Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Orcha Marstice

Orcha is a character who has been floating around in my head for eight or nine years as a young, aspiring pirate girl. Until Scoundrels, however, I had never taken the time to fully develop her visually. Her basic appearance has always been the same--short black hair, green eyes, freckles, and that scar--and she'd always been wearing just a plain white shirt and torn trousers. When Scoundrels rolled around, though, I knew I'd have to change her design a bit to include some of that sci-fi vibe. As such, there is a holy TON of concept art for her from the last five months, but I'll show you just the basics of what I went through to get to her final design.

These two were the very first pieces of concept art. Orcha is a ragged little kid with a very strong personality, who wears whatever she likes, even if it doesn't quite match or isn't practical. Initially I just wanted to get that "traditional pirate" feeling while giving her a more feminine look, so I gave her a dress, which is just about the least practical thing to fight in. I did play around a bit with the sci-fi elements while keeping traditional pieces like the vest and the headband; at one point she had an entire bodysuit, but it felt too futuristic for her to wear at all times. (I still like it, though--I'm hoping there will be a way to work it into the story at some point.) It always came back to the somewhat silly yet iconic dress. The dress's casual appearance also contrasted well with the big pieces of armor I wanted to incorporate into her design.

I loved the idea of this tiny kid wearing these huge pieces of armor that she keeps as trophies (and that everything she wears is some sort of trophy), but I had difficulty getting the armor NOT to look clunky, especially with the dress and the vest. Since a big part of her fighting style is sneaking and dodging, she needed mobility. I tried different ways of streamlining her silhouette with different vest and armor designs, and even taking the big boots away altogether, but none of them seemed to work very well. The armor designs I had were meant to look like pieces of a naval officer's uniform, but finally I had to sacrifice the idea of her pulling pieces of armor off of an officer for the sake of appearance. The armor became more streamlined and foreign, until the story became that they didn't come from a human species at all, but were in fact of alien design. The dress shrank as well and became a little short on her--she may have been wearing it for years, but she's growing up and can't wear it forever.

After all of that, I've finally arrived at a design and stylization for Orcha that I'm happy with. Other characters have gone through a design process that is similar, but not quite as long and intensive. I'll be back down the road with their designs, as well as the designs of weapons (that sword!), ships and environments you'll see in the first issue. See you soon!