Halley Edlen`s Character Portraits
Published 5 years ago
A view inside a concept artist`s mind
As the lead concept artist on the project. my job included visualising the appearances and characteristics of the main character and then work that up on a series of portraits of Halley Edlen, said character. I will try to describe in this short text the though process behind the design chosen for this character.
The art direction for the game called for some influence from shows like Star Trek, Star Wars and some more late 80`s shows. The story called for a character versatile enough to work as the main character despite having different gender and races, unlockable through gameplay (not a final decision yet but we hope to keep the game as far away as possible from pay-2-win games).
I started researching movie stills from the shows aforementioned and some 80`s interfaces to inspire our graphic designer. During the initial pre-production phase the team was on-site so we could test and throw out ideas as fast as possible. In this very fertile environment we got inspiration from the work from one another (I got to see the 3D modeller modelling my concepts, the programmer implementing gameplay, the scriptwriter asking us story-related questions) and I think that contributed a lot to how smoothly the preproduction phase went.
We had a meeting prior to my rough sketches for the main character`s portraits where the scriptwriter explained the approved lore behind the character and some common characteristics that we thought would cater to the audience we were targeting. From there, it came the name of the main character: Halley Edlen. Our writer was smart to pull from familiar sources to figure out the names of the main character and villains. We also decided to provide an array of ethnicity and gender; we felt this could add a layer of immersion to our game that was fairly not used enough.
After that, I started roughing in the general proportions and color scheme for the portraits. My first idea was to have a general soft cool light coming from screen right and a red rim light coming from screen left at a right angle. I sketched the faces without reference at first and showed this to the team:
The overall feedback was they felt the color scheme was working but they were afraid that the audience would relate Edlen to his arch enemy, Emperor Sanguine. This happened because during the preproduction meeting we decided to color-code the good guys and the bad guys: blue would mean “good” and red would mean “bad”. In my mind the red rim light symbolised Sanguine`s menace over Edlen. Therefore, I did some adjustments to the lighting and fed the team with these suggestions:
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In the next meeting, the team felt the rich blue rim light worked best and from then I started gathering references for the faces in the portraits. I had presented to them one portrait of each gender (male and female) and 4 ethnic groups: caucasian, black, latino and asian. Once we have a minimum viable product, we decided to make extra portraits with different races (one of them would be a velociraptor - because why not?) to enhance replayability and immersion. Here are the final approved portraits.
As an artist, I am not afraid of using references to push my work where it needs to be (something I see worry a lot of young artists). Those pieces were a real challenge because I had to mix and match different parts from different references to achieve the final look and not copy directly from a reference that had the right lighting and subject. Overall I think the experience helped build me stronger for next challenges.
I hope you guys liked this little text. See you next time.
Tamires Pará
Lead Concept Artist @ Young Mind Studio
Pedro Dalcin