The final design was very energetic, but it was also very fantastical and lost some of the believability of the first iteration. This happened because references had been disregarded in favour of finding the most interesting shapes possible (Fig.04).
So once again, I started the design process from scratch, in search of a new look for this character. Learning from previous mistakes, I used the best of the two previous approaches for this iteration. During the previous design iterations the amount of references I'd gathered had grown. With more appropriate forms memorised it would be easier to do a new take on this character.
I came to the conclusion that I needed to increase the character's level of torture to make him more interesting. All the previous designs had this notion that he hurts himself while using his lighting casting abilities. If this would be taken a step further, and I showed the mage after years of using this spell, it would definitely give a more interesting design.
Physically he is severely damaged by his powers, with burned hands and lower arms covered by bandages, popping veins carrying the magical energy under his brittle and pale cold skin, dry lips and blackened eyes being some of his notable physical characteristics. Besides his physical torture I decided to sow his leather cap onto his face, integrating the costume and making for some really interesting details (Fig.05).
After the initial sketches it was evident the process was finally on the right track. The shoulder plates allowed for some great detailing, using a lot of Asian elements to make his origin clear. At the same time the overall shape was still something unique and original. A lot of elements were based upon references, but then heavily transformed. The cap, for example, was based on the hat shown in many Confucius images (Fig.06).
Next I began to search for the forms of the details that would define the character. This was about taking all the elements out of ambiguity and giving them a final shape. During this process the 3D base mesh was used. The male base mesh was adjusted to look like an Asian male and was used as guide to keep the proportions consistent between sketches (Fig.07).
The idea to use colorful robes from the original concept was abandoned, instead more natural and desaturated colors where used. Many materials have their natural color and things like the robes are worn down heavily. For the drawings done on paper the tool of choice switched from pencil to a combination of fine-liner and COPIC markers (Fig.08).