved into a pandalion (yep, it's just like Pokemon, sorta), as I took her out of that universe and she became just.. part of my creative universe, wherever that might be. I made friends with other artists, traded more art, and collected art of my pandalion.
I guess she sorta represents me, though that may sound odd to some people, but whatevers :P Apart from the obvious combinations of two of my favourite animals, I like the qualities that the pandalion represents. Most people probably have a pandary and a lioney side. The one side of us that's a bit lazy, cuddly, soft, and likes to nibble bamboo all day, and the side of us that's strong, courageous, and bold, that comes out when we need it and just for fun sometimes ;)
I've drawn her a lot (the above is the latest reference sheet I made for her) and I've received lots of amazing art of her from friends and people I've met. Art of her is always special to me no matter who it's drawn by. I guess when you create a character, you get a sort of attachment to it somehow :) Apart from drawings I've had craft, models and plushies made for me and I treasure them all. (the wonderful model below was made one Christmas for me by my friend Cally). I'll no doubt make some more posts at some point of some of my favourite Xander arts.
And that pretty much sums up the pandalion. An adventure in drawing, a personal character, a fun design project, an inspiration and a little bit of me :)