Friday, May 25, 2012

Creating The Boss

As promised (or threatened) I thought I would give a quick run down and a bit of insight into how I go about creating a character design. All projects (and artists) are different and often times the process will vary to suit the individual needs of the assignment, but in this case the concept followed quite a logical progression and I thought it would be an interesting one to share.

When first approaching the design for the main character of the game there was alot of things we needed to establish to set the visual tone of the title. Was it going to be serious, funny, gritty, realistic, dark, quirky or any combination of the above! Sometimes the client will have a reasonably fixed idea of what they want to see, and other times they are employing your creative mind as much as your technical ability. For the Boss all we knew initially is that the main character would have to be tough enough to fight his way through hordes of minions using a variety of weapons. The game would work as a side scrolling platformer, therefore the player would often be quite small on the screen and need to be iconic and recognisable at any scale.

The first step I took was to explore some basic body shapes to see what both the client and I liked and thought would work within the game. The style of The Boss would have to carry through to every other aspect of the game.

Silhouettes or quick thumbnail sketches are usually the best way to
explore alot of ideas quickly.
After looking through the above sketches we decided that the Ogre figure on the bottom right had a bit of interest and was worth exploring further. This also raised the question of the race of The Boss. While initially our thinking was that he would be human as this allows the best connection to the player we found the idea of exploring other races interesting.

Exploring race and build options for The Boss.
We took the basic build of the Ogre and developed it into a couple of racial variations. In the end we decided to stick with a human character but based his body mass and build from the proportions of the Ogre sketch. We also liked the idea of the minotaur and wanted to bring some of the bull motif through into the final design. The next step was to explore the armour and styling of our character. Again, quick sketches to explore a few ideas was the way to go...

Yes, we even get to play dress-ups with our characters ;)
After exploring a few different styles for our character we decided that a traditional barbarian style armour was best and left alot of options for building on the armour design in the form of power-ups throughout the game. We chose the top left design to take further and noted that the horned helmet tied in nicely with the bull motif and would help create an iconic look for our hero.

Progression from rough sketch through to final drawing and colour concept.
Once we had settled on the general style and look of The Boss, it was now time to get down to details. In the rough sketch stage we elaborated on all of the shapes and designs and made sure that all of the pieces worked in  believable fashion and all tied together to give a cohesive design. The final drawing tidies up all of the ideas and gives a clear guide for other artists and designers to work from throughout the game development. The colour concept was the final piece in the puzzle and gave a marketable image that could be used to pitch the project if required and also to motivate and inspire other contributors to the game.

Thanks for taking the time to read about how I approach a design, how would you have done it? What do you like or dislike about The Boss and given the same opportunity what changes would you make? I'd love to hear your ideas :)

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