Women in History
By Megan Kiernan
Women in history are often glossed over, their stories not told. I picked three women to bring to life via character design, poster illustration, and stickers: Joan of Arc, Muirisc, and Mazu.
Women in History
by Megan Kiernan
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@willow296
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@Willow_296
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Women in history are often glossed over, their stories not told and many don’t know the deeds they accomplished. We don’t get to learn about many of these incredible women and their accomplishments because they’re wiped from the history books. I created a brand, sort of a publishing company, and picked three women to bring to life via character design and poster illustration.

The Brand

For the logo itself, I wanted to include two typefaces, one with a more modern look for ‘Women’ and a rougher, traditional font for ‘History’. I played a lot with different fonts and effects to fine-tune to look and feel I was going for, which is a blend of bringing these historic women’s stories to the modern age.

 

Black and White Logo

The Research

A big part of the project was the research aspect of it. I didn’t want to start designing characters without researching their stories, the countries they were located in, and the period to get an accurate depiction of the clothing they wore. Thankfully I love history, so diving in and researching clothing from Ancient Ireland and 13th century China was a lot of fun and I made sure to take extensive notes.

  • Joan of Arc: Lived c. 1412-1431, known as The Maid of Orléans, she is considered a heroine of France for her role during the Lancastrian phase of the 100 Years War. She was born to a peasant family, and it is said she received visions of the archangel Michael, Saint Margaret, and Saint Catherine of Alexandria instructing her to support Charles VII and recover France from English domination. She lifted the siege in Orléans nine days after she arrived, and led Charles VII’s forces through France before she was captured in May of 1430 by a group of French nobles allied with the English, to which she was handed over to. She was put on trial by pro-English bishop Pierre Cauchon on charges of heresy and cross-dressing and was executed by burning at the stake in 1431 when she was 19.
  • Muirisc: Lived somewhere between 600 BC- 500 AD in Ancient Ireland. Not much is known about her, but it is said that she was one of the 25 children of the 66th High King of Ireland. She placed her stronghold near Clew Bay in the shadow of the Cruachan Aigli (Conical Mountain) now known as Croagh Patrick. She is known as a sea captain and a warrior who “ruled o’er hardy sailors and great men” and was famed for being “daring” and “bold”.
  • Mazu: Lived from 960- 987 China, she a sea goddess and is the defied form of the historical Lin Mo or Lin Moniang, a Fujianese Shamaness. Her main legends concern her saving one or more members of her family when they were caught offshore during a typhoon. It is said that she had the ability to see the future and visit places in spirit (astral projection)

 

The Sketches

First iteration of Joan of Arc

Once I was satisfied with how much research I had done, I felt confident enough to start doing sketches of the characters armed with my costume notes. I did a variety of traditional sketches to get a feel for how armor works, general poses, and some quick iterations down on paper before I transferred over to working in Procreate on my iPad.

First iterations of Muirisc

First iterations of Mazu

 

Digital

Joan

Once onto my iPad, I worked on finalizing color palettes and general looks of the characters as I made decisions about the final designs of the characters’ looks. I started with head turnarounds before going to full bodies and working on the clothing and the coloring.

Muirisc

Mazu

 

Character Illustrations/Posters

One thing I wanted to do was illustrate posters of the characters matching locations or moments that were important to their stories.

For Joan, I picked the fort in Orléan where she lifted the siege in nine days.

For Muirisc, I picked the Croagh Patrick, where she set up her stronghold in Ireland.

For Mazu, I showed her astral projecting in a storm, a principal point of her legend.

 

What Comes Next

Over the course of this project, I had to cut things out for time’s sake that I wish I could’ve done, like stickers, short books, and (maybe) animations, as well as tell more women’s stories. The next phase of my project over the summer will be to finish out the goals of stickers and the short books and then begin on telling more stories about more incredible, historical women.

I plan on finishing the stickers within this month and either add them to my Redbubble or print them off through StickerMule and sell them on my Etsy in sticker packs.

 

Takeaways

My favorite thing about these kinds of projects is the fact that basically every aspect that went into it was done by me, whether it was the research (though I did have help with Mazu, thanks Jenny!) or the character designing. I also learned a lot about time management and when to give and take with projects, especially when it comes to working on multiple projects at once, as is the life of a college student.

Megan Kiernan was repsonsible for posting the content on this page. Any inqueries should be directed to the contact information listed above.