Final Character Proforma

As I developed my character I made some vital changes to the make up of Saekli. This was because I fleshed out my character and realsied that some parts of her didn’t fit in; so I have created a final character sheet for her.

Archetype: An unusual hero

Name: Saekli D’Taoma

Age: 24

Physical Description: Saekli’s height is fairly average for her breed of human, but due to the condition in which the human race has been surviving, we are considerably more taller. So, Saekli’s height is around 6foot 2inches. She is slender and athletic due to her lifestyle as a ravager/scout. The harsh environment means that her skin has hardened, especially on her hands as she has adapted to climb around everywhere with extreme skill. Although saying this, she is still considered as very feminine, if not a tomboy, by her fellow villagers. Her natural hair colour is a chestnut brown that has been bleached by the ever present sun over the years; this has left it as a silvery, gray/blonde with random streaks of the colour it once was. Her skin tone has also been visibly bathed in the sun, it is a soft golden brown. The eyes, needed to stand out on the image so I used a light brown that would contrast with the bland hair. This colour was also chosen because it isn’t too crazy, she still needed to appear human.

Clothing: Her clothing is based on the environment, which consists of a massive wasteland that has been festering for thousands of years after a rather large nuclear war. This meant that my environment consisted mainly of sand, water and a little bit of snow. So her clothing is designed around practicality, with a stylist twist – influenced by final fantasy. Her base outfit is a loose half top that falls comfortably off her shoulders and would literally fall down if not for her make shift cardigan. This is a cardigan that is made out of a found dress, she cut off the bottom to style it so that it hugs her bum. then she cut straight up the middle so it wraps around her body instead of being pulled over her head – this is for ease. It is then tied round with a double belt – to keep her tops in place. She always wears trousers, because it fits in with her tomboy style but also because it would be he best protection for her legs in sand/snow storms and generally in the rough terrain. That is why knee pads are a must; customarily made by Saekli to add protection on vicious climbs. This isn’t an obvious part on the design but they do exist! The rest of her trousers are made out of two different types of material. One day as she was plodding along she found a messed up pair of jeans and a ruined pair of brown corduroys. she manufactured them into her current pair of trousers. This was the part of the design that I really wanted to emphasize make-shift attire, as soon as you look at it you understand that it was made by her out of found items. I had a few problems with the shoes, as a lot of my references went with massive boots, but I wasn’t very good at drawing boots so I had to mess about  a bit. I got it in the end though and even managed to make them look make-shift. The story of these boots is that they are a gift from the Leading Mother of the town. When the inhabitants of Grainger become 14, they undergo a transitional period of their life, called the Ashter period. This can last up to the day they die because the Ashter is a process in which a person finds their true calling. (Based on a theory in The Tao of Nature, a book about Taoism) It took Saekli 7 years to find it, this is considered as a long time in the villages terms, it usually takes around 4 years. So when Saekli finally found her calling in life she received her boots as a gift from the Leading Mother, because her purpose in life was to be a scout who would travel far and wide for the community. Finally onto her battle attire, well not necessarily battle but what she wears to cruise around the wasteland. Her coat was also a found object but it was a previous a coat. The bottom half was shredded into pieces and Saekli simply sowed them back together which gives it the rippled effect. Last but not least, her scarf is simply needed to protect her face from sand and other bits and bobs in vicious weather. Her hood also does this.

(I write way too much =])

Character Traits: First and foremost a tomboy, very peaceful – avoids conflict as much as possible, slightly pessimistic, kind, friendly, hides emotion well.

Character Background:

Family: This is explained a bit more in my final studio brief back story but the basics are: She was born in a random deserted hut in the middle of nowhere. Her father is Alihsar D’Taoma, who has an unhealthy obsession with the the city of Grainger. Her mothers name is unknown. she died when Saekli was 12 in a sea battle when the neighboring islands weren’t united with Grainger. This has giving Saekli a nervousness when it comes to large expanses of water, she feels more comfortable on the land. Hence why she wants to leave Grainger. Saekli was preset when construction of Grainger was underway, with her father in charge, so she is seen as an important person in the community.

Habits/Vices: Twists hair round her fingers when she is thinking, hates being watched when she eats, bites her nails and uses the fact that she has to climb everywhere as an excuse for it – “It’s a good thing Chubi. If I had long nails all the dirt would just get stuck in them and who would want that?” Chubi simply glares at her.

Education: No formal education is given, you sort of learn as you go. Advice/training is provided as standard issue in the village but other other stuff you have to seek it out yourself, like becoming a mechanics apprentice, you would go up to the mechanic and ask to sit in and watch. This means all forms of education is given when head-on experience, so people learn quicker.  A good saying is the more time you spend in the wastes, the less you fear it.

Personality: Saekli is very open-minded which allows her to spread kindness wherever she goes. She is also very committed and passionate about the state of the world, and seeks to continue her fathers work to rebuild a peaceful existence on Earth. Her ability to hide emotion often causes her to sit and stare into space, and she always seems to have something on her mind. She is calm and collected.

Likes/Dislikes: Like I said above she loves peace, she loves the fact that she lives within a community that encourages eco-friendliness, but finds that it is very hard to change other peoples minds. She blames this on the state of the world, and the fact that it has been going on for so long. “I mean, why be a cannibal, when you can just eat some radiated soya beans?” She asks the fetid, blood stained traveler. He stares for a second, pounces on her, his mangled teeth seeking the soft untainted skin. Within half a minute she grabs his neck, cracks it and his lifeless body falls onto the rubble. It will stay there until some other traveler’s or wild dogs pick up the scent of flesh and seek out some food. – Sorry, side thought! =) It helps me figure her character out more. This shows how much she hates that she alone cannot change the world. She lives in a society that she despises but she can’t really do anything about it! She has to kill to stay alive.

Motivation/Goal: As above her original motivation is to change the world but over the years she has given up on this, so now she strives to protect Grainger and its neighboring islands as they the only ones, in her eyes, that are living life correctly.

 

After writing this and comparing it to my original character sheet, a hell of a lot has changed! Grainger was originally the enemy city but I have transformed it into a working city that this breed would inhabit. These briefs have come along way indeed!

Saekli’s Hair Refs

Just found a random little scribble in my notebook about some ref’s I found for my character brief, so I thought I would write a quick blog post about it.

I started by doing a few sketches of hairstyles that I liked, which developed the idea of contrast – short vs long. I tested a few out but didn’t want it to be too unusual or radical because it wouldn’t have fit with the theme.

Other refs: from animation’s to get the drawing style/how the hair moves during combat and other movements.

Ghost in the shell:

Hinata – Naruto:

Playing games does class as research!

So, I want to develop a hot tomboy character, what do I do, sit and stare at hot tomboy characters! This was one of the first things I looked at for my character design brief, even though I haven’t mentioned it anywhere, note to self: start blogging as you do work, stop bookmarking everything for later dates! Anyways, Saekli is a tomboy, but during my clothing development I realised that a powerful tool for a female character to have is innocence. I think I mentioned it briefly somewhere (probably scribbled at the bottom of a page) that in one of the first levels on FF13 Vanille and Hope are shown being transferred on a slave train. It is the first time you meet the characters and they are both shown as being very innocent and helpless, but as the story progresses they become valuable assets to the team. My main link to this reference at the time was simply the coat that the slaves wore in the train but after thinking over the three female protagonists in the game I realised the difference in them. Vanille is the weak-looking very feminine character, Fang is the true tomboy, and Lighting is somewhere in between. The balance of Lightning’s character means that she can easily stand alone as a main character, whereas Fang needs Vanille to balance it out. Which in the game was realised because they were sisters, a pair as opposed to a single character. This sort of set me on the track of thinking of strong female characters. Which ultimately ended up with the realisation that female characters in games tend to look ‘weak’ and very appealing to the eye, but are genuinely badass! Good examples of these are most of the females in fighting games. They look like objects of desire but could easily kill you. The most influential characters I came across are:

Claire Redfield/Jill Valentine – Resident Evil

Claire Redfield is known for her motorcycle riding but she is also considered for her emotional side, which is practically the only character in the series to have any basic human emotions! Interesting enough she was portrayed a lot tougher and arrogant in the films, which meant she was able to look after herself whereas in the game she was very weak, often being saved by others. In terms of reference she is very similar to Lighting’s character in FF due to the internal conflict that they both possess. They are both emotional characters but they don’t tend to show it.

Jill in the original Resi was the weaker of the two playable characters, the other being Chris Redfield. Nemesis, the development team said that she was made ‘beautiful for everyone’ so that male gamers would find her attractive and female gamers would see her as a tough role mode. From using Jill as a case study when you look at the development of the character over the years especially in resi 5 when she changes from a protagonist to the villain, you see a shift in the colour scheme, especially with te hair colour change. I suppose it is reinforcing the archetype.

Tifa Lockhart -FF7

The strong, independent and attractive character. During the design of Tifa, Tetsuya Nomura (designer), validated the mini-skirt as a staple of her design by saying that it was necessary for her weaponless fighting style. It’s a reasonable idea if anything, but it ties in with my clothing designs for Saekli, I wanted something that would allow her to move freely just like Nomura did with Tifa. Sadly though the Saekli didn’t quite pull of the mini-skirt. It made her too feminine, I like the whole badass tomboy look that she has going on. The personality of Tifa is a good thing to note aswell, I have heard many a-time that she has an unforgettable personality.

Baiken – Guilty Gear

Baiken’s aesthetics exemplify the ‘innocence’ I was rambling about earlier. She looks really feminine, because of her attire. The kimono style dress, showing a lot of cleavage (well, it is from a fighter), the ‘dressy’ shin guards, it all emits waves of femininity and beauty. Which ties in with the classic heroine. They are always badass but they don’t look badass at first. They are still really feminine even though they could, I don’t know, massacre a village.

 

On that note I shall end this rant.

Yes, my character is based on a cat!

My character Saekli is half of a pair. Tia and Basil my sister’s two kittens are a random pair, they look nothing alike, one is a brown turtle shell, the other a ginger tabby. But the way they work as a team is a rather interesting thing. Tia is the psycho, she stalks everything and seems to have no remorse. Basil, well we describe Basil as a more sophisticated cat. What I find so interesting is how as a team they make a perfect hunting pair. Tia is the more agile one, she can climb anything and can do so with incredible speed, whereas Basil is a lot more clumsier, but he is much bigger and much stronger. When these two hunt, Tia is the one who frantically chases the prey, she aims to terrifying and seems to want the prey to keep all its focus on her. The reason behind this is because if she leers the prey within Basil’s striking distance, he will have his claws into before you can say ‘Here Kitty Kitty’. I love the way these two work, it makes their personality come across a lot more. For my character brief, I based Saekli and Chubi’s relationship on Tia and Basil. Saekli is the more refined yet more powerful one and Chubi is the crazy renegade. Doing this helped me figure a lot out about my character, for example this is why she fights with her hands, she is the tough one but also the more friendly one. She appears easier to approach because she isn’t always running around with explosives in her hands. Chubi is known for his ‘lets just kill everyone’ approach whilst Saekli is more kind-hearted even though she is a ruthless killer. As I was looking at how characters work in teams, I had a look at how successful it was in games.

SEV & RICO

Shown in the picture above. Killzone wouldn’t be Killzone without Rico swearing every other 10 minutes. He falls into the ruthless renegade category but throughout the story Sev (protagonist) would not be able to survive half of the time without him. I like how they incorporated this into the game as you have to run over and save Rico when he is down, even though this did get quite annoying, it showed the companionship. They had to rely on one another. I think this was partly because of the environment being on enemy territory in the middle of a massive war, but still it does have some similarities to what I want to achieve.

 

RATCHET & CLANK

Another nice pairing, Ratchet is the main fighter whilst Clank offers useful advice and guidance on each level. this is what my initial idea of the pairing was, with Saekli as the fighter and Chubi a the intelligent helpful assistant.

How I started my archetype brief.

Long before Saekli was even an idea in my tiny little brain I started work on a few of the other characters that would inhabit the same world as she would. Inevitably these are some really bad drawings that I did, but they were the inspiration for Saekli and so are important nevertheless. I started by looking at a herald type of character, this became Chubi, who I have mentioned in previous posts. Chubi was the type of character who would always need a stronger, more focused partner, it became clear that when I was designing him, he would never be able to survive on his own.This led me to look at character pairs as a reference point (I will put this research in another post), and how two people can bounce off of each other. Randomly after being stuck for a while, I saw how my sister’s two kittens reacted to each other and based my pair of characters on this idea. After looking at this bond I did a bit of simple enemy design, so that I could perfect my character. This is where the whole evolution/mutation idea came from.

 

So I’m a little behind with my work…

After an informative chat today with my tutor I realised that I have only two weeks left to do all my visual language brief. It’s current state = a lot of work for me. So after having an internal battle of the mind, I pulled myself away from the beautiful shiny black box(PS3) and set about doing some work. I don’t know what possessed me but I decided that it was the best choice to improve work I have already done instead of actually doing the work that needs to be done. But, hey I’m not going to challenge my brain. So here is a few print screens from my turnaround, I already had the basic block colours done, so I developed the front pose by adding tonal value. I think even though this wasn’t a necessity I had/wanted to do it, because at the end of the day Saekli is a ‘real’ person and I am developing the idea of her race into my city scape brief, so why would I portray her as a 2D character? I suppose it didn’t sit comfortably in my mind, because she would be inhabiting a 3D world.

I started by adding a small amount of tone to the face and hair, at the time of this shot I was perfectly happy with what I had done, it was only after I got an outsider to look at it that I realised it was too light. I began changing it reluctantly at first but when you compare it to the stage I’m at currently(below), this attempt is a stepping stone

I’m really happy with this result, she is getting to the stage of looking like a 3D head on a 2D body. My main joy with this is because it is technically my first ever attempt at digital painting! Wacom, I love you!

Stage 3 = what my turn around currently looks like. I only have the coat left to do on the front pose. For the side and back pose I am going to add block tone to fit in with the light direction on the front one just to give her body some definition. Below is my final of the character turnaround. I’m happy with the outcome. The colour scheme was influenced by the habitat that Saekli resides in; a barren wasteland so the people take what they can, making their own clothes. So her trousers for example are made out of her original brown trousers with random sections of blue jeans over the top to cover holes etc. The theme of the clothing was ‘worn and torn’, due to the apocalyptic state of the habitat, everything needs to look well used, this is why I chose a very rustic, neutral and pale colour scheme. The clothes need to look bleached by the constant sun that watches over Saekli as she searches through ruins in a barren wasteland. This is also why her hair appears to be grey, it has been bleached. I added in the brighter colours of orange and red for accents to her clothing. I felt that because she was a main character her personality would demand some form of identification, but due to the environment I couldn’t design something over the top and elaborate because it wouldn’t fit in. The colour of red also fits in with the archetype. She is the hero and often when I think of a hero I think of a defining obvious feature that they have, this being her scarf, the colour of it connotates power, passion and love but also reflects anger. Saekli’s character possesses all of these emotions, when I first started designing her she was based upon a lot of other female character that took the role of  ‘the hot tomboy’ in games/films, so I wanted her to be an object of desire but also be someone who you wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of. Due to the environment she is a very powerful women, her main weapon is her fists and her fitness is well above par. The anger side of red is based on her want/need to escape from the lifestyle she is living. I suppose in a way she is more of an anti-hero as opposed to a traditional hero. Amongst her people she has no defining features or special abilities, plus she has to live a life of crime.

Everybody loves Up!

UP!! is an amazing film by Disney Pixar, I love this film, I remember first watching it with my sister one Sunday afternoon and I immediately fell in love with the character of Russell. Anyways I stumbled across the Pixar blog and found like tons and tons of concept art for Up. There were some really nice pieces of work like these ones on here but I just couldn’t believe how solid they made their characters. They used multiple medias to try out various poses, angles etc. It even has random little sketches done just to get the concept of each character.

Lackadaisy Tutorial

Lackadaisy by Tracy.J.Butler is a furry critter comic set in the roaring 20’s with a colour palette to match old photography and film. It’s aesthetic appeal is sky high, literally. But that isn’t why I’m writing this, I need to start being analytical! I found a tutorial on how to draw expressions on lackadaisy.foxprints.com, it shows Tracey’s very distinct style of drawing her characters in various facial expressions. It was really useful for my expressions sheets that I produced for my character, as it shows various different drawings of the same expression, for example the happy expression has 5 alternative types of happy face. It also shows how she works through each pose.

Link to expression tutorial: LINK

 

Daniel Landerman, creator of Dakota Rawhide.

Found in ImagineFX – this is becoming a really useful – Landerman was featured in the sketchbook part of the magazine, with some very nice concept art for Dakota but also other characters he has developed. There was also some random drawing of famous people like Natalie Portman, I suppose it is nice to know that even professional’s are down to earth! After seeing the article I ventured onto the web to find out a few more bits and bobs about Dakota. These are the results.

What inspires me from these is how he developed the character of Dakota Rawhide. Instead of just drawing a front view outline of the face then using that for all the expressions, he did multiple poses, like full body poses to show her stance and general aura. I like this method but I’m not sure if I could draw Saekli’s body multiple times at this moment in time, I’m definitely up for doing the different angles though. Also he varied his medium, this I like a lot. I would love to be amazing at digital painting but I’m not so I think I will do some images digitally now that I have my graphics tablet but also stay true to my traditional drawing methods, pen and pencils! The last thing that I found useful from reading the article on Landerman was that he had like 3 random drawings that were of Dakota in ‘fashion’ clothes and poses. This made me really question the work I did on clothing earlier, have I done enough? I really like my final outcome but is the clothing I tried out too limited? I could have done a tad more but I don’t think my experimentation has lacked anything!

Vanquish – Shinji Mikami

The final part of an exclusivity between Sega and Platinum Games came to a close with Vanquish. The Platinum Games team was lead by Shinji Mikami, the creator of Resident Evil. I was able to find a quote from Mikami on the Platinum Games website, along with some concept art.

 

These are character designer Makoto Tsuchibayashi’s original designs.

Quote: “In our original vision for Vanquish, no one was actually inside Sam’s suit. Instead, it was a remotely operated robot with three different pilots who would take turns controlling the unit from afar. The robot would change forms according to the pilot in charge, as each pilot had been specially trained in areas such as shooting, melee, or hover and snipe. This single robot was capable of being battle effective in a variety of situations….When making a game, there are plenty of ideas like these that get rejected, but they build up and can end up finding their way back, like in a sequel for instance, so you can never say that an idea is completely out of bounds.”

I love how they seemed to just flow with the concept of the Augmented Reaction Suit, they came up with sketches that adapted it into an actual habitable suit. It seems as though they had a basic design of what was going on with the sci-fi theme and the design of the suit. The suit itself does remind me of a mix between Halo and Gears of War Armour but hey you have to find inspiration from somewhere.

Saekli, you now have a tattoo!

I made some changes to my character after deciding that the hair clip wasn’t really want I wanted. The original idea was that the S symbol on it would be the logo/tag of the Elite group that she is part of, but I don’t think that the hair clip suits this mainly because I want all members to have the same object/design for the symbol, so that it is like a branding. The first thing that came into my mind was a tattoo that each member got when they were brought into the institution. The design needed to be something that could be expanded with each level they advance, similar to army ranks. So I used the fibonacci sequence to make geometric shapes.

I changed the style of the S to fit in with the design.

Did a few alternative designs:

Here is a colour version of my original idea:

Decided to use the simple S shape design, because in the year it is set they will have gone back to the original style of tattoo.

Saekli, Saekli?

I’m still powering through with my character design brief but I’m unsure on the name Saekli. I like it and I think it fits her as a character but I don’t know if it is a main character type of name. It just doesn’t fit. Argh! It’s annoying… I did a quick search on google and mainly Japanese names came up for Saeki and one wiki page on a type of Japanese people called Saeki who lived in Honshu – interesting! Nothing of interest comes up for Saekli though. I suppose I could link her to these ancient people, but all I can find on them is that wiki page that has one entry on it! Anywhose, I have just finished an A4 colour study for her face, done in Illustrator.

Colour tests from my original sketch

I was just playing around with her hair colour and skin tone. I dislike illustrator, which is why I intend to avoid using it for anything other than outlines and traces. I want my character to be photo-realistic with shading, I can’t cope with the gradient tool! It is too confusing.

Issue 136

3D World’s issue has proved quite useful for my archetype research. Paul Francis was the first item that stood out to me, this article on him was about his CG piece titled The Order of The Knights Harlequin, after looking him up on cgsociety, I found some very interesting pieces of work. I like the fantasy aspect to his work, plus it is going to inform my human based characters style, face paint is used to create a crazed, very stylized look. It would be an interesting aspect to explore. Find his work here.
Roland Caron was another interesting find, his piece of work Kaba Kun, a humanised hippopotamus, has so much character. He has transformed an image of an animal and turned it into a human-esque creature. It is instantly recognisable as an animal but the stance, accessories and facial expression makes you see it as a human. Caron has a small collection of his work on his website which is a lovely example of character design.
The last find that I had in 3D World is Ray Phelps and his futuristic firepower, not overly important to my ideas for my brief but it could be useful in the future. P92.

Edward Gorey

Doing a bit of research for my archetype brief and I came across Edward Gorey. I admire the Gothic, macabre style, that comes across in his work. The black and white set the theme perfectly. This reference may or may not be useful for designing a character bur they are lovely drawings, plus I have a natural instinct to work in this cross-hatching style, so who knows. I’ll get the characters sorted then think about shading colour etc.

Taken from The World of Edward Gorey, by Clifford Ross, Karen Wilkin

Taken from The World of Edward Gorey, by Clifford Ross, Karen Wilkin

Studio brief 4 – Archetypes

For this brief we have to create an original character that fits into one of the 7 main archetypes. I have had a few ideas of what to do but decided to start with the environment for my characters. I decided on having a single city situated in a barren desert. The city should have an industrial style, as I have started to look at incorporating mechanics into my characters, and it should look like a makeshift city. Let’s say it was once an industrial estate that has been turned into a mega-city by building on top of the foundations already laid. I have looked at several factories and plants and have decided that the city must include: scaffolding, pipes, water towers and chimneys. (These are the fundamental basics, obviously industrial containers, and other stuff would be here but I am only thinking of the structure of the city to start with.) Instead of setting this in the future in a post-apocalyptic world, I am going to have it set in an alternate reality, on a planet that has the same laws of physics as earth (to simplify things). The environment will still be quite post-apocalyptic, but mingled in with steam-punk style. The city, The Republic City of Grainger, (for the name I just pulled words off random things I had stuck to my wall), is controlled and led by a single creature. This creature is merged with the massive power grid that is situated under RCG, this is where he gets his power from. The power grid idea came from an original idea to have a farm of power plants in a section of RCG, but after thinking about it – the source of his power should be unknown until like two-thirds/ three-quarters into the storyline, this event can trigger the Herald archetype into giving the hero the information she/he needs to continue the quest. Anyways, the power grid was once originally a power plant farm, but all these were shut down during the – enter massive event  here -. The grid is situated in block 21 of RCG. I need to think of a reason why the hero would come to this city, what is here that he/she needs?