Do you have a "look bible" [for collaborating artists]? Or do you literally give them the stuff that you've already produced? Do you say, "This is my map of X," or "This is the way the Lord Ruler works," or do you kind of go, "Hey, here's what Vin has been for the last ten years, but these are the things you can't change"? Do you have guidance like that that you give people?
Usually the guidance we give them is the words in the book. We sometimes give pictures and things, reference. We did that for the cover for Oathbringer, where we provided reference of, "Here are some pictures of people who look kind of like Jasnah that might work." We're doing that more and more, but at this point...
I know that Magic: The Gathering has these big look bibles that they share with their artists, and those are really cool. And then they wind up turning them into these gorgeous art books that they've been putting out, using a lot of the same stuff from there. And we haven't gotten quite to that point where it's like, "You know what? This person has to look this particular way." We're moving that direction, slowly, but that's because we're based on books. We want people to be able to imagine the characters as they would.
We hesitate sometimes, when it's like, "Okay, here's the look of what this person is." Even with the Heralds, that we were putting at the endpapers of the Stormlight books, we are careful to say that those paintings are somebody's interpretation. We like ot think of these as in-world interpretations, and each of the artists who are painting them for us are maybe artists actually on Roshar, and they've painted these paintings that are hanging somewhere in some prince's palace or queen's palace, and they've got all of these pictures of the Heralds. So we treat these as in-world artifacts. However, they were not painted from the real people that the Heralds are, so it's more of the tradition of what this Herald looks like.
It's very interesting you say that, because you even said that, when you showed us your early sketches of Vin, looked very much like what [fan artists] made. So, the words are descriptive enough that they're fairly clear.
I mean, there are some thing that we have to canonize later, like, "Which ear is Vin's earring in?" Well, it's not mentioned. It's not mentioned until we got to the leatherbound books, and we said, "We have to figure this out!" And then we made a few notes in the leatherbound books, "This is her left ear." But there are things we run into like that. And the more secondary the character is, usually the less words that are written about them, so there's more wiggle room on how to define them.