Kegiz Gavem Dwarf by Artigas

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Artigas wrote:

I was invited by [Karak Norn Clansman] to collaborate with the wargame The 9th Age with an illustration depicting a dwarf culture that would come from an area equivalent to Ethiopia.
The region was always a very interesting area, with so many ancient cultures interacting and influencing each other. There is so much to work with, but at the same time, no specific strong identity per se. I didn't want to go the somewhat popular way of simply "dressing up" a dwarf in the local attire of the native peoples, maybe even giving him black racial traits. I do not subscribe to that kind of approach, preferring instead to always mix and combine certain aspects of many cultures in order to have something recognisable yet unique. I wanted this design to be primarily dwarven looking, as I imagine the dwarven culture to be a very uniform looking one, given their rigid traditions and slow pace towards innovation and change. I also wanted it to look more advanced than the local cultures, showcasing the traditional excellence and wealth of their race. As for the racial diversity in fantasy races, even though I subscribe to a range of variation within the dwarven or elven races, I definitely do not fancy having it to be an exact mirror of human phenotypes, specially if corresponding to the exact geographical areas that you expect them to be found in. In other words, not every being that sets foot in Africa should be black, the contrast between human locals and the dwarven tribes in the area serving as a tool to further enhance the effect of having two completely different sapient beings coexisting and interacting.
My design choices that hint to the African cultures is evident on my use of colours, patterns and tattoos. The axe is also reminiscent of some of the throwing axes found all over Africa. The short sword's scabbard is decorated in a pattern that resembles a viper and the shield is fashioned in such a way that it resembles a cut gem.
I situated my design between the christian and muslim cultures that were present in that area for so long as much as the more tribal cultures of the Ethiopian men.