teafeathers

anonymous asked:

Can we get some fennec foxes? They are a favorite of mine!

A bunch o fennecs! I’m quiet surprised I couldn’t find much? They are such cute animals! Anyway, here you go! First post request!

Super ears - by Kero_Tzuki_

TeaFeathers - Sa'Dimali Snake Wrangler - by wolf-nymph

Soul Shinoda -Sanctum Polis - by Pockyrumz

Napping Fennec - SpeedPaint - by GoldenDruid

Kiriko - by Quirachen

[c] The Black Hat of Eos City - by AlaiCinereo

Serpent Overview

The (hopefully) last sapient species in the world of TeaFeathers! Serpents are bipedal dragon people native to the continent. They rarely were in conflict with the Cat Clans, due to their prowess in magic the cats typically gave them their space. After the war between the Cat Clans and the Alecani/Pylura alliance, their territory got pushed a little further to the South as the alliance established their tribe borders. Alecani being powerful magic users themselves, they were a lot to contend with. However the serpents seemed to give their territory up rather willingly to the Alecani. Perhaps they were curating special magical locations in the northern reaches of their lands, and saw the Alecani might be fit guardians of these places themselves. Perhaps they simply wished to avoid conflict.

Serpents are the most magically inclined of all the sapient animals on this continent, with virtually no instances of individuals being born without magic. The elite spiritual leaders of the serpents, and some adept magic users, have wings and other enhanced features (horns, different colors, etc). The modifications depend on which spirits blessed the individual upon their initiation into the magical elite. Wings and other features are bestowed upon them after completing certain requirements and rituals.

Serpents can change their physical sex at will, with some effort of course. No one individual is male or female for the entirety of their lives. As you can imagine, gender roles don’t really play a part in serpent society. They come in a variety of colors depending on their region and magical inclination.  Thought I’d show a plain looking set as a base!

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Who are the Alecani?

Currently Alecani are a CLOSED SPECIES!  I plan on making them an open species in the future, but I need to develop their 12 distinct clans before that.  If you want an Alecani character, please wait till all the information is available!

The Alecani are the main species in TeaFeathers, a race of sapient, winged, canine creatures with a love for song and tea! I made this guide as an introduction to the species.  Let’s get started!

SEE DETAILS ON SPECIES SEXUAL DIMORPHISM HERE


The Basics
Alecani are typically between three and four feet tall when standing upright (some are as tall as five and a half feet), though they are just as comfortable walking on four legs. They have large, powerful, feathered wings and a set of tail feathers located at the base of their fox-like tail that can open and close to help them steer while flying, just like a bird. Tail feather shapes can vary greatly between individuals. They are fairly light-weight animals with the hollow bones of a bird, but with surprising strength and tenacity for their size. 


Physical Traits

Head and Face
Most Alecani have faces and head shapes similar to the crab-eating fox of South America: wedge-shaped and sleek (though some can look rather wolf-like). Their pointed fox-like ears are held in a swept back position when at rest, but they do move their ears around for expression and to hone in on sounds. They have a crest consisting of a single row of wide feathers, starting at the front of the head and ending at the base of the neck where the shoulders begin. This crest also aids in expression, laying loose and flat when relaxed.


They have very large eyes with round pupils; the sclera (whites of the eyes) are not very visible most of the time. So their eyes are like large, glassy, colored orbs in their heads. Think domestic feline in terms of eyes-to-face proportion: big and forward-facing. 


Torso, Arms, and Legs
In this regard, they are more critter than human. Their shoulders are very narrow and sloped, not wide like a human’s. They lack a collar bone, and their arms are very flexible much like a cat’s limbs. They have shorter upper arms reflecting a more animalistic appearance than a human one, and their legs are digitigrade (like a dog’s). 


Hands and Hind Paws
An Alecani’s hands are very deft, sporting opposable thumbs like humans. In place of dog-like paw pads, the palms and bottoms of their feet are bare of fur, much like a squirrel or raccoon. Each digit is tipped with a curved claw. The rear feet are something of a meld between canine and bird feet, with the thicker toes of a canine being lengthened some to have the grasping capability of a bird’s. They have a fifth toe that is semi-opposable so they can pick up objects with their feet.


Colors
There are 12 different regional clans, all adapted to a different environments (I will cover the clans later). Colors vary depending on which clan they descend from, which depends on the geographic origin. Some will shed and regrow their coats in creams and whites for the winter if there is a snowy season where they come from. Coat and feather colors are limited to“natural” colors, such as various blacks, browns, greys, tans, and creams you would find on most mammals. No bright bird coloration! Some Alecani, however, may have some iridescence to their feathers, like you may see on a crow. Skin color and patterns range between pinks, browns and greys, with possible splotches like you would see in a dog.


Alecani might bleach and dye their feathers for various reasons (fashion, ritual, etc), but no bright colors, such as orange or blue, are naturally occurring.
Markings on Alecani are pretty diverse. While they can’t have solid patterned fur like rosettes or tiger stripes (let’s leave that to the Pylura), you can find a pretty wide variety of patterns and markings in their fur and feathers. In addition, all Alecani have round eyebrow markings above their eyes, unless they are solid black or albino.


Diet
Alecani are omnivores, with a high need for animal protein sources over plant. Their favorite foods are fish, eggs, and root vegetables, but they enjoy a huge variety of plant based foods like leafy greens and fruits. They’re extremely good at fishing and foraging, and as large airborn predators they are fierce hunters as well. Alecani grow a lot of their own foods, but with an abundance of wild places, they also have ample space to hunt and forage.

Voices and Singing

Alecani have a respiratory system similar to birds. Their breathing is circular rather than in and out, which allows them to provide more oxygen to their muscles for the athletic act of flying. This also allows them to perform continuous songs without pausing to breathe in.


They posses dual voice boxes, which makes them capable of some pretty advanced mimicry and singing. They can harmonize with themselves and create very beautiful natural song. Howling, human-like singing, bird song, and other sounds comprise their natural range, but they enjoy mimicking as well.
Alecani have a strong knack for picking up new languages, including those of other species. As a result they are great communicators, and have learned to speak with a variety of species.

Quick Culture Overview

The species consist of 12 clans, all with their own unique traditions, which I will detail later. Here are some of the commonalities that bind the species together as a single culture.


Alecani live in a world saturated with nature spirits, who are very much respected. They often pay tribute at shrines with offerings of food, tea, song, or incense. Spirits inhabit so much of the natural world, that expanding any settlements requires an agreement and an exchange with the spirits in the area. The very few large Alecani cities in existence are occupied by powerful patron spirits, who watch over the inhabitants. 


All clans have different sorts of homes, ranging from elaborate dens dug into the side of hills (think hobbit holes) to built up nests and tree house complexes. Nym’s clan carve their homes directly into the red canyon rock of their biome. Though their homes will vary, each one has similar comforts; sleeping chambers for individuals, a common area a kitchen, and lots of tea!


Alecani are not alone in this world. They live side by side with the Pylura, a sapient race of cat people who value discovery, metallurgy, and curiosity. They have been together so long that the first meeting between their kind has passed into legend. I’ll discuss Pylura more in their very own species profile.
The economy is very trade based, valuing spices and tea over most other commodities. In areas with a higher population, a more common currency of metal rings has arisen, sometimes supplemented with rations of salt. The farther into the wild areas you get the less the metal rings are used.


Alecani LOVE song, stories, and language. It’s common to find talented singers and bards performing for small crowds. A singing Alecani tends to attract small spirits into the audience as well. The better the voice, the larger and more powerful of spirits are attracted. The very best singer/storyteller of each generation is called The Harp. The Harp attracts a special large spirit, one that can only be called by the sweetest or most compelling voice. This spirit performs alongside the chosen Alecani by manipulating strings of the individual’s soul and playing them like a harp, a truly stunning concert to behold.


Magic

Half of all Alecani possess the ability to use magic. Magic in TeaFeathers consists of energy from the spirit world channeled through the individual’s body in an intuitive manner. It manifests in an elemental fashion, in a way that reflects the individual’s personality. Water, steam, air, trees, gemstones, sand, storms, flowers, and things along those lines. For instance, Nym’s magic manifests as leaves and ferns, but doesn’t consist of REAL leaves and ferns. It’s just spirit energy in that shape, which exists and interacts with the world only as long as she puts energy into it.
Fire and heat based magics are extremely uncommon in Alecani (less than .001%), but prevalent in Pylura. Usually elemental magic users with fire, magma, or lightening are ostracized from Alecani society.

Life Stages

Ages 1 to 3
During the toddler stage, they begin to move around and speak, much like human children, and a new layer of feathers starts growing into their wings. These new feathers won’t let them fly, but do help provide air resistance when they flap their wings so they can get stronger.


Age 3 to 11
As small kits, Alecani have successive feather molts when their feathers get closer and closer to being functional flight feathers. They might be able to achieve short glides during these years.


Age 11 to 16
First sustained flight is a special occasion, celebrated as a right of passage. It’s a group holiday, gathering the entire village to see kits off into the sky for the first time. At this age, the kits are no longer totally dependent on their parents and are expected to start exploring on their own more. This is around the preteen stage, just before puberty.


Age 16 to 20
During puberty, Alecani reach their full height and wingspan, though they might not grow into their adult weight for some years. Pubescent Alecani are flush full of hormones and can be extremely erratic. They test one another’s strength and flight capabilities often at this age, engaging in dangerous games and contests. Alecani cannot biologically have kits until a few years into puberty, nature’s way of avoiding having a young kit dumped into the arms of an adrenaline junkie. At this age they leave home and live in adolescent colonies, where they can be rambunctious without effecting the rest of the population.

Age 20 to 55
At this age Alecani have settled into their adult size and have calmed from the hormonal rush of puberty. They can bear kits if they choose, and the come back to live with the general population again. An adult Alecani’s return is a special occasion which is celebrated by an intimate elaborately prepared meal with their closest family and friends.


Age 55 to 80
Around age 65 both male and female Alecani loose their ability to breed. Females go through a gradual menopause starting around age 55 to 60, lasting up to a decade. Males go through a similar hormone reduction period during which mating hormones and sperm potency reduce. By the time they hit 65, they are pretty much out of the game of making kits. At this age they might start to put on a little weight, their tail fur may thin a little, and they start to grow tufts of longer hair in places on the face.


Elderly
Alecani are very long-lived animals, reaching the early years beyond their 100th birthday with ease. The oldest known Alecani lived to be 146. The elderly often loose their ability to fly due to the effect the years can have on the body. Their facial fur tufts get very long and wild at this age, and are often decorated and braided. As they age it gets longer, and very old Alecani can sport some pretty goofy or majestic looking tufts.

Meet Lapi, Nym’s adopted little brother! 

Adoption is incredibly common in TeaFeathers, as Alecani are very nurturing social beings. Nym’s mom, Karu, picked up little Lapi here from a pregnant Alecani who traveled through their village on her way west.  Karu already had three biological kits, but took an active role in raising the village’s kits every spring.  When Lapi’s biological mom mentioned needing to return to her travels, Karu offered to care for Lapi until she could return (since he was a newborn).  She never returned, having fallen victim to the night spores before reaching her destination. 

Lapi is a rambunctious youngling, about 13 years younger than Nym.  He never got out of the habit of putting everything in his mouth, so the family has gotten used to stopping him from eating random objects (see here he prepares to enjoy a tasty whole pinecone).  Though he eats anything he can get his hands on, he never really seems to get sick!  He tastes his way through the world, one rock, clump of dirt, scrap of cloth, and random weed at a time.

Later in life he develops a strong skill in medicine making, learning much from Karu (who grows medicinal plants and fungi, and is the village’s healer).  He uses his unique digestive resistance and highly sensitive taste buds to concoct insane and revolutionary potions.

He also has the best eyebrow wisp hairs ever.  Imagine how awesome he’ll look when he gets old and his wisps get really out of control!

I was lucky enough to be commissioned for this piece by a wonderful patron, someone who has been there to support some of the bigger personal illustrations I’ve made in the past, RalenFox!  Thanks to Ralen I was able to create this piece to show this moment in Nym’s life, when everything changes for her.  I was waiting to upload this piece so I could flesh out some details.  Originally I was going to write more, but I decided on paring it down to a single page story vignette, keeping the details a bit more vague.  This moment is the beginning of the story I’ve come to dub “TeaFeathers”, the world for which I am continuing to build!  You can read more about TeaFeathers in a tumblr I’ve set aside for the very purpose of world building - http://tea-feathers.tumblr.com/

The Beginning

“Nym knew death well, the sting of loss was familiar. Her last surviving grandparent passed on when she was a young kit, it was the first time she fully understood the empty space a loved one leaves behind. Not too many years after, a friend of hers died trying his first flight too early. His young wings unable to support him, he plummeted clumsily to the canyon floor to his end. She had also seen patients die in her mother’s healing room on a few occasions; people she had seen around the village, friends of friends. There are no true strangers in such a small town. It is in the nature of a living things to end, whether through the gradual degrading of the body or by succumbing to one of the many dangers of the world. But this loss shook her in a way no previous death had. This one had spirited away with a piece of her soul upon departure, leaving her a half empty.

She tried to be present for her grieving family, to gather together in the way Alecani do when someone they love dies. They needed her more than ever right now. Yet she found herself drifting, not fully feeling the grief. Just letting her mind pass into a numbness she could not fully describe. She would see her family members cry, watch them leave with offerings for the grave, but she was unable to shed any tears. Not being able to share in mourning, she felt she was hurting her family in some way. She felt herself a burden.

One early morning before the sun came up, Nym quietly left. She did not plan her departure, she did not know where she was going or how long she would be gone. She left no note, and took no belongings. Pushing off the stone porch, her wings spread, she felt the cool morning air fill her lungs. She relished the sensation of the soothing coolness filling her chest and chilling her throat. Onward over the endless horizon, she pushed her body past her breaking point. She focused on the feeling of burning in her flight muscles, the tightness in her chest as she struggled to breathe. The landscape was a blur, she paid no mind to the passing hours as she ventured on. How long had she been flying? How far had she come?

At some point in her seemingly endless flight, the tears finally came. She sobbed and sobbed, tears staining her face, the light of a new morning sun catching them in a glint as drifted away from her. All strength left her body as she descended into the verdant forest below, breaking the canopy and finding herself beneath the branches of a vast tree. She wept into the roots, little spirits gathering to touch the places the tears soaked into the moss. The sounds of her grief echoed pitifully into the old grove. Distant deer turned an ear to listen, birds ceased to sing, and the little spirits gathered in number around her. Their light faded as they took on her grief as their own, being empathic creatures. It seemed like the whole forest was weeping with her.

The weight of Nym’s sadness was such that the little spirits felt compelled to sooth her in some way. With the root of the great tree to cradle her, she fell into a deep and heavy sleep as the tears slowed to a stop. The spirits called down through the roots, calling out for the help of a special plant that would help heal the wound left in her heart. Soon, little green spirals sprouted between her fur, unfurling into the feathered leaves of a grand fern. When Nym’s body was shaded entirely by these ferns, the tired little spirits sank into slumber around her. The broad leaves took in the sunlight like any plant, but would instead use it to sustain Nym’s body while her soul was replenished in this deep sleep; the Fern Sleep.


And there Nym lay for two years. The ferns stayed green through every season, taking in the warmth of the sun and feeding Nym’s body. The creatures of the forest resumed their lives around her, and the group of little spirits ensured she would stay safe from harm. When Nym finally awoke, she had experienced a profound change that would take years to manifest, bringing her down a path no other Alecani could walk.”

Last weekend I revisited this piece after getting some feedback from some fellow artists!  Reduced how much soil is visible, while adding some little root extensions for interest.  Also upped the contrast and color diversity in some areas, and varied the moss pillow shapes a little.  I really want to do more of these when I have time, of each of my TeaFeathers characters!

I originally intended this to be a commission sample for small watercolor and ink portraits, but I made the grave mistake of using crappy watercolor paper.  The paper wouldn’t absorb the pigment, it just floated on the surface.  As a result I never got the saturated colors I wanted, and had to edit this in photoshop more than is necessary. 

So instead this will serve as an introduction to one of the horrors of TeaFeathers (because it’s not all adventure, friendship, and tea) - The Night Spores.  Night spores are an infectious parasitic fungus very much like the Cordyceps of our world. Infections typically begin in the lungs, and it gradually spreads through the body, slowly taking control over the victim’s nervous system with the ultimate goal of reaching the brain.  From there, it will compel an infected Alecani to fly high, and release it’s spores into the air.

Alecani are extremely susceptible to night spores, it’s a horrific death if allowed to reach it’s final stage.  If caught early, an infection can be easily cleared, but once it reaches a certain point, there is nothing that can be done.  Pictured here is a victim who is nearing the final stages.  The fungus hasn’t yet opened up to release spores, but this individual is effectively dead.  The fungus controls the body entirely, the person that this was is long gone. 

Infected Alecani are extremely dangerous for two reasons; the first, is that their behavior becomes increasingly erratic and aggressive as the infection spreads.  The second is the danger of an early spore release.  If a victim is already in the stage of showing growths outside the body, and they are kept in confinement, the fungus will sense this.  It desires to drive it’s victim high in the air to spread it’s spores, but knows it can’t if it is kept in one place.  So it will vie for an early spore release instead, in a last ditch attempt to continue the cycle.

There are special teams of Pylura and Alecani, whose job it is to purge areas of Night Spores, and to track and eliminate victims.  It usually involves lots of burning, with the Pylura in charge of the fire and the Alecani in charge of the chasing and tracking.  They have to wear special masks to avoid infection, but it’s not a guarantee.  The spores can get into the body through other means, and they seem “smart” in the way they choose and infect victims.  More on that later!

I realize that so many people are coming up with similar concepts, based off the cordyceps fungus.  I’ve been sitting on this idea for years thinking people would consider it stupid. When it started popping up all over the place I really regretted not putting it out there back when I was first inspired by learning of the cordyceps fungus.  Now my attitude is to not hold back, and to just make whatever the frick I want, regardless of what I think people’s opinions will be.  Just make the stuff, and have fun!

Magic and Spirit energy in TeaFeathers

I like worlds with a little explanation, a little basis in reality, not a world filled only with “just because” (even though there is a lot of that already in TeaFeathers), so I set out to explain why the Alecani have six limbs, and other animals do not!  Why is there a mammal with wings, where are their closest relatives, how did they evolve?  When I went down this road, I ended up explaining how magic works too, and tying it all in with Nym’s story! 

Nym’s world is much like modern earth, but without humans (or at least not on her continent, though I waffle about this sometimes).  There are birds, mammals, reptiles, fish, insects etc…. All the animals of the physical world we can recognize.  Existing overlapped and side by side with the physical natural world there is the Spirit realm, which Alecani call “The Source of Souls”, which is divided from physical reality by a thin veil.  This is a common theory for our own world, but in TeaFeathers the veil is very very thin….  Spirit energy constantly pours into the physical world, causing all kinds of really fun and scary anomalies.  Spirits reside in mountains and rivers, and sometimes run free without hosts in high concentration areas.  But instead of being a chaotic force that the natural world can’t deal with, it’s become normal.  Life has adapted over the millennia!

The Alecani can exist because their entire species is part spirit and part physical.  While all creatures in this world are composed partially of spirit, some have higher content of spirit energy than others.  This tends to make them different from “normal” animals in some way.  Pylura have a high spirit content, Alecani much more so.  Dragons are among the most spirit based animals that have physical forms.  The more spirit energy a species of composed of, the more occurrences of magic users there are within their population.  About half of Alecani can use magic.  1/3rd of Pylura can as well, and all dragons can use magic.  Some “normal” animals can even use magic, like deer or birds, but it’s more rare.

How Magic Works

Imagine a person and their soul, mirror images, one physical and one pure energy, walking side by side separated by a wall that divides their realms.  When that person dies their physical self merges with their energetic self wholly.  The energy returns to the vast source of souls, leaving the physical body devoid of spirit energy.  A living person can make contact with their own soul while alive (only very briefly) and tap into that spirit energy in a direct way.  This is how magic users work!  The contact is not constant, otherwise the person would die.  Prolonged contact causes the spirit energy in the physical body to merge with the spirit energy on the other side of the veil.  They and their soul only barely brush one another for moments, transferring massive energy into the physical body which manifests in an elemental way usually, something personal for the individual.

For example, Nym’s magic shows as plants and plant-like manifestations, which is a reflection of the kind of person she is.  The Shadow’s magic manifests as any number of volcanic expressions, from heat, to lava, to pyroclastic flows.  The longer a person can withstand contact with their own soul, the strong their magic.  The Shadow is an EXTREMELY strong magic user, he can be a majorly scary motherf*cker if he chooses…  Just like the potential immense amount of power just under the earth’s crust, just under the surface The Shadow is boiling with energy and power.  That is because he can withstand contact with the Source of Souls more than mere moments, like more magic users.

Drop Tea-Feathers an ask if you want anything clarified!  I’m working on a species profile for the Alecani next.  =)  (on my free time at least)

Long time no upload!  I have a bunch of art that I just haven’t been posting, I’m so sorry for that!  I’ll start with this portrait that the wonderful Ralen Fox commissioned from me, of my very own character Nym.  :3  Never a serious moment with this gal, I swear.  Be serious Nym, we need your portrait for the TeaFeathers Gazette!  Ah whatever, this is good enough…   ;)

Little watercolor and ink portrait I did of my character, The Harp, while hanging out with friends yesterday!  I wanted to take commissions similar to this one for Halloween, because the stark black ink background is pretty awesome for Halloween themed stuff.  I need to make a scarier sample though, Harp sitting like she’s having a portrait taken isn’t all that frightening, haha!  I have an idea though, will make a sample this weekend and post it and prices soon!

Watercolor and India ink in Canson cold press watercolor paper

Ringing in the new year with a little bit of personal art! I’ve been picking at this since early September, just never really had time to finish it off. One of my new year’s resolutions is the make time for more personal art. I realized that my hectic work schedule is never going to let up, so I can’t keep waiting for their to be time to work on my own ideas. I need to MAKE time for it, even while juggling all the projects I have at hand. 2014 has started off with a major bang, as I’m currently working on a huge children’s book project that takes up a lot of time, while still juggling my private commissions queue, 100 Deeds, and several book covers. So, doing art of my little Nym and her Alecani kin is something I must make time for, or she’ll fade into the recesses of my mind, and her stories will never be told.

Photoshop CS6 with an Intuos 3 tablet

The flat color layer of a personal piece I’ve been picking at for a month or so now on weekends.  This is the best example I have of Alecani anatomy, especially in the feet, hands, and tail.  I’m still debating if I want the inside wing spots to be echoed on Nym’s tail feathers, but I don’t want to over complicate her.  Might have the final fully painted version done sometime in the next couple of weeks!


Also!  I still have a bunch of Alecani related asks sitting in my inbox, most of which I want to draw something to help answer them.  So sorry if your question hasn’t been answered yet, I just want the time to answer it the best way I can;  with art!

After work tonight I did a little bit of doodling for myself!  My stream audience and I got talking about world building, so I though I would draw two of my favorite characters from TeaFeathers; The Harp and The Shadow. 

It helped me to have some solid real world animal references for each.  Where most Alecani are fairly fox-like in their faces, The Shadow’s clan (the Noh’ Dimali) are more wolf-like.  I think I also tweaked Shadow’s markings a bit, a change I like and will keep!

I have some things written down for the other dominant race of TeaFeathers, the Pylura.  But I want to generate some visual samples before posting anything!

“Second star to the right, and straight on till morning…”

Last weekend I was working on a large watercolor commission and needed a little something to occupy my time while I waited for things to dry.  So I brought along a little 3″ X 4″ chunk of watercolor paper to mess with, and ended up with a star gazing Nym.