Dorkleer’s FC Peeves - 3rd Issue: Albinism, melanism, and other pigmentation disorders in fantrolls

Hello, this is Officer Dorkleer once again live, spewing nonsense about things that irk me.

On this particular issue, I want to talk about how the fandom treats (read: doesn’t research) the different kinds of dyschromia that exist.

There seems to be some sort of misconception I see often, that also sometimes leads to a “my headcanon is correct and yours isn’t” type of mentality (Which is incredibly idiotic, because headcanons are just that, headcanons. As in, not canon.) among the fandom, and that is that there’s just one kind of albinism.

Albinism, as we all know, is a disruption of melanin synthesis in the body of a creature, which makes it appear either white, or of a very dilluted colour. There are actually many kinds of albinism, the most common ones being ocular albinism, oculocutaneous albinism, partial albinism, and albinoidism, in no precise order and not counting the types in which they subdivide.

Leucism, as opposed to albinism, negates the production of many pigments, not just melanin. Partial leucism is called piebaldism.

Melanism, on the other hand, is a condition that boosts the production of black pigment melanin in creatures, which makes them appear either black, or of a very dark colour.

Then, we also have other kinds of dyschromia, such as abundism, vitiligo, lentigo, Blachko’s lines, leukoderma, freckles, etc. I’m not going to delve very deep on these ones.

From now on, I’m gonna start describing the kinds of dyschromia I mentioned earlier, using a few edited sprites to illustrate how they look.
(Right click+open in a new tab for full view)

On this first image, we have a normally-coloured troll. Her skin is a normal shade of gray, her hair is jet black, her eyes and horns are bright yellow/orange/red, her irises are bright green, her lips and eyelashes are black (in the case she isn’t wearing any make-up), and there are no discoloured spots on her body.

Here, we have two cases of ocular albinism.
On the case on the left, the troll has dilluted eye colours, both in her iris and her sclera, them being pale green and pale yellow respectively. The human equivalent of this would be albino individuals with blue/purple/pink eyes, since those refer to a partial lack of pigmentation on the eye, which causes its colours to be dilluted instead of missing.
On the case on the right, the troll has most of her eye coloured with various shades of her own blood colour, her sclera being pale green in colour while her iris retains the normal green colour it usually possesses. The human equivalent of this would be albino individuals with red eyes, since those refer to a complete lack of pigmentation on the eye, causing the blood vessels to be visible where the normal eye colour would be.
(Note: I’m kind of bullshitting my way through explanations here, since troll eyes are pretty impossible per se. If their eyes are just like a normal mammal’s, then the yellow part is already their iris, and the “blood-coloured adult iris” thing shouldn’t be there, or should colour the entire yellow section of the troll’s eye. If the yellow section ISN’T the iris and IS the sclera, however, that’d mean all trolls have scleral jaundice. However! If troll eyes are actually insectoid in nature, then the explanation I gave above is the most correct. Please bear this note in account when reading the rest of this post.)

On this image, we have two cases that could be attributed to both albinoidism, or one kind partial albinism, both of them with simmilar eyes to the avobe cases.
Albinoidism, as well as this particular case of partial albinism, takes place when there are still pigments, but they’re very dilluted. On a troll, this would show up as a lighter (but not TOO light) skin colour, grey hair and eyelashes, dilluted horn colour, and lips showing her blood colour more clearly. On humans with these conditions, the individuals have a fairer complexion than normal, and their hair appears more blond than white (as opposed to complete albinism/amelanism).

Here, we have two cases of how complete/oculocutaneous albinism or amelanism would look on trolls, again, with simmilar eyes to the avobe cases.
Amelanism on trolls would be characterized by a very obvious light-grey or near whiteness on their hair and eyelashes (maybe even completely white), as well as very clear grey skin, that could even get to be slightly tinted by their blood colour (not pictured), and lips that show their blood colour a bit more clearly. On humans, these conditions are made evident by almost the same signs as in trolls, namely white hair/eyebrows/eyelashes, and very light complexion.

On this particular image, I made an approximation as to how melanism would affect trolls in particular. Here, we see the troll possess both darker grey skin and darker-coloured horns. If her hair were light, it’d’ve looked black.
(Note 2: I couldn’t find a whole variety of examples of melanism that belonged to races other than those who are characterized by having very dark skin, so I’m mostly guiding myself with other animals as examples, as well as my sense of what’s aesthetically pleasing, since it wouldn’t be very attractive to have a tar-black troll. At least to me. You can do what you want.)

On this image, I show cases of both abundism, and piebaldism/vitiligo/leukoderma/another kind of partial albinism.
The first case is solely linked to abundism (as far as I’ve researched), and it shows the troll with darker-coloured spots all over her body, which makes her look almost melanistic. Had her hair been lighter, darker-coloured patches of hair would’ve also been present.
The second case greatly resembles piebaldism, vitiligo, leukoderma, and a kind of partial albinism. These may or may not cause ocular decolouration.
Piebaldism, like I’ve explained earlier, is a form of partial leucism, where other pigments besides melanin aren’t present. A troll with piebaldism would present clear-coloured patches of skin and hair all over their body, and the affected areas’ colours would greatly resemble those of skin affected with albinism. The patches are static, meaning they don’t grow or shrink with age.
Partial albinism on a troll would be characterized by patches of lighter-coloured skin and hair all over their body, due to a localized lack of melanin pigment. Like in piebald creatures, the clear patches are also static.
Vitiligo, on the other hand, while it would look like both those conditions, would also cause progressive decoloration of the troll’s skin and hair. It’s believed to be a genetic condition.
Leukoderma, like vitiligo, also causes a localized depigmentation. However, unlike vitiligo, leukoderma is an acquired condition that may be caused by burns, dermoabrassion, intralessional steroid injections, etc.

Freckles, also called ephelis, are concentrations of melanin in very punctual spots all over the creature’s body. Unlike lentigines and moles, freckles aren’t produced by an increased number of melanocytes (melanin-producing cells).

Now, there are some common myths I see regarding trolls with different kinds of dyschromia. The most common, however, are:

  • Trolls with albinism/melanism have lighter/darker blood.

Error! Blood colour has nothing to do with the melanin pigment. Think of it this way: If you prick the skin of an albino person, a melanistic person, and a person with a normal colouration, do they bleed differently? They don’t, do they? Well, same happens with trolls.
What causes blood to be of a different colour in the real world is the kind of oxygen-binding protein the organism possesses, and those are coloured by the kind of oxide they’re based on.

  • Trolls with albinism have blood-coloured horns.

No! Horns are simply clusters of keratin, and therefore have no visible blood vessels that could change the colour of their surface to that of their bearer’s blood colour under any circumstance. Albino trolls, at most, would have lighter orange-coloured horns, while melanistic ones would have darker-coloured horns. Piebald/partial albino/vitiligo-/leukoderma-affected trolls may or may not develop clear-coloured horns, depending on if a depigmented patch is situated right where the horn grows or not.

  • All limebloods have white hair/are albinos.

You got that from Calliope’s trollsona, didn’t you? I’ve got bad news for you: They most likely don’t/aren’t. Callie Ohpeee was created by Hussie as a joke regarding how fantroll makers would give their trolls the most outrageous mutations/traits in order to stand out, which included mutant/extinct blood colours, and impossible hair colours.
Callie is a sweetheart, but she’s *the* canon bad fantroll.

  • If a troll is albino, their entire family line must be albino as well.

Will you look at this? It might be true! Genetic pigmentation disorders such as albinism, leucism and melanism may be passed on to the creature’s descendants. And since the trolls’ concept of “ancestor” is a troll that greatly resembled them in the past, if your troll’s ancestor was melanistic, there’s a great chance that their descendant might be melanistic as well.

  • Eridan’s hair streak is a sign of piebaldism/partial albinism.

We’ve seen that Eridan’s streak is natural (in [S] Past Karkat: Wake up, when Karkat performs ectobiology, Eridan was seen with his distinctive hair streak even as a grub, which leads me to believe it’s completely natural.), however, the condition that causes it hasn’t been named. For now, it’s up to assumptions.

  • Trolls with dyschromia are perfectly healthy.

This isn’t always the case. While certain kinds of pigmentation disorders might be benign (and sometimes even beneficial, like melanism, which is thought to boost the affected creature’s immune system), some others may be related to a variety of health issues, such as melanomas, and certain eye-related issues such as photophobia, astigmatism and nystagmus on people with albinism.

  • Troll freckles are their blood colour.

Incorrect. Freckles are spots of concentrated melanin. Human freckles have a darker colour than the bearer’s skin, right? Well, same with trolls!

All in all, I hope this post helps fantroll makers with the creation of new characters and tweaking of old ones, and encourages people to research more in-depth about any conditions they might be thinking on giving their fantrolls.

(Disclaimer: I’m in no way an expert in the subject of genetics, dermatology, or anything like that. This research was done with the purpose of aiding the fantroll community and might contain erroneous information. Please, don’t use this post as your only guide on how to correctly create dyschromic fantrolls and do some research yourself to help fill any potential holes. Criticism is always welcome.)

- Officer Dorkleer

Brief interlude from sad Petstucks to something sexy.

Darkleer working obsessively on something and the adult Handmaiden bugging him to come to bed, but no ‘Mindfang apparently wants lasers to shoot from her fists and he must do his job’ and after a while she gets so fed up, She just shoves everything off the table, flops across it and says 'Now I’m your work-Do ME.’