Zombie Cells – Character Design (2/2)

Now we’re going to conclude our little analysis on character design, using the case of Zombie Cells as a reference.

In the previous entry we covered the first stages of char design. That includes the broad brainstorming, pencil sketching, first approaches and absurd ravings that must be identified and rejected before you find yourself falling in love with them.

In this stage of development we chose to depart from that comic/cartoonish style, that resembled Angry Birds, and try something less raw. We wanted some extra details, but not too much. Plain style is perfect, but there’s also a search for visual identity. You have to come to a balance point between simplicity on one side (works better for humorous purposes), and details, which may move you away from bold elegance but make the uniqueness of the design come into bloom.

Again some pencil work helps the designs come out more fluent. But once you have figured out the sketch, the basic design in outlines, you have to color it. Here we found a minor issue about color style, that is very illustrative. The first style makes use of gradients and works out better the volumes of the figure. But as you can see, the effect is quite gloomy, making thus the comic effect fade away. Just check out how different do they look, the exact two cells with just a different color style.

Finally we have to put all the cells together. They are not isolated beings, they must look fine as a group. Having the same visual design is something that we’ll take for granted at this point, but besides this, there’s also the color matching factor. When placed together they have to offer a cool group image (just like them). And assuming is a funny zombie game, we wanted them not to look too grayish or just  having variants over green tones. We wanted the whole zombie palette here, to get the richest variety of tones assuming we’re dealing with necrotic cells.

Enjoy the infection!


Zombie Cells – Character Design (1/2)

In the process of creating a new game/world you come to a moment when you have to settle it with inhabitants. At that moment the possibilities are overwhelming, but you must go down to earth and start placing some boundaries here and there. Once you know which kind of public the game is focusing on, and which kind of metafore would fit the game mechanics, it’s the time to call your pencil to action.
In this case, we had a liquid or low gravity environment, plus a massive spawning of beings. Once we dismiss the spacey theme, we went for the more stimulating body fluids’ setting ;). At some point the word “zombie” came out, and like victims of our time (the zombie golden-age) we just couldn’t help imagining hordes of zombie cells infecting a helpless host. In fact, we imagined the host was Justin Bieber… Down below are the first attempts.

The idea here is to try different approaches. To see which ones fit best and trace a line of action. Pencil is still the quickest tool. Although your inner child may just wish to start using colours, it’s better to try as many different styles in the less time possible, so let’s keep computer away.
OK, this time my inner child won over the battle, so I jumped quickly to Flash. That’s why the first two attempts, (down here) are just crap. Then I tried a simple cartoony style, most in the mood of Angry Birds. You can notice that specially in the last two of them.

And then… the magical moment, when everyone goes crazy. At some point you may come to a mad idea, an absurd concept that may be very funny. And then again, cold miss Logic comes back and hits your face with her glove. “Did you really think that zombie cells also needed to go soviet?”. – “Uhmmm… I guess it was not necessary, but it was cool as hell”.

It’s important to go through this phase in the early stages of design, or else, this mayhem will make you waste an undefined amount of precious time. In this case we dismissed the idea due to some deep and raw concerns about disappointed expectation.
In the second post about character design we’ll reveal the final stages of zombie cells infection. Take care!