Monthly Archives: November 2014

Colour Scheme Tests

Colour schemes are hard….

For my Antagonist I tried a mix of cold blue colours and the brown leathers commonly worn by Inuits. It was quite tricky to get a good mix but I think that a larger focus on the blues works better, especially with the lighter tones. Schemes like 2 and 4 are just to dull and boring and the character loses a lot of personality. Number 6 is a good example of colour combination however. Despite being essentially a half and half split between blue on the top and brown on the bottom, the use of brown in the straps and patches helps to break it up a bit. The turquoise in the metal is also a nice spot colour and adds a bit more interest to the character.

antag cs better w notesThe darker blue needs lightened a bit but i think that number 6 will be my final colour scheme.

With the protagonist I had issues juggling the tones of the colours. On one hand the masai and other tribes I am drawing influence from wear strong/bold colours. On the other hand, in homage to Ashley Wood I wanted the majority of colours to be toned out except for one spot colour. I think I got a good balance however.

Protag CS better w notes

For the final colour scheme I think I am going to use number 1 as a base, but take the turquoise scales and pale shield from 6.

Visual Interest Design Sheets

My Visual Interest Design Sheets are also complete. I debated between having the line-art over the top of these but in the end went for just the grey-scale  shapes as this better shows the layout of tones. The line-art worked to break up the model into details and hid the comparisons of values.

Protag Vis Interest

Antag Vis Interest

I think the gradient effect works really well. especially with the Antagonist and ensures that the eyes are pulled to any uninteresting places like the feet. It might need a bit more work on the Protagonist but for now I think it is ok.

Again I may fiddle with the layout of the sheets, but for now I’m leaving them as they are while I see to more important matters.

Line Art Model Sheets

The Line Art Model Sheets are now finished for the most part. The only thing left for debate is the general layout of everything.

Protag Linework

I think the inspiration taken from Bob Rafei is noticeable, especially in the triangular build of each characters’ torso. However due to her outfit the hourglass figure is lost a little bit in the Protagonist’s robes. Her face is still very in keeping with Rafei’s style however.
Antag Linework

His style is definitely present in the Antagonist however, with his broad shoulders and narrow waists creating an intimidating character.

The main focus would be to reduce the amount of empty space and ensure the sheets are easy to read. But for now I am going to put my efforts towards the other submissions and get them done before I fiddle with such details.

Changing the Antagonist a Bit

As I said before I wanted to experiment with the size of the trophy skull the Antagonist wears, trying to balance size against practicality for an impressive trophy.skull comparisonsMy peers and I believe that 135% is large enough to look impressive but does not make the character look silly. However many of them also asked a question I had never thought of: does it have to be on the front?

In review it does seem rather strange to put it there. I had decided that was the best place because otherwise he seemed a bit plain on the front, however I decided to experiment with positions anyway. I revised my design down to 3 skull locations: front, side, and back.

skull locations

On review I think the back might in fact be the best position, primarily because it allows me to make it bigger still. I can also position it on the 3/4 line to increase its visibility. Before this decision is made final though I will talk to my ‘client’ (Ryan) to see what opinions they have.

Protagonist Linework

In the same way I proceeded with my Antagonist, I sketch a few quick head shots of my Protagonist to get a feel for the overall character.Protag headshots

Looking at reference imagery I noticed the strong elements of battle paint and jewelry in Masai culture. I experimented with a wide range of options for each of these (some based on Masai examples, others of my own design). I think the ones which work best are the vertical stripe (bottom left) and the jaw bone pattern (middle right) which both follow the shape of the face, avoiding a clash in geometry. Opposite to the Antagonist I found that the Protagonist looked better with her face open, it says much about a character’s openness/friendliness.

Again following my method for the Antagonist I had a skull which needed more design put into it. After a bit of searching i decided to base the skull on that of Dimetrodon (prehistoric sail lizards) which offered both size and a unique shape. Most current say lizards have quite small and fragile skeletons (even Komodo Dragons) and I didn’t want to use something as recognisable as a T. rex skull. I think the most effective alteration is the sharp bony ridges on the brow, which are subtle but add menace to the skull.

Protag skulls

Finally I moved onto the washed out silhouettes and filled in the details (although I may have made them too small so the faces were tricky).

Protag notesI like the idea of working more of the Drake into the design, small scales as bits of light armour, hide used on shields, etc. Equally important is all the jewelry featured in Masai culture, but this is tricky to add without creating too much noise, I think tone will be pinnacle to this.

I am again having peers review the designs, but unless I encounter strong resistance I believe I will develop number 5 into my final design.

Antagonist Linework

With the silhouettes picked the next step is to add the details. I like to start with a couple of head shots first before moving onto the body as a whole. I find this a really good method for reinforcing the personality and narrative within the character, and it helps me to imagine how the rest of them might look.
antag heads

Covering the majority of the Antagonists face with a hood and scarf help to add bulk and intimidation to his character, very important traits for an Antagonist in my opinion. The fur around his head can also be shaped like a maw .  I also really liked the idea of facial disfigurement, especially a scar. Combined with the missing arm and skull on his belt there is the chance to tell a story with him. Perhaps he hunted some legendary beast of his homeland, its death cementing his roll as a leader.

Speaking of the skull, my initial idea was just to have a bare basic Polar Bear skull, but with the Protagonist’s Drake trophies it seemed a little plain and boring. Thus I did a few quick sketches to explore the possibilities for adding fantasy to it and transforming it into the skull of some might tundra beast. Extra eyes, no eyes, horns, spines, etc were all looked at but I think the most effective mutation is the one which combine the Polar Bear skull with a Hippo skull to give it a fearsome set of teeth.

antag skull and head-2

With these character building sketches out of the way I felt I was ready to crack on with the full character. Just sketching over some copies of the silhouette I explored a range of possible details and interpretations.

antag 2 w textI really like the ideas that rough the character up a bit, like 3 and 5. Taking away the cleanliness of his clothes adds visual interest with the small details and breaks up the large flat spaces of the body. The minimal armour on 4 and 5 also help to build his character and reinforce his up-close-and-personal Brawler style I have been building on. Whichever I pick I want to play around with the size of the skull a bit and make it bigger, doesn’t really look like a beast to be feared that size.

I’m putting it to my peers for feedback but at the moment I think 5 is the best candidate for my final design.

Looking at Promotional Art

In preparation for the Promotion Art which will show the two characters in combat, I have been looking at existing promotional art for games and movies to get a sense of the techniques they employ. Of course, there are whole courses based on this subject, but lacking the time required for such detailed study I hoped to find the basics of the most prominent techniques used.
Promo art moodboard

The layout of the Protagonist and Antagonist is very important to the image, and whichever is most is seen first often sets the mood. Generally, the Protagonist is positioned to the left and/or infront of the Antagonist to make them more obvious to viewers. Making the Antagonist bigger or above the Protagonist can show their strength and power, and the struggle for the Protagonist to beat them.

Promo art breakdown 1

Going further, the favoured structures of the artwork seem to be those show below. How strict the image follows these guidelines varies, but they often help to guide the eye to important parts of the image.Promo art breakdown 2Other important points I have gathered so far in terms of Promo Art featuring combat are:

  • The characters should fill as much of the image as possible, but without being too obscured/obscuring
  • Poses should be fast and full of action
  • Camera angles can be played with and twisted to match the drama of the scene
  • The protagonist should be the main focus, but not so much that they completely overshadow the antagonist.

With my silhouettes decided on I should be able to begin work on some thumbnails, so watch this space.

Deciding on Silhouettes

After leaving it a few days to think over, and also getting feedback from peers, I managed to narrow down my silhouettes to the 2 favourites for each character. I then scrutinised each in more detail, reviewing what worked and what didn’t.Deciding

I was quite tricky to decide on a Protagonist because they are both so similar but in the end I chose number 2. This was because number 1 had technology in her spear and neither of the favored Antagonists have any tech. Also her high collar could prove obstructing in further development and is quite villainous. Number 2 however has the strong shoulders of a Protagonist but is still feminine enough to show her character (think Lara Croft, strong but still feminine).

For the Antagonist I chose number 1. His ice weapon makes his silhouette very identifiable and when rendered fully should work very well with the spot colour technique taken from Ashley Wood. He also fits the large brawler archetype I had been imagining. I decided the harpoon used by number 2 was too close to the spear used by the Protagonist to be viable. Also, with his moustache and cape he has the look of an old-timey explorer which in my opinion draws him more towards a Protagonist role.

With my silhouettes decided on my next step was to decide how they would be sizes against each other. Given their archetypes of Spearman* vs Brawler it is important that the Antagonist looms over the Protagonist. At the same time however I don’t want the size different to be so exaggerated it looks silly.


I think the best scale seems to be somewhere between 110% and 125%, so that the top of the Protagonists head is level with the Antagonists chin. Such a difference shows the Antagonists power well enough, but doesn’t belittle the Protagonist.

*well… Spearwoman… I think… or Spearelf…

Protagonist Silhouettes

In the same way I did with my Antagonists, I picked my favourite Protagonist silhouettes and blocked in the values on them to add more detail. One of the harder parts of this was maintaining the overall gradient, whilst keeping the skin tone dark. I worked around this by making the gradient more apparent in the clothing and adding headwear to the character. The resulting contrast also helps to draw the eye to the top half of the character.

Whereas my Antagonist was human I wanted my Protagonist to be an Elf. Following the ideas mentioned before about the player wanting to be the character and escape reality through them, an Elf helps to create this relationship as they are both a fantasy creature and also often thought of as being a level above humans.Protag with notesI varied the clothing style between the heavier, more robust garments worn by desert tribes and the lighter clothing worn by plains and grassland tribes. I think the lighter clothing works better for the Protagonist mostly because it is not very heroic for them to hide their face and be mysterious. Also it makes it easier to recognise the character as female and works well with the elegance of the Elven form.

I struggled to implement the idea of arcane tech into these designs more than I did with the Antagonist. I think this is mostly down to my existing feelings towards the idea, but it just didnt seem to fit as well with an agile elf silhouette as it did with the brutish Antagonist. I maintained the overall arcane theme with runes and drake/dragon hides and skulls however.

Antagonist Silhouettes

So I fed my favourite initial silhouettes into Photoshop and neatened them up (this is just for the antagonist). I also blocked them in using the Value techniques implemented in Dota 2 to give them slightly more detail and give a better idea of what they might look like. It was important to maintain an upwards gradient to draw the eye to the top of the character, but also break it up with varying levels of contrast to create visual interest.Antag with notesSticking to the Arctic theme a lot the clothing inspiration came from Inuit tribes, especially with the fur lining, but I also experimented with more western winter clothes such as scarves. I also made sure to vary on my implementation of the arcane theme. In some examples like 5 and 7 you can see this theme is taken more along the technology side with steampunk-esque weaponry and gauntlets. However in others like 6 and 8 this theme is much more grounded in the magic side, with runed weaponry and ice weapons respectively.

Currently I think I prefer the theme to be more magic oriented, however I intend to attempt both styles in my Protagonist silhouettes before I make my decision.