Yesterday, I had a really good vision.
A gorgeous absolutely awesome vision.
It was a picture of a super form that is technically speaking canonical to Red Hood Rider...but which is only canonical in the sense of "it is something that happens in the canonical future of the Rubyverse...after Red Hood Rider has ended."
Because the super form I imagined takes ten years' of magical experience, minimum, to build up the 'magical strength', so to speak, to not suffer from magical fatigue from so much as attempting it. And seeing as how Red Hood Rider ends when Ruby's 18, not 26-at-minimum, that means that it won't actually appear in the story itself. (Unless I like...randomly show a picture of the future in the series at some time. Which, mind you, with an oracle play, is quite possible. But like...while it's possible, I just have no current plans to show that sort of thing.)
This form, which I am dubbing "Elemental Ruby", is basically her ultimate of ultimate forms...because in this form, instead of channeling her power through weapons (even her Black Ruby form channels most of its power through her claws which count as a weapon) or innate powers of a form, she is directly channeling her power through herself.
This is a power we DO canonically see her, briefly, use a small form of...and the consequence is that she suffers a magical fatigue burnout from the attempt--because weapons make it easier to channel innate rider abilities. Each of the elemental riders, when you think about it, does this. Ruby, her bows (mostly); Sally, her bazooka; Hannah, her staff; Gary, his sword and shield; Vili, her dagger; D.D., her wand/her sword; Whitney, her guns/knives.
The only one who doesn't use a weapon is Amy, but she has her vampiric nature as a channel (where, basically, her base powers are 'light-based counterparts to innate vampire powers that usually are darkness'), and, she is a semi-magical creature inherently (whereas Ruby is not inherently magical; she's just as artificially magical as any other rider or any other vampire).
Basically, channeling powers especially elemental powers is much, much, much easier if you do it through something beyond your body, because if you use your body directly...you run into the problem of exhausting your innate magic very very very very very very quickly. This innate magic is a little like a muscle; you flex it when you use magic and stress it when you use a lot and magical fatigue is basically when you sprain it from having used too much.
So over time you can do it...with lots and lots and lots of practice and experience using magic. Thus, why the form takes ten years minimum, no cheating, to obtain. And thus, why the form while technically canonical in that it definitely is a thing that happens in the future of the Rubyverse, won't appear in Red Hood Rider itself, which spans the course of two years total.
But as for what the form is, beyond basically allowing Ruby to use all of the aspects of Darkness and Light simultaneously (for how broken that is, well, I know I've written blogs on darkness-element's brokenness and feel like I did one for light, too, a few years ago)...
...It is the coolest image I've ever imagined.
On Ruby's right arm, there's swirling, twisting tendrils of black darkness, which create the aesthetic of a hybrid between a skintight suit and a bulky spiked gauntlet. These tendrils form sharp, long, boney fingers. At the tip of these fingers are red claws. The only part not imbued with this swirling mass of darkness? The palm, which is a swirling mass of crimson energy, spinning in a vortex. On the back of her hand, opposite the palm, rests a red gem.
When this formation reaches her shoulder, it spreads out to be a hybrid between black-feathers and black-tendrils to form an incredibly long, gigantic wing-like shape, which flows like a cape, pointing backwards with the effect of a perpetual wind, while still being movable/manipulable. (The closest example I can think of is the main female ghoul from Tokyo Ghoul who's a fragile speedster, but even that doesn't capture the effect I'm going for exactly.)
On Ruby's left arm, you get bright yellow masses of strings flowing each and every direction. Hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions of small, barely visible, long, energy strings (think monomolecular razor wire) flowing each and every direction, but many of them loosely forming constructs out of pure light. Mirroring her right hand, the back of her left hand has a white gem on it.
These strings are shaped similarly to the tendrils on the other side, so that results in a sort of skintight golden suit/rounded (as opposed to spikey) gauntlet formation, which continues all the way up her arm. (Both of these don't end at the elbow like a gauntlet would, but continue up to the shoulders where they branch out.)
Predictably, the left shoulder has a white light/feather wing hybrid, mirroring the right shoulder; incredibly long, gigantic, flows constantly, like both the tendrils on the right and the strings further down the left, constantly moving, shifting, changing exact form/position, but being malleable, an effectively cape/wing hybrid thing, pointing loosely backwards.
These wings are, more or less, combining the best of her arcangel super form's abilities, by allowing her to have the wing weapons of them, yet critically, having them not attached to her arms (which are thus, free, to do different things) while still permitting them to be used for both flight and barrage of abilities.
Her feet have, overlayed over them, each an automatic crossbow construct, acting as boots. (These allow her to do the "wall jump in air" effect where characters bounce in the air--mind you, she can already fly, but this allows her to shoot forward in directions. Which also gives her incredible movement speed boosts and also one hell of a kick. But that's beside the point.)
Her shins are layered in the bolts basically lifted from her arbalest armor super form, allowing her to use the abilities from that form, and to continuously reload her crossbows on her feet. (For those keeping track, this gives her six avenues of attack potentially; legs, arms, and wings.)
Her thighs are layered in overlapping black blades, taken from her blood staff. (Her blood staff's blade portion has the blades be about the length of a thigh, by my estimate, so this blade-armor works perfectly here.) This basically hybridizes her inherent vampiric abilities with said arbalest armor. Said blades can be telekinetically launched separately from the bolts (that's an ability she has with her blood staff; she can throw it and telekinetically control its trajectory and this is the ultimate extension of that ability), but she can also launch the blades using the crossbow for extra power/momentum behind the shot.
On her back, there's nothing. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. From just above her butt (by about as much as her normal shorts) to her shoulders...there's absolutely no clothing. A completely and totally exposed back. (She's wearing a dress, and backless dresses are a thing which exist. What she's wearing incorporates one of them, by using the Bleach logic of "anything she'd wear would be blow off by her own energy", more or less.)
On her torso, she's wearing a strapless (and, yes, backless) dress (the dress can be red, black, or white; it's red by default). However, said dress in the middle at the top has the V-neck shape. (Strapless dresses tend to be flat, like this - , but this dress would be like this \/.) Which, yes, is mostly for extra cleavage. (Adult Ruby likes to be sexy and to some extent show her assets off; it's one of her more impulsive/vampiric traits which by the time of the future she has made peace with and come to more or less accept as a part of her.)
I realize you can and do have dresses with a V-neck; I realize you can and do have backless dresses; I realize you can and do have strapless dresses; I realize that combining all three is probably impossible in real life, to which I say: Ruby has magic, rules of reality's clothing quite literally mean nothing to her.
Anyway, said dress extends to about mid-thigh; on both of the sides, she has the inverted-v gap, the split, the slit, whatever it's called (my lifeguard shorts have them and I know that this is a thing that exists on some actual skirts and/or dresses), to allow for increased flexibility/mobility.
On her face, her right eye is blue; her left eye is red. She doesn't have a mask, per se, but she has swirling light energy flowing like water surrounding her right eye, and energy darkness dancing like flames over her left eye.
Her hair extends down to midway down her shins--half-black, half-light-brown. And by "half-black, half-brown", I don't mean "one side brown, the other side black". I don't mean "top brown/black, bottom half black/brown" (the kind of aesthetic that you'd expect from a dye job left to grow out). I don't mean a zebra-like effect down each strand of hair (basically a more extreme version of the previous).
I mean "every other strand of hair being a different color"--not literally, of course. But I mean "every other pencil stroke of hair alternating between those two colors". So pretty close. Basically, for it to be visibly alternating, quite rapidly, between the two colors.
It is literally the most gorgeous, the most amazing image that I have ever envisioned and I love it.
...The problem is.
I'm not a good enough artist to make it.
For a start.
I'd have to draw Ruby as 26 years old. Not as easy as it sounds.
I'd have to nail the hands--given these were the detail that gave me the idea in the first place, they are what I can envision clearest, but they are also what would be the hardest to do. Not just because hands are difficult, but because capturing a "still" of the image, especially when it'd take multiple "camera angles" for me to show off the entirety of the effects I describe, make it impossible for me to draw.
I'd have to nail the wings/capes--this is something that is a never before seen effect. Nobody has made the exact thing I have in mind, to my knowledge. No reference images. And, again. Same problem of trying to capture an object in motion, in a "still", while still portraying that continuous movement.
My weakest point in drawing people is their legs, and the level of detail I'm requiring is insane for them, but all that said...this part is probably the easiest part, aside from needing multiple "camera angles" to capture the crossbow-boots to their full effect.
The face is something that is incredibly hard for me to get down. The effect there is one which is crystal clear in my head but when I try to think of "how would I convey this effect in a drawing?", I come up blank; how could I convey that this is energy, not a physical mask? How can I convey that it's basically my unique take on "energy flowing out of the eyes, just...not directly out of the eyes"?
And then...for all of this...how can I convey this without color? Well, obviously, I can color this image, but even without it...how can I convey these effects without relying exclusively on color to pull them off?
I know for a fact that if I TRIED to draw this and just went "I'll use colors to pull off these effects"...I'd hate the drawing(s). Because it just...wouldn't be effective. It needs to work in pencil. I know it can in theory. In theory, it's possible to do what I am aiming to.
In practice, I'm just not good enough yet.
Which is where a little frustration comes in.