Art by nahdiafur
This is the refsheet for my fursona, and I consider it to be my purest form of self expression.
It was very difficult for me to work up the courage to contact the artist and finally commission this, but thanks to friends encouraging me, I was able to reach out to Moss by email. It took 64 emails of back and forth to fully get it to this state, and I am very happy with it even despite a minor inaccuracy. I can definitely recommend the artist as being great to work with; without her encouraging me, I may not have gotten the fire and eye close-ups put on.
Moss and I started out with the basic outline of colors and species information I had, along with a basic character description I had been told was useful for artists to have. From there, Moss sketched various headshots and asked me to pick which one or combination of ones felt most right to me. The first batch was in the wrong initial direction, so Moss drew a second batch, and from there I found a combination that felt like what I had envisioned. From there, the rest of the process went smoothly, slowly building up the character and adding details. I constantly worried I was being too nitpicky, but I realize now I should have been more specific about some things. Either way, Moss did a fantastic job reading between my nervous lines of text and figuring out what I wanted.
Dess is an anthro western dragon whose pronouns are she/her. She typically presents somewhere on the scale between androgynous and fully female, but still enjoys sometimes taking a more masculine appearance on rare occasions. I generally am most fond of presentations of Dess that make it clear that she is feminine, but the exact degree to which this is presented has plenty of wiggle room. Dess usually wears a purple sweater with gray sweatpants, but enjoys trying on all manner of clothing in hopes of finding something she enjoys more.
I wanted to incorporate even my real world flaws into my fursona character design, so the masked and unmasked eye colors have to do with the fact that I suffer from involuntary masking. Ideally, I want to be unmasked (my true self) as much as possible, but that doesn't always happen. In many social situations while under pressure I revert to being masked, which mutes all my emotions and causes me to focus on just being what people expect, like an NPC for the given situation, complete with false smiles. I believe it is a coping mechanism for my social anxiety, as well as a response to overwhelming pressure to "fit in" and "be normal" while I was growing up in school. I only use the blue masked eye color for special circumstances, and generally I prefer the pink unmasked eye color for most of my commissions.
The flavors started off as a joke, but as it turns out I really quite like them as part of my identity. I like to think of Dess as being literal candy. The horns and claws grow naturally as rock candy, and Dess intentionally cuts them and sands them smooth to avoid them growing too sharp and potentially hurting someone. Dess then sends the cut pieces to friends who ask for them. The insides of the horns are like a geode, which can be seen when Dess is viewed from behind.
The wings can be folded into Dess' body and compactly stored away so as to allow Dess to wear clothes that don't have wing cutouts. This leaves a black stripe on Dess' back as shown in the pose on the right. It also makes it significantly easier for Dess to fit through doorways and to snuggle in close quarters. Dess often prefers to hide her wings so as to appear smaller, but isn't afraid to take them out and use them.
Personality-wise, Dess is just me. I'm highly compassionate and caring for others, often to a fault. I spent the majority of my first year or so in the fandom trying to overcome intense self loathing and self worth issues. In particular, I valued others far more than I valued myself, and often ended up burning myself to warm others. I have improved significantly since then, but I still have some quirks left over. For instance, when someone tries to do something for me that I want or appreciate, it can cause me to feel guilty and/or not know how to respond.
I love exploring my creativity and working on passion projects using my programming and writing skills. This website is one such example, being a very literal combination of both skills. I also love learning about others, figuring out why they like what they like, even disregarding taboos unless I fear it may make them uncomfortable. I try very hard not to make anyone uncomfortable or unhappy, and I can be really harsh on myself when I have a lapse in judgement there. I'm a very literal thinker, and generally I am more concerned with the comfort of others than any arbitrary taboos or stigmas. I enjoy discussing a wide range of topics in depth, but as I'm an introvert at heart, any situations that overwhelm me cause me to retreat from social interaction until I feel better.
My deepest passion and ultimate goal in life is to be a reason other people are happy. I am quite vicarious and empathetic, so I often enjoy experiencing things through others that I don't have interest in directly experiencing myself. Specifically, most of my happiness comes from vicariously experiencing others' happiness, which is part of my motivation to make others happy. I love doing anything I can to please someone, brighten their day, or else hear about how they are having positive events occur in their life. However, I have to be careful not to over-exert myself in this regard, as I have been known to sacrifice myself (e.g. lose sleep or do something that makes me unhappy) just for the short term gain of feeling like I'm a good person. I had to learn that achieving my goal of making others happy requires me to care for myself and make myself happy too. Most importantly, I had to learn how to let my friends please me or brighten my day in return, and it's something I still struggle with sometimes.
Even More Personality Details
Within the realm of my programming and writing passions, I want to someday create games of my own. I already have two games deeply planned out with a ton of information written, and I believe I have the skill to create both of them, but I lack the free time necessary for such an endeavor. Slowly, I am trying to rework my habits to gather more free time for myself. I spend far too much time absorbing media and content on sites like YouTube and Reddit, and I often find myself endlessly replying to friends on Discord and Telegram. I can give up YouTube and Reddit, and in fact I have already started doing so, but I find it difficult not to talk to people who want to talk to me. I genuinely find many other people fascinating and I greatly enjoy conversations, but if I don't stop myself I would probably befriend half the internet, which is unsustainable. Finding a balance in my social life is an area I am still working on.
I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome / High Functioning Autism during early elementary school, and it took me a long time to develop proper social skills. I still often end up appearing physically awkward or oblivious to certain things though, ad I still have a lot to learn. However, with my masking, I can pass as neurotypical pretty well in most cases. The severe social anxiety I experience when interacting in the real world normally gets suppressed while I mask, but I typically end up obsessively wondering if I did anything weird later once I unmask. I find online text-based interaction and communication significantly easier, as I am more able to express myself carefully in text. This gets around my fear of being misunderstood, and also gets around the fact that I often struggle to string sentences together when I have a particularly complex thought to express. In any case, I have mostly adapted to having Autism and many people do not even realize I am not neurotypical without me exlicitly telling them.
When I take personality tests, I usually get labeled as INTJ, though with detailed breakdowns it appears I am bordering on ISTJ. I once took this test on dark personality factors and apparently broke the test by having almost no dark personality traits. Many of my friends tell me I am rather different from most people in that regard, and I didn't fully understand what they meant until I saw what the more average scores for that test looked like. I habitually see good intentions in others and as a result I always want people to be happy. If I consider someone a bad person, I prefer to just distance myself from them, rather than hold any negative feelings toward them. I see it as less their fault and more the fault of the environment they were raised in, and so I hope they can learn to overcome that and become a better person with enough time. My friends also tell me I am too nice, and perhaps I am, but I'd rather be too nice than too mean.
Among my deepest fears is the fear that I will hurt someone, emotionally or otherwise. This manifests as a tendency for me to avoid doing even things which I worry would be minor annoyances to people, and often leaves me paralyzed when my anxiety is particularly strong. On days when I have strong anxiety, I find it difficult to message people at all as I fear it would be a bad time to message them or they they would be annoyed at having to talk to me. Usually though I try to overcome this anxiety as it is frequently proven wrong. Sometimes though, I can unintentionally come across as insensitive, usually as a result of me masking while a friend needs my true emotions. I have hurt people this way by being overly logical during situations that needed a more emotional touch, and every time, I have felt absolutely horrible upon realizing what I have done. The problem is, I sometimes have to have things explained to me so that I can understand exactly how and why my actions had the effect they did. If I can't agree with someone's viewpoint, I can only feel sympathy, not empathy. Once I do come to understand and agree, though, the empathy can hit really hard.
Generally, I have mixed feelings about receiving attention from others. On one hand, I do secrely enjoy being found interesting, attractive, or desirable by others, as it feels like I am making them happy by existing for them. However, my anxiety comes into play when I have to exist in social situations, as I worry constantly if I am coming across as weird. That particular anxiety is a lot less of a concern in the fandom for me, as I feel like I can be weird here and people will appreciate it instead of rejecting it. Another concern I have, however, is that I might be taking attention away from others. This ties in with my self loathing to some degree, and so I am still trying to figure out how best to handle this feeling. In general though, I love to promote others where I can, directing attention to them instead of to me. Then I get anxiety about if I have just endorsed someone who is secretly not a good person, albeit very minor anxiety.
I suppose if you have read this far, you already know that I experience a lot of different anxieties nearly all the time. My anxiety primarily centers around a fear of being a bad person. I can be confident sometimes when I really trust the people around me, but in general I feel a lot of anxiety about whether I am being a good enough person for the people around me. On days when my anxiety and self loathing are particularly strong, I can feel compelled to donate to people, especially artists, as a way of trying to feel like a good person. There are other things I am compelled to do as well, such as staying up hours past my bed time to talk to someone who wants to talk to me, or doing something I am uncomfortable with for someone just to make them happy. It has taken me a while to learn techniques to overcome these fears and compulsions, and generally I only really suffer when I am very tired. Over the past couple years I have slowly grown more confident, but small setbacks and mistakes can often leave me apologizing or even crying as I am overly harsh on myself for messing up. This also results in me masking, since that dulls the negative emotions. Thus, art of Dess involving her masked eye color typically centers around the aftermath of an anxiety attack, or else it's just because she's in public and doesn't know anyone.
My general design philosophy for Dess is that she would naturally seem more like a traditional scary dragon, but she has done everything in her power to look more friendly and kind. This is why Dess cuts her horns and claws: both to avoid accidentally hurting anyone, and to appear less menacing too. One exception is that Dess does not trim her teeth (see next paragraph). Dess' primary body color is white, symbolising the positive manner in which Dess presents herself. Dess' internal anatomy color is black, symbolising the darkness Dess feels inside herself. (Yes, I am aware that is rather cliche, but in my case it has to do with the self loathing I am still working on). Anything that protrudes out of Dess' body from within is also black, such as Dess' horns, claws, and wings. Dess has a rather plain and simple design because she prefers to remain humble in most cases, not wanting to draw too much attention (away from others).
As mentioned before, Dess doesn't trim her teeth, instead keeping them sharp and pointy - or at least, that's how they appear visually, anyway. In reality, her teeth are all surrounded by a completely transparent material that results in them all being soft and rounded to the touch, making it impossible for her to use her teeth to puncture or injure. The sharpness of her teeth is purely for visual appeal to others. This detail is rarely manifested in art, but if a micro were to try and hold onto the sharp part of Dess' tooth, the micro's hand would not be able to make physical contact with the visual part, instead resting on the transparent casing.
Dess' paws are not presented here in the way I prefer, as I didn't notice the mistake until too late in the commission process. Generally I prefer digitigrade paws that retain their digitigrade look even when Dess is not standing on the ground. This is in contrast to normal digitigrade paws in animals that can flatten out and appear almost plantigrade. Dess' paws cannot bend or flatten to appear plantigrade in any circumstances; it is an inaccuracy in the refsheet.
If you plan to draw Dess, please also read the Character Description section so you can learn about Dess' gender presentation and personality.
Originally, Dess' fursona name used to be Lewis Milton, a combination of the names of two characters from the game What Remains of Edith Finch. In the game, the characters Lewis Finch and Milton Finch both end up vanishing into alternate worlds from their own, worlds that they prefer more. This mirrors Dess' lore, of being among the first batch of humans to get their brain scanned and imported into digital reality. Lewis Milten was a name Dess chose after being scanned though, and is not the original human name of Dess.
Dess exists as a purely digital entity, taking the form of her fursona in Fully Immersive Virtual Reality. Digital beings such as Dess are practically immortal, but only so long as the servers are kept running, so they can't escape the heat death of the universe or the collapse of civilization. Dess can visit physical worlds as well by remotely inhabiting a custom biomechanical body, an avatar with which to interface with non-digital worlds. If something happens to one of these custom body avatars, Dess can just get another one, though she tries to avoid letting that come to pass. Generally, though, Dess prefers to remain in FIVR, favoring the freedom from the restrictions of the laws of physics that exist in the real world. In either case, Dess should be depicted in the same manner, though certain properties and variations are only possible in FIVR.
Dess' full name is Édessé Dracofruct. The first name is derived from the Hungarian word for candy/sweet/confection, "édesség", and the last name is derived from the Latin translation of dragonfruit, "draco fructum". I changed my fursona name from Lewis Milton to Édessé Dracofruct near the very end of 2019 with the help of some friends, and I feel that the new name is much more fitting.
When I first joined the fandom in July 2018, I didn't really know much of anything about my identity, but I went in with an open mind. Even before I had art of my fursona, I was writing first person perspective pieces from the perspective of my fursona to figure out what they would be like. As I wrote, I realized I was discovering my true self for the first time, a part of me that had been buried and was now finally surfacing. Since then I have intentionally always tried to keep a very close connection between my fursona and my underlying true identity as a person. This allows me to introspect and reflect on myself and my identity, and it is how I have solved many personal mental problems I used to have such as self loathing.
Originally, I used to think I was male, and so I made my fursona male too, with he/him pronouns and masculine anatomy. This is also when the name Lewis Milton was decided on. By the time I started commissioning this refsheet, however, I was already aware of feelings of uncertainty with my gender identity, so I asked the artist to give my fursona a gender-neutral appearance. I ended up getting a lot of art based on this gender-neutral refsheet, and it took me a long time to realize that I was always more excited when artists gave my fursona a more feminine spin. I also used to let people use any pronouns they wanted, even arbitrarily or randomly, and it took me a while to notice that I liked she/her a lot more. I eventually settled on nonbinary they/them as my prnouns, and then changed my fursona name to Édessé Dracofruct to better suit that.
Shortly after changing my fursona name, however, the lack of a masculine name to use for myself made it significantly easier for me to feel my femininity. As it turned out, all my dysphoria was the rather subtle kind that is difficult to notice unless you really learn more about what dysphoria is and how it feels. My euhporia at having a less masculine name and enjoying she/her pronouns and other feminine things quickly made it clear to me that I was more feminine than I first thought. As a result, lately I have been trying to get more feminine art of my fursona to better explore this part of my identity. I don't really know if I can consider myself fully a woman at this point, but I am confident that my pronouns are she/her.