The Nine-Tailed Fox

The nine-tailed fox is a creature found predominantly in East Asian mythology, possessing many supernatural abilities. The most notable characteristic of the nine-tailed fox is its ability to shape-shift into a beautiful woman in order to lure and feast on the flesh of men. A nine-tailed fox can become a human through completing a specific task, depending on which piece of media you reference; I began watching the K-drama My Roommate is a Gumiho recently, and the main lead is a nine-tailed fox that needed to absorb 1,000 souls to become human.
A gumiho is the Korean equivalent to the nine-tailed fox, as it is referred to as a “huli jing” in China and “kitsune” in Japan. The biggest difference a gumiho has between its other counterparts is its possesion of a “fox pearl” used to absorb human “essence”. My character’s name is Hwayoung Lee, a girl who is cursed into becoming a gumiho by ill-fated destiny. While searching for a way to break her curse, she uses her newfound powers to fight as a vigilante under the moonlight. The design I had in mind for Hwayoung was her alter ego “The White Vixen”, a superheroine dressed mainly in white, with flowing white hair, and fluffy white ears and tails. I used an app to create a 3D model in order to screenshot the varying angles I needed to complete the assignment, from there I traced over it and added the necessary features so it didn’t look completely like a mannequin. 

Gumiho 360

The feedback from the final opened my eyes to how much my design was lacking. Quite honestly, I was in a time crunch when I made my “turn around” piece of the White Vixen, so no wonder it failed in demonstrating what I was initially envisioning. For a nine-tailed fox, Hwayoung had no tails in the design, and her ears looked more like horns if anything. Her hair looked very flat looking back at it now, and the black ombre effect on her boots and gloves fell short and sloppy.

Fast forward to this summer, I decided change up her design overall into something more “aesthetically-pleasing” and less flat. Her facial design is heavily referenced to model (and actress) Hoyeon Jung; I sketched the facial expression and structure from photos taken during events and magazine covers she was in. The varying line depth of her hair helped it appear less flat and more voluminous and silky, not to mention the fox ears are fluffier and look nothing like hard, devil horns. I also added nine tails to the full body design to further cement her identity as a gumiho.

As for her actual costume, I got rid of the black ombre that was going on in the previous design on stuck with solid black with red at the ends. I didn’t want her costume to be entirely white despite her alias being “The White Vixen”, the addition of black and red really just make the whole thing pop and make her look less like a bride on her wedding day. Personally, white gloves and shoes are the easiest to get dirty so that influenced the reasoning to make them black, especially if she using her fists and feet to fight evil-doers. I did my best to implement the “modern hanbok” design into the White Vixen’s costume considering the fact that she IS Korean, all the while making the outfit breathable and flexible enough to fight crime in. The addition to the choker with the pearl at the center is nod toward the “fox bead” a gumiho possesses. In the future, I hope to draw the White Vixen in more dynamic poses to really demonstrate her prowess as a vigilante.

Gumiho 2023

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