In this first chapter we will be exploring different concepts and will create a polished draft of the best one.
This tutorial will be covering every step in the creation of a concept for a female game character. It is geared towards industry professional or skilled amateurs as it will assume you have pretty good knowledge of anatomy, volumes in a 3D space, perspective and colors.
There won’t be orthographic drawings for the final concept sheet since I find it tends to soak out all the soul of a concept once translated to 3D. Instead, we will create a front & back ¾ view and bet on the interpretational skills of the 3D artist.
The first step for almost any concept, especially in a professional environment where you might have to change and adapt based on the art direction, is to always start very rough.
This is where we brainstorm and try to come up with as many cool silhouettes as possible, while keeping only a very loose idea of what the final concept could be. In this case we know the character will be female and I am leaning towards a sci-fi vibe for her. There is no particular direction other than that so this is an awesome scenario for any artist!
Since I want the character to be “stand-alone”, having her be a main character with a distinct function will help us in our exploration.
Coming up with the main idea
In this second step, looking at all those sketches makes it a lot easier to decide on the general idea for our character. This particular silhouette is interesting as it reminds me of a jousting knight without a horse.
At this point I always try to come up with a background for my characters to solidify the idea and have it help drive the actual concept later on. For the purpose of this tutorial, we are going to go with this:
“A jouster from the future who uses special sprinting armors to help propel herself at her adversaries”
Very loosely blocking in the main shapes and refining the silhouette.
Now that we know what we are going to do, it makes it much easier to design the armor. The thought process goes like this:
Considering she has a jousting spear as a main weapon, she will need an armor that is both aerodynamic for speed but that can also deflect frontal hits. Also, since she has no horse, her legs will need to replace that function and act as the force to propel her towards her opponent. We can probably imagine them being strong and long.
Looking at old medieval armors, there is a constant design functionality amongst all of them which is to constantly try to cover any exposed frontal body parts. We can play with this idea and remove some key parts to show off the cockiness and skill level of our character.
She is so kick-ass that she doesn’t need a full helm or even a shield!
This final step before thinking about colors is all about finding a strong shape language for our jouster. I always try to think of a simple geometric shape that will be repeated throughout the character and will help unify all the different elements. In this case, the triangle seems fitting for an armor suit designed to deflect hits!
The biggest challenge in creating characters is to always try and make it believable enough and having shape repetition is the easiest way I’ve found to come up with a homogenised design that reads well.
Once the shape is repeated a few times, we have to make sure the other lines are adjusted to it and this is when it really comes together.
Think of the repeated triangles as seeds, where everything in the surroundings will need to grow around it and adjust, if needs be.
TIP: Flip your canvas!
Flipping your canvas will bring to light errors that you otherwise have a good change at missing. Try to rotate horizontally as often as possible. You will always be surprised to see the blatant mistakes you couldn’t see until you flipped!