A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to win an artist’s giveaway for a free portrait of one of my game characters. I’ve entered many artist giveaways because I can never justify spending money on art of my game characters, but this is the first time I’ve won such a drawing! The artist’s name is Cher Ro and I’d admired the artwork she did for some of my friends, while never imagining she’d do art of any of my characters. Suffice it to say, I was thrilled when I won!
I knew exactly what character I wanted a portrait of, my Sun Seeker Miqo’te woman D’azri Estrela, nicknamed Star Kitty by my friend Jack. She is the first character I made in FFXIV and her personality is basically me but in cat person form. However, though I was certain who I wanted a portrait of, I was uncertain about being too particular with what I wanted because I didn’t want to be a pest to the artist. As I’ve never commissioned art before, I really didn’t know how things worked.
Fortunately, Cher Ro was lovely to work with and great at communicating to me what she needed. I provided several reference screenshots of D’azri from the game along with a written description of her personality and what I was looking for in the portrait. The most important details to me were the hairstyle, face tattoos, star earrings, star hair bands, and daisies in the hair because they’re all important lore and personality elements of her. I felt somewhat guilty asking for so many specific details but the artist didn’t seem to mind.
Cher Ro also asked for a face claim and since D’azri is the FFXIV version of me, I provided a few selfies for reference. I felt a little self-conscious doing that, but there’s really no one else D’azri could be based on in my mind. If I could be a blue-haired cat girl in real life, I definitely would be!
It didn’t take very long after I sent all the reference materials for Cher Ro to show me a sketch and I was blown away by how amazing D’azri looked! The sketch alone was enough to make me happy and I could only imagine how much more amazing the final work would be. The artist asked me a few questions about the sketch and needed clarification on some details but then we were all squared away.
For those curious, I’ll explain the significance of the face tattoos. The tattoos are in the same area of a scar D’azri has. The scar is the remnant of an injury she suffered as a child when she wandered away from her family’s house and got too curious about and close to an unfriendly marmot in the woods. Every time she gazes in the mirror, she is reminded of the dangers of being too curious.
D’azri got the tattoos when she was an adult but made sure they didn’t completely cover the scar. The stars symbolize her undying hope and optimism. The bat is one of her favorite animals and she’s known to give baby bat pets out as gifts. The crescent moon is in honor of her father and how they would go outside and say goodnight to the moon when she was a child.
D’azri also wears star earrings and has star embellishments on her braids to further continue the theme of hope, optimism, and shining bright even when the world gets dark.
The daisies in D’azri’s hair have purple centers instead of yellow centers and that’s because the hair adornment was made by her partner, Amasar Dhoro, who is an Au Ra and skilled craftsman. In the story I’m writing about D’azri and Amasar, the daisy petals are made of leather and the centers are purple crystals. The hair clip was made as a replacement for a real daisy that did not survive long in D’azri’s hair.
The hairstyle in the portrait of D’azri doesn’t actually exist in FFXIV, but I wish it did. There is a single braid with bangs swept to the side and two braids with bangs in the face. I’d love if there was a style with two braids and the side-swept bangs, but alas, no. Maybe someday it will exist in the game, but for now, at least I can have it in the art of my Star Kitty!
Overall, the experience of working with Cher Ro for D’azri’s portrait was wonderful and I highly recommended her to anyone looking for art of their character! I imagine she has a long waiting list, but I assure you, it’s worth the wait! I’m forever grateful to her for holding the drawing and to the universe for helping me win the contest!