Thursday, 15 October 2009

Style Vs Style - Haruka Sato

Well finally, some damn design. I'll have more to post sooner or later, so I figured I would just post whatever I have now and save the rest for later. Anyway, my first real project (one that actually counts, unlike the goddamn Preston brief which can kiss my ass) for the term, actually the whole year in fact is character design. 10 points if you guessed that correctly, -10 points for it being painfully obvious. If you're at -10, shame on you, nothing can save your soul.

Back on topic, since my projects are about character design, I figured I needed some way to design characters, model them in 3D and actual get something out of this academic man-trap. Lo-and-behold! I had a revelation, well, nothing that profound but I was pretty happy when I figured out how I wanted to do things my way and still get the marks. In the end, I decided that designing the same character in different ways was how I would go about that. The same character might look different when the style changes (indicated by my last post), the same character might look different across genres and the same character might look different between platforms (ie, PS3 vs Wii vs DS).

If you don't understand the last point, basically different platforms allow characters to have different levels of details. PS3/360/PC allow for the highest. Character's can be very detailed and complex. The Wii allows for a good amount of detail, but the maps used are limited. The DS/PSP can't handle a lot of detail in the model, so most of the details have to be painted in the textures. The same character looks a lot different because you have to make changes to accommodate the lower levels of detail. This part I'm not too sure about, but hell, I'll let future me deal with it.

Looking back over the last 3 paragraphs, it feels like I haven't said a damn thing. I blame it on how late it is, say what you will about making excuses but they exist for a reason. So for this part of the project (I'll give it a cool name later on, like Operation Takedown), the character I'm designing is called Haruka Sato. Yes, it's a small Japanese girl. But hey, you gotta get started somehow, right? Moving forward!

(Note: This sculpt is very uhh, early. I have no real reference for her face right now.)

Profile: Haruka Sató

Haruka is a wandering spirit who was killed in a brutal accident on her way home from school with her friends. Because Haruka was killed before she could reach home, she never could find the way. Her sense of direction wasn't great and she relied on her friends and family to guide her back home. In death, Haruka wanders around the world looking for her way home, but she can never find it as it no longer exists. Being young and naive, Haruka doesn't realise that her family and home is gone and continues to look for it. On her journey she meets a lot of different people who get sucked into her plight and try to help Haruka look for her home. Because of the futile nature of this quest, most of Haruka's companions die on the way, unable to break away from Haruka for unknown reasons. The burden of their deaths weighs heavily on Haruka, and over the years she has become more introverted and shut in. Yet something about Haruka draws people in, and try as she might, she can never turn someone away. Especially after being alone for so long. The bodies and souls of the dead follow Haruka around, chained to her and also unable to escape. The souls soon became violent and malicious, making the lives of those who follow Haruka end sooner.

Most people (including Haruka) can't see the countless bodies and souls attached to Haruka, so they're unaware of the danger that awaits them. Over the years, rumours of Haruka began to spread and she soon became a symbol of death and aimlessness. It's said that Haruka attracts the type of people who don't have a goal in life, or are just running away from their problems looking for the quick fix. Haruka isn't a malicious spirit, but the circumstances surrounding her death and afterlife make it seem so.

Haruka's character is innocent looking, alluring and helpless. These traits are visually meant to draw in people to her dilemma. When she was alive, Haruka was upbeat, energetic, childish and stubborn, traits that have mostly vanished. She insists that she doesn't need any help getting home, which seems to make those she meets want to help her all the more. Despite her often abrasive and cold initial demeanor, she is kind hearted and sincere. Beneath her forced smile lies a lot of anguish and loneliness.

So, finally here are some pics to go with this description. So far I'm only uploading pics I did directly in photoshop. Tomorrow I'll add some pics I did in my sketchbook to go along with more of the character's description.

These are some of the first faces I drew for Haruka. I wasn't aiming for anything in particular (aimless just like Haruka, coincidence?!), so the style bounces and the drawings kind of suck, but that's OK, since I'm still trying to get the feel of the character.

These drawings were done to help me with the more serious side of Haruka's story. The character would be more realistic, but true realism is boring and ultimately it's not why I draw. So most of the time I go for what looks good to me. I can afford such a thing for now. I really like these drawings, but somehow the style of the eyes gets lost when I do a full size picture. I need to reference this page a lot more. Thankfully the main image I have in my head is no where near complete, so there's still time to fix it.

This side shows the more light hearted style I had in mind for Haruka. This is where I decided what Haruka's hair would look like. I had spirals in mind when I drew these faces, so the hair in this picture and the last tends to curl around a lot. It was based on the idea of a circle, since I imagined Haruka's journey would ultimately be a circle. From the circle I went into a spiral, since those are visually more interesting to me. I quite like the look, but I figure everyone will say "oh, anime!" like they always do no matter what I draw. Not that I mind, I love anime, but when you look around at different styles you find a lot of them look like anime/manga. As I write this, I discovered that I could probably do something in a Timesplitters style and break away from that. But we'll see how those drawings turn out later.

After getting to a nice place with the faces, I decided that I would work out what Haruka would wear. Since she's coming from school, that kind of makes the job easy. But I still played around with some variations. Classic/old school, casual and something kind of futuristic. The clothes had to fit with Haruka's personality, but also a few design choices were done because ultimately, I plan to model Haruka in 3D. And certain things become easier to do if you design things a certain way. Example; Haruka wears two bracelets and her collar goes up quite high. If you were to look at Haruka's neck, you could see there would be two different materials. I designed it like that so I could make Haruka's head and body flow into each other despite having different topology and density. Same with the hands, it's easier to connect parts like this.

After that, came a few "feel" pictures. I'm not sure what to say about these, except I like to draw them to understand the character more. Not just in the way they look (justify the outfit/style from different angles), but possible how they would feel or act in a situation. Usually I do most of this in my head, but every now and again it's nice to get it all out there.

(Note: 25% COMPLETE!)

I wondered if Haruka would be antagonistic to the main character (if this was a game, or something)? Would she be a soul to save or just escape from? I figured in a more light hearted game, Haruka would be someone you save. You end up putting her at peace, along with the souls she carries. But in a darker/more serious game, Haruka might be someone you have to eliminate or escape from, meaning that she can never be at peace.

Whew, that was long. I have nothing witty to say in closing, so...

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