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Tobias
1155 11 28

Soulmate Development 3: Protagonist Design

Posted by A Tobias 2 years ago
The design for this protagonist is going in quite a weird direction at the moment!

In my earlier games, like MARDEK, I never bothered actually designing characters. Putting the effort in to make them visually interesting, I mean. Their 'designs' were whatever bland thing first came to mind, unedited, often very vague.

I've since learned a lot more about art, character design in particular, and I realise the value of experimenting with loads of variations to explore possibilities before settling on one you feel fits the best.

The point of concept art like this isn't to draw pretty pictures. It's about demonstrating ideas that can be cleaned up later. Making images that are nice to look at, anatomically perfect, etc isn't important at this stage.

With that said, here's an image:



Here's what my thought process went like:

"I want her to have red hair, and teal and lavender pyjamas... Seems a bit bland and forgettable though if the pyjamas have no sort of design that's distinctly hers. In the unlikely event this game became popular and people wanted to draw or dress up as its characters, I'd need to have an outfit that would be clearly recognisable as this character... Looks from reference images like a lot of pyjamas have animals on them. Mardek has a silly puppy shirt in Taming Dreams Episode 3; I liked that! Maybe I can do something similar? What animals might be related to night, dreams, things like that? Bats? Oh! Owls! They're wise and mysterious and I can see them being associated with dreams. I should give her top an owl design. Simplified, of course, to make it unique rather than just a boring image of an owl that any character could have on their chest. I like the big owl eyes I gave the miasmon Flowl in Taming Dreams... I'll use some of those! And breasts are round(ish), so I can combine the two shapes in order to create a pleasing sense of unity and blending of design properties for that 'dual meanings' effect! Adding highlights to the eyes makes the pupils look like moons, too - bonus, since they're night and dream related - and I can add these simple zigzags and lines to suggest feathers and bird feet and... hmm. I wonder if the result looks amusing, cute, clever, or whether it just draws attention to her breasts and as such looks like I'm objectifying and sexifying her, which is what I was trying to avoid? Oh, but I like the design! What should I do? I could just move the eyes down, and make the top less figure-hugging (which is probably also sexualising her)... I'll need to sort out the colours first though."

So yes. An odd design. I'd like to think it's at least recognisable and relatively original, but I doubt I'll stick with it because it seems too risky! Or risque, perhaps? I wonder.

Some of these are inappropriate for her character; basically those that are too revealing (4, 5, 6, 13, 14, 16, 28) or which suggest a kind of personality that she doesn't have (11, 20). I only included them because I was using photos of pyjama styles as references and playing around with different ideas. Others have ugly, clashing colours (14, 18). Most of the rest are only subtly different.

I'm going to experiment more, perhaps with wildly different designs rather than just variations of this, but for now, which of these is/are your favourite(s)? Are there any you dislike?
28
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on 6 Roots

11 Comments

22 Canada
Meglos
3
I like 22 the best, as that one's owl eyes are the only ones that don't pop quite so much. The other ones' eyes all look a bit too much like googly eyes stuck onto the shirt to me, but 22 is more subtle and yet still recognizable as an owl. I'm impartial to the colour and pattern of the pants myself, but I do prefer the long, baggy pants over any of the other styles. They're just so comfy to wear. In fact, I'm wearing them right now o.O
24 Canada INTJ 513 SpSx PhlegmaticCholeric
Tama Yoshi
4
How about making it a one eyed owl?
I mean, it has a philosophical ring to it, and I like the idea of the owl anyway.
This isn't Total Recall, so I can't possibly see a single eye as sexualizing.
IAmNotSmartest's idea of making it a spiritual guide of sorts might be in sync with that design. Thoughts.
29 United Kingdom INFJ EII 459 SxSo RLxaI AIS MelancholicPhlegmatic
Tobias
2
Would a one-eyed owl be recognised as such though, especially in such a simplified form? But I could just use an eye by itself... It's a bit trite, but eyes definitely have mystical and spiritual connotations; the 'third eye' and all that. Maybe I can experiment a bit with that!
19 United States INFP LII SoSp RLUAI AIE PhlegmaticSanguine
IAmNotSmartest
2
I know just what you mean about concept art - it's usually not intended to be "final product" worthy, which is a shame, because as I draw in pencil and pen, I have to get a final product as close as I can to a total (clean) reproduction!

Let's see...
- I like the coloration of 21 and 19. Both seem suited to her personality, from how I understand. Somewhat subdued, but some nice highlights and details.
- As to the clothing style, the 20's (late particularly) are more appealing. The Plaid pants and such, longer shirt. Have you considered 3/4 shirtsleeves, ending around the middle of the forearm?
- I'm probably overconsidering this, but I'm somehow imagining the owl coming into play in the dream. Maybe her tutorial, or spirit guide, or her vote to the electoral cabinet of dreamworld representatives. Or something.
-Maybe to avoid the serialization, lower the eyes? Compress the owl to the lower half of the shirt?

It's interesting to see your creative process. Looking forward to more!
29 United Kingdom INFJ EII 459 SxSo RLxaI AIS MelancholicPhlegmatic
Tobias
2
I gathered dozens of photos of women's pyjamas, and none had the 3/4 length sleeves, so I wonder if pyjamas ever actually have those! I don't see why she couldn't even if 'real' pyjamas don't though... I'll experiment with it in my next set of less Hooters-evocative designs.

I'm definitely going to try lowering the owl eyes, but I have so little room on her sprite that I'm concerned it won't fit. (Though from experimenting a bit, the owl design looks too crowded in general anyway, so I'll simplify it a lot.)

I intended to have owls as some kind of recurring theme, not so much by having literal owls manifesting in some way, but more like I'd use owl motifs as design for all the characters... I may choose a different animal though considering the Hooters link!
20 Hong Kong INTJ 612 ICR MelancholicCholeric
Dingding321
3
I quite liked 10 and 12/15 (not sure what the difference is, honestly). The long sleeves give an impression of shyness or "hiding" and vulnerability to me for some reason. The other factor that I can see they have in common are the color schemes (though I only noticed it afterwards). The green top + gray-purple bottoms aren't bad either, but I felt the purple top was more distinctive and unique.

I see what you mean by the eyes and sexualization-- it's a bit difficult to unsee once it's been mentioned :P But they're less obvious when they're of similar colors to the shirt and/or if they're not outlined.
29 United Kingdom INFJ EII 459 SxSo RLxaI AIS MelancholicPhlegmatic
Tobias
2
The only real difference between those three is the shape/length of the bottom of her top. I did end up preferring the long sleeves for the reasons you said though, which is why all the bottom row have them!

Since PM ScintillaPurpose mentioned Hooters, that's all I can see now when looking at the owl eyes! Oh well!
25 United States AIS
ScintillaPurpose
4
Yeah, I find the eye breasts too forwardly sexual; they call ∞ Hooters ∞ to mind. Yet I like the sexiness of the sleeveless top in 1–4.
29 United Kingdom INFJ EII 459 SxSo RLxaI AIS MelancholicPhlegmatic
Tobias
5
Oh god, why did I not even make that connection myself?? Embarrassing! I certainly won't keep them then!
23 United States MelancholicPhlegmatic
Eclipse
3
Hmm... some of these are rather interesting, but others don't fit her or are a bit too out there. Have you considered giving her a very large owl pendant (that could be unique, but odd to see as well on her, so maybe not 'large').... or at least some sort of 'dream-like' aspects to her clothing, like maybe a dreamcatcher design or something?

My personal favorite is probably 17 (with purple eyes, as it'd fit better, maybe) and 26 (has a dreamy but popping feel to it, though the owl face seems to distract a bit... I like the idea, but again, it might work better as a necklace of some sort, with each bead being unique representations to her character or something? It's your project, so you'll figure something out)...

Overall, I'd love to see what you come up with for the final product, as these all are pretty interesting designs... I just wish I could do models of this quality multiple times myself when seeing this! I stink at drawing the same character multiple times (though design itself for clothing and appearance isn't as often a problem for me, though it still happens).
29 United Kingdom INFJ EII 459 SxSo RLxaI AIS MelancholicPhlegmatic
Tobias
4
Would she wear jewellery to bed, though? And could I depict a detailed pendant thing on her rather small sprite (the same size as the ones from Taming Dreams)? Concerns like those are why I tried to limit designs to simple clothing that she realistically might be wearing as she sleeps.

I feel that 17 might be a bit too monochrome (though I don't dislike it), and I wanted to add teal in there somewhere... I'd say that 26 is my favourite so far though.

These are just copied and pasted versions of two base models, for the most part, and much of the recolouring etc was just done using hue/saturation adjustments. I struggle to redraw the same character multiple times too, and it'd be impractical to do that here anyway!