Around a year ago I drew my version of the Egyptian goddess Isis as she was portrayed in the RTS game Age of Mythology. But since I’ve grown embarrassed at how I drew people and their anatomy back in those days, I’ve taken another shot at the same theme.
Character design for an Egyptian warrior who has the special responsibility of protecting the Pharaohs’ tombs from robbery and vandalism. Her black jackal helmet is of course an allusion to Anpu (Anubis), the jackal-headed god of embalming in the Egyptian religion.
This is a digitally inked and colored version of those three goddesses I doodled earlier. From left to right, the goddesses are Isis of Egypt, Athena of Greece, and Nuwa of China. Accompanying each goddess is a symbol of my own design, though each incorporates elements of iconography native to each culture. Isis’s symbol is based off an ankh, Nuwa on the Yin/Yang, and Athena on the so-called “Panhellenic Star” (the last being used as a symbol by the Greco-Macedonian forces under Alexander the Great).
Each of these pencil doodles depicts a goddess from a different culture’s mythology, each accompanied by a symbol of my own design. From left to right, they are Isis from Egypt, Athena from Greece, and Nuwa from China. Although most people have heard of Isis and Athena, Nuwa isn’t so well-known, but in Chinese mythology she was the goddess who created human beings (hence why I labeled her a “goddess of creation” in my doodle).
One of the challenges when drawing these doodles was giving each goddess a skin tone that was distinct from the rest. They’re all supposed to be “women of color” with darker skin than northern Europeans, but their exact shades of color differ between them. Isis, as an African goddess, should of course be the darkest of the bunch; Athena is supposed to be a Mediterranean tan; and Nuwa is supposed to have the light brown color of a southern Chinese (since I wanted her to be darker than the “pale geisha” stereotype). I think the difference in skin tone between them would appear more obvious if I were to digitally color this sometime.
These portraits would be unremarkable, except I drew them as concept art for the San Diego Game Jam of 2016. It’s an event where game design students get together into teams to make a little computer game over the course of 48 hours. My team chose to make their game about the growth of a cult, and we were going to let the player choose from three goddesses with distinct gameplay styles in the beginning: the Egyptian Isis, the Greek Athena, and a third goddess we never decided on.
In the end, that idea got scrapped because our leader wanted to do more abstract, fictional gods rather than drawing from historical mythologies. But he still liked the concept art I drew for Isis and Athena, and I didn’t want it to go to waste. So here it shall remain on the Internet for time immemorial.
In our initial game design, Isis was portrayed as a goddess of wisdom whose cult used peaceful methods to recruit followers, whereas Athena as a goddess of war had a more aggressive, martial approach. Of course in real mythology Athena was also a goddess of wisdom, but I thought she would stand out more in terms of gameplay if we emphasized her warlike tendencies while Isis got to be the pacifistic intellectual.
My portrayal of Neith, the ancient Egyptian goddess of hunting, warfare, and weaving. You could say she was the Egyptian counterpart to the Greek Athena, and indeed some scholars such as Martin Bernal have hypothesized that the Greeks god the idea of Athena from Neith.
I drew this while installing the game Smite, wherein she is one of a number of gods you can play in a sort of mythological, multiplayer battle arena. It sounds like a fun concept, but I’m personally not a fan of how they depicted Neith and the other Egyptian gods. So here’s my alternative take on her.
The Egyptian goddesses Neith, Bastet, and Sekhmet are gonna slay it together!