Cosmos - Concept Art

General / 03 January 2019

I wanted to flesh out the world a little more but I needed to know more about what type of environment the client had in mind.

Later, I suggested we set each town in a different location with a unique terrain and look so we came up with: Elslo - surrounded by forests, Hatta - on a small island in a swamp and Rand in the middle of the dunes of a desert.

The client also required that the player could choose between a male and female character and that each town had some characters to send the player on side quests.

With that much, I could finally get to sketching!

The Hero - One thing I always found odd about RPGs was that the main character was always the one, among the rest of their people, to wear the more extravagant clothes for no reason; the main character of this story wears common clothes that blend with the rest.

Ari - I envisioned a character from a distant land with a dark past and a connection to the main villain. I wanted her to be a strong warrior without being an over-sexualised video game doll and I tried to visualise that in her attire.

Ori - I've decided Ori should be an aetherian mage who conjures himself on Earth to help the player for a limited time. To create the aetherian look, I thought an otherworldly gradient with feathery/scaly growths would do the trick. The marks on what is seemingly Ori's forehead are its actual eyes.

Lacris - Taking it one step further in the aetherian department, I took the motif used on Ori and expanded on it with a regal, sleek, slender figure in mind.

Yarn - The child of an earthling and a corrupted aetherian, Yarn inherited his fathers scaly growths and horns. The markings on his forehead are painted on as a reminder of his aetherian heritage.

Talbot, Tepes & Thutmosis - the client mentioned wanting boss enemies for when the player reached the Void Realm and I thought it would be a good idea if they were Yarn's generals; Three voidlings with special capabilities. My idea was to base them on wolfman, dracula and mummy from the Universal Classic Monsters movies. For their outfits, I decided to give them a uniform with a "Y" symbol for Yarn on to bring a sense of unity under one banner.

Dorgal - My idea to portray Dorgal's corruption was to mutate the aetherian look by turning the feathery growths into horns and switch sparkles for dark whirls.

Mayor Deena, Ulivo, Carson, Niev - Characters from the town of Elslo. I wanted to give them a casual and relaxed which would feel like the hero would belong to.

Mayor Lars, Kiara, Brion & Pat - Characters from the town of Hatta. I wanted this town to be full of shady and hardened characters who could hold their own in any situation. I gave each an article of clothing with stripes which may be the pattern of the hide of a local creature or might've been bought from the same tailor.

Mayor Tolshat, Vishal, Sanah & Aamira - Characters from the town of Rand. I wanted to imply Ari was from Rand so my goal here was to create characters she would fit with and sashes, face paint, extravagant jewellery and bright clothes would do that to me.

Next, the client requested that there be obtainable armours and weapons and, with a general town theme set, I was able to come up with a sword and a set of armour for each town.

Finally, all that was left was coming up with enemies!

I figured all I had to to do was create "weaker" looking versions of the generals to be under their command.

...and with that, character art was done!

Cosmos - GDD, the Backstory

General / 21 December 2018

Earlier this year, I was contracted by a middle school teacher to work on and develop a demo for an educational RPG with the aim of teaching kids Computer Science.

I thought their brief was quite detailed but a few things needed to be better defined before I could start any kind of work and I thought figuring out the game's backstory would be a good place as any to start with so I asked the client a few questions...

At this point, the client decides to give me complete creative control which I was quite happy to hear. After tweaking the story to patch some plot holes, getting rid of some of the "less family-friendly" elements and extending the story further, this is what I got:

"The Aether Realm - a dimension out of human reach.
Once every 2000 years an Aetherian is selected to guard the "Aether Cosmos", a primordial orb of energy with the power to control reality. This honour falls upon Lacris, a peaceful and wise Aetherian. Contrary to Lacris, his brother Dorgal believes the power of the Aether Cosmos should be harnessed. He is overtaken by the desire to have the Aether Cosmos for himself. It corrupts him and takes over until one day Dorgal attacks Lacris. The two brothers engage in a gruesome fight until Lacris is left with no choice but to harness the power of the Aether Cosmos and banish his brother to a dimension called the Void Realm. This event went down in history as "The Severance" and gained them the monikers of Lacris, Lord of Light and Dorgal, Duke of Darkness.

Unknown to Lacris though, Dorgal had a human son called Nyrin who had inherited his corrupt powers. Through unknown means, he gained control over the voidlings, the dark creatures of the Void Realm and sent them to invade the human world."

With a backstory in place, it was time to move onto the next step.

Making of...Pokemon Trainer Red

Making Of / 05 December 2018

Ken Sugimori is the art director of the highly successful Pokemon video game series. His, is the brilliant mind behind the visuals of over 800 different creatures and a variety of Pokemon Trainers.

While each Pokemon has visual elements that make it instantly recognisable as part of the franchise, Ken Sugimori's art style has undergone two major changes.

The older "washed up watercolour" style and the newer "cell-shaded pastel" style.

As a kid, my first exposure to the franchise was through the video game titles for Gameboy and I'd spend hours exploring their vast and colourful world as Red, the main character of Pokemon Red, Green and Blue.

Sugimori drew all of the promotional art involving Red.

By the time the 3rd generation of Pokemon games was released, Ken Sugimori's art had transitioned to his trademark pastel style, a style I came to love and emulate so when the remakes of the original games were announced, in the form of Pokemon Fire Red and Leaf Green, I was excited at the thought of Sugimori's fresher take on Red.

Unfortunately, with the new style came many changes and I could barely recognise the character I played in my childhood.

Eventually, I set out to draw a version of Red that closely resembled his original appearance but with Sugimori's updated pastel style...

...Armed with this image as a reference.

Lineart

This step is the most crucial because every little detail has to be considered carefully; I went over the original image noting down the shape of each element of the character. The shoes, for example, are high tops with, what is most likely, a white Velcro strap over red. For the belt, I slightly altered the its shape, after determining how it'd fasten, simply to better adapt it to the pastel style. The circles at the top of his vest are a single button and its clipping base. As for the hair, I tried to keep it messy and unkempt just like the original image but with more sensible hair dynamics.

Colours

Determining the right colours is imperative; with a revamp like this one, it's good practice to pick colours from original material in order to stay true to it. Ken Sugimori does a very particular type of cell-shading; the standard shading layer is overlaid by a duplicate of it with feathering applied. The result is a thin strip of mid tone colour dividing lights from shade. I set both layers on multiply with varying degrees of opacity to simulate this effect. Lighting is similarly achieved with 2 overlapping layers with the only difference being the layer mode which is set to dodge.

Result

The final image can comfortably stand among the other renders without feeling like the odd one out.