Iconic Evolution: Seelah

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

It's Tuesday, and that means another Iconic Evolution. This week's entry is a stalwart bastion of goodness, righteousness, and sacrifice, the stoic paladin. In this weekly video series, artist Wayne Reynolds takes Paizo's publisher and chief creative officer, Erik Mona, through his creative process in updating Pathfinder's iconic characters for the game's Second Edition, coming out this August. Check out this short video of their conversation for a glimpse into the mind of Pathfinder's most iconic visual artist and the first official look at the new version of Seelah, the iconic champion!

Artist's rendering of a bald tan man dressed in blue, white, and gold weilding a temple sword.

Each week, we'll take a look at a different updated iconic with Erik and Wayne, so stay tuned.

Mark Moreland
Franchise Manager

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Iconic Evolutions Iconics Paladins Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Pathfinder Second Edition Seelah Wayne Reynolds
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Liberty's Edge

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Cori Marie wrote:
It seems like her skin is lighter in the new art, and I'm not a huge fan of that :(

I also noticed this and was disappointed. As a black female, seeing someone with my skin tone as a younger girl was so impactful to me when I opened up the original rulebook.

In my community, being a darker tone individual can come with its own set of struggles (I remember being called ugly because of my skin).
Seeing someone like her in an rpg book being a hero and amazing means a lot. To see her skin get lightened here disappoints me a lot. :(


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Well, she is Garundi rather than Mwangi.

Do we have any actual Mwangi iconics? They should be really dark skinned. The only one I can think of is the half-elf swashbuckler, for whom lightening of the skin seems to have been a frequent art issue.

Oh -- There is the iconic investigator, who has an unquestionably Mwangi appearance even though he is also described as Garundi. But it could be a while before 2nd edition brings him back.


David knott 242 wrote:
Oh -- There is the iconic investigator, who has an unquestionably Mwangi appearance even though he is also described as Garundi. But it could be a while before 2nd edition brings him back.

Quinn is ethnically Mwangi. I don't believe he's been described as Garundi anywhere.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Viviolay wrote:
Cori Marie wrote:
It seems like her skin is lighter in the new art, and I'm not a huge fan of that :(

I also noticed this and was disappointed. As a black female, seeing someone with my skin tone as a younger girl was so impactful to me when I opened up the original rulebook.

In my community, being a darker tone individual can come with its own set of struggles (I remember being called ugly because of my skin).
Seeing someone like her in an rpg book being a hero and amazing means a lot. To see her skin get lightened here disappoints me a lot. :(

As someone who doesn't know you, that memory and amazement is yours. Your heritage and beauty are yours. However time may see things shift, nothing can uncreate Seelah's existing art, nor lessen how proud and glorious she and you can demonstrably be. You need never lose your heroes.


Viviolay wrote:
Cori Marie wrote:
It seems like her skin is lighter in the new art, and I'm not a huge fan of that :(

I also noticed this and was disappointed. As a black female, seeing someone with my skin tone as a younger girl was so impactful to me when I opened up the original rulebook.

In my community, being a darker tone individual can come with its own set of struggles (I remember being called ugly because of my skin).
Seeing someone like her in an rpg book being a hero and amazing means a lot. To see her skin get lightened here disappoints me a lot. :(

Some of this might be that I think she's supposed to be in brighter and more direct lighting, her armor is brighter too. She's not looking lightened on the cover of the Lost Omens World Guide, to me. So it might be that this piece is more of an outlier than representing a decision to lighten her skin tone overall in the new design. I agree that would highly unfortunate. Paizo tries to do well with representation, although they don't always succeed.

Contributing Artist

13 people marked this as a favorite.
Viviolay wrote:
Cori Marie wrote:
It seems like her skin is lighter in the new art, and I'm not a huge fan of that :(

I also noticed this and was disappointed. As a black female, seeing someone with my skin tone as a younger girl was so impactful to me when I opened up the original rulebook.

In my community, being a darker tone individual can come with its own set of struggles (I remember being called ugly because of my skin).
Seeing someone like her in an rpg book being a hero and amazing means a lot. To see her skin get lightened here disappoints me a lot. :(

Sorry to hear that you're disappointed with this rendition of my favourite Iconic character.

However, Doktor Weasel is correct with regards to his assessment of the lighting used in the artwork.
the model I used is of African descent with a darker skin colour. When viewed under warm bright light (That I wanted for this image) her skin took on a warmer hue. As soon as she put on my cuirass (breastplate) her skin tone brightened even more due to the reflected light from the metal.
Everybody's skin hue changes as the light changes. It also changes depending upon temperature, what they're wearing and what they've been doing......
Though some of it can depend upon the camera taking the photograph too.

You may notice that in an upcoming rendition of Seeleh, her skin looks darker due to the environment that she's been depicted in.


So we're missing out on some context for the colors, that makes sense. Are all the iconics being drawn in the same light?


Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
ErichAD wrote:
So we're missing out on some context for the colors, that makes sense. Are all the iconics being drawn in the same light?

Of course you/we are missing out on context, you/we are not a professional artist with decades of experience ... you/we are probably missing A LOT. ;)


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Elorebaen wrote:
ErichAD wrote:
So we're missing out on some context for the colors, that makes sense. Are all the iconics being drawn in the same light?
Of course you/we are missing out on context, you/we are not a professional artist with decades of experience ... you/we are probably missing A LOT. ;)

I think that was more, since we're seeing the iconics in isolation, without any environment or visible lights, we can't tell whether they're in a "warm, bright light" or something else.

Contributing Artist

5 people marked this as a favorite.
ErichAD wrote:
So we're missing out on some context for the colors, that makes sense. Are all the iconics being drawn in the same light?

Most of the new Iconic artwork takes into account environmental lighting, which varies depending upon the character.


Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
thejeff wrote:
Elorebaen wrote:
ErichAD wrote:
So we're missing out on some context for the colors, that makes sense. Are all the iconics being drawn in the same light?
Of course you/we are missing out on context, you/we are not a professional artist with decades of experience ... you/we are probably missing A LOT. ;)
I think that was more, since we're seeing the iconics in isolation, without any environment or visible lights, we can't tell whether they're in a "warm, bright light" or something else.

Ahh, I see that now. Makes sense, thanks for pointing that out thejeff!

Liberty's Edge

8 people marked this as a favorite.
Wayne Reynolds wrote:
Viviolay wrote:
Cori Marie wrote:
It seems like her skin is lighter in the new art, and I'm not a huge fan of that :(

I also noticed this and was disappointed. As a black female, seeing someone with my skin tone as a younger girl was so impactful to me when I opened up the original rulebook.

In my community, being a darker tone individual can come with its own set of struggles (I remember being called ugly because of my skin).
Seeing someone like her in an rpg book being a hero and amazing means a lot. To see her skin get lightened here disappoints me a lot. :(

Sorry to hear that you're disappointed with this rendition of my favourite Iconic character.

However, Doktor Weasel is correct with regards to his assessment of the lighting used in the artwork.
the model I used is of African descent with a darker skin colour. When viewed under warm bright light (That I wanted for this image) her skin took on a warmer hue. As soon as she put on my cuirass (breastplate) her skin tone brightened even more due to the reflected light from the metal.
Everybody's skin hue changes as the light changes. It also changes depending upon temperature, what they're wearing and what they've been doing......
Though some of it can depend upon the camera taking the photograph too.

You may notice that in an upcoming rendition of Seeleh, her skin looks darker due to the environment that she's been depicted in.

Thanks for taking the time to respond to my comment. It means a lot that the artist is willing to address my concerns cause it shows me that you care about what I’m saying enough to address it.

I’m glad to know that this is just a environmental context and that her skin tone hasn’t been lightened.

I hope you understand the context of my own concern. Colorism is a very real issue in communities of color and I’ve grown up seeing magazine covers and other media purposely lighten women of color skin tones toward the goal of making them more “acceptable” or beautiful. This is extremely common and is a pretty hurtful practice overall for a multitude of reasons.

I’m glad to get re-assurance directly from you that this was not the intent (but rather the specific lighting of the piece is at play here) and that Seelah’s skin tone will be preserved across editions.


Well, just a few minutes ago, I accidentally got a new perspective on the light/dark appearance issue, from being sent some selfies taken under different lighting conditions and intended for eventual public viewing, placed side by side, and observing that the different lighting conditions made every bit as much difference as seen between the old and new featured art of Seelah.

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