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Bluepencil's Unpaid Arts Folder


Indentured Artist
Things I did for lulz.

So do you know of the new hit xianxia web novel on SB and QQ, Beware of Chicken?

Don't worry, it's on RoyalRoad too.

(no, this image ain't by me)

TLDR, Canadian tranmigrates into xianxia world, and proceeds to GTFO this whole murderhobo nonsense and went off to become a farmer instead. Thus begins his World of Cultivation. It's a great philosophical slice of life story in that the whole xianxia genre didn't really NEED to be such a dog eat dog world where might makes right. Assholes ruin it everyone.

What did happen was that I saw an attempt at making a symbol for the little farm/sect and went-

WARNING: IMAGE HEAVY. Beware if seeing on mobile.

Casualfarmer said:

Jin choked at the sight of it, his face flashing through shock and bemusement. Half a Maple Leaf, half a wheat stalk, surrounded in a circle.

"You know, people are going to think that we're a sect or something if they see that, love," he muttered.

Sorry to bother you Casualfarmer, but I would really like to talk about this.

We all are familiar with faction logos and how they make things interesting.

But care to see what's interesting about Total War: Three Kingdoms factions?

They DON'T use differentiated pictogram imagery, but instead use logograms.

China and Korea as centralized governments were not really into the clean geometric or pictorial clan crests like the Japanese did:

Symbolic flags and pennants are a relatively recent convention.

The closest you'd have to clear clan differentiation pictographs would be circa 1100-700 BC during the Shang/Early Zhou period.

China - and thus ancient China aesthetic xianxia - used word ideograms:

Relying mainly on bold colors and shapes to help in recognition.

Battle flags had tassels, had very simple designs, and again relied on color recognition.

If there had to be imagery on flags, they were often impracticably embroidered...

Or in circular arrangements that can be pressed into stamps and coins.

Even signing chops did not use abstract imagery:

Ancient Chinese symbology relies on that each character is already its own message:

So when thinking up Clan Sect Symbols, here is what I suggest as graphical rules:

1) Make it round or with a hole punched in the center to make it possible to press into coins or used as a stamp.

2) Extremely simplify it into drawable or etched symbol.

- 2a) Think: can a cultivator carve this symbol in one movement with his sword when trying to show off?

3) Refer to oracle bone or seal script, or simplified cursive to shape those images.

- 3a) Here is an extensive list of what those early characters look like.

- 3b) This site will translate modern pinyin into various other scripts

- 3c) Here is where you can translate english into pinyin.

If you remember Avatar and its very effective symbols, those were clearly inspired by oracle-bone script.

In summary:

If you've watched Once Upon a Time in China, then you remember that signs for martial arts schools are just... signs.

Written words.

Martial sects are not recognized by iconography, Shaolin being an exception, but even then it's mainly by the color of their robes and traditional items and ornamentation.

Owing to the Dragon Ball 'turtle school' reference in the chapter, it would have been something round and easy to slap onto a shirt.

So from the perspective of practical graphics design, how would a more 'lore-friendly' Fa Ram/Fa Ran symbol look like then?

[next post]


Indentured Artist
Let's look back at some of the best uses for simplistic imagery, and that is... coinage.

Looks faintly Roman however.

The problem is that wheat really doesn't take up much space to devote half of a circle.

This one ain't so pretty, but each of those symbols can be done with one stroke, be it from a pen or a cultivator showing off with his sword carving shite onto solid rock with a flick of the wrist.

But let's say it's Mei-mei with a brush so she can take her time:

(but got messy anyway since Tigu happened)

If you wanted her to play around with negative space with a brush, the result would probably look something a bit like this:

Remember that you are extremely unlikely to find a hard half and half divide in Chinese art because this is the culture that invented the Yin-Yang symbol, after all.

If in this setting sects have their own identifying logos, it can't be something that looks modern.

If it has to be anything, it needs to be either derived from ancient pictorial script or a regular geometric shape with pleasing symmetry like Japanese clan symbols. They would probably not be using western-style plain recognizable object symbols.

An extremely simplified version that could be used as a chop for form signatures.

I already previously spoke to Casualfarmer about this, so here is a slightly cleaner version of what Mei Ling could actually have been drawing with her brush. Her sense of aesthetics and the tools she had available should be determining the outcome.

If it was Jin, yeah I can see him accidentally a BattleTech faction logo.

But anything she was doing would be closer to Hanafuda cards if she had more colors available.

Brighter version here
thanks to @Ragura .

That's all and thank you for coming to my TED Talk.
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