Visualising Vance

I was going through some of my kroki sketches last night, looking at several of a male model that we had several weeks back. He was a very tall man with dreadlocks, and he had a striking, unusual face – looking a bit like Ron Perlman. There was something about the flat expanse over his mouth, his facial bone structure and the intensity of his gaze under a deep brow – “saurian” was the term that kept coming to my mind.

At any rate, I’ve been wanting to try a rendering of a Dirdir – one of the four alien races from Jack Vance’s Tschai series – and I kept going back to these sketches. So, with apologies to this poor chap, I’ve used him as the basis for one of the pale, lizard-like Dirdir:


In the novel “The Dirdir”, there are also dirdirmen – humans who believe (or wish) that they are genetically related to the Dirdir, and who use prosthetics and body modification to emulate Dirdir appearance (The Dirdir, on the other hand, don’t seem to spend much time thinking about the Dirdirmen at all). With that in mind, I wanted the Dirdir to look roughly human in form and facial configuration, but to become stranger and more reptilian the closer one looks. The long antennae-like bits are called “effulgences”, and can glow or change orientation based on the emotions of the Dirdir.

2 thoughts on “Visualising Vance

  1. Looks great. I imagined the Dirdir a bit more humanlike, but that’s just my imagining. A thing Reith said about Ankhe at afram Anacho came into mind just now… In regard to something peculiar they saw: “Even you, the weird mutated freak you are, seem ordinary in comparison”. The dirdirmen must look fairly queer then, so mayhaps your portrayal is more accurate than my mental image.

    – Skye Sken

    • Thanks for the comment, Heikki!
      Yes, I don’t think I quite have what I wanted, but it’s a starting point. One of the problems I was having was getting the jaw to work in a way similar to some larger reptiles without having it look as if he were smiling. Sometimes I see it as a smile, sometimes not… I need to work on that.

      I have always preferred the Jack Gaughan line drawing inside the front of the DAW paperback edition – that’s the first one I ever saw, and I think I must have imprinted that on my brain or something. I think he really managed to captured the right mix of humanoid and animal.

      I’ve done a rough painting of a Dirdir hunting party that I should post here…

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