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ARCHIMERA- A.R. Christensen Illustration and Concept

ARCHIMERA- A.R. Christensen Illustration and Concept: January 2012

Sunday, January 29, 2012


For my life drawing class, we were instructed to use our in-class drawings to create a new a piece inspired by another artist.  I chose Arthur Rackham, and decided to re-depict Freya, the Norse goddess of Love, Fertility, and War.  Rackham's Freya is lovely, but a bit dainty and boring for my tastes.  I wanted to give her a more epic treatment, but still borrow from Rackham's trademark sensitive lines.  Freya supposedly owns half of the Valkyries, and therefore gets half of the fallen warriors.  So here are Freya and some Valkyries being pretty.  Between spilling ink everywhere and almost ruining the original drawing and then accidentally saving over the hi-res file and having to re-do the entire digital coloring... it almost seemed like this piece wasn't going to make it to completion.  Maybe Freya was determined to see it through, and I'm fairly happy with it.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

SENIOR THESIS PART 1- Rocky the Unruly Canine Companion/ Possible Harbinger of Apocalypse

I love canines, maybe more than a rational person should.  Once I knew that the city's mythology was going to be inspired by Norse mythology (which I haven't gotten into here, because frankly this game is hypothetical and nobody wants to actually read it in depth) I knew that I HAD to make the terrifying wolf of destruction who brings about Ragnarok, Fenris, a main character.  (Hence, "Rocky."  Budum-ching.)  My very early concept for this character was much more wolf-like.  I thought of him as a stoic animal companion.  Maybe a stray, who would mysteriously appear and join you on your quest, similar to Red XII in FF7.

(At this early stage I was still trying to chose between a flat or rendered style.  I'm glad that I experimented during the summer)

Quickly, I realized that the tone of the game was quickly becoming less serious and I decided that Rocky needed to be more dog like and goofy, to contrast his very serious and high-strung owner, Maroon.  I quickly injected him with some Scooby-Doo essence, and was careful to not make him TOO cartoonish.  He still needed to tear monsters apart.

I also did some gestural studies of wolves in motion, mostly for fun.

Rocky only gets one final form because his fate has pre-determined...He is Fenris, bound up in the form of the dog, and will "break free" towards the end of the game to help the party defeat the final boss.

SENIOR THESIS PART 1- Trevor the Magic Junkie.

Oh, Trevor.  This was my favorite character of the bunch to design.  I'd been imagining a green Iggy Pop, when I first thought of the character, long, spindly, and able to bend his torso in bizarre ways.  A musical theme also seemed appropriate.  Like all of the characters in the party, I wanted him to be lovable and flawed, but still someone who could actually fight.  Designing a troll presented infinite opportunities to squash and stretch his anatomy around, and I had maybe too much fun designing various misshapen noses and ears.

I got a bit carried away with thinking about possible Troll anatomy, even going so far as to try and figure out how his toes would move and splay.  I also drew his broken and mashed up nose to figure out how the forms would actually work in light.  Not necessary to the project but at least I had fun!

As for the moral paths that Trevor can take, both hinge on his tragic addiction to dark magic.  In the world, the Trolls who live on the outskirts of the city have developed a love of Black Matter, a toxic by product of the city's industrialized magic.  While leathal to humans, it amplifies the Troll's natural magic in mysterious and sometimes dangerous ways.  A player can chose to get Treavor some rehab and cleanse him of the dark magic and become a sniper.  Or if they'd like they can take him down the dark road of addiction, where his magic will become extremely powerful, but at a price...

SENIOR THESIS PART 1- Maroon the Double Agent

Maroon was a big challenge for me.  As a female gamer, I'm constantly getting annoyed with over-exposed, over sexed female characters.  I wanted Maroon to be attractive and formidable, without resorting to cliche big boobs with a big gun type of thing.  She is a cop (possibly a double-crossing one if players chose to take that route) who has a sharp shot, a sharp mind, and a sharp tongue.  Despite her talents, she is a newbie, unaccustomed to intense situations, and has a tendency to loose all rationality and start shooting fire balls everywhere.

Her costume was tricky.  Initially, I was making it TOO badass.  Too many spikes and bells and whistles for a gal who was new to the force.  I decided to go with a uniform instead of a trench coat, with some pinstripes and a tie to reference crime noir.

I wanted her outfit to be form fitting, but also believable as a cop outfit in a fantasy world.  I also liked the idea of a goofy geometric cop hat to cover her horns (remember what I said about ties to a demon-mafia...?)

Her good form is achieved if she takes down the mafia and gets promoted to the elite Valkyrie special forces squad.  Her dark form is unlocked if the player choses to give into her fiery side by betraying the police force and siding with the mafia.  

SENIOR THESIS PART 1- Vincent the Garbage Man.

Vincent was the easiest character for me to design.  I knew I wanted him to be big and lovable, a bit of a Jack Black type character, with a potential for badassery.  As the main character, I knew he had to be easy to relate to, but I didn't want to make him a generic, muscle-laden, hero, but instead a guy with both physical strength and emotional range.

For his Heroic path players could chose to make Vincent quit his garbage man job for the evil industrial company and become a renegade knight for the people melee- type character, or they could chose the path of evil and accept a promotion with the company, granting Vincent access to some high-tech magic machines.  

SENIOR THESIS PART 1- Spektrum City Character Development

My last semester was spent focusing on developing a team of characters for a hypothetical urban fantasy RPG loosely based on Norse mythology.  I knew I wanted to play off of the classic Warrior-Ranger-Mage-Pet type of party dynamic and put a new spin on it.   I also was interested in designing potential "good" vs "evil" evolutions for the characters that would develop in-game based off of player choices, just like in games like Mass Effect and Fable.

The game is set in a semi-futuristic city that runs entirely on industrialized magic.  The hero, Vincent, is just an easy going run-of-the-mill garbage man, who collects the expired magical batteries and hauls them to the dump on the outskirts of the city.  While on a routine run, Vincent discovers a dark secret behind the city's power source and becomes an unlikely hero...involved in a quest to prevent a major magical meltdown.

The supporting characters include, Maroon, a high-strung rookie cop who may-or-may not be a double agent working for the demon-mafia,
Rocky, her well-intentioned but destructive canine companion, and Trevor, a punk-rock troll who is addicted to dark magic.  Together they form a lovable but dysfunctional team.

My first step was to break down the characters into extremely basic shapes, again playing back to classic fantasy RPGs with an elemental team of earth, fire, water, and air.

I then did some quick headshots, just to get my gut reaction of what I wanted the characters to look and feel like.  It's interesting for me to see how this initial essence changed in some ways and remained in others when carried to the final designs.

Here is the final team, and in the following posts I'm going to go into developing each character a bit more in depth.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Life Drawing

I took a a life drawing course again last semester and it was extremely liberating to just focus on understanding the underlying rhythms of the body and the nuances of how the human form exists in space.

These last two were an interesting experiment.  The image on the left was completed in a state of extreme concentration.  I was hypersensitive to slight gradation of value and was very slowly trying to carve out the forms.  It took about 45 minutes.  The one on the right (which I think is a much better drawing) was done rapidly in under twenty minutes, attempting to capture the "energy" of what I was looking at and not allow myself to get caught up in detail.  It was interesting to see how shifting my mental state between deliberate thought-driven mark making and pure spontaneity could manifest into two distinct styles.  Also, its funny that I projected myself into the model's expression, unconsciously rendering her face grumpy and intense in the left drawing and slightly more serene on the right.