Twai creates beautiful Elder Scrolls illustrations and amazing cosplay. Check out her Khajiiti- and ESO-inspired work in our latest Community Spotlight!
A lot of your work, including both your illustrations and cosplay, features the Khajiit. What is it about Tamriel's feline race that appeals to you?
I think my love for the Khajiit comes from my love of my very first Elder Scrolls character. While I knew of TES IV: Oblivion after watching my brother, TES V: Skyrim was the very first Elder Scrolls game I played. I knew literally nothing about the world of Tamriel or its inhabitants, but when I looked through the character creator, I saw a black cat guy and was instantly amazed by him. Why play a normal human if you can be a cat warrior?! This was something I never played before and it seemed so exciting, so I named him Den’jin and went on an unforgettable adventure through Tamriel.
What brought you to ESO? Tell us about your main character(s)!
At the beginning of this year, I was looking for a new MMORPG to play with my friends. We came across ESO and decided to try it. Honestly, I regret we didn’t do so sooner! Of course, the first character I created was my Khajiit, Den’jin. He is a bit funny, because he’s supposed to be a damage dealer, but he’s sooooo bad at fighting. On the upside, he is absolutely amazing at sneaking around, searching for treasures, and emptying pockets, just like his Skyrim counterpart!
I also have other characters I love a lot, for example Verus, my Imperial Battle Mage, or my Argonian Necromancer healer Begs-for-Coins. These two do their jobs properly, so I don’t mind Den’jin being a bit strange.
Abnur Tharn & Baandari Khajiit
Where do you look for inspiration when crafting a new illustration?
When you look at my works, you will notice I draw a lot of fan art. Firstly, I simply enjoy drawing characters I love, but also I want to show them off! I love it when people tell me they started playing a game because of one of my paintings or that they are happy to find a fan art of their favorite character.
I would not say I look for inspiration. It rather comes to me when I meet new characters I enjoy and think, “WOW! I would love to draw a picture of this character!” The idea for the picture itself often just randomly pops into my head. This happens most often when I don’t need it (because I am at work or my graphics tablet is nowhere near) and then I wait eagerly all day to finally get home!
What is your process for creating a new piece of art?
That’s a bit of a tricky question because I experiment a lot and don’t really have one fixed way of doing things. I love trying out different techniques and styles, as sometimes I think a certain style just would fit a character better. For example, I tried a more realistic approach for my drawing of Abnur Tharn based on a gray scale. I do this super rarely, and that made this picture really fun and interesting to work on. More often, I start with a rough sketch, I try to find a dynamic pose, and I try to sketch down elements of the back and foreground to get an idea how the scene will look.
Den’jin in progress
When I like the composition, I start to clean up the sketch a bit and then drop in colors on a layer below. I don’t draw outlines because I am so bad at it and it takes forever, so one day I simply started to skip that step. Besides, working on the colors is so much more fun! I like to play around with colorful shadows and bright warm lights. When I like my colored sketch, I finally merge it down on a single layer.
At this point I will create a new layer to draw on top of it, clean up more messy lines and define the forms more and more. Occasionally, I merge it down and start a new one. I try not to use undo. This way it feels a lot more like traditional painting. One day, I want to create digital pictures that actually look like traditional paintings, but I still have a lot to learn and practice for this.
Of all of Tamriel's races, the Khajiit must be one of the most challenging to cosplay! What difficulties did you overcome when crafting your costume?
Firstly, I had never made anything like this before. I had already built armors and giant guns, but a realistic cat was completely new to me, so I looked up cosplays and fursuits to figure out how to do something like this. One thing I noticed was that most Khajiit cosplays have masterfully crafted heads, but in most cases they look far too big for the armored body. This was something I wanted to do differently, so I decided to only build a mask instead of a complete head. While my hood has space for cat ears, there are no ears under it. At some angles you can see parts of my face or neck, but it helped a lot to keep human proportions.
Khajiiti mask process
Secondly, I had no professional materials or a big budget. I learned that fursuit heads are often built on top of resin skulls, but mine is built on a cheap “blank paint yourself papier-mâché mask” from the crafting store. It works! Sometimes I believe cosplay is just about solving problems. For example, I learned the hard way that you need a Teflon foot for your sewing machine to work with faux leather and faux leather can have chemical reactions with contact glue.
What did it feel like to finally wear the completed outfit?
Extremely hot. I only survived because the weather that day was relatively cold. Jokes aside, it always feels great to wear your completed cosplay. While the armor was made from foam covered in faux leather and is therefore very lightweight, it still gives you an idea as to how real armor must feel. I admit it makes me feel really strong and proud! Also it’s really cool when someone comes up to you and asks, “Wait, are you a Khajiit?! Can I take a picture?” and you can reply with “This one is indeed. Of course you can take a picture, five claw.” It’s really worth it, even if you are blind because you made the holes too small and can’t breathe and almost die from heatstroke.
The completed Khajiit cosplay!
Do you have any advice for your fellow players who want to illustrate or even cosplay their Khajiit?
I think the most important thing be it drawing or building cosplay is practice. Things will most certainly not turn out the way you expect it, problems arise, or you might not know how to continue at some point, but do not be discouraged! If you have never made a cosplay, maybe start a small project first. Learn how your materials behave. For example, I use a lot of EVA foam these days because I figured out how to work with it, but I still struggle with modeling clay.
Also, try to learn as much as possible about the thing you want to make. I made a lot of screenshots and sketches to understand how the armor works and collected tons of photographs of black leopards to figure out how to make the mask. There are many great guides on the internet that will help you out. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. I often tell my colleagues about my cosplay problems. Obviously, none of them ever built cosplay, but they come up with ideas I never thought about!
Where can people find more of your work?
You can find me on Twitter where I post my Art and other stuff or on DeviantArt. On DeviantArt you can also find some articles about how I built my Khajiit mask if you are interested in that. Other than that, you might find me in Skywatch emptying pockets. ;)
A big thank you to Twai for sharing her story with us—we can’t wait to see what’s next! If you’ve crafted or seen something amazing that was inspired by The Elder Scrolls Online, don’t hesitate to send it our way via Twitter @TESOnline, Instagram, Tumblr, or Facebook, We’d love to share it with the rest of the ESO community.