In the world of character design, your imagination is limitless. Designers have the ability to make any concept come to life, from interstellar warriors to anthropomorphs. But what makes certain characters stand out from the other countless characters and make them truly great? In this case study, we'll look at how to create a character that is captivating, rich with personality, and leaves viewers bewildered by its depth. Buckle up, it's going to be a crazy ride as you prepare to learn about Vyria and her world, Ardenia.
I grew up watching a lot of anime and almost all the animes I watched had protagonists who had the heart of gold and became extremely powerful through training arcs. These characters inspired children and showed them qualities of being a good person. As adults, we like characters that have relatable flaws and the characters doesn't need to be particularly good. I also got extremely inspired by the games I played growing up, particularly Diablo 3 and League of Legends, which I still play today. For Diablo, I loved the details on all the character's armor, helmet, and weapons. I also loved how each specific class had different body builds that really set them apart from one another. For League of Legends, I love how there are 163 champions you can play from yet each one is unique and have their own distinct look and personality. I wanted to create my own characters for a future video game with a great backstory of how each character came to be.
THE WORLD OF ARDENIA
The world of Ardenia came to be 10,000 years ago after the war of the great mage, Ardenia along with her disciples and the demon warrior goddess, Lyssaran with her guardians and cult following. Lyssaran and her cult has been sacrificing people to feed Lyssaran to make her more powerful and increase her life. More and more people found out and words traveled to Ardenia's ears after Lyssaran feasted on one of her disciples. She quickly declared war against Lyssaran and their major battle lasted for 10 days. In the end, Ardenia sealed Lyssaran off with all her remaining power with a seal that should have lasted forever.
When coming up with Vyria's design, I knew I wanted Vyria to be great at magic and spell-casting since she's extremely ambitious with becoming more powerful because she wants to protect the people that saved her when she was young. When designing Vyria, I tried to consider how to set her apart from other characters in other fantasies. I came up with three looks for her; all with an elf-warrior look to it. In the end, I combined two of the initial sketches based off of comfort for battles. Vyria uses her magic tools to fight. She possesses immense magic that she channels into her orbs and her accessories allows her to better control her power, otherwise it would be easy for her to lose control from all her powers. I gave Vyria a light blue color palette to show peace and calm which is suitable for her temperament.
Lyssaran is a 10,000 year old demon goddess that was sealed away by the founder of the world, Ardenia. She has a cult following and 4 guardian wraiths that serve her. I wanted her to not be a complete opposite of Vyria but for them to share a common goal, which is to become more powerful. I needed them to share a common trait for them to fuse. When it comes to Lyssaran, her goals for wanting more power is pure evil and chaotic compared to Vyria, who wants more power to help repay those who helped her. For Lyssaran's design, I wanted her to be a character that is just pure evil and have lost all humanity. When designing her looks, I wanted something that people would instantly recognize as a dangerous antagonist. So that called for spikes! Lots of it! All of my looks for Lyssaran involved spikes, some more than others and all with a demonic look. I also wanted to give her weird eyebrows to add some fun razzle dazzle. With her sword designs, I came up with three swords and felt the one with the most spikes fit Lyssaran best. Similar to Vyria, I combined two of her sketches for the final product. With her color palette, I decided on warm colors to contrast Vyria's cool colors. I used dark red, gold, and orange to emphasize her demonic appearance and to show how rich and powerful she is with the gold and orange.
VYRIA AND LYSSARAN
In the end of the story, Lyssaran takes over Vyria's body and they fuse together to become one: Vyria's body and Lyssaran's soul. When designing them fused together, I wanted to combine both Vyria and Lyssaran's color palettes and decided on a dark purple/blue (like a dark periwinkle) palette. Outfit-wise, I also combined Vyria's loose, flowy clothing elements with Lyssaran's spikes. Unlike the other two designs where I took elements from two outfits and combined them, one design stood out from the rest for me and I immediately took a liking to it. Originally, my weapon of choice for this version of Vyria was going to be a sword where it's a part of her arm but decided against that since it felt clunky against her deadly, elegant look whereas the scythe fitted right in since it's designed based off of her shoulder guards.
THE FOUR GUARDIANS
As mentioned earlier, Lyssaran's character has four guardian. These guardians became wraiths after Lyssaran's sealing since they are bounded to her and refuse to pass on without their master. These four guardians are similar to the four horseman of apocalypse where they symbolize something. In this case, these four symbolizes negative emotions and become more powerful based off of the feelings from the people of Ardenia. Each wraith has a different color and silhouette depending on which negative emotion they feed on.
Vyria is a young elf who was born gifted with magic in the world of Ardenia. She gets adopted by the people from the academy for mages and hones her abilities there under the tutelage of the academy professors. The professors provided her with the prophecy of a great evil coming to their world. To protect those that took care of her and loved her, Vyria trained hard in an attempt to save them from this great evil. As she grew older, her magic became more powerful and drew the attention of Lyssaran, the demon goddess of rage and frenzy who was sealed away 10,000 years ago by Ardenia. After 10,000 years, her seal has weakened and fragments of her soul have started wandering the world. Lyssaran’s soul is drawn towards Vyria’s powerful magic and hypnotizes her.
Vyria, who is also drawn to the power of Lyssaran’s soul, follows it. Lyssaran’s soul fragment has taken Vyria to her dark and bloody, abandoned tomb with four guardian pillars and shows Vyria her body with her magic core in her heart.
Lyssaran tells Vyria that if she wants her power, touch her magic core; so Vyria did. Vyria’s greed for greater power made her fall into Lyssaran’s trap. The moment Vyria’s fingers touched Lyssaran’s core, Vyria’s powers restored Lyssaran’s once decaying body and Lyssaran’s guardian pillar wraiths broke free and attacked Vyria to make her succumb to Lyssaran.
Vyria starts fighting Lyssaran’s four guardian wraiths, casting spells after spells. After taking down three of the wraiths, Vyria is battered and bruised.
The last wraith finishes her off with a final attack. She lays on the cold, dirty floor as Lyssaran starts taking over her body and fuses together.
In Vyria’s last moment of consciousness, she sees people cloaked in red and masked, entering the tomb and kneeling in front of her and chants in familiar voices. At that moment, Vyria realizes she was raised by the academy to be sacrificed to Lyssaran. Lyssaran reawakens with a new and powerful body.
I really enjoyed this project overall. This project allowed me to do what I've always wanted to try and that was to make my own characters for my own world. I'm extremely grateful for my instructor, Sean, for pushing the idea of me doing an illustration heavy project for my thesis when I was unsure of myself and for guiding me along the way.
Institution: Tyler School of Art and Architecture
Course: Senior Design: Authorship
Instructor: Sean McCabe