Highland, by Leo Black

highlanderHighland, by Leo Black

“Twelve Highlanders and a bagpipe make a rebellion.” —Scottish Proverb

Happy First Anniversary to Sartorially Smart Heroines! Can’t believe I’ve been at this for a year. Thanks so much to all of you for sticking with me and for the encouragement and feedback all around. You folks are awesome! I’ve always had kind of a thing for Highland soldiers, so for the anniversary article I decided to go with Leo Black’s concept art for a game called Unwritten: Echos of Twilight by Druid Gameworks. I don’t know much about the game beyond what’s in their news update, but I’ve always liked open-ended games with high character-customization.

I deeply appreciate that Leo made his highland heroine every bit as well-protected and non-sexualized as the highland bruiser there with her. Like her companion, our lass has an air of strength and confidence. She comes across as a genuinely competent character, made tough and smart by hard work and the high mountain winters.

highlander2I appreciate that unlike other greatsword-wielding warrior girls I’ve seen, our highlander wears armor that protects all of her vital organs. Her cuirass is a steel breastplate (and not boob-plate), designed to keep her internal organs internal during heavy swordplay. Her iron-on-leather bracers protect her upper arms against most blows, and even function as a shield in lieu of a buckler or parrying weapon. Her legs are protected by steel greaves, strapped over durable leather boots (and not high heels).

I like, too, that she wears insulation between her armor and skin. I’ve seen a number of artists (or their commissioners) who forget that (a) metal chafes skin and (b) sweat and skin oils corrode metal. Plus the leathers and woolens provide additional cushioning against blows.

Being somewhere around a quarter Scottish, I’m kind of a sucker for comely lasses in kilts, and our highlander rocks hers smartly. The durable woolen tartan travels surprisingly well, providing freedom of movement in battle as well as insulation in the cold and air circulation in the heat. The fur-lined wool cloak keeps her warm in the highland air, and should prove fairly water-resistant in the mountain rain. Lastly, our handsome highlander wears a leather waist-cloak over her kilt, for additional warmth in winter or protection in battle.

If I had one suggestion for our heroine, it would be gloves or gauntlets for improved swordsmanship. It was common practice for greatsword fighters to grip the blade of their weapons in combat for improved parrying or use as an impromptu spear—this only being possible by protecting the hands from the blade’s sharp edge. On the whole, however, I’m very impressed with Druid’s character design for their heroine and may keep an eye on future updates for Unwritten.

For more of Leo’s art, feel free to check out his Tumblr. Thanks again for an awesome first year, folks! Take care and thanks for reading!

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