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Painting Practice: Kanya Ash-hands (Steamhawke)

Last year, I took a traditional animation class at Informatics Computer Institute. For my final project, I chose to animate Kanya Ash-Hands, my old character from the Steamhawke RPG which I briefly participated in some years ago before life ate me off of the internet.

I totally forgot to scan my classwork before submitting them so I can’t show you those. But all that work did revive my interest in Kanya.

I’m quite happy with most of the things in this practice painting… Not all of it, but many things turned out pretty fine. The steampunk goggles, in particular, turned out better than I expected. 😀

I don’t quite like the background, though, with its scribbly blueprint-wannabe pattern. But I was ready to give up by the time I had finished her, so I figured I’d just draw something quick.

I never really got the chance to explain Kanya’s backstory, so I’ll just write some of it here after the cut.  But first! Some details.:)

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Kanya is Steamhawke’s shipwright (or was? Because last we see her, she was fatally wounded and is in the care of a psychopath doctor. Aaand I never really got that part sorted out yet). She was born somewhere in Indochine in the Far East (the equivalent of Southeast Asia in our world) to a semi-royal family. Her mother, a royal adviser, befriends Thomas “Thommy” Claybrook (don’t remember his original last name), an official from a visiting fleet of skyship from Brittania (modern-day UK). Together, they secure a trading alliance between the Indochine King and the skyship Captain.

Over time, however, the Captain becomes greedy for Indochine’s wealth and resorts to devious means of cheating Indochine merchants. One of the King’s favorite concubines confronts him and he accidentally kills her. Furious, the King declares war on the Brittanians and charges Kanya’s mother with treason for collaborating with them. She escapes captivity and pleads with Thommy to bring her and Kanya to safety, as they are pretty much doomed. During their escape, however, one of Kanya’s legs is chopped off and her mother is hit by a poisoned arrow.

Kanya’s mother dies, but Thommy gets the child treated right away. He brings her back to Brittania, where he gets her outfitted with an artificial leg.

Thommy may or may not be Kanya’s biological father. I haven’t gotten that detail sorted out yet.

Back in Brittania, Thommy raises Kanya as his own (regardless or not of whether she were actually his own). Soon after, he meets the famous scientist John Barton and the pair develop a close, even romantic relationship. Kanya grows up calling Thommy and John her two fathers and has a happy childhood. She shares John’s passion for ships, putting stuff together and taking them apart. She also proves to be quite the math whiz.

Many years later, when Kanya is in her teens, the Brittanian King Victor hears about the chaos that occurred in Indochine. Determined to punish the persons who damaged their relationship with the rich kingdom, he imprisons many of the fleet’s survivors, including Thommy. Some of them were executed but nobody ever confirms if Thommy were among them.

John is distraught and shuts himself in his laboratory, performing increasingly dangerous experiments with partially refined dextrocite fuel. This kind of fuel emits the toxic alkabellum radiation that slowly transforms John into one of the dreaded Tainted. Kanya doesn’t realize this, but she is hurt that John has isolated himself and is becoming more and more irritable.

When her home life gets too difficult to bear, she runs off and becomes a cabin girl in the legendary Brittanian naval ship, Good Queen Jane. Her extraordinary skill with ships soon catches the attention of Marty Quickhand, the shipwright. He then mentors her and lets her do engineer work to keep her from tedious cabin girl chores.

Jealous of her unique status on the ship as Marty’s right hand, she is bullied by a cabin boy we only know as “Zander Zitface”. But because of Marty’s protection and the fact that Kanya can handle a fistfight despite her small Indochine stature, she manages pretty well. Until one day Zander and his gang tricks her into getting off the ship in some obscure island just before Good Queen Jane sets off.

And that’s where we find Kanya at the beginning of Steamhawke: deceived, alone and confused. I’m not up-to-date with the entire story but it’s really worth a read, not just for Kanya but for the great fantasy world and all the other interesting characters. You can check it out here.

Kanya tends to be timid, but sometimes quick of temper (especially when you bring up the fact that she’s tiny). She’s a prodigy when it comes to ships and engineering, but she often has no clue how to deal with people. Makes it a bit challenging to strike up deals with the suppliers of the ship parts that she needs.

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