Sunday, 29 April 2012

Annie Hastur: The Dark Child

Annie, like Veigar, is a fragile burst caster. She's designed to be easy to play rather than be viable at a high level, as her abilities are simple, and her kit means she has to capitalise on her opponents' mistakes rather than being able to really command an engagement. She's hampered by a short casting range, so in general other mages like Veigar and Morgana will beat her in a straight-up fight, but she's one of the only champions with an instant AOE stun, and a massive amount of near instant burst damage, so with a well-coordinated team she can still be a threat.

Working on this reminded me how hard I find it to actually finish an image. I always end up at this unhappy stage where I feel like it's both overworked and underdeveloped. I tried using some actual custom Photoshop brushes for the first time ever, and they worked nicely for the linework (though you can't really see it when it's shrunk down), but I had no idea how to make the colours and shading look good. I just about like the actual colour scheme but the brushwork doesn't really hold up for me. At one point I had that deeper shading over the whole image, but it just felt like too much so I left it on Tibbers alone to make Annie pop out more. She still feels kind of flat, though. Also having the edges of the image be cut off like this feels lazy, but when I had Tibbers's whole body showing it looked lame (it makes him look bigger if he's partially hidden). Bleh. I might go look at Blanca's and Joe's blogs and cry into my keyboard some more. At least the design phase was fun, though I struggle to really call it "design" since, as mentioned before, I still feel she's just a stock-little-girl-a-la-Jonno with some details. These are all things I just have to work on in the future, though.

I considered adding a bit of writing about this particular vision I have for the character but I decided against it as it would be, first, a load of fanwank, and second, it would contradict what I was trying to achieve. Basically I didn't like how the different aspects of the original character seemed to have been invented in isolation: the lore was written by one person, the design was done by another, and the game mechanics by yet one more, and none of them ever spoke to eachother. The lore said nothing about her personality, and the design said nothing about either her personality or her abilities (aside from her having a flame in her hand, so original). I feel that a good design should at least suggest something about every important aspect of the character, so I wanted to reflect her abilities, background, and a personality all at once.

I was originally going to have Tibbers be burning (as he is in-game), but I thought it would be better to let the other aspects of the image suggest her association with fire rather than making it explicit. Even if you don't know she actually controls fire magic, you should be able to draw some conclusions from her burnt clothes, flamey hair, and Tibbers' fur. I shan't say any more about my intentions since I sort of wrote about them last time.

Here are some more development sketches, for fun. I'm leaving out a few from when I came back to this project after a couple of weeks on a job and had apparently forgotten how to draw since they're an embarassment. You get to see the derpy Tibbers drawings, though, because I think there's a good progression there. Chances are some of the stuff here is actually better than what I settled on in the end, but such is the way of hindsight.

You also get a little bonus sketch with a hypothetical end-game item build. Is Void Staff, Sorceror's Shoes, and Abyssal Sceptre redundant? (yes) I actually like this a bit more than the proper illustration up top. :(
Some of the reference material I used was fun, too. I found this great archive of vintage tinted postcards.

Tibbers is mostly inspired by Kodiak bears. I wanted to get the "big head little face" look that some bears have, but for some reason I was never able to pull it off like I wanted. I like the upside-down-heart-shaped head though, that's my own little touch (most bears have a right-side-up heart for head). Joe said of an older attempt at this illustration that bears often look like they're wearing pyjamas. I think a couple of my earlier sketches captured that better but oh well.

By the way, I must extend thanks to Joe in general for giving me advice when I'd done a drawing and hated it but couldn't decide why. I have a tendency to hide stuff I do because I'm ashamed of it but getting a second eye on it really helped. I also had a good conversation with Danny Boyle last week that got me thinking about how I approach this sort of project, so thanks to him too.

I was originally going to append this onto a "real" post as I've done in the past, but I think there's enough here that it can stand by itself. As hard as this was it was worth doing and I'd like to do it again. I'm just about to start on another job that's probably going to be really hard, though, so we'll see when I've got the energy and motivation to do it. I'll try to do at least a small post (without art) next weekend, though, since I've still got stuff I want to just write about.

1 comment:

Joe Sparrow said...

Nice! I really like the "complete item build" version too. I think I saw one of anivia with that that was completely ridiculous. Also, I had no idea she even had a surname.