As we were a bit behind on the asset creation for the game, I decided to help out with some asset creation. As we had changed the style of our game, we needed some new character designs so that we could create the background characters.
Silhouette thumbnails are among the most helpful and productive methods of design when it’s necessary to produce a large quantity of variations of concepts within a short period of time. It’s not a method used by all concept artist and it’s certainly not a necessity to design a creature or a character purely based off of a silhouette shape. That doesn’t go to say that all designers don’t subconsciously focus on shapes and designs that make a strong impact on the viewer. We often refer to a silhouette as a black outlined shape, much like a shadow. This doesn’t always need to be the case, as a simple line sketch or simple shades of value can still provide the same effect and are just as efficient.
First I did some iterations on the height and shape of the body on the characters. This was important because it is one of the first things people will notice when they see the characters due to the way the human eye and brain work. It is important for the character to have proportions roughly similar to a human, otherwise the character will look alien to the viewer, however by manipulating this a bit we can create characters that portray a particular style, theme and mood.
Seeing as our game is based on a tapestry, for inspiration for this I decided to look at the Bayeux Tapestry, which has been extensively photographed and as it is so long it has lots of things to take inspiration from. I noticed that the people on the tapestry had very elongated bodies, especially the legs, and were quite thin, so I decided to recreate this in the design.
Here’s the designs I ended up with. The characters are quite long but I also made them a bit pudgier then in the tapestry as the screen is quite small so if they are too thin they might not show up well. For this reason, I also chose not to give them many facial features, only a mouth. This was because the faces would be so small the faces would look cluttered with a full set of features but by giving them a mouth I can still make the characters expressive.
Before designing the characters digitally I had to look at the background chart provided to me by the other designers. I needed to make sure the colours I used in my characters worked well with the background colour chart.
To translate my paper designs to digital characters, I decided to use Adobe Illustrator as it quickly allowed me to build up a character’s body by using their basic preset shapes and manipulating the Illustrator paths to create more complex shapes. It also means the characters can be easily scaled as the files are in a vector format, which might be needed in the later stages of development.
An example of me manipulating Illustrator shapes to get a desired effect. To create the sleeves, I started with a rounded rectangle then moved the location of the corner points to make the top of the sleeve more rounded and the bottom more flat. I also added some more points to the path to create creases in the fabric.
Next was to test my characters in the background to make sure the kind of colours I was using were alright, and that the characters stood out. I also played with adding different widths of stroke to the features of the characters to emulate the embroidery in the tapestry and to make the features of the characters stand out more in the game.
After testing my characters I decided that a thicker width was preferable in order to make the features stand out more and make the game look more like a tapestry.
After finalizing what the characters would look like, next was to create a character guide so the other designers could make them as well. I will also start making some of the characters as they appear in the game.
Corriero, M., 2011. Character and Creature Design Notes: The use of Silhouettes in Concept Design. [online] Characterdesignnotes.blogspot.co.uk. Available from: http://characterdesignnotes.blogspot.co.uk/2011/03/use-of-silhouettes-in-concept-design.html [Accessed 25 Apr. 2015].