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What Drow ought to look like by Aeonna What Drow ought to look like by Aeonna
To my mind, it would be logical if the Drow were all albino, as many cave-dwelling creatures are.

In this picture I have also given the Drow girl large, bat-like ears as I assumed that her hearing would need to be excellent in such dark surroundings. She may even be blind. I postulate this with the assumption that the Drow, after thousands of years in the Underdark, cut off from the Surface, would adapt to their environment.

Further comment: Thank you for some great discussions on this subject! Some of the comments contained points so important that they ought to be mentioned here.
1) Talking of evolution in this context in misleading, as the process takes a lot longer than the few thousand years I mentioned. This becomes even more true if one assumes that the Drow have a longer life-span and reach maturity later than Humans.
2) A self-contained world COMPLETELY without sunlight is not orthodox D&D, whichever version of the rules one looks at. I know this and I only discuss the make-up of life without sunlight because it is an amusing theoretical dilemma.
3) There are several different versions of the D&D world. In one early version, the Drow were in fact pale and in another, dark only refers to their moral alignment.
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:iconbobbobbbbob:
bobbobbbbob Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
There are albino drow, they're called szarkai according to Drow of the Underark.
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:iconaeonna:
Aeonna Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2015  Professional Interface Designer
The beauty of fantasy is that there is a lot of flexibility with the "rules". This was my own imagining. I don't claim to know things other fans don't, I just presented a musing.
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:iconeraatrum:
EraAtrum Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2013
Well, there is a book called "Drow of the Underdark". In it, it tells of three creation myths. In one of them, when Lolth's followers rebelled against the other Elven deities, they were cursed with the dark skin so that they could be told apart from the faithful Elves. In another one, it is said that Lolth blessed them with the dark skin as a gift. The third one (where you're idea would actually make more sense), is that all Elves were originally Drow. Some rebelled and Lolth drove them above ground and cursed them with the light skin.

That being said, I LOVE this idea. I think it would make an excellent race, separate from the Drow. Perhaps a race of Elf that had actually created to live underground, instead of being driven under.
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:iconaeonna:
Aeonna Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2015  Professional Interface Designer
Thanks for the summary! Two of those myths were new to me. It's fun that something that in itself is fiction has three different creation myths.
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:iconmakizuki:
makizuki Featured By Owner Sep 1, 2012
you do know that they have dark skin because of Loth, not evolution its their mark for serving their goddess.
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:iconaeonna:
Aeonna Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2012  Professional Interface Designer
Yes, I know the official version. I just made a mental game of coming up with a different explanation.
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:iconthescribe2343:
TheScribe2343 Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2012
Black skinned drow might have evolved darker skin to hide from the rather horrific predators that exist in the Underdark. That being said, this is a really cool drawing.
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:iconaeonna:
Aeonna Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2012  Professional Interface Designer
Supposing the monsters in the Underdark hade normal sight, as we do, camouflage would make sense.
Thanks : )
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:iconcomplete-spaz:
Complete-SpaZ Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I'll never look at a drow the same way again. This would make so much more sense, though Fantasy has never been known to follow logic. The idea and drawing is really cool. :heart:
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:iconaeonna:
Aeonna Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2012  Professional Interface Designer
Thank you! :dance:
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:iconmoonlesscry:
MoonlessCry Featured By Owner May 30, 2012  Student Digital Artist
Greetings :D

Your drawing is absolutely great, I think you have a really logical and interesting point of view, but I'm afraid that it's not an existing logic in a fantasy world where everything has its reason and its own story. Your theory is completely consistent respecting the natural evolution of living beings, but I would like to explain you some things about the drow that will be very useful and interesting for you, and certainly will get you out of your doubts. :heart: (Also, sorry for my english, it's not my mother tongue... u.u")

I'll start correcting you an essential point that you reported:
"3) There are several different versions of the D&D world. In one early version, the Drow were in fact pale and in another, dark only refers to their moral alignment."
Indeed, long ago, drow were pale. If you've already read the history of the drow, you'd know that they were always white skinned until the day that their goddess Araushnee (actually known for everyone as Lolth) and her dark elven children were banished from the surface lands and exiled into the Underdark after betraying Corellon Larethian, patron god of elves. According to my knowledge of the D&D official background, Corellon cursed Araushnee transforming her into a bloated spider demon, and punished the dark elves, turning their skin black as their evil hearts. :) As you can see, is an affair involving divine magic, and no developments are worth when magic is involved.
That doesn't mean that there are no albino drows. In fact, albino drows are an extremely rare genetic mutation with alabastor white skin and other aspects of all albino creatures, representing 1/5 of 1% of the whole drow population. Known as szarkai, they are considered chosen of Lolth, and they have nothing to do with their alignment. A drow is free to choose their destiny regardless of his skin color. :D

I hope to solve your doubts with this information, and if you have any questions, feel free to ask.

I love talking to people so interested in those black velvet beauties... :iconilikeitplz:
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:iconaeonna:
Aeonna Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2012  Professional Interface Designer
Wow, that was a long post. Excuse me if I am more brief.

My whole reasoning assumes that there is no such thing as magic. This is the premise. The official version stirs the imagination nicely and I am not trying to overwrite or disprove it. I just thought it would be fun to try out a parallel version where the same creatures exist but everything can be proven with scientific theory.

And yes, they are very beautiful ^^
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:iconmoonlesscry:
MoonlessCry Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2012  Student Digital Artist
Oh, in that case there's no problem xD Scientifically, your version is absolutely correct and I have no objection with it, but I have a habit of giving explanations to many D&D players who are still wondering why the drow have the features that they have, and sometimes, it's a little bit hard to show them that in a fantasy world with magic everything is possible.

Anyway, thanks for reading my extense paragraph and for answering it (?) :heart:
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:iconlarqven:
larqven Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2011
A cute albino elf! Yes, this might be more accurate, though the time for evolution might prevent it.

She does look rather blind with her eyes not looking at anything and huge pupils. Her hand gives her the sense of being rather tactile as well--using her fingers as if they were antennae.

The moths give rise to another idea. Under extreme conditions, evolution and survival of the fittest can happen fairly quickly in animals with very short generations and large broods. Specifically, the Industrial Revolution caused soot to coat birch trees, making their bark dark. White moths that lived on them became colored dark after several generations as the dominant whites were killed off due to predation. After coal plants were replaced, and the air got cleaner, birch trees became whiter again. The process than reversed itself with the moths returning to their original white color due to habitat change.

Likewise, mice have also been observed changing colors over many generations under environmental conditions where hawks could pick them off. The mice tend to become a similar color as the ground they scavenge for seeds on.

By accident or design, the colorless moths in this pic make for a nice touch on this idea of color changing due to the environment.
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:iconaeonna:
Aeonna Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2012  Professional Interface Designer
Thanks for the comment!

Glad you noticed her unseeing eyes! I do think of her as being blind, as there is no natural light in the underground and other senses would take over. (The luminescent parts of the picture were added for effect and because I couldn't well post a wholly black deviation).

I imagine the survival of the fittest is a particularly harsh selection among the dangers of the Underdark, so maybe it would be quicker than usual.
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:iconsilent-shrieking:
silent-shrieking Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I had always thought that drow's skin was black even before they separated from the surface elves and that it wasn't a result of living underground. It was just always like that.
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:iconaeonna:
Aeonna Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2012  Professional Interface Designer
There may well be such a version of the story, or if not there should be. There is no real truth in these matters : )
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:iconshamira-g:
shamira-g Featured By Owner May 14, 2011  Student Digital Artist
I like this alot.
and some drow are born bone white albino, so your interpretation is not too far out there.
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:iconhayleyrosegirl:
HayleyRoseGirl Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
And I love your art and I'm not being all mean I'm just saying what I know. ^^ It's very good though
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:iconhayleyrosegirl:
HayleyRoseGirl Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yes but the only reason their skin is black is because of the magical rock underground that their surrounded by. It's the eminations from the magical rock and from them being so close to the senter of thei planet. And yes you are correct. they would have extremly pale skin if the rock didn't radiate a potent magic that turned their skin black to live in the underdark. if they were from earth or real and not magical then yes they would be all albino
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:iconaeonna:
Aeonna Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2011  Professional Interface Designer
In this thought experiment I have disregarded any explanations that are magical or unscientific. So if the rock was not magical, what would the drow look like?
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:iconhayleyrosegirl:
HayleyRoseGirl Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
they would look much like what you made your picture like. Their eyes would be usless and they would probable use sound more then anything. they would be extremly pale and their hair would have no pigment
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:iconaeonna:
Aeonna Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2011  Professional Interface Designer
We agree then!
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:iconhayleyrosegirl:
HayleyRoseGirl Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
yes I agree with you.
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:iconsixth-seraph:
sixth-seraph Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2011
but what if in a realistic environment the black skin was a favorable trait? if the environment contained light from something like a bio-luminescent fungi, thus making eyes useful to both drow and animals, then the black skin could be used for hiding from predator and prey. the only kink would be the white hair.
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:iconhayleyrosegirl:
HayleyRoseGirl Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Well in a realistic environment there would be nothing to turn their skin black, thus there would be no way to make that trait a favorable one. And I do agree on the fungi glowing making it possible for them to still have their eye site but, there is fungi like that in caves yet, the creatures that live around them have no need for their eyes, so realistically they would also not have use for them. In a small area there is light but in the rest of the large cave where they spend almost all of their lives they can not see so what is the use and just make it so they adapt to learning how to go around with out eyes. I look at them kind a like bats if they were in a realistic environment. Even though bats still go outside into the sun set to hunt till sun rise they still can barely see, so what about a creature that lives in the caves almost constantly unless they are forced to leave either for their life or for trade, and even for trade they would probable make trade come down to them like they do in the books.
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:iconsixth-seraph:
sixth-seraph Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2011
point taken.
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(1 Reply)
:iconcompeepip:
Compeepip Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
I completely agree. Its science that an underground race would have light skin and no use for eyesight since they live in the dark, but the Drow is a race of science fiction, they dont follow normal standards.

Besides that, your Drow girl shown is lovely. I think her ears are adorable.
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:iconaeonna:
Aeonna Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2010  Professional Interface Designer
Thank you ^^
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:iconcompeepip:
Compeepip Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Your very welcome, your art is lovely
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:iconbaveboi:
Baveboi Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2010  Student General Artist
You know... There's an OOOOOOOLD problem with the Drow being called "dark elves". They always had, Old Tolkien kind of always had. Here you see, the previous illustrations on drow... well...
[link]
[link]
[link]
[link]
[link]
Can you get the vibe? Hehe. They went a long way from Africa to sun deprived elves.

Hey, I broke my 6 months record just to post here. You should be honored. :3 Hehe Als: I love your comics. Gonna donate whenever I can, gotta keep it running.
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:iconaeonna:
Aeonna Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2010  Professional Interface Designer
Thanks for posting those links. It's very interesting to see early depictions. I've heard a lot of different views on the origin of the Drow, so many that I thought that Dark elves and Drow are completely separate. I think they are now in many versions of D&D? (Though I base this on hearsay.)

Was that a six month record of staying away from Deviantart? That's like six years in Internet time!

If it's CornerAlley13 you like then I'll have to disappoint you. I don't plan on making any more pages any time soon. But thank you for the thought!
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:iconbaveboi:
Baveboi Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2010  Student General Artist
Hey, I'm an account necromancer. Six ears are like six days for me. Mwahahaahaha. You should be honored, tho. I wouldn't do this if I didn't really think you was worth it (oooh but the password hunting is always fun).
And yeah, Dark Elves, Gray Elves, Drow and whatyouhave. They are nameless thousands, but the consensus is more or so the same. Spider (b*tch) queen and evil and underground. Some tend to get around that, like yours truly. What brings me to the point:

What?! I am baffled that you suggest that YOU, one of the best fantasy comics author I had the delight to meet this past few years, can disappoint me. If you had the ability to disappoint me, darling, you would already have done that.
This month I read all your comic and I must say it did not disappoint. Actually I'm happy it came to a halt. Some authors don't see the need for an end to what they do, but without an END there is no STORY. There is no EPIC. And yours, my truly, is an epic story worth reading and reading again.

You don't disappoint me, honey. You enspell me.

But don't get me wrong, I wish for it a glorious return. I know that someday that little fey inside you will scream for freedom and criativity will flow again, for it must always flow. As I said, I'm an old guy with eons for a life-spam. I have all the time at my leisure. I can wait and I will.
Just when it happens watch for me, so I can be again chained by your charms, o' might lady.
Thank you, o' so very much.

Yours only and ancient,
Bavette of Agony, Planewalker.

PS: Sorry about the wall of text and I hope my humble writing is of your liking, you deserve a better and bigger one...
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:iconaeonna:
Aeonna Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2010  Professional Interface Designer
Wow! Thank you for the long message - truly I am touched.

My creativity has not disappeared and I hope to upload some more comic material soon. It probably won't be CA13-related but perhaps you will be able to enjoy it anyway ^^
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:iconbaveboi:
Baveboi Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2011  Student General Artist
There you go again, using words like "probably" or "able to enjoy" and "perharps" when referring to my taste for your work.
I can asure you there will be no "perharps", when you finish whatever your beautiful mind is brewing I'd like very much to enjoy it, O Alchemist of Tales.
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:iconaeonna:
Aeonna Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2011  Professional Interface Designer
Then I shall present my work with confidence ^^
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:iconchrishchrish:
ChrishChrish Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
This is actually very good.But,still...

The drow have actually adapted.Their eyes are usually red,and they see in both normal and in heat.If their is any light,such as candles--yes,drow have them--then they see normal.But,in the darkness,they see heat.Their ears can already hear extremely well.Cat's don't have large ears at times,yet they still hear very,very well.That's kind of how the drow hear.
Maybe their skin is so dark because if it wasn't,they could be mistaken as another kind of elf.Or maybe,its because of their evil Goddess Llolth<I'm not sure if anyone else knows what I'm talking about with the Lloth ordeal.Lloth is a huge part of R.A.Salvatore's Forgotten Realms books with Drizzt Do'Urden,who ran away from the evil's of his race.He lived on the surface,and learned the Common tongue.>.
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:iconaeonna:
Aeonna Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2010  Professional Interface Designer
Just to clarify the title of this piece: I am not trying to replace the canonic Drow saga. This is just a thought experiment of how they could have looked if they were an evolutionary product of the Underdark.

In this thought experiment, I tried to adhere to what would be biologically possible in our world. Heat-vision just seems odd to me. To my knowledge there is no animal in the world with this type of sight.

Cats' ears can adjust direction and catch up sound waves. The ears I've drawn here aren't supposed to give superior hearing by virtue of size, but are larger to allow echolocation by sonar.

I don't think the Drow would develop dark skin just to distinguish themselves from other elven races. How would they get such control over their natural appearance? The premise of this piece was to disregard the classic cause - a curse - and instead try to see what the Drow would look like if they were shaped by their environment, meaning magic is not a valid factor.
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:iconshadowsheir500:
ShadowsHeir500 Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2010
Perhaps the Underdark produces enough Vitamin D that its inhabitants don't NEED to become pale to catch sunlight, or skin "dark as obsidian" is actually desirable for camouflage (since it's such a cut-throat environment), or aesthetics, or both. *shrug*
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:iconaeonna:
Aeonna Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2010  Professional Interface Designer
My guess is that the Drow can only get vitamin D through meat. If not that they they would have to synthesize vitamin D themselves, like most animals.

Aesthetics aside, dark skin for camouflage seems reasonable.
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:iconshadowsheir500:
ShadowsHeir500 Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2010
Well, there you go! :D

(There are apparently rare cases of Alblino Drow with bone white skin and hair and red eyes, so your image is still accurate and lovely. ^^ )
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:iconfreakiegeekie:
FreakieGeekie Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
She's a very pretty Drow and I too have thought "Why aren't Drow all chalky white with matching hair?"

But I do love the contrast of their dark skin against their white hair.

I think the white hair has something to do with the fact they worship a spider goddess. I'm not sure though: I don't know much about DnD Drow. All I know is that like the Drow of folk tales, they are a matriarchal society.
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:iconaeonna:
Aeonna Featured By Owner May 22, 2010  Professional Interface Designer
I like the contrast look too, it does make them look very "spidery". It's just nice to try other ideas sometimes.
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:iconfreakiegeekie:
FreakieGeekie Featured By Owner May 23, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
It is. Which is why I love yours :D
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:iconxpator:
XPator Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Most of the works on Drows are largely inspired by Norse mythology. The fact they got black skin is related to that inspiration. In Norse mythology, mining/smith would be the cause of their dark skin.

But true, some versions of the Dark Elves are albinos. In some other versions, "dark" is only related to their alignment, and nothing to do with their skin.

In a more artistic sense, I believe your perception of a Drow -along with your artistic work- is really well done. I do enjoy the dark-skinned version of the Drows myself, though.
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:iconaeonna:
Aeonna Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2010  Professional Interface Designer
I live in Sweden, so I am quite familiar with Norse mythology, but I have not previously heard anything about dark skinned miners. The only thing I can think of are the dwarves, and if they had dark skin it is likely to be due to uncleanliness.

I too like the Drow look with dark skin and white hair. This piece was merely a speculation about an alternative appearance.

Thank you for the comment!
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:iconxpator:
XPator Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
What I've heard is that there are no real differences between Dark elves and Dwarves in Norse Mythology. Is it such? I dunno.

Either way, nice pic.
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:iconaeonna:
Aeonna Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2010  Professional Interface Designer
I've always thought of them as just dwarves, I didn't realize they had elements of drow in them, but then again I am no expert.
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:iconxpator:
XPator Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
It's funny what you can manage to find on Wikipedia nowadays.
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:iconaeonna:
Aeonna Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2010  Professional Interface Designer
So you did find an article about it?
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