Posts Tagged ‘Art’

It’s my first day back at work after the Easter holidays and my stomach is growling away at me. Either it’s punishing me for overloading it with chocolate or it’s demanding more. (Speaking of chocolate, travellinginmybookcase has set me a chocolatey-book-related challenge that I will get on with very soon!) For now, here’s a sketch of Frank the Rabbit from the film Donnie Darko. Because bunnies!

Frank: "Wake up"

Frank: “Wake up”

This was taken from the poster art rather than the mask itself. As you can see, it’s composed of various faces and iconic images from the film so it was fun to go through and try to spot what each one was. I’ve seen both the theatrical and director’s cut multiple times and I still make a new connection or come up with a new idea every time I watch. Likewise, I was just compelled to draw this… I guess you could say, they made me do it. 

Happy belated Easter everyone!

Advertisements

asariconcept

The Asari

Asari are a mono gendered species resembling human females with blue skin. They are credited as superior intellects, possessors of natural telekinetic (or “biotic”) abilities and the first living race to discover interstellar travel. Shepard’s trusted ally, the Asari scientist and archaeologist Dr Liara T’Soni, sheds light on the past in the hope of preserving the future.

asaricommandoThe Asari are the closest species to humans physically as the race was fashioned with a potential love interest in mind. They can wear human armour and possess the most homo sapien faces (Liara’s particular features were based on the model Jillian Murray). However their relatability is balanced with their otherworldliness. In place of hair, Asari have tentacles. Skin tones range from teal to purple and emit a subtle glow. Facial markings create distinctions between individuals as can minor traits of that particular asari’s “father”, who may belong to any alien species.

There is a strong aquatic influence in the Asari design, most obvious in their blue colouring. In myth and folklore, water is a symbol of feminine energy, beauty and mystery as depicted in mermaids, sirens and water nymphs. The Asari scalp crest, which is shaped like a wave, was based on the image of a woman emerging from a pool with her hair slicked back. Up close fine, fish-like scales are visible on an asari’s skin. The motif extends beyond aesthetics as the fluidity and grace of their movement is also likened to water.

asari

The Asari are an abstract, almost idealised version of femininity. Though not technically female they use feminine pronouns, worship female deities and their life stages – maiden, matron and matriarch – echo the three phases of pagan womanhood. The inclusion of “blue space-babes” may sound cheap but it could be argued that Bioware were harking back to traditional iconography rather than conforming to cliché. Concept art shows the Asari in strong or contemplative poses, their allure coming from their inner power rather than their bodies. True, we see them dancing in seedier locales yet we’re just as likely to meet Asari diplomats, armoured commandos and, of course, Liara in her lab coat.

Liara T'Soni - "The doctor will pwn you now."

Liara T’Soni – “The doctor will pwn you now.”

The following was my contribution to a book on art in games. Unfortunately the project folded before it could be published.

bioware-the_team_1600x732_marked

 

Mass Effect: Designing an Alien Race

After their success with the Star Wars based Knights of the Old Republic Bioware created Mass Effect – an original science fiction universe tailored to an action-RPG premise.

Set over a century into the future, the trilogy follows Commander Shepard’s mission to save organic life from the threat of the Reapers. The term “organic” applies to many advanced beings besides humans, each with their own history and culture. Members of these races join Shepard to become allies, friends and even romantic interests.

Alien designs were based on archetypes, visual metaphors and familiar forms. The majority were inspired by at least one real life species, for example the Salarian took cues from amphibians and the Hanar from jellyfish. Non-playable characters could take virtually any shape but game mechanics required the combatants to use firearms, have humanoid skeletal structures (symmetrical, bipedal etc) and no appendages that would obstruct movement. Shepard’s teammates needed to emote during conversations, which created the need for recognisable facial features. Even with these criteria in place and with so many real-world influences, the alien designs are still unique and varied. Additionally, there was a push to give each character an iconic silhouette for the Squad Selection screen.

In the first game, Shepard is joined aboard the Normandy by four aliens; a Turian, an Asari, a Krogan and a Quarian.

 

turian.heads

The Turian

When designing a galaxy on the brink of war we must ask what its ultimate military power would be like. With the Turian, Mass Effect delivered a regimental society renowned for their forcefulness and discipline. Despite past conflicts and bad blood between their respective races, Shepard forms a close bond with the Turian agent Garrus Vakarian.

turian.conceptBirds of prey, particularly eagles, inspired the Turian appearance. The pointed chin and mouth mandibles form a beak shape while a cartilage-based “head fringe” resembles feathers. Most notable are the sharp, beady eyes. Their hands and talons are like avian feet but with opposable thumbs. Turian biology wasn’t solely inspired by birds however; the exoskeleton that provides their natural armour is typically found on insects and crustaceans. It succeeds in making them appear both tougher and more “alien”. As a finishing touch, the war paint on their faces reinforces their militant heritage.

The eagle is symbolic of pride, honour and patriotism, particularly in the United States. Likewise, the Turian are a proud race and duty-bound to their people, placing great importance on civic duty and the greater good. They operate on strict codes of honour, to the degree that it is rumoured they physically cannot lie. The phrase “eagle eyed” can be applied both literally and figuratively as no minor detail escapes a Turian’s attention.  History names them as the race that secured galactic peace and so they work tirelessly to maintain order, dedicating their talents to administrative duties.

GarrusHis race may be mired in bureaucracy, but Garrus shows us the deadly hunter the Turian was evolved to be. The monocular visor he wears shows an affinity with his weapon of choice – the sniper rifle – which channels his natural precision into a lethal art. He also exemplifies the ideals of the militia and the justice system, being wise and compassionate as well as a force to be reckoned with. Garrus abandons his career as a law enforcer to join Shepard but his goal of protecting the innocent remains the same. The difference is that his notion of the greater good extends far beyond his own race.

Here it is – my first request! If anyone else can suggest something for me to draw then please add a comment. I do like a challenge!

Ninetales: The original Firefox!

Ninetales has been one of my favourite Pokemon since the first generation. Why do I love it so much? Well, it’s a Fire type, and fire’s just plain cool. Also my first Ninetales boasted incredible speed, not to mention a few cunning tricks that kept the Elite Four on their toes over and over again. Yes, I was one of those pricks who used Confuse Ray. Apart from that, she just looked so warm and fluffy that I couldn’t help but adore her (being first gen, I could only assume it was a ‘her’ – if I got that wrong, sorry ‘Roxie!’)

I based my Ninetales on the original design by Ken Sugimori, rather than copying someone else’s interpretation. (I did see some really lovely ones online though.) Shading was a little tricky as there’s only so much you can do with light-coloured fur. Also, I realised I’d got the snout wrong, but it was too late to change it without starting over. The flowing shapes of the tails – counted carefully while I was doing the outline to make sure I’d got all nine – felt soothing to draw and hopefully captured the elegant and ethereal qualities which, I think, characterise this Pokemon.

Big thanks to IPunchBearsForFun for the suggestion to draw Ninetales. Thanks also for encouraging me to take up sketching again and for trading me loads of great Pokemon – including ‘Flarf’ the Vulpix – on Omega Ruby.

If there’s one thing I’ve seriously neglected over the past years, it’s art. It’s a shame because it was my favourite subject and I promised myself that I’d keep it up as a hobby if I didn’t study it further. Instead I fell out of practice – now when I draw, all I can see is a huge pile of suck where a shred of talent used to be.

However, I’ve resolved to woman-up and get back into sketching! I’m kinda happy with this one, so I thought I’d share. I’d just finished watching Death Note so I drew my favourite character, Ryuk.

"Got apples?"

“Got apples?”

He may look scary but don’t worry, he’s not a bad guy. Actually, he’s not a good guy either. Probably why I like him so much.

His face is so interesting – there’s a lot of detail there you’d get in a human skull, only it’s been warped almost beyond recognition to fit that huge mouth (does it remind anyone else of the Joker?) The hook-things holding the clothing to his skin (at least I think that’s what’s going on) were the trickiest details. That and the eyes – had to really nail that weird, straight-into-your-soul stare or it just wouldn’t be Ryuk.

I think that deserves an apple!