Tag Archives: character design

Nonlinear Narrative: The Protagonist

For my protagonist, I wanted to design a character that would not stand out too much and could blend into her surroundings.  She had to be different from everyone else, but not be too different.  I sketched a few different styles of hair and facial features until I ended up with one that I really liked.  From there, I played around with detail and finalizing how she looks.  I also chose the name Lena to be hers.

Lena lives in a fantasy world, and a city where knights take care of crime.  She works as a knight in the city watch to protect the city.  She enjoys working with the city watch and cares deeply for her job.  The other people in the city watch are like family to her.  Her goal is to infiltrate and destroy the underground thieves’ guild.  She is given this task by her captain.  No one in the city watch knows where the guild is, so it is Lena’s job to find it ad take it down.  Lena has some problems accomplishing this task, however.  She struggles with kleptomania; she has done a good job overcoming this issue, but entering the thieves’ guild might cause an issue for her with kleptomania.  Lena has an ultimate choice to make in the game; she can either follow through with her captain’s orders and destroy the guild, or she can decide that the guild is where she truly belongs.  Throughout the game, Lena can talk to her captain and the thieves’ guild master.  The more she talks to these characters and how she talks to them can influence her choice in deciding where she wants to end up.

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This is one of the original concepts for Lena.

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From the first sketch, I played around with a different hair style.  I figured shorter hair would be more practical when fighting.

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I gave her a similar face to the original sketch.  I tried simplifying and changing different parts of her design.

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Drew her in a different angle.

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This is one of the final sketches for Lena.  This is where I start to finalize how her hair looks ad how her face looks.

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I gave her some piercings to add to her design.

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This is a sketch sprite for how she might look in the game.

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This is the final, full-body sketch I decided on for Lena.  I gave her fairly simple clothes so that she could easily blend in with any faction.  I added some muscle definition to show that she is strong from her time working as a knight.

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  Lastly, I gave her a sword to tie her back to the city watch.  The sword was given to her by the captain, and it is a cherished possession of Lena’s.

Game Studio: The Protagonist

My characters were limited by my artistic ability, but this led to a much more simpler and abstract design that I was influenced from watching the stick figure animations in my childhood. A lot of the design for the main character was influenced by a game called Fancy Pants Adventure.



A lot of the design elements for the protagonist ended up being the same, such as the hairstyle for the protagonist. However, I wanted to put a unique spin on this style and blend it with music, which is something that has influenced me throughout my life. I thought the hair was very “punkish” which is something that I was aiming for as a design element. A lot of the bands in the 2000’s that I grew up listening to would have those kinds of edgy rocker hairstyles, the colored mohawks and the like. However, with stick figures, I thought that the character would be someone any aspiring musician could relate to in a way.

Reference Image: David Beckham



I enjoyed just how animated and expressive you could make stick figures, even with how simple they are. You could have a character doing all sorts of things and make the action even more exaggerated.



All the characters had elements of the music scene or an alternative look to them, which I certainly enjoyed giving and designing. A lot of stick figures are designed to be “bland” and not set apart from each other in an animation for example, but I liked giving them an air of distinction. For example, the roadie NPC was designed with long hair and always smoking a cigarette, which is a common trope/stereotype of the rock roadie scene that I thought I could play on.

roadie NPC

The cigarette automatically tells me that the character lives a rough lifestyle and is out on the road a lot. As for the villainess, she was designed as an opposite for the protagonist. The term “opposite ends attract” was a core principle for me in designing the character. So as the protagonist is leading a lifestyle of rock and roll and on his quest in the game, the villainess is an opposite, offering a life of peace and stepping away from his dreams.

girlfriend villain NPC

I chose the split hair colors as a sly reference to the choice she offers in being the villain of the game. The roses and the drumsticks also are a nod to that. The two worlds colliding was an interesting dynamic for me to explore. It is either the rock life or the life of settling down and building another life together. This reference image I found was the basis of the hair color.



As per the protagonist, heavily based off the Fancy Pants Adventure game, I found that I would put the protagonist in my shoes, as a drummer just like me. I thought his story would be interesting as well as funny for any musician, putting on the best show of all time, playing the best gig that he can.

game protag

  With the hair in mind, it ended up looking like a mix of the “mohawk” from the main character in Fancy Pants Adventure, as well as elements of Sonic the Hedgehog’s head mixed with a Super Saiyan in the Dragon Ball anime series. I liked the idea of hair being the distinctive item in all these characters, as I felt that looks would be important in distinguishing between all these characters. I liked being able to design one element that would stand apart from the others that would make them unique from each other. So I thought that hair would be the way to go as it is in some ways, a lot of people’s form of expression.

Reference Image: Dragon Ball Z



Reference: Sonic the Hedgehog

Nonlinear Narrative: The Protagonist

ProtagonistFinal

  My protagonist is a woman named Alessa Solaris, who lives in a futuristic society where human space travel has been achieved. In this universe, the resources on Earth have been completely diminished and humans have taken to gathering resources in the form of raw elements from elsewhere in the galaxy. These raw elements are bought and sold at high prices and used to create compounds that make up the materials humans use for everything from medicine to fuel. And because the element trading market is so lucrative, it has brought about a resurgence of space piracy. Alessa’s role in this world is one of conflicting loyalties. All she wants is to get married to the love of her life, but she has no money to contribute to the wedding, and she is desperate. Seeing piracy as the quickest way to get the money she needs, she joins a crew and sets off on her first mission to plunder a space station that is known to have a large supply of elements. Unfortunately, she soon discovers that this space station is where her fiance, a medical professional and virologist, is using those elements to create a cure for the viral epidemic happening on a nearby planet. This is how Alessa becomes torn between following her captain’s orders, and protecting her fiance, who plans on guarding those elements and his work on the cure with his life.

The major goals for this character design was to create a character who exhibited a merging of two different styles: futuristic space and old fashioned pirate, as well as showing her as a female, and making her seem friendly but somehow connected to the other two main characters who both exhibit differing styles: one being a healer and scientist, and one being a marauding space pirate.

To show Alessa as feminine, I focused on eyes and hair and slightly on body type. I didn’t want to fall into the trope of a female character wearing a skin-tight jumpsuit to show all her curves, so I thought focusing on feminine eyes and hair would be a better approach. However, if I wanted to show her hair, I couldn’t have a full space helmet, so I tried to take some inspiration from Starlord’s space mask from Guardians of the Galaxy.

Reference image source: http://cdn2-www.superherohype.com/assets/uploads/2014/07/starlordimage1.jpg

Reference image source:
http://cdn2-www.superherohype.com/assets/uploads/2014/07/starlordimage1.jpg



This led to a helmet that covered half of her head and a gas mask type attachment to her nose and mouth. This led to the misunderstanding that she was from a toxic environment more akin to a post-apocalyptic world. Which then led to the eventual development of the full face and top of the head type helmet that one can see in the final character design. This communicates the image of space much better. Also, thicker outlines and some light reflections were added to the eye protection so that it communicates goggles or a visor attachment to the helmet much better.

Since the helmet evoked the image of space more than the image of pirate, I used the clothing design as an opportunity to show more of a classic pirate type style. I originally was inspired by the movie Alien to give my character a jumpsuit that looked more like a uniform that one would wear in space.

Reference image source: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-XXlLOIYx5S0/T1Jpu0Y5rNI/AAAAAAAABGo/056ski5rXJ0/s1600/aliencrew.jpg

Reference image source:
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-XXlLOIYx5S0/T1Jpu0Y5rNI/AAAAAAAABGo/056ski5rXJ0/s1600/aliencrew.jpg



This idea evolved because of the need to add elements of the classic pirate crewman style, which is where the vest, the belt, and the loose fitting pants come from. The heavy work boots are used to evoke an image of a tough work environment that requires stability and sturdiness, like one might come across as a crew member aboard a spaceship. This is also why they are more box shaped than any other elements of this character’s design, since square shapes indicate sturdiness and immovability.

  I used elements of color and shape to work out the other design details. Because she is the protagonist, I wanted to make sure the players can feel like they trust her. Therefore, I tried to stick to rounded corners, soft edges, and circular elements. This is why her eyes are so rounded and prominent. They communicate an innocence and trustworthiness. These characteristics are also exemplified with the eyebrows tilted upwards because it gives an openness to the face that echoes a friendly personality. The repeated use of round and circular shapes in the character design plays on the human habit of reading traits with those shapes as friendly, open, innocent, playful, and slightly feminine.

Color also plays an important part in the design of this character. First, I wanted to stay away from most cool colors like green, blue and purple, because those are usually used to convey a mysterious, untrustworthy, sneaky, or devious tone. However, while redesigning the helmet, I thought to use some grays with blue and purple tints to show her connection to the less than morally sound pirate crew. Other than that, I tried to stick to vibrant warm colors like red and orange. These vibrant colors convey energy and bring the player’s attention directly to the character, thus identifying her as the protagonist. The white in her vest also brings attention to her because it is a bright contrast from dark and mysterious tones, but is also associated with innocence.

This character design evolved as I created it. There was really only one sketch at the beginning, but the elements of her design changed as levels of the character were developed.

      Protag Sketch

She initially started with straighter hair, but to make her more energetic and dynamic, the hairstyle was altered. Her figure was also curved and rounded a little more during the outlining phase.

Protag Outline 1Protagonist 1

When going through the second phase of design where the helmet went through the most alterations, there was a sketch period where I played around with some other ideas. I thought about making her boots bigger, or giving her a big oxygen tank backpack, but these ideas were ultimately scrapped, as the bigger boots conveyed more of a stomping and squishing mechanic, and the backpack could not be seen from the front and would only cause confusion in this design.

  Protag Sketch 2Protag Helmet SketchProtag Helmet ColorProtag Helmet Linework

I also ended up exaggerating the effect of the helmet on her hair by making it curve out from under the helmet like real hair does. This made the borders of the helmet more clear and made it look more useful as protective head equipment. I also exaggerated the reflective shine on the goggles to convey more clearly that they are goggles.

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As I am much happier with this iteration of the character’s design, this will most likely be the final, completed version of the protagonist. Also, this design will continue to affect how the other NPCs are designed. For example, the captain will have a new helmet that looks similar to the protagonist’s so that they are shown to be related through profession, however, the captain will be slightly more extravagant than the protagonist to show his higher rank. As for the fiance, the other NPC, he will show similar color and shape themes to be shown as innocent and friendly, but these similar themes will also act as a way to connect the two characters in the player’s mind.

The world design will also share similarities with the protagonist’s design. For example, anything related to the protagonist’s personal belongings should be in the same color scheme as the character, so oranges, reds, browns, and grays should be present in her living quarters. Also, to appears as if she fits in the environment, the world design, specifically the space ship, should look like the kind of heavy duty work environment that would warrant her need for those sturdy work boots.

By working with specific constraints based on style, story, and theme, this protagonist’s design has changed and evolved. Color, shape, clothing style, and attributes such as her helmet and boots give the player a clear idea of who this character is and what kind of world she lives in, as well as what her relationship to the two NPCs might be. If a new conflict appears in regards to the protagonist’s design going forward, she might change slightly once again, but for the time being, she is a completed character.

by Anna Beliveau  

Nonlinear Narrative: The Protagonist

The initial concept

The initial concept

My Protagonist is named Kaira Barnabus. Kaira lives in a post apocalyptic world that suffered catastrophic flooding several decades before Kaira was born and is filled with various forms of fauna that can talk and have formed various societies. Kaira has lost her memories at the start of the game but has vague recollections of someone underwater that she needs to find, the game is about her travelling to try and recover her memories and help those she meets along the way. I’ve had the idea of both this game and Kaira for a few years now and it wasn’t until I stopped just visualizing Kaira in my head and actually drew her that her design started to change. I always knew her color scheme was going to be more earth toned and slightly military-esque. One of the things that I’ve toyed around with was giving Kaira a facial scar.

Sketches where I messed around with the scar concept

Sketches where I messed around with the scar concept

I almost scrapped this idea because none of the scar designs I was using seemed to fit the character or her backstory, but then I gave her the X on her forehead that I’ve ended up keeping. Another idea that I ended up keeping was giving Kaira a scarf that was a pale blue/lavender. This is very similar in color scheme to Kaira’s sister and was meant to connect the otherwise very different looking characters visually. One aspect of Kaira’s design that was directly impacted by feedback I received in class was her boots, originally the boots were so big because I’m bad at drawing boots but then I thought about the fact that she’s in a world where she’s gonna have to fight but she didn’t have any weapons, so why not give her weaponized shoes? These shoes are also her Attribute Visual. Even outside of combat screens (if I get to that this semester) she will collide with things and will probably end up kicking at least one NPC.

How could I have a girl with Kicking Feet if I didn't draw her kicking at least once?

How could I have a girl with Kicking Feet if I didn’t draw her kicking at least once?

Drawing Kaira so many times also helped me solidify her personality a lot more. Even though she doesn’t remember who she is or her past she is still a very confident and sort of cocky woman who has a dry sense of humor. Sketching let me experiment more with her visually as well as with more internal concepts of the character. Giving her these huge boots for Kicking Things made me think about why she would be a more physical person both in terms of fighting as well as her life in general.

a sketch I drew to get a better feel of her personality

a sketch I drew to get a better feel of her personality

Kaira and Zhis were always designed with the other in mind, their color schemes aren’t similar but I made sure they didn’t clash and seemed visually on the same side. Kaira also has a sister and although she won’t appear in this project her design is very much influenced by Kaira’s. Another character who will appear in this part of the project though and was influenced by Kaira’s design is Nadia who dresses in a similar way to Kaira although physically the two women look quite different. At this point in the design process I’m starting to draw Kaira the same way physically in each image but small things about her may still change between posting this and actually making her entire sprite sheet for the game.

possible final sprite?

possible final sprite?

Another possible final sprite

Another possible final sprite

Kaira sprite draft copy

When I officially gave Kaira The Boots

Nonlinear Narrative: The Protagonist

Becca Radley Concept  

The protagonist for my game design project is Becca Radley. She is a 24 year-old professional ghost hunter with a predisposition for off-the-wall plans. When her producers demand that she and her brother/co-host Casper provide the funds for their next season themselves, Becca uses her money to purchase lottery tickets. One of them wins, but it is not enough to meet their goal. So, when Becca sees a massive old mansion for sale she hatches a plot to convince the owners the house is haunted and then convince them to sell their house for a lower price. Once it’s bought, she reasons, she can suddenly “resolve the haunting”, and sell it at a higher rate.

Becca is the “face” of the Radley ghost hunting duo, with a showmanship that made their show – Ghost Quest – somewhat of a cult hit. Her ideas are not always good, or morally stable, but things have a way of resolving themselves in her favor.

The top image is an example of Becca in the artistic style I’ll be using for conversations. I wanted to draw my inspiration for conversational sprites from dating sims and hidden object games. I also wanted my over world sprites to be fairly simple, so as not to crowd the viewer with detail.

The rest of the images are over world sprites, as I assumed that it would be easier to find a face that looked aesthetically pleasing in the simpler style then develop a face in the complex style, rather than developing a face in the complex style and then trying to make it read well in the over world sprite style.

I considered what props/special physical traits I might give Becca, but after some thought I decided that a more utilitarian design would function best for her. She’s a bit out-there as a person, but I wanted the townspeople NPCs to be bizarre with her as a grounding point, so I wanted her to look a bit “ordinary”. To that end, I decided I’d make her (and her brother to a lesser extent) stand out from the rest of the characters and the background by

I started with a free-sketching style in the first image. I liked the proportions in that image, but felt like it would make keeping on-model difficult. I gave her some earrings and an eyebrow ring to showcase that she was more rebellious, and gave her white hair so she would contrast with the background. In the second image, I tried giving her a jacket. When we brought our three characters into class, a few people thought Casper was the main character due to the number of accessories he had, so I thought I might give Becca a hoodie in a different color. It ended up covering up much of the design on her shirt, however, so I removed it in the next sketch. Ghost Quest is her personal project, so I wanted her to display the shirt openly.

This created the problem of how to properly display the logo. It was difficult to make one that read properly in the sprite style. In the next attempt, I simplified the logo under the logic that I could do the more detailed logo in the conversation sprites, but I ultimately didn’t like that. In sketch #4, I added a little ghost decal to the shirt to make it more clear that ghost hunting was what she’s about. I also simplified her shoes, as I was having difficulty making the white rubber section of her sneakers read well.

In the next sketch, I decided to make the design more shape-oriented, and also to try outlining Becca with black rather than a similar color to the actual part of her body it was next to. Making her blockier ended up making drawing her easier, but I didn’t like the black lining so I abandoned that in design 6. Design 6 and 7 were both attempts to decide what those shapes were, and improve on the Ghost Quest shirt design. I also made her eyebrows black, to call attention to the fact that Becca is bleaching her hair rather than just having her hair naturally white. In design 6-8, I also played with the color of her shirt and skin to have a higher outline contrast, and tried to figure out what shape of eyes i wanted her to have. I ended up fairly happy with the shape of design 8, though when I put her in the background image her color scheme contrasted poorly with the background. So in image 9, I used photoshop’s Kuler wheel to give Becca a shirt color that fit into the scheme. Using the yellowish green in image 9, I ended up with a color that was different from any of the colors in the mansion’s scheme, but still fitting in with them.

As this was happening, I started sketching the backgrounds for the game. This ended up fueling my decision to give the rest of the characters color schemes which were either black and white or closer to the background color schemes. In this way, it will emphasize the way everyone else is a part of the town they live in, while Becca is an interloper. I’ll also be tweaking Casper’s design so that it compliments Becca’s more.

The backgrounds ended up becoming more abstract/fauvistic. Becca has a fairly solid design contrasting the background, while the backgrounds and the other characters are a bit smudged and indistinct to give them an air of mystery.

I’m fairly certain that Becca’s design is still a bit incomplete, as it feels a bit too divergent from the background design at the moment. I want to work on sketching the backgrounds and other characters a bit more, so that I can be more aware of what I’m trying to contrast.

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