Thursday, 9 February 2012

Prey Valiance Character Design.

I created Scoundrels out of an unquenched thrist I've had for many years to work collaboratively on a comic. I really wanted to share in the experience of creation with other creative minds and find a way to allow those creative minds almost limitless possibily- to encourage true passion and imagination. So far, Scoundrels has been a lot of fun, each take on the premise is unique and I hope future readers will really enjoy what each of us are working to deliver.

To agree with what John has stated in the previous post, the creation of these characters boils down to your own interpretation of what a Pirate is. In my case I was shooting quite low, I was aiming for exactly what your minds eye might conjure. I wanted to create a swashbuckling scallywag, I wanted a character that lived for the moment with that dangerous glint in their eye.

Prey is actually a character that pre-dates my idea for Scoundrels. She was a side character created to support a previous story I had entitled "The Journey". My idea was to have a few different stories all with similar elements, all with characters embarking on a Journey but in totally different time periods. In the end, further exploration into Journey led me to something far more interesting than I had intended and I'm planning on doing something special with that later this year. Prey still loudly thrashed around my head as an idea I needed to use; a female Han Solo, loveable Rogue, stowing away on ships across the universe with her trusty space-monkey pet.

Preys design originally was influenced by a few inspirations; Aurra Sing of Star Wars expanded universe, Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII, Han Solo and Jack Sparrow. At the time of conception, I felt that perhaps approaching the design in a 'realistic' manner may give me some kind of design insight I may not be able to achieve when working within the limitations of my simplistic style, I then translated those design choices into my style for the very last pre-scoundrels Prey image.(below)

Once I had placed the narrative elements together, to create the premise of Scoundrels- I turned my attention to adapting Prey into this retro Sci-Fi world. Part of the brief for Scoundrels was that fashion in this universe was very much a throwback to the 18th Century, very classic Pirate-y attire with Sci-Fi twists. Obviously, this is very flexible but I personally wanted to stick quite close to that, looking directly to reference for many of my characters and for the update of Prey herself.

My first pass was to capture the essence of what this character is about. Originally I had wanted to create a character much like Han Solo, a character that dances the line between Good and Evil but that ultimately sides with Good. Prey is a pirate and actually one of the fiercest of our group, so I quickly established that I needed to push that element and create a character with a harder edge and a much more dangerous presence. These are the aspects that helped me to craft her story much more vividly and her costume and character design itself was then easy to layer with context.

Her outfit is a haphazard collection of various mis-matching parts. I wanted to make the point that Pirates are rebels, they don't conform to rules or regulations, they don't fall in line like everyone else. I felt it was vastly important for a character like Prey to look exactly like that, to look like she makes her own rules. These are the reasons for the bold clothing choices and the hair that sticks out a mile away, cut in various random lengths as if to intentionally draw more attention.

I saw Pirate in her context, being a quite Punk-like vibe, an in your face display of fearless attitude. This also influnces her choice of clothing, with her attire being comprised of various questionable backgrounds and most of it stolen. I wanted to suggest that maybe Prey just changed this outfit as she went along, I like the thought that her jacket was probably just pulled off the body of a man she killed in battle, that she liked the look of it and took it for herself. And again, working contextual suggestion throughout- I wanted to imply a question about why her jacket is sleeveless but never quite explain it. I like to think she was caught once, trapped under something perhaps and had to tear the arm from the jacket to escape. I like to imagine her outfit is something that three years ago, wouldn't look the same.

The other aspect of her design, born out of the exploration into her character for Scoundrels was the importance of her fire-arm. Prey is a character that doesn't have much self-respect or look after her own well-being terribly well, instead I wanted her to manifest her softer, loving and caring feelings towards this object. Of significant value to her and a part of her for most of her life, I wanted her gun to look like it had been through a lot but that it had been well cared for.

Inspiration for the gun was drawn directly from the Musket Pistols of the 18th Century, to fuse it with Science fiction, I 'gutted' the mechanisms and created a plasma-ammunition system in its stead, it's customized with various decorative plates and armour and fitted with a target aiming system under the barrell. Again, this is a design element that I imagine she has 'built' up over the years and three years ago, might look like a completely different gun.

Prey is a Pirate with little to no navigating or pilot skills, she can't helm a vessel and she's not much good for anything else onboard a ship. Her only redeeming skill is her marksmanship, she is a dead-eye shot and extremely valuable and dangerous for that reason.

Closing her design, I wanted to create a readable character. She wears her life on her sleeve and doesn't have much in the way of attempts to disguise it. Through the story and my visual representation of her, I can create body language to further communicate her personality but I hope I have succeeded in some ways to explain it in one single read of seeing the character.

Her pet, Fester is a character that has been around since the beginning too- way back before putting pencil to paper I wanted Prey to have a parrot or a bird, that quickly changed to a monkey and then in turn once I knew I wanted Sci-Fi; Space Monkey. Fester is of the "Ki-Ti" species, who were nearly hunted to extinction due to their curiousity for tampering with technology, branding them 'Gremlins'.

I purposely don't want to define the exact details of how they met, other than they have been in eachothers company for a long time. I feel it's important to understanding Preys mentality, to never look to the past, to barely explore her history as she is a character that lives and dies for the moment and only ever looks forward.

Fester is inspired primarily by spider-monkeys and lemurs, with some features of cats. He moves quite like a lizard and has a tongue that is quite similar to a snakes. He was tremendous fun to design because he's not too far removed from what we can recognise but yet he's alien enough to not allow us to put a finger on it. He's a vastly intelligent creature but incapable of speech, I wanted Prey and Fester to share an unspoken bond of understanding- much like how Ash in Pokemon seemed to understand what Pikachu was saying despite the language barrier.

Lastly, I like to do an excercise in design for most of my characters, breaking down their essential elements into a very simple form. The idea being that a strong character design can not only be broken down to its basics easily, but can be instantly recognisable from those basics too. I often use LEGO to help me achieve this test;

Thanks for reading, see you on the Horizion!


  1. Awesome post, dude! Very informative. Fester is ridiculously adorable. I love how you work all this story into each part of her design.

  2. I love seeing the Evolution of the character and of the world you are crafting, amazing stuff manster!