In this Making Of I am going to talk about the steps it took to go from initial idea to final concept for my character, The Lightning Mage. This Making Of will cover all steps leading up to the final 2D design and will not talk about the creation of the final 3D model. However 3D will be used to help us conceptualize our ideas more quickly and easily.
The goal is to create a piece of concept art that you can use to create a 3D model. It is kind of a pre-visualization tool on how you want the final render to look. Important focus points are the shapes of the character, the implied textures and the overall mood dictated by the lighting, not the level of polish.
To contrast my usual preference of making hulking, brute, warrior-type characters, knights and other physically strong characters, I decided to make a character that was physically not so strong but had very specific magical abilities. My goal was to have lots of Asian influences in the character because normally wizards are associated with the picture of an old man complete with the pointy hat and the white beard.
The initial idea was to make a character wearing bright robes with intricate oriental patterns on it. The ability to cast lightning out of his palms was a given because it is a nice visual effect and would require some aggressive kung-fu type movement to make look convincing. The idea that by casting this lightning he would inflict burn wounds upon his own hands lead to the final design and the bandaged hands you can see in almost all the images.
When designing a new character it helps to ask some basic questions, this will help you to pinpoint certain aspects of the character. At all times this profile can be modified. But these are the initial questions and answers I came up with for this particular character:
Q: Target audience and medium?
A: The character is part of a mature role-playing game, in which you play with a group of heroes, either in co-op mode or CPU controlled.
Q: Who is your character? Is he/she important? Good or bad? Profession? Background?
A: The character is a trained lightning wizard. He has completed a kind of Buddhist training that allows him to be very calm and objective. The character lives alone in a temple that harbours a sacred artefact. His duty is to protect this artefact. When the playable character of the game convinces him he needs this artefact he joins as an NPC to make sure the artefact will not be miss-used.
Q: What kind of world does he/she live in?
A: The world resembles a medieval world with cultures similar to the Asian, African and European ones we know. However there is a strong fantasy element in this world that allows for magic and wizards and exotic wildlife to exist. This world is under threat by demons that want to plunge it into eternal chaos.
Q: Any special abilities?
A: He is a wizard who can control energy; this gives him the ability to shoot lighting out of his hands. When using such powerful spells he is prone to injuring himself, which is why his hands are covered in bandages. Extensive use of his powers has given him brittle, pale skin, and many burn wounds. His veins also clearly show; they represent the paths the energy must go through within his body.
Q: What drives your character? Goals? Objectives?
A: The character is highly sensitive to the energy fluctuations in the world, and always strives to keep a balance. The evil beings attacking the lands disturb this energy balance. To restore this balance he is willing to aid the player to get rid of this disturbance.