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.
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).
I 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.