Artist Nelson Blake Wields MAGDALENA's Spear of Destiny

Before even beginning the Magdalena series, I had to make sure I understood what the Magdalena is wearing.  Is it a costume, armor or uniform?  In her case, it's a combination of armor and uniform.  Once I got that worked out, I was able to begin the design process with a set focus.

I probably took more liberties with Kristoff than with Patience.  I did a bunch of drawings for him, and Ron, Filip and Phil picked the ones that they like, gave some notes and we came up with what we have.  So far Kristoff has been kind of in the background, but his coolness will emerge as the series continues.  

As for Patience, I really didn't do much outward designing.  The biggest thing was getting rid of the superfluous elements like extra crosses and weapons.  I look at Patience as a knight or samurai, and I like to think of her spear as the staple of her combat strategy.  The swords, shuriken and knives really have no place on her at this point.  After she proves herself with the spear, I might throw in an emergency dagger.  

The real task was to take what was already there and make sense of it.  Ryan Sook has a great take on the Magdalena costume.  For the most part, I think his version is a great, iconic depiction of this Holy Knight that fights the demons.  The only thing I had to do was break it down and figure out how she gets that thing on.  Besides adding seams so she's not just in a leather body glove, I added removable layers to give the armor some flexibility.  

The first layer is just to protect the body against the second layer.  So before she puts any armor on, there is the sports-mesh style underwear layer of tights, shirt and leggings.  Then there is the "soft" armor (in my mind, kevlar enforced and leather covered) that covers her from neck to toe.  She has the long gloves, vest, shorts, leggings and boots, which is covered by the decorated hard armor, and finally, the cloak and hood.  In the drawings you can see that the hood and cloak are two separate pieces, designed for quick removal and reattachment in an emergency situation.

The two design goals I look to achieve are function and immediate visual effect.  Patience appears as a dark figure bathed in the sea of red cloak lining--an allusion to her bloodline--and highlighted by the decorative but effective armor bearing the crosses.  The inlaid gold is important to keep her connected to the Roman Catholic imagery, since they are the ones who acquired the spear and set up the station and function of the Magdalena.

One of the easiest things about this project is the whole church design element.  While I don't personally endorse any organized religion, I did go to Catholic school for almost ten years so a lot of this stuff is already in the databanks.  I still do research for specific things, but having been there allows me to add verisimilitude borne from experience, rather than having to manufacture a feeling based solely off of photographs.  

One of the things I love about this property is that it's a rare opportunity to combine a lot of influences that don't always mesh together.  I grew up watching anime and playing video games and with the large demons, gothic imagery, secret societies, high action and varied locales, I get to bring in a lot of stuff that inspired me to pursue this career in the first place.

What did you think of this process? Who else's would you like to see?

Twitter activity