CREATING ALMA, OUR MAIN CHARACTER.
Creating the main character for a videogame is never an easy task and this time wasn’t an exception.
Alma’s design has evolved in parallel with all the other aspects of the game, so here’s the beautiful concept art work from Mar Hernandez’s (Twitter: @Hitsys) telling the whole thought process for creating our very own warrior witch.
The kind of game and story we had 2 months ago is very different to what we have now.
Alma was not your heroic type of character at the beginning, but a normal local farmer in a fantasy world who gets involved in something very wrong.
Also, something that was an staple on the initial ideas was that Alma had to be a non-white woman. She had a dark skin and a bit of a South American look.
We went for a woman with real proportions, a bit stronger and bulkier compared to what we usually see on videogame characters. Her design was simple, but functional.
CHANGE OF DIRECTION.
The game’s concept evolved and Alma’s design wasn’t fitting anymore with the new project’s direction, so Mar had to start a new line of creative thought.
The new ideas were asking for a character with a stronger, more defiant aspect. We didn’t want her to look like a hero, but more like an anti-hero, actually. Someone capable of doing whatever necessary to survive in the depths of hell.
The new Alma’s concepts changed her proportions when we looked at a fighter’s body, someone a bit less curvy, leaner and with more muscle.
The idea behind these designs was for Alma to be the one who creates her own aspect from stuff she can find lying around in hell to protect herself and survive. Her purpose was to look like she was a very dangerous human being, so adding bones and horns from the monsters and demons she slayed were a good concept to play with.
More sketches followed this direction, but with different touches. We wondered what she would look like if Alma arrived with almost nothing to hell and started dressing herself from scratch.
In the first drawing, Alma uses mudd to cover her body and loses a bit of her human aspect. The costume is also very simple: A rag she found lying around somewhere.
On the second drawing, she’s got a more savage look and paints helself with demon blood. The clothes were from her fallen enemies.
In both cases, the character tries to lose part of her humanity and look like the demons she has to fight to survive.
Another variation of this concept was based in the possibility of Alma arriving to hell with a single piece of white cloth, like a con’s uniform going to jail.
Alma’s personality was starting to be defined with every drawing and the last thing we wanted was for her to look vulnerable in any way.
Alma could always adapt to the situation, always finding and doing whatever necessary to survive.
Apart from this line of thought and style, we also toyed with a cleaner art style with no lines.
The result was a bit too far from what we wanted to achieve, so we came back to the more realistic style we were using up to that moment.
After playing with a lot of ideas, reality was we weren’t too happy with our results so far.
Somehow, we knew we still needed something that made her more interesting, something different than your average, everyday warrior woman. So we made her a Warrior Witch, a bit coming from the ancient Templar’s concept of soldier monks. And we thought it was cool to have a bit of a paradox with a witch fighting demons, when in all European cultures it was believed that witches and evil were pretty much the same thing.
So we focused next on giving Alma a bit of a witch look, getting carried away and adding everything that could look cool and fit with Alma’s vision.
After a lot of effort it seemed like we were still far away from an ideal design.
At this point, the project kept going forward. Lots of gameplay ideas were thrown around on every team’s meeting but our main character was still unborn. Alma’s evolution was a totally open chapter.
ALMA THE WARRIOR WITCH.
So now it was all about mixing together the witch aspect of the character with warrior-esque elements. We wanted to get away of the nerdy looking wizards that can only shoot spells. Alma was also a very capable close combat fighter and she should look the part.
So the first drawings following this design line explored some different ideas and concepts. From a more traditional-looking hooded witch to creating the supposedly official Order of Witchcraft’s uniform, very similar to the Templar’s concept as we said previously.
And even after all these drawings, we could still not find our Alma.
We decided then to get inspiration from other cultures seen on our travels to try and find that ultimate design that fit with our vision.
In here we got carried away with a more Japanese look, with a concept quite far away from a European aspect, although she ended looking more like a western ninja!
We also tried to use some Greek elements, specially with clothes, colors and textures.
GOTTA START MAKING SOME DECISIONS!
We could not quit! We’ve got a fighter soul just like Alma, it seems. She was still lost somewhere, just waiting for us to discover her.
So it was time to stop and make some decisions, because we could keep drawing and drawing without finding what we really needed.
Of all the previous designs, we cherry picked what we thought fit best with the character and the game.
The top-hat and the long hair were two details we liked a lot, so we decided to go on that direction and work on those a bit. The magic tattoos looked also pretty interesting and they add a bit of that warrior witch flavor we desperately needed.
We also wanted to have an element on her that moved all the time behind, like a trail. We thought in her hair at first, but later we kept the idea of a long skirt.
More ideas on the moving clothes. On this case, we thought about cutting her hair simply because we did not want to have two elements flying around in the character’s back. That was a bit too much from a visual perspective and a complete nightmare to animate.
We started to play with the skirt’s end and added a bit of gradual transparency.
With all these ideas in mind, we came back to the warrior witch concept and we thought her clothes didn’t necessarily needed to be “normal”. Alma could do magic and her costume could have that magical, otherworldly component totally impossible in reality.
We toyed with the idea of an ethereal dress, like a cloud or a permanent piece of fog attached to her skirt, so when she runs around, she leaves a trail of magic fog particles that could look beautiful in-game.
After all this creative process we were starting to get close to Alma’s final design. Our list of essential elements that would give her a personality was almost there.
So her hair wasn’t that long in the end and the top-hat and ethereal dress were the two things we wanted to stand out.
Here we see more designs and color trials. We got away from the black and blue tones because they weren’t carrying away our character’s personality. Also, we thought the two color hair looked interesting, just as using gradations on her gloves and socks.
We were getting close!
To get to know a character, there’s nothing better that draw her on a pose that reflects her personality. So far, all drawings we made of Alma were on a neutral standing pose to work on the character conveniently, but now we were pretty close to her final look and it was a good idea to let her get introduced to the world in her own way.
Alma is a confident character, defiant and proud. She would look down at you full of distrust. She also shows proudly the magic circle of the Order of Witchcraft.
Her weapons are also made out of magic and she can make them appear whenever she wants.
This was the moment we discovered Alma. From here on we studied her frontal view to define her proportions, shapes and aspect of the magic clothes.
After finding our main character we only needed to play a bit with colors and shapes.
And this is the final result!
We are quite happy because we think we achieved what we were looking for with Alma, fitting really well with Annihellation story and gameplay.
Thanks a lot for reading us and we hope you enjoyed the trip!
Let us know your thoughts and feedback on our Twitter account: @_annihellation_
See you on the next devlog post!
-Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team.