LightMaker Portfolio Feedback (APP, Project X & FMP)

Today we received yet another visit from the designers over from Lightmaker, who have appeared throughout our previous projects. Today they had come to assist us in our portfolios and give personal advice on our projects and how we could have improved them for professional release. In my case however, I just mostly received feedback on my FMP, APP, and my Project X designs. I don’t remember much info them in terms of how to show my portfolio.

The first designs I had shown them were for my current FMP (on the computer as they had not yet arrived in the post by this point). To my utter surprise they were actually impressed by most of my character designs and choice of layout, commenting on how the liked the use of sketches to tell the story of their design. They did mostly give a lot of feedback on how I should try to use maximum quality on the scanner when uploading my designs, as he did notice how some of them looked a little fuzzy and that beefing up the scanner would create much crisper images.

When looking at the design for the Lich character, they said that they loved the concept for the design, with the luminous green flames and seemed to point at the visible textures on their clothing. At this point they gave me the name for a friend of theirs who could provide inspiration as to how I could make the flames even more luminous, referring to a comic called Darkham Vale and showing me the image below.

darkham-vale

I can see perfectly what he meant when referring to the luminosity of the Lich’s fire, as the markings on this artist’s design look almost glow in the dark. I belive that the way they achieved this design was to not add any textures to the green and surround each area with a small outline of blurred green. I’m not entirely sure how well this would have suited the style presented with the rest of the book, but I will definitely keep this in mind later.

They did also point out a few flaws within the designs for the book, such as how the angels become a little harder to see on the white background or how the lighting was on the sword city design was very bizarre (saying that it looked like there were 3 suns because of the beams of light), but most of his concerns were based around the landscape illustrations. He said that they were far weaker than the rest of my designs for roughly the same reasons I mention myself previously. They did not have as much love put into them as the characters and said that it could be plainly seen through the lack of detail compared to them.

This comment was also stretched onto the design for Project X illustration, and even said that  it was clear I wasn’t very experience or skilled in poster layouts or the like. Something which I could easily understand do the vast difference between it and the FMP. He said that any illustration that I do, no matter how much time I have, is done with the exact same love and quality as any other I do.

The final bit of reviewing was for my APP, which again, they seemed to enjoy as I had eagerly hoped. They commented well on both the presentation and the custom-made typeface used for the logo. The only bit of criticism that they gave for this project was for the typeface used on the back cover, which is rather ironic now as the typeface does not seem to exist anymore as I could not access the type on my documents for the illustrations or even online.

They finished off the talk with a comment on the left inner spread design for the APP.

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They told me that a design like this which can present a story in a single image (as well as use a better understanding of light) was what I should have used within my FMP illustrations, and I see why now.

overall, while I did not actually receive much on the portfolio part of the review, I am genuinely ecstatic that a professional designer liked the ideas I had brought forward, and it has given me a lot more confidence in what I believe I can do. With the littles bits of feedback I have received, I believe that I have learned a lot about what to consider when creating future designs, namely that every single one of them should be given as much and time as possible to ensure that none of them appear rushed.

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FMP Sending to Blurb + Delivery

With the designs cover designs finally completed, I moved onto using the site Blurb (recommended to be during one of my previous presentations) in order to order a high quality printed copy of my concept book. The site itself offers various options for printing, with a range of cover styles, sizes and papers to choose from. In my case, I talked with one of tutors and agreed that their 28cm x 33cm hard-copy photo books was a good choice for my own book.


Blurb Link: http://www.blurb.co.uk/books/8749345-crusade-of-the-broken-concept-art-book

PDF File Link: file:///C:/Users/User/Downloads/_Concept%20Art%20Book.pdf


To print a book, you must first sign into the site as a user and then simply start a new project on your dashboard. You will then be given a large amount of instructions, requirements and tools for creating your book. In my case, I was selected the option to create my book using a PDF file and uploading it onto a base of the book.

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An issue that originally appeared during the first uploading attempts caused the pages of the book to all be paired up incorrectly, meaning the double page layouts which I had based them around had been complicated. After a bit of thinking, I eventually figured out how to solve the issue by adding a new page design in-between the front cover and Paladin pages. This would however cause all the images and text of the character pages on the InDesign file to moved onto the wrong side, meaning that the side banners were placed into the middle.

 

Rather than flipping all of the objects on the pages (as this would not fix the inverted texts) I went into the master pages with the banners and swapped the two around. This made it so that while the pages looked strange on the InDesign file, the Blurb versions were now correctly placed. I also had to add a back cover design with just the winged symbol of the front as I forgot to previously.

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After one last successful upload, the Blurb layout was now complete and ready to order.

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The site also allows readers to view a digital rendition of the book with a few simple animations to give a better understanding of its design in real-life.

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8 days later I received the finished print in the post, and it is almost as every bit as I had hoped for. The quality of the print was excellent, with all the designs being incredibly crisp, making it incredibly satisfying to see on paper. The cover as well is fairly sturdy, although as not as sturdy as I thought the hardcover edition would feel like, but this may be due to a different printing method in comparison to ones normally seen on shelves.

There were a few tiny errors I noticed on closer inspection of the print, namely on the Fallen Angel’s cloak, which has a slightly strange coloration error around where the back shape is centered. In a way, it seems that the two layers of the front and back have overlapped during the printing process. I later learned that this was not so much an issue on my part, as it was a normal occurrence when printing pure black against other colors. I also noticed the same error on the hair of the Rogue, but to not as noticeable degree.

Other than that, I am incredibly proud with this result, and to be honest, this has probably been my most successful piece during my time here at college, if not my entire career as a designer so far. It has taken a lot of time and effort to complete this project, with many late hours in classes to work on the illustrations and characters, but I believe that every hour was worth it.

It was also very much worth the price for the printed edtion as it makes this book feel so much more authentic than if it was just an image on a piece of paper. Being able to turn the pages with your hands rather than a mouse gives me a lot more satisfaction.

There are some things which I am a little disappointed about, such as not being able to finish and add the remaining character designs due to time and cost restraints for the printing. I am also a little annoyed that I never got around to actually designing the items and other miscellaneous illustrations, but I feel like the characters were

Overall, I am not entirely sure what to think considering that this is my true, final project within this course, and it makes me a little sad to see it end so suddenly. The only thing I can do as of now is be happy with what I have made and push forward to grow even more than I have this year.

FMP Final Designs

With the last bits of text and alterations made to the designs and layouts, here is the final design for the front cover and page spreads for my concept art book.

_Concept Art Book

As said within my previous post, this project has probably been both my most ambitious and successful piece so far. The one part about this piece that I probably won’t forget was just how much fun it was to design these characters and illustrations, as this something which I had complete creative freedom over, and thus was able to work on something which I have personal interest in.

Some of these designs, mainly those of the angels, I love so much that I may even try to use for later projects of my own. I’ve even considered taking the first one as some form of mascot for myself, as its unique design may give me a bit of noticeability in a world full of competing artists and designers.

There were some aspects about this project that did drive me a little insane, such the Crystal Library design above, which was a complete pain to illustrate in the angel I chose to use. There also some errors that I have noticed after its completion, mostly with landscape designs, which at this point I have realized may be the weakest link within my work. This was probably because there was not as much love put into these pieces compared to the character designs, which are my strongest points within the book.

Perhaps if I had even more time(which may be asking a lot considering that amount we already had), I have been able to put more focus into their final designs. At this point however, I can only say that I did what I could and that I should remember what I did to achieve this result, as that experience can be used later on throughout my education and career.

FMP Presentation 3

Today we have had yet another minor presentation within groups to explain our current progress and receive feedback from both our peers and tutors before we reach the deadline.

My presentation is linked below:

FMP2 Presentation

Compared to my previous presentation, this one was a complete rush job, as I had spent the morning before the meeting putting together the images onto the PowerPoint document, so I feel like that might have effected my impression slightly. The feedback I received this time was again very small from my peers, with most of it being given to me by the tutors.

Comments again mostly related to my use of layout for the text and images on the pages, which was understandable as I had not completed the text for the pages, so what they pointed out was still the placeholder text. Other than a few minor comments about the designs themselves, I cannot remember any other important pieces of feedback, so I can only just keep working on the text and have them completed by today/tomorrow morning.

FMP Adding Textures

With some feedback from my tutor on the current designs for my characters reminding me of my previous experimentation with textures all the way back with the Ice Sage’s design, I have dedicated the entire week to adding texture overlays to each and every character.

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First experiment with overlays

However, unlike before, wherein I only added a tea-stain image over the design, this time I have decided to use other textures that match the materials and features of each part of them, from their amor to their hair.

To do this I had to create individual overlays for part of the character’s design and used a clipping mask to add various real life textures such as metal or fabric.

Examples of metal and cloth textures

The first character who I tested this new method on was the imp, as they were the one who I first discovered and experimented with this technique when I was still doing their resign. Below is the result of the additional textures compared to the original version.

Before and after adding textures

I absolutely love how much the textures have made the design pop out compared the previously flatter design of the imp. The scrapes and dents of the texture I used for the metal amor on their body really add a bit more to the character, as they give the impression of battle scars or the ware-and-tear of their long travels.

Here are a few more designs which I was able to add to during todays session.

The only issue with this technique is just how time consuming it is to do, as there are multiple textures per character, meaning that unlike the original experiment, each design must be given their textures one at a time rather than all at once, otherwise there may be overlap. It also gets annoying if I notice a mistake midway into a design, meaning that I must then remover the text I am working on at theme and do again with the update piece.

Because of this, I will be going in through the rest of the week to texture all designs in time for Friday, which will be my own personal deadline for the project due to some printing conditions.

FMP Starting Layout Design

Today I have been working on a much needed layout plan for my concept art book, which will determine how I use the designs which I have been creating for the last few months. While this may be something which I should have sorted out much earlier, I feel that having my completed character and landscape designs with me now gives me a clear vision of what the theme for the book will be.

With not much time to sit around doodling in my sketchbook, I went straight into InDesgin with an idea for the pages, using online examples as inspiration for on the go. My first (and eventually only) design idea for the layout was to have a band of old parchment across the outside of the pages with the character design overlapping it.

Then I planned to add the scans of my sketchbook designs within the white space along with some text about the character’s story and development history. This would give readers a bit of insight into how these characters came to be and what stages they went through to get to their current design (as you would expect from a concept art book).

When placing my character designs over the outer band design, I took some inspiration form the bottom right layout example above and used a thick white outline where they overlap the parchment. This would prevent the characters from clashing with the colours of the band and give them a much bolder appearance which I personally like the look of.

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In order to plan the placement of the scanned sketches and text, I used boxes as guides.

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I had just begun to fill in the boxes with placeholder text when one of my tutors reminded me of how to add fluidity to the paragraphs, allowing me to fit the text against the character designs and sketches, saving me time and effort trying to arrange them normally while simultaneously making the layout smoother. This effect was created by drawing a shape with the pen tool and the selecting the wrap around option for the text.

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After I noticed an issue with presenting the angel god character due to its size, I was again inspired by by my tutor to create a closeup of the their face in order to allow readers to see the details which are too small to see.

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In order to fill in the large amount of space that is above each character, I decided to add another band with a parchment texture across the top. I originally tried designing the band in the style of the ribbons found on the angels, and experimented with various attempts to replicate it in this new format.

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Eventually however, I abounded the ribbon design as it was difficult (if not impossible) to add one in without it looking strange or taking up room which is needed for the sketches. Instead I opted to use a simple rectangular band just like the existing one on the edges. In order to separate the two designs, I added a shadow effect across the bottom, giving a more 3 dimensional appearance compared to the flatness without it. I also decided to add the holy symbols of the Paladin and Void Mother (back halo) characters to fill in the empty spaces of the outer bands.

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Below is the final layout design for the Paladin page.

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And here is the altered layout to fit the landscape illustrations. For these layouts I have removed the upper band to allow room for the image and text.

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The reason why this layout plan was my only design, is simply because it was my favourite idea from the start, something which both me, and others who I have consulted with in class have agreed on. It perfectly fits into the fantasy themes of my project’s setting, with the mix of the parchment bands and white background give a very stylish and modern presentation.

With the layout design style now out of the way, all I have to do is repeat the design for as many characters as I can and fill in the last bits of text. For now, I am very proud at where this design is going and am eager to see where it goes next.

FMP Scanning in Sketches

With the need to stat the design of my layout becoming increasingly larger, I have decided to put one of my oldest ideas within this project into motion. This idea was inspired by the research I had done into existing concept books and how all of them use sketches of the designs during their developmental stages, giving readers a story for how a character came to be and what went into their themes.

For the last few days of work in class, I have been scanning the pages from my sketchbook and taking them into Photoshop, using the same technique as my previous FMP to extract and darken the outlines.

To start the method of separating the outline from the white, I first lasso out the desired sketch and copy it into a blank document (which sizes itself ready for any image to be pasted into). Then I use a combination of the Magic Wand tool and the Select Similar option to select the outline (altering the harshness when necessary. After that, I paint over the selected outline with the Paintbrush in very dark grey (as to not be to harsh on the white pages.

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I then use the selection combo again to grab and erase all white areas of the image (include that on any other layers). Finally, I clear up any details, mistakes or leftover line-work using the brush and eraser tools and save the now completed outline for later use. After that, its just a matter of repeating the process until you have enough.

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The reason why I go as far as to remove the background is because it makes the images more compact and gets rid of the issue of images overlapping each other. I was able to create a fair few sketches for the first couple of pages this afternoon before I ran out of time.

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So far this idea seems to be working really well alongside the illustrations and textured bands. It somehow feels very fitting to the theme of it being a fantasy game, possibly because it looks a lot more like an old sketchbook, albeit with a modern twist with the pure white backgrounds. It also opens up various possibilities in terms of layout design, as the text and other images can be moved around to fit within spaces, allowing even more text and images to be added to the space.

I will have to keep working on the scans if I want to meet the deadlines in time, so I will still be attending on my off days to rack up more hours.

FMP Tying Loose Ends

With the time I have had over the last couple of days, I have been going back and doing some tweaks, finishes, and even entire redesigns in time for the upcoming layout design and the arrival of the looming project deadline.

The first bit of last minuit editing I did today was for the Imp. For their new edit I have completely updated their design with shading effects, as well as the addition of some edges across their breastplate and neck guard, which has made them look a lot less 2D and allows viewers a better sense of what he is wearing and which way it goes. The only other notable additions include the removal of his sword, editing his right hand to be like his left (as I believe that the original angle of their hand was what my tutor could not understand very well), and swapping the purple parts of his design to red (loincloth and complete removal of scarf), as it felt a lot more fitting to the colour-shceme of their armour).

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These changes were mostly done to give this character a clearer presentation to readers, as the previous design had some unsure features such as the positioning of their arm not being entirely readable. Overall, I think that this version is a slight improvement.


The next design I went back to edit was the Paladin, who after rediscovering one of their original inspirations, the Adepta Sororities from the Warhammer 40k series, ended up getting a complete redesign based on their artistic depictions.

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The Adepta Sororities (Sisters of Battle) – Warhammer 40k

The new design was inspired by the more robust amor used by these all female soldiers, with the larger pauldrons, sleeved upper arms and flowing skirt cloth, which made the entire design appear so much more dynamic and made the Paladin seem just like the valiant warrior I wanted her to be. I believe now that it was the designs and concepts behind the Adepta Sororities that actually led me to the original conception of the Paladin’s character and story, but it seems I either forgot to mention said designs during my previous posts about them. I also added a far more detailed hammer which could definitely be seen as fantasy themed compared to the more “realistic” attempts at the weapon design.

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I absolutely love how much better the new design makes the Paladin in terms of how much smoother and exciting they appear compared to the stiff and plain design of the original. It even looks more fantasy-like due to the of the asphetic additions such as the skirt cloth (somehow).


With the time I had left today, I also went back to complete the landscape illustrations which have mostly been left unfinished for some time now. The most obvious addition to each of the illustrations was a tea-stain overlay like that of my APP illustrations.

The first of these designs I went back to complete was the Sword City illustration, which I actually ended up redesigning into a style close to the original concept design from my sketchbook. This version includes the walled fortress idea which I failed to add within the first attempt at the design.

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The Undead Cathedral illustration only received the overlay texture as there were no noticeable issues I could find within it’s design.

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For the Demon Realm illustration I completed the lava river on the bottom right and added a few additional dragon silhouettes in the sky.

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The final illustration for the Great Crystal Library scene was also given a few changes like the Sword City design. Firstly, I changed my technique for the bookshelves, where instead of drawing each book individuals, I copy and pasted rows onto each shelf and gave each a different colour. Next I finally went back to finish the design for the celling design, which I eventually settled on making a window of a night sky.

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One final design choice I made was for the naming and renaming of each character who will be used within the book, since for the majority of this project I have been using just placeholder titles such as Paladin or Rogue. The updated names of each character are as follows:

  • Paladin – Andra the Loiness (based on the name Alexandra = Defender of Men)
  • Rogue – Tahrir Katt (Tahrir being arabic for Liberation (Katt = Cat))
  • Crystal mage – Crystal Mage Cyrus
  • Imp – Vulcan (Roman god of fire, volcanoes, metalworking and forging)
  • Ice sage – Arctic Sage
  • Traveling Merchant – Traveling Merchant Ferrn
  • Lich – Lich King Merten (inspired by Russian translation of mertvyy = dead)
  • Crow – Frenzied Crow
  • Demon King – Horde King Amon (based on Aamon from demonology)
  • Demon Soldier – Horde Soldier
  • Crystal Knight – Crystal Hollow
  • Mountain King – Mountain King Van Gron
  • Fallen Angel – no change
  • Fallen Archangel – no change
  • Fallen God – Fallen Seraphim (highest rank of God’s angels)
  • Void Mother – no change

I am very happy with the new designs and edits for the illustrations and am very glad I have stopped to see them done after all this time. My only disappointment so far is that I was unable to do more improvements, as so far the names mentioned above are the only characters which I have had enough time to prepare for the final layouts of the concept book.

FMP Cover Design

With the end of the project drawing near, I have begun quickly planning out design ideas for the front cover, which I have mostly been putting off for a while now due to the character and landscape designs.

Going straight into Illustrator, I first toyed with the idea of having an arcane rune or magic seal design across the front page, giving the cover a style like that of an old spell-book. I didn’t spend very long on the idea however before I started trying other cover designs in order to spread out more plans.

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Another rather simple idea was just a side profile of the Paladin’s helmet, but it was discarded for lack of interest in the idea.

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My next batch of ideas ranged around the design being a dynamic illustration of the characters or a character in a fighting stance. Although I had started some various pose ideas, the design below was the only one which actually got past the bare linework for the cover.

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This was also about the time which I had begun experimenting with the name of the project itself, as until now, I had just been reffering to the game as “Crusade” in my head, with not much idea for what the next word(s) should be.

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Despite having some interest in the design above, it was this next design for the logo that peaked my interest the most.

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The design itself was based on the wing formations of the Angels and was inspired by the classical designs of Final Fantasy covers, with them always having a pure white background behind a colorful illustration and black font. The newly chosen title word “broken” was being represented with the left half of the wings being corrupted and breaking.

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I tried to combine this logo idea with another concept which involved adding the main cast of characters behind the font, either faded or in full opacity. I dropped this idea as it made the title difficult to read due the clutter of detail and colors around the words.

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As of now, the design above is my current choice for my cover page, as it is simple, clear, and not as in your face compared to the more dynamic design, which is more fitting to the simplistic style of the rest of the book’s art. A few additional changes I have made were the title being extended to “Crusade of the Broken”, and turning down the brightness of the wings, as someone who I asked for feedback from mentioned that the red made it difficult to clearly read the first half.

With the cover design already out of the way, I can now start bringing the book together by working on the final layout of the pages.

FMP Character Design – Shoggoth, Nyarlathotep (Nry) & Void Mother

Today I have been working on some last-minute designs for some new character ideas which I have just come up with. These character ideas may be used as the true final enemies and boss of the game.

The concepts behind these characters was inspired by my fascination with cosmic horror, namely from the tales of the Cthulhu mythology, created by H.P. Lovecraft in the 20th century. The idea behind this form of horror was that alien creatures and entities exist within our universe, and that they had so much power compared to us, that we are not even ants before them. It is said in most of his stories that even looking at the forms of these beings could drive men to complete and irreversible madness.

When I first began design these character with those themes I mind, I was going to base theme on the existing beings from his most famous stories and monsters/gods. The first of these inspirations came from the creatures known as Shoggoths, shapeless masses of slime and eyes which originated from the story “At the Mountains of Madness”.

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Shoggoths, despite their terrifying power to constantly change their own form, allowing them to create limbs and organs at will, were actually servants of another species called Elder Things, and are thus often considered lesser beings in their eyes of other more powerful threats.

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For my own interpretation of Shoggoths, I designed them as tree-like masses of tendrils and eyes, with a singular main eye within the centre, along with a large gaping mouth within.

When designing them, I experimented with various ideas about the type of eyes they would have, their colors, and any other additional features such as other mouth types. The ideas for the eyes came from whether I should use slit shaped or octopus shaped pupils (as Cthulhu himself is depicted as an octopus.

 

My first version of the Shoggoth design turned out as shown below. It used a pure back and grey color-scheme with purple and yellow eyes. Out of the two designs I did, I prefer this version the most due being less of an eyesore thanks to its simple and slightly more readable design/pallet.

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The second version of idea I attempted with this purple gradient design with inverted eye colors and a few extra details such as the mouth on the left and strange bubbles/orbs hovering around them.

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Despite my hopes for the original sketch, I don’t belive that I will be using this design for my final piece. This is because the design itself is just too complicated and clashed a lot with what is the simplistic styles of the other characters. The purple gradient of the second version of the design is also just way too bizarre, even for a creatures whose entire concept is being bizarre in the first place.


My second character concept was another enemy type or mini-boss inspired by the Lovecraftian god Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos. Nyarlathotep is believed to be by many the second most powerful entity within the Cthulhu mythology (just behind his father/king Azathoth), and being the only member of the Outer Gods who purposely toys and interacts with humans for their own twisted enjoyment. Despite apparently having a thousand horrifying forms, one of his most popular among them is the one shown below, which is used in many of his artistic depictions.

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Due to Nyarlathotep’s iconic representation within the Cthulhu stories, as well as the potential of a shape-shifting god in terms of design, I attempted to create my own interpretation using a similar style to the previous Shoggoth concept.

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While the design itself is again not complete, and is simply a base concept, I am actually a lot happier with how most of this design has turned out compared to the previous attempt with the Shoggoth. It sill has some issues which need resolving, such as those two weird tendrils which I placed on the front to fill in space and shape of the 3 legs, but overall, a bit of polishing to the current design could lead to a very cool liking mini-boos character.


My final design today was for what may be the true final boss of the game, as a lot of RPGs which I have seen and heard about often have the actual final boss hidden behind various story elements, which urge players to play more.

The concept for this boss was completely original compared to the previous two, being an idea which I came up with recently during my free time. The idea behind the design was to create a female deity which shared design aspects of both the angels and the Lovecraftian monsters, acting as a true antagonist to the heroes of the story.

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I wanted to emphasis various aspects about their appearance to represent both their personality and relationship to the world/other characters within the story. One of the first and most important aspects about their design is that they were to give off a motherly form, as an idea I had for them was to be a sympathetic being who was cast out for loving humanity (and other mortal races) a bit too much. To get this effect I made their form mostly feminine with a seemingly beautiful face (with the more demonic eyes closed to give a calmer expression).

Another aspect which I also considered to add to their mother theme was to actually make them appear pregnant (with the hand holding their stomach), with perhaps a true final boss being created within them. This quality about them was inspired by the character and story from the game Parasite Eve, wherein Eve (a woman with unstable genetic mutations) attempts to give birth to the “Ultimate Being”.

So far I believe that this mother goddess is actually one of my favorite design so far, perfectly reflecting a sense of beautiful and creepy in an eldritch form. I think that the best part about this design is simply how alien it looks, which is exactly what I wanted when I began doing these Lovecraft themed characters at the beginning of today. All it needs is a few tweaks to its color and this design can be called complete.