Dragonsworn Cosmetics’ Critical Role-inspired nail polishes can make every day feel like Thursday
Every week, a group of nerdy voice actors gathers together to stream their Dungeons & Dragons campaign live online for a show called Critical Role. With dungeon master Matthew Mercer and players Travis Willingham, Liam O’Brien, Marisha Ray, Taliesin Jaffe, Laura Bailey, Ashley Johnson, and Sam Riegel, Critical Role has a dedicated fanbase that eagerly waits for Thursday nights to arrive so they can watch the show on Geek & Sundry’s Twitch channel or at least check out the stream once it’s posted afterwards to various channels before the next week’s episode. The creativity of its fans has led to incredible fan art, cosplay, and of course geek fashion, with a recently released nail polish line created by Dragonsworn Cosmetics being one of the most stunning examples of fans creating geek fashion inspired by the show.
Dragonsworn’s collection features 10 shades inspired by each of the main party characters in the current Critical Role campaign as well as the dungeon master. Each shade perfectly matches the character it’s connected with, making it a fun line that’s sure to speak to fans who connect with these characters. The company’s founder, who goes by Cal, told GeekFold in an email interview that she’s been peripherally aware of the series since it started, but didn’t have time to watch it live or catch up on videos after an episode aired. It’s only been since the series started releasing episodes as podcasts that she became hooked.
“What I love about Critical Role is its perfect combination of an amazing ensemble improv comedy with all of the pratfalls the random number gods can give you, like a hack and slash version of a Christopher Guest movie. Serious magic happens: it makes me both nostalgic for my D&D campaigns of the past and inspired me to get involved in new ones in the present,” she said. “Additionally, I have two little kids who are huge Sofia the First fans, so basically there was already a lot of Travis Willingham in my house all the time.”
She was enthralled by the character interplay and found the character designs by official artist Kit Buss spectacular. It all inspired her to create the polish collection.
“When I really love something, translating it into pigments lets me give back to a fandom and share what I love with others,” Cal told GeekFold. “I had a customer recently tell me that she wasn't familiar with Critical Role, but the polishes were so beautiful she was going to start watching it, and that kind of reaction makes me unbearably happy.”
Cal refers to her work as “wearable fanart.” She wants people to be able to look at the bottle and know who it represents before looking at the label. Her nail polishes for Critical Role certainly achieve this, though she said some were quite challenging to create and find the right match for. She said the Tiberius color was easy, while she wasn’t even going to make the Dungeon Master polish “because what color do you make the Evil Overlord NPC Of Everything?”
“However, when everything comes together just right, it's like kismet–of course the Evil Overlord NPC Of Everything is a holographic multichrome. What else could he possibly be? Deciding on the colors starts in broad strokes and then narrows down from there,” she said. “It was important to me that Vex and Vax had the same base pigment and then I used glitter to differentiate them: Vax has three different silvers for his trademark dagger-dagger-dagger call, and Vex has her blue feathers and some nice warm brown for Trinket. The magic users are linked with holographic glitters, and Keyleth in particular has a duochrome effect in her base pigment to reflect her Circle of the Moon shapeshifting. My favorite visual trick was for Pike: bright and shining and straightforward, and then when the light hits just right pinkyred touches of Sarenrae shine through.”
The whole process to create the line took Cal about two weeks. She starts with what she calls a sketch, where she creates a list of the characters and their important visual and personal characteristics. Then she mixes up small color samples and tweaks pigments until she has a mixer that looks like it did in her mind. Cal said the fun part is the third step where she wears each color a few days and makes notes on longevity, sparkle, and makes “sure what's on the nail is the same as what's in the bottle.” She’ll repeat the second step until she is happy with the result.
“Keyleth, for example, went through a couple iterations until she was absolutely perfect,” she said.
This isn’t the end of Cal’s Critical Role-inspired items either. She said everything starts with polish in her world and is then translated into glosses or shadows if the base pigment allows.
“Scanlan and Vax, for example, are going to make some absolutely spectacular eye shadows, and Tiberius will be super fun in a red-gold gloss,” she said.
As for that Dungeon Master nail polish she wasn’t going to make at first? It’s become her most popular color ever!
“My very favorite piece of trivia about it is that it's my third Matt Mercer color (after Fallout's MacCready and Overwatch's McCree),” Cal said. “Not even Jennifer Hale is that well-represented in my cosmetics, so he should be very proud of his contribution to fabulous glittery geek fashion.”
You can see Dragonsworn’s entire Critical Role collection on Etsy.