With the quick finish of the Mountain King character out of the way, I thought about taking the opportunity to design a new enemy character to serve the Fox Queen boss. The concept behind this character is that they are one of the many children of the queen, and are thus all lesser Kitsune, meaning that they (almost) all of her abilities, but only have a fraction of the power.
Sketches for the lesser Kitsune ranged from having them look like normal foxes, large wolf sized creatures, fox-human hybrids, and even ninjas.
I eventually decided to go with the idea of ninjas, as having creatures capable of invisibility and shape-shifting be spies/assassins seemed like an incredibly fun concept in terms of story, design and game-play possibilities.
The first part of the design I started with was the mask, which was again styled in the same fashion as the Queen, albeit this time having a more aggressive pattern and no visible mouth.
After doing that, I moved onto creating a quick attempt at the rest of the design.
The design so far is going very well in my eyes. Its got dynamic pose to show the character’s agile for and aggressiveness, a stylish uniform with a flowing scarf to express movement, and it fits in along side the design of the Fox Queen. The colors for this design were actual chosen mostly by me for a change, as I have a bit of knowledge on the attire of real life ninjas wearing navy clothing (as wearing navy makes you harder to see against the night sky compared to modern depictions of black). The hairstyle for the fox however was inspired by a style I found on a female ninja from a Youtube film.
As said, I am very happy with the design so far, and will at some point have to return to complete the legs and details when I am given the chance.
Today I have created a quick new addition to the cast of characters after deciding to experiment with one of the sketches which I had made a few weeks ago in my book, with the theme of this character being inspired by the traditional depiction of a barbarian king.
The idea of the barbarian being a grizzled king was slightly inspired by the folktale story trope of “bergentrückung”, which literally means “Mountain Rapture” but can also be translated from German as “The King in the Mountain”. The trope itself refers to the concept of a legendary hero or king laying dormant until they are awakened at a time of need. This aspect could be introduced into their personal story, but I was mostly inspired by the idea of a mountain king in general.
While I had many interesting designs to use, I ended up using the idea for a scarred old man wielding nothing but a chipped blade and a loincloth. Creating the design itself was rather simple and did not take as long as other characters usually require, since this design was far simpler compared to them. The only real bit of trouble during their creation was whether to give them a sword or a hand axe, as the axe was a bit tricky to draw at the back angle I chose to use.
In the end I chose the sword for its simpler yet effective design.
Despite being rather plain compared to the more colorful design of my previous characters, such as the crystal knight or the crow monster, I still find this design to be very good because of that simplicity. It makes them appear very straightforward and easy to understand. The additions of the battle scars and chipped sword also help to tell a bit about who the character is themself, which in this case is that of a hardened veteran.
Today we have had a second minor presentation in order to explain our current progress to both our tutors and our peers. This was done to receive feedback on what we are doing right, wrong, and what can be done to improve or change the current ideas/designs that we have now.
The feedback I received for my current progress was fairly… mixed. Most, if not all feedback I got came from the tutors, who mostly just encouraged me to decide on my layout plan, as well as comment on a few other minor issues (such as one of them not quite understanding what was happening with the imp, likely referring to their right hand).
Not much that I can remember was said other than that, so for the meantime, I will just try to keep my ideas coming and start focusing on my layout plans, since I do not want to leave that too late to do.
Today I have been working on what will probably be my final landscape illustration design, since the amount of time it takes to make each illustration and the concept behind this one in particular. This illustration is actually one which I have been planning to do since the very beginning of the project, which is the location of both the Crystal Mage and Crystal Knight characters.
The idea behind this area is that it will be an ancient library/archive. Concept sketches for the libary have ranged from a bridge view onto a giant statue, a 2D view similar to on of the scenes from my APP, and a ground perspective of the Crystal Mage wondering though a book filled hallway. One idea however which was not shown in the sketches however is that areas of the location will be covered in crystal growths similar in design to that of the Mages.
After a bit of thinking, I ended up going with the hallway perspective idea, as it would help break away from the same views as the other designs. However, taking this path for the design also meant that I would have to put a lot more time and effort into getting the perspective of the objects and characters correct (as this will no longer be as 2D as the previous designs).
In order to ensure that the most complicated parts of the entire piece, the book shelves, were lined up correctly with one another, I created a guide using the line tool to plan out the placement of the bottom and front of each shelf, as well as the books.
Out of all of the features of the illustration, the books were probably the worst to design, as my original plan for them was to individually create and color each book, which meant repeating the process for each shelf.
To make the scene a little more interesting to look at, I also decided to add a Crystal Knight in a fighting stance against the mage, giving a bit more context to their role as a guardian of the area.
I currently havent finished design due to running out of time today, but I will be continuing this illustration through the week and will post an update when it is finally completed. However, with what I do have I feel pretty confident that this piece will turn out much better than the rest, due to its better use at perspective angles.
Today I have finally taken the opportunity to redesign the character concepts which I still don’t feel comfortable with and need changing. In this case, I have taken the Crystal Mage, the Imp, and the Demon King designs for complete makeovers.
The fist I began working on was the Crystal Mage, whose design has greatly changed from its original appearance. The theme of the crystal growths and the addition of a magic staff have not changed in the slightest, however, designing the head in a style which matched the other characters, or in a way which was not over-designed was difficult to say the least.
As a result, I dropped the original head design for a new, blocky version which is a lot easier to draw (which is a bit unfortunate as I really liked the first idea for a skinny body type). I also tried a new body design, giving them a tattered cloak with whats left off their old clothes showing on the left leg. The colors used for the crystal were again picked from an existing image of a crystal, which resulted in purples, light blues and whites, giving the shiny effect seen below.
In the end however, I ended up dropping the outfit design for this version in return for another design I came up with after looking at a pair of random sketches from my book, which gave him a far more military appearance with a neater silhouette.
This version, to me at least, was far better in terms of both appearance and style, as it seems much more in line with the designs of the other characters than the previous, which was a complete mess, and kind of boring (since it is just rags over rags). It also had a color-scheme which is just more pleasant to look at compared to the murky blue of the one above, as the pure whites and blues suit the crystals with a kind of radiant effect.
The next character I began working on was the Imp, who after repetitively doing sketch ideas of and researching inspiration online, ended with the concept below.
I completely abandoned the previous copper/bronze engineer idea from the previous design in favour of this darker, warrior based design, as well as a complete do-over for their face design, which is now a lot more consistent with my other designs and is just more suited to the cocky personality I wanted from them.
To give them a more aggressive appearance, I changed their scarf and loincloth (or what ever that front part is called) to purple and changed the armor into a coal-like black. This was also done to help separate their color-scheme with the golden colors of the Paladin, as the copper theme was a bit too similar.
Finally I moved onto the most awkward of all of my designs so far, the Demon King character. The issue with their design was to find something which was not only unique compared to their minion’s design, but consistent with the overall style of the other characters within the book.
As with their design before, the general concept behind the Demon King was that they are tall, thin and had wilder features compared to the normal Demon design. After several failed ideas for how to create this more expressive and unique approach to the design, I gave in to trying the design which can be found bellow.
While I did say before that I wanted to avoid using a design too similar to the previous demon concept, I ended finding that using the same armor theme was not only more appealing in the end, but also gave them a much better connection to their own soldiers. Even though it does mostly share the same colors as the Demons, I believe that the slimmer build, as well as the gold and white skin, give this character the regal/individual design which I wanted. The additions of the fiery blade and magic within their hand were added to represent the level of danger which this boss character would present to players.
Overall I am very happy with how the new designs have turned out, as they all fit the style I have been using so far and are blatant improvements to the rough concepts they were just this morning. I may come back to some of them just to tidy a few little errors here and there, but for now, they are perfectly ready for me to move on.
With not much time left on the project before I have move on from the character designs to the layout and book cover designs, I felt that I should at the very least create what would be the end-game enemies and the final(?) boss for the project.
Having had a bit of knowledge into the history of some of the most popular RPG/JRPG titles such as Final Fantasy, as well as knowing about other obscure titles of similar settings, a running gag that I have seen from their fans is that the final boss of these games usually end up being god-like entities, or even just god themself. Wanting to make an addition to this theme, I have decided to create some new creature designs based on angelic beings or monsters.
Before starting any actual sketching, I had done some research into the nature and recorded appearnces of angels as seen in the bible. I chose angels specifically as I had recently seen a collection of humourus posts online talking about how mosterous angels could actually look, with different cultures and retellings of stories giving them incredibly interesting illustrations.
Taking the concept of angels having abstract (or just blatantly terrifying) forms, I have decided to design some of my angelic creatures for my own book.
Possibly my biggest inspiration for these character design ideas would definitely be from the brilliant illustrative works of Yuuki Mokuya (aka mornmoon) on Tumblr, who’s original, creative, and beautiful drawings of biblical angels (and other mythologies) have given me a whole new perspective on hat such divine beings could be shaped like. One of the things I love most about their work is just how bizarre some of the angels can be, as they somehow sit between being incredibly beautiful, to flat out creepy due to the additions of gaping mouths and large amount of eyes.
What I have taken away most about their style however is how they make each design vaguely human, but mostly “alien” in all other aspects, such as their faces (or lack thereof). I wanted my own designs to reflect this idea by giving them simplistic faces/masks, which I hoped would give them a calm yet unsettling appearance.
My original concept ideas had the angels themselves appear very complex, with themed designs such as one being the representation of justice or judgment. However, I eventually dropped these ideas during the digital designs after I decided to experiment with one idea for a character which I had been thinking about at the time (seen bellow).The general idea around this design was that the angels all had shattered “wings” which could behave as substitute hands or weapons. However, after using red as a placeholder color for their wings, I got the idea of perhaps making the angel enemies fallen variants of their normal forms. This actually ties into one of the jokes I heard from the previously mention post about cultural interpretations, as someone pondered whether demons are scary looking because they have fallen, or because they were angels.
After recreating the sketch design on illustrator, with the newly added feature of a winding paper ribbon. I was happy enough to move straight onto the next level of angel for the game: Archangel (or in this case, a fallen Archangel). This design was made far more complex and large to differentiate itself from its smaller counterpart, this included the form of their halo, and the shape of the “wings”. To enforce their superiority over the normal angels, I also equipped them with a much larger (slightly demonic) great-sword, to alert players of the danger the will present to them.
Finally, with still time to spare, I finished today off by designing the final angel, the god/god-like being and final boss of the game’s story.
Even before the creation of the digital concept, I was already pretty clear on what design I wanted to use. This was because the design I used below is actual from a drawing idea which I have been working for some time before this project began, and seeing the opportunity to use it with the other angels, I took it.
There were a few new ideas added to the original concept, such as the wings, which were originally feather or missing before. I also used the same winding ribbon design as used on the previous angels. The inspiration for the original design itself I have long forgotten, but the idea for the snake-like lower half was from my inability to draw it with legs without it looking incredibly strange. It was likely also possible that I was actually inspired again by the Aztec creation god quetzalcoatl, who is often depicted as a feathered serpent.
As of this moment, I believe that these designs have been my most successful yet, as they perfectly fit into the theme of alien beauty which I was hoping to obtain. The simplistic color-scheme of the reds, blacks and white (and gold details) also really compliment their silhouettes, as having more colors than that would take away their “pure” appearance. At one point I did consider using a cosmic texture for their wings to add to their alien style, but after talking with my tutor and some classmates, it was agreed that the blood red was much better due to this simplistic color-pallet.
As said, I am really proud of these designs, and with them being the current concepts for the final characters, it leaves me with mot much of an idea as to where to go next.
Today I have decided to try out one of the random sketch ideas for an NPC character for the game’s story. The character themself is a cloaked demon woman who would act as a (secret) merchant or plot driven NPC who triggers/moves quests for the players. I wanted to design them in a way that makes the hair/horns appear as if they were flowing like fire. I also planned on giving them features which would resemble the Demon King character, hinting at a possible connection between the two.
Since I wish to make her true name (if she even will have one) secret, I have simply dubbed her “The Lady of White” due to the color of her albino skin.
Below is the quick sketch I did which has served as the inspiration for the design.
The creation for the lady of white was a little short lived due to some time constraints for today’s session, and is thus not as polished as I would have hoped. There are a few issues concerning the Lady’s cloak, such as how the left edge does not completely reach the side, leaving a bit of the lower layers peeking through. Another issue is just the lack of detail itself on the cloak, as I was only able to get the base idea for the shape drawn out before I had to move on. Another issue is that the Lady’s pale skin becomes almost invisable on a white background, such as the one here.
At this point I am not even sure if I will be able to get back to this idea for a while due to the amount of other pieces I have been going back and forth between. If I do find a moment where I can complete and improve the current design, I will try to use it. Until then, this may serve simply as an experiment piece alongside any other unused parts.
For my next idea I have decided to design another boss character to fill into the rest of the cast, this time being a Kitsune warrior who could act as a mid-game boss within the story.
The reason why I have chosen to have a Kitsune, or creature based on one, be a character is due to my love and fascination with their history within Japanese culture, something which I explained within my previous FMP project last year. Another reason why I want to use one is due the possibilities I could use for its design thanks to their wide array of powers.
As a reminder, Kitsune are Japanese fox spirits which grow multiple tails as they age and grow wiser (with a maximum of 9 tails when they become 1000 years old). They possess various magical abilities which include shapeshifting, flight, invisibility, the ability to emit fire/lightning, illusions, and various other powers that could easily be attributed to their design and their in-game attacks.
Since stories often portray Kitsune as beautiful women (with the occasional old and and little girl), my Kitsune will be a female warrior. Although another reason for being female is due to how many male characters I already have, so having at least one of the enemy characters have at least one woman will help make the cast a bit more equal.
The main idea I had for this character when designing them in my sketchbook was that they are a mother of dozens/hundreds of lesser Kitsune who follow her commands to fight against the main characters throat their journey. This motherly aspect of her character was something I wanted to emphasise within their design by giving it some softer features.
One main inspiration for her outfit came from a character called Baiken from the Guilty Gear series, a female samurai who wears a black (biker/military) coat over their kimono, which I really liked as it gives a far more aggressive appearance and make her look a.
Below is the final/main sketch idea I was able to successfully produced based on my inspiration.
The design itself is very similar in most ways to Baiken, but I have made the robes far more like a large Japanese kimono or dress skirt to make her appear more lady-like. A few other features I plan on adding include a pair of talismans which curve out from behind her hair, as well as maybe the addition of more upper amor and even a helmet to protect their head. The most notable feature which I wanted to add however is a white Kitsune mask with an almost cheshire cat grin running across it.
After putting together my ideas from the few sketches of my book, I spent the rest of the day creating the digital version.
This character design has probably been the most time consuming and complicated of all of my ideas as of so far, due to it’s large amount of details added and changes made of the course of the day. Many ideas were tossed around when making the Illustrator version, with a few complications such as the design of the mask causing a few delays, as getting the teeth right was hard for me with a 2D style.
Another aspect of the design which changed a bit was the colour and style of the sleeves, which I have actually changed from the Fox Queen’s hands being visible to being hidden.
Original (left) and new version (right)
This change was inspired by another game called Okami, which had a unique style wherein women wearing kimonos had their hands constantly hidden, meaning that any object they held would seemingly float against the tip of their sleeve. The pronged sword which she holds is also based on the weapon of another Kitsune based character from the same game.
For the color-scheme, I actually ended up using 3 separate sources. The first source is the was the colours of the Baiken inspired shoulder coat (red, white and black/dark grey). The second is the colours used for the sleeves and bows, which were soft pinks to reflect her feminine charm and motherly personality. The third set of colors were light browns which I believe I took from the image of the fox to the left, since using the oranges and reds of the rest of the fox for the hair color seemed a little odd on testing.
Anyway, I am rather proud with how her design looks at the moment, especially with how the mask details turned out after a bit of experimentation. The pinks and the black also really seem to work well to show the contrast of her two side, one expressing her beauty, the other her aggressiveness as a warrior.
I may go back to finish the design for her legs, as well as remove the bows on her tail if I change my mind later. I will also give her some more unique traits to the overall design as I want to give her a more original appearance, since at the moment she looks like a more foxy version of Baiken.
Having attempted the design for the demon king character, I felt like starting the illustration for their in game location, which I have called the Demon Realms for the meantime.
The original concept for the Demon Realms is that the location is a war-torn no man’s land filled with broken structures, weapons and a monsters. One of main ideas I had for this illustration was that the sun above the wastelands is causing intense shadows behind all both the landscape, making it seem dangerous and otherworld.
The inspiration for the sun concept itself was inspired by the design of the solar eclipse from the game Dark Souls 3, which appears as a critical point within the end of the game. I really loved just how beautiful yet terrifying the image of this eclipse became in context of the game’s story, as the fire of the sun itself poured onto the earth.
The image below is the result of recreating the sketch into Illustrator from todays work.
After finishing the base design of the illustration, I realised that the circular structures that I planned on using from my sketch were rather awkward to make and looked rather odd due to being yet again too three dimensional compared to the style of the rest of the piece. To fix, I instead opted to use stone pillars to scatter across the landscape, in order to give the impression that something else used to exist before this wasteland. I also added a pair of demons standing guard to make the place seem a little less empty of its demonic inhabitants.
Just like how the cathedral design before it, I am very happy with how this design has progressed so far, as it really encapsulates a hellish dominion fitting for the demon character designs. It is currently not fully complete as the lava stream to the right needs polishing, as maybe a few small details that could be used to fill in the empty spaces (such as the sky). Other than that, I feel that I am ready to move onto the next idea while I still have time.
Today I have been attempting to design one of the new character concepts which I had made in my sketchbook, to mixed levels of success. This design is intended to be the boss character of the demon enemies I have designed earlier this week.
For the demon boss character, I wanted to make their design similar to the design themes of the demon enemies (dark reds), yet stick to their own unique design which makes them stand out clearly against them as an important figure, since it would be pointless and a waste of potential to just make a slightly fancier version of one of the pre-existing designs.
I did at one point also consider giving them the head of a goat, but I passed off that idea since it didn’t really fit along side the designs of the other demons, or the “rich kid” personality I also planned on to give them.
To make them stand out, I mostly stuck around the idea of making them thiner with a visible face. Along with that, I also thought about the use of making their visible skin/fur/scales white instead of the dark red of the previous designs, as if they were an albino alternative version of their pieces. One of my other concept plans was that demon boss themselves wears more casual attire in a pretentious way of boasting their physique and power to others.
The design which I eventually created during todays session was inspired by the bottom left idea above, which I saw as being strangely Japanese looking at it now.
The process of creating this design was both complicated and awkward to say the least. I found it difficult to mimic the same body-type and expression that I was able to produce during my sketches. I could not figure out how to give them a slim/muscular build with the style used with the other characters, which results in their arms and neck looking incredibly strange (even though the neck was meant to be long to begin with).
I do like some aspects of the design however, despite its problems. Namely, I was happy with how the head design turned out, as it greatly resembled what I wanted from the sketch. The result of the digital recreation actually gave the demon boss a somewhat tribal theme, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but not exactly what I wanted for what was a warlord-like character.
I will definitely be going back to redesign this character completely at some point since I just don’t like how they seem to going at this point.