Heroes Must Die - Character Design Retrospective
Character design has always been my favorite thing to do.
As long as I can remember, I’ve always had this cast of people running around inside my head. It’s never like I’ve created them myself, but rather I’m meeting them and they slowly reveal more and more of their past, present, and future as I get to know them better.
Concepts never start the same way. There are times where I draw with no real intent in mind, and slowly this character with a personality and a story and feelings begins to form. Or I’ll begin with what I think the character looks like, but end up with a completely different concept when I’m done as I think more and more about who they are as a person.
This project was really interesting to get into in terms of a design aspect. When I joined, things were already in motion with the art. Most of the main cast had already been drawn and pixelated, and for those that weren’t drawn, there was at least a mood board and a pre-determined characterization. I had the task of creating new characters to fit into this world that was completely alien to me. The team has been really loose with restrictions as well (My only real guidelines for the Warborn clan if I’m remembering correctly was to make them look uncoordinated and to not make them have revealing clothing).
I remember being completely overwhelmed and feeling so out of place. I was looking at the concept art that had already been done and thinking it was so…professional. So classic looking. This was artwork done by people who had done this before. Me, I’ve just been doing doodles on my own blog and haven’t done any major projects since I graduated college. I started fleshing out designs and immediately became worried because I didn’t think anything fit with what they wanted. I saw these awesome burly enemies and spiky-haired protagonists while I was drawing a cute mage who clearly was a librarian and had stars in her hair.
But to my surprise, they really enjoyed my designs and had some really positive thoughts and suggestions. And so I’ve kept going and now Rick has even asked me to write about my creative process!
So here it goes:
First and foremost: I try to design characters that I want to play as or want to see in a game that I am playing. And by that, I mean that I want good, believeable and dynamic characters and a cast that can show some diversity. I also really really like any game that is primarily female-driven as I usually find myself relating to them more easily (I was raised in a woman-run household and my friends are always girls). Because of this, I find myself designing most of my characters as women. I think a lot of people, including myself, are tired of seeing manly men doing manly quests for manly redemption or something, and I don’t want to squander an opportunity to show a greater spectrum of characters.
And the team has been so supportive of this. I submitted the warborn clan as containing three women fighters and one man. I also wanted the characters to be ethnically ambiguous (It made sense with the lore as well). I was expecting to at least hear a comment or two about the lack of men, but I just got excited messages and thumbs up all around.
When desiging, I always struggle with two parts. First, the hair. Second, the clothing. Hair can make or break a character for me, and I agonize for a long time over which hair style really brings out a character’s personality.
For clothing, this project has proven a challenge for me since I’m not quite familiar with drawing armor (I mostly draw characters existing in the modern day) but I think with each day I’m getting better and better. Google really helps with this.
On a final note, I’d like to share a sort of time-lapse gif of the design of the two player-named characters I’ve recently finished designing. You as the player pick which one you’d like to be and I really wanted to make them be interesting and appealing characters.
I hope that you guys enjoy Heroes Must Die when we finally finish it! I’m really excited to see artwork that I’ve created be used for such a wonderful project made by such wonderful people. Keep your eyes peeled for more great stuff!
Make sure to checkout the gallery for more of Trent's art!