Today I want to dive into the new character design for the Archer job in Life Odyssey. This will be a 2 part blog, and I'll be starting with the Female Archer.
First off, I am not the artist behind this character design! The artist is a talented individual by the name of Danielle Oyales. I'll be writing from my perspective, but keep reading until the end to read some of her thoughts as well.
To start out with, I wanted to set clear goals for character design. Not just for this character, but for all player character jobs in general:
Empowering: a.k.a. "bad ass" - should be akin to the leading protagonist of any anime or JRPG and feel empowering to project yourself into them.
Sexy, NOT Sexual: The design should have immediate visual impact and attractive appeal, but not be overtly sexual in nature. Personally, I feel strongly about practical costume design (both female and male). I really wanted to try to get this right, especially for the Female Archer - which I consider to be one of the most iconic jobs/classes in any RPG.
Memorable: Have a lasting impression and convey as much personality as possible. Don't think of the character design as a blank slate. Try to tell a story in the design details: posture, facial expression, accessories, etc.
We really went through alot of exploration with posing, as well as clothing culture. Ultimately I really wanted to push towards a more soldierly interpretation of the female archer archetype. Both Danielle and I were naturally leaning towards her having a somewhat stoic and solitary personality, which clashed with any of the flowing, billowy clothing elements.
At this point, I felt that the story emerging for our character was in the direction a veteran mercenary archetype, maybe a lone sniper of sorts, but definitely an expert marksman. To me, this meant having a design element with the practical usage of detecting the direction/speed of the wind. Since the capes, scarfs, and billowy sleeves weren't working with our uber-practical sniper - we decided to do it in the hair. The long ponytail appealed to me immediately and ended up being our "wind element" that captured both a pragmatic attitude and a practical use.
At this stage, we had iterated many times on the minutia of the posing, costume details, accessories, and bow design to lock down the line art. One of my favorite details ended up being the hoop earrings, which I felt added some life and personality. A hint of sentimentality in what is otherwise a highly practical outfit.
This was our first pass of color explorations. After seeing this initial line-up, I found myself wanting to push the colors into more earthy tones. Keeping the goal of practical design that tells a story, the browns and greens would have been important elements for camouflage in a forest. However I was also a little wary of not wanting to fall too heavily into the realm of stereotypical super green territory (e.g. Legolas or Robin Hood).
Here is the final flat color iteration that we landed on, as well as an array of hair/eye flat color explorations. Choosing the hair and eye coloring was especially hard. At first I had liked the blonde hair color, but found the total visual coming across too mundane. I wanted her to really embody an aspect of fantasy. The white flowing ponytail added a sense of grandeur that the blonde or other color explorations seemed to be lacking.
The finale! Here is the final character design for the Female Archer job in Life Odyssey. In the previous pass we had only flat coloring, in this final rendering Danielle adding shading, highlights, material texturing, leather distressing, etc. I personally love the final design and can't thank Danielle enough for the hard work she put into it! Keep reading to find out more about her and some of her thoughts on this design.
What were some of your personal inspirations when exploring the Female Archer?
I wanted the Female Archer to have the spirit of San from Princess Mononoke - strong, badass, intelligent, confident, fierce. She's someone I want to look up to! I was also looking into Brave's Merida for inspiration because she can present herself as feminine but independent and a leader.
What did you think of the design process? What were your favorite aspects?
From the sketch to final render, I absolutely enjoyed each step. The loose, sketching phase allowed me to capture the essence of the character before details and design were drawn in. The pose says it all. When it came to iterations of the character, the exploration of possibilities to enhance the character was where it got tricky. A costume must support the personality and practicality of character, not just for the sake of looking cool. For me, the fun part is researching more costume ideas and collecting them in my visual library. As for color iterations, this was near the finish line and the options needed to be narrowed down to really push it through. Seeing the colors on the character was probably my favorite aspect to this process since she was pretty much brought to life. The rest of it was rendering and polishing which is a tedious task. But since I had been personally invested in the character and the process, painting the archer felt freeing and pleasing to work with.
What were your favorite elements of the character design?
The hair, torso, and shoulders. Pretty much what leads your eyes towards the character's face!
What are your top 3 favorite RPGs?
Final Fantasy 7, Final Fantasy 9, and Final Fantasy Tactics. :D