A lot of anime artists have tackled the zodiacs, so you might wonder why I wanted to draw a set of them too. My primary reason for drawing the zodiacs was that I like drawing things that I can put into sets--a quick look through my gallery will prove that. I also like pulling from the real world for what I draw--as in this isn't 100% something I pulled off the top of my head (although you can find a little bit of that too). I may not be the first to draw the zodiacs, but I wanted to approach the way I designed them differently to separate myself from other artists. A lot of artists have focused primarily on the symbol associated with the zodiac (i.e., The Twins, The Ram, The Crab, etc.). I tried to dig a little deeper. While keeping elements from the symbol, I tried to focus on the personality associated with the zodiac. Here I'll go into a little more on four of the zodiacs. I'll post another entry later to cover the others.
Aries: Aries is the Ram. Aries is a fire sign. It was slightly tempting to draw a sheep on fire, I didn't feel that was particularly appropriate. Digging a little more into what the sign of Aries means, I came up with someone who was a trend-setter, a leader. One direction I briefly considered taking with that was to draw a run-way model type or the cliched Beverly Hills 91210 style person who wears designer labels and always looks like they're at the top of their game. That honestly seemed a little dull to me. When putting together the Aries design, I tried to come up with someone who would be the first to try something new and would thrive on standing out from the rest of the crowd, someone who might take a few risks, someone who could become a leader or who might stay on the fringes of society, but in either case someone who would define their own identity rather than be lead by existing accepted trends.
Aquarius: Aquarius is the Water-bearer and is associated with the element of air. Of all the zodiacs, this is one where I took the most inspiration from the basic sign and element. Aquarius is also someone who likes exploring the mysteries of life. So the train of thought went something like: exlorer... + water... boat captain... + air... airship captain! The design for Aquarius then was influenced by the kinds of airships seen in the Final Fantasy games (yes I know I'm obsessed with them) and the dirigibles in the Girl Genius card game and comic book. This decision was purely personal taste. I like fantasy over sci-fi, so Aquarius has an older, slightly steampunk feel to him.
Capricorn: Capricorn is the Goat. It is also an earth sign. The personality behind Capricorn is stubborn. He is strong and proud, especially in response to adversity. When life gets tougher, Capricorn scoffs at it and keeps going. The choice to give Capricorn an Arabian Nights theme was heavily influenced by The Rose of the Prophet. The main characters of this trilogy, for the most part, fit the label for Capricorn perfectly. It certainly isn't the only theme that would fit the description, but I think it works well enough; life in the desert is rough, and you have to be more than a little stubborn to make that kind of life work for you. I also happen to really like Arabian Nights themed stories, but of course that had nothing to do with it, right? ;)
Pisces: Pisces is the fish with the element of water. Pisces is someone who is mysterious, alluring, and intense. When working with the design for Pisces I kept the element particularly in mind. I have heard oceans described as mysterious, alluring, and intense, almost to the point of being cliche. I had a vague idea of something associated with Poseidon when drawing Pisces, hence the trident. I also had some thoughts of an island lagoon, thus the sarong and sea-weed theme to the clothing. I felt pearls, with their clear association with the sea, kept with the theme and added (I hope) to the mystery and allure of the character in the design.
Well, so much for keeping things short. I apologize for being so rambling; I tend to write stream-of-consciousness style. Maybe one of these days I'll figure out how to write some other way, that's a little more concise.