I Feel Safe In The Box.

Nathan Valdez. His was the hardest because I didn't want to change it at all really. He had the basic body shape I wanted for him, his reptilian parts were in the places I wanted and he generally looked how he should for me. Max came to the rescue though, giving him a less terrible face and a fitting set of clothes. For the times he'd be around people he'd want to keep as much of himself covered as he could. The whole lizard-man thing wasn't exactly his own choice and he's not thrilled with it. He can't hide the claws, feet or tail, but he can at least cover up the rest of himself so from a distance you wouldn't really register.

If you'd like, you can watch me draw him here.

 

___, [Redacted], Burning Man. He's got a lot of names, he's also had a lot of designs. The head of the Venator Equitum branch in New Jersey, a man quite literally shrouded in mystery. His body could possibly be made of the black, heat-less flames that constantly spew from his clothes, or he could be stuck like that after an accident in his youth. He never says, he actually rarely speaks.

For his design I wanted to make him look like a mass of black flame stuff in clothes, but still keep the dignity and style of someone who's a middle manager in what is essentially the Knights Templar.I also still wanted him to have the feel of a man who is just tired and kinda hates his job. I like the colours from his first design, but didn't like the configuration of them, so instead I went with the single spot of real colour being his tie. I like to think that it's his one little quirk, having a collection of ties that are slightly different shades of red and quietly enjoying the fact that no one else notices.

If you want to watch me draw him, here's a link.

 

Lacy Moss. I think I've said this three other times, but this may be the biggest departure from the original next to ___. She is, outside of her outfit, absolutely nothing like she was at any other point in her design. I've gone so far as to change her entire place in the story. She still holds the same role, a coroner who just happens to also be a necromancer/mad scientist, but she also plays a much bigger role in some of the later events than she did previously.

I wanted her to feel old and experienced without making her into just a dried up husk. She still has some of her days when she was running with the punks in 80's London and shows the numerous scars of summonings and spells gone wrong, particularly the staples holding her torso together from...something.

She spends most of her time working, either harvesting body parts from the dead for later experiments, or finding new binding spells for demons she may try to summon. Outside of that she likes to read and has a wide variety of teas to drink.

If you'd like to watch me draw here there's a video here.

 

A quick and not perfectly accurate height chart for the 11 of them.

 

Actually between drafting this and now I thought of some things for this...thing...so I might as well show those off too, eh?

So I've been playing The Secret World a lot lately and I REALLY love the monster design in it. They fit their setting really well, they're unique and just damn cool looking. From ghosts to weird Cthulian monsters to flesh blobs to whatever the hell else the game has in store for me later on all the designs are interesting to look at. So I've been pulling some inspiration from their designs and some old ones that Max and I worked on together.

For this thing, I still don't have a name for it. I wanted to go with a corpse that had been changed. Something has taken up residence inside it and is growing and shaping the dead flesh and bone to its own ends.

The arms are elongated to an absurd degree, the hips broken and reshaped, the bottom jaw broken downward so that the black mass came come out of the mouth easier. It's started to shape the limbs to be more effective in a fight, growing claws on the left hand and using itself as a weapon on the right.

I'd imagine anything that go close enough to it to be touched would suffer from some sort of infection, either from disease or from whatever that thing inside the corpse is made from.

My hope for the chest opening would be that it would act as a mouth for the creature, grabbing you with it's tendrilled arm and pulling you close, disabling you in some way with it's claws and then slowly drawing you into the hole in its chest, consuming you as it does.

The tendril coming from the top of the head was, hopefully, to signify that the creature inside the host is spreading and that this could very well be a larval or pupal stage, with it becoming something else entirely by the end.

These are some older bits of art that were a design for a couple completely different monsters, the first being of the actual revenant in Dead, the second being the concept that Max and I worked on for it and the third being a monster, called a Mancer,  that I started working on back in 2013 that I guess now became whatever that thing above is called.

The original concept behind the Revenant was a parasite infecting a living host, but lying dormant until the host dies. When they do, if they die violently or with some violent emotion it triggers the parasite to start feeding, taking control of the body and enacting the revenge that the host wanted. If it succeeds it completely consumes the host, turning into a giant rampaging beast.

The Mancer was, from what I can remember, a necromancer that was more demonologist than anything. Attempting to use corpses to bind demons, but honestly unless you're really really good that'll backfire like 90% of the time. So, those demons in turn use that corpse to kill their summoner and suddenly they have a fresh corpse to inhabit just bursting with magical power. My idea was the tentacles being more of smoke than anything, a manifestation of the demon so it can move the corpse, since it's just that. I never really went anywhere with it after that, just a demon using a corpse as a puppet.

Combine those two as well as some of the design elements from the ghosts in The Secret World and you have whatever that thing up there is. I'll have to think of a name for it.

If you'd like to watch me draw it, you can right here.

You're Pretty Good.

Megan Fisher. She passed away in a car accident when Clem was five, prompting Jack to retire and open the bar. I didn't want to change her design much, honestly. I think the original was pretty good for what I was going for her with, which is an unstable ghost not quite tied to this world.

There was a point that you could see her skeleton as well but I found it to be a little too confusing for this style, so I scrapped that. There was also a point where she looked more "glitched" than "torn" which made her look like a hologram so that was scrapped as well.

If you'd like to watch me draw her there's a video right here.

 

She. They're the second biggest departure from the original design, easily. Their design and personality have gone through a bunch of changes. Their basic story is still the same; abused, homeless person with mental disabilities in their early 20s, but now instead of some convoluted arc with an amulet and a million other ridiculous anime-esque things they just gets super powers. I mean, there's a reason for it, of course but that's spoilers. Now though, I want to go more into some of my own mental disabilities with them; anxiety, depression, bpd, and ptsd among a few others.

Physically I wanted them to be similar to their original, but with a more unique look. Their body type is the same, but the tattoo sleeve is new, they're wearing a battle jacket now, their hair is the same, though they've lost the fairy tail and their eyes aren't constantly burning. I wanted them to look far more punk and a bit street rat, but with a hint at it being recent, like they had a home they had to leave in a hurry.

They used to be a throwaway character that I wanted to have in one arc of the story and then be done with them, but they've developed into more of an integral part of the story in my head, so hopefully I'll be able to put that across.

If you'd like to watch me draw them there's a video here.

 

Seven. Seven is one that I wasn't sure what to change, honestly. My notes for them were simply "bulkier but still shaped like a friend" and that's what I tried to do. I still wanted him to be a little damaged, and I might go add a few more broken bits here and there later on when I find them to fit well, but for now their design is largely unchanged, much the same way as Megan.

I did want to give the impression that the bronze armor on the outside is more a shell than their actual body though, you can see bits of their internal structure showing from their head and shoulders.

They still only have three fingers and two toes, slightly elongated limbs and a wide torso. They're also massive compared to everyone else, in the group standing roughly at 7'3" with the next tallest being Nathan at 6'5" (which he's next on the list to draw and will be in the final batch.)

If you'd like to watch me draw them there's a video here.

Kept You Waiting, Huh?

Before we get to it, this post is gonna be NSFW cause of drawings of naked people so if you're okay with that keep on goin'. I'm going to talk about five of the cast from Dead and their designs since that's been most of what I've been thinking about lately.

 

First up is Julia Clarke, my fuzzy baby. Hunter for the Exterminators, she usually likes to get in close since a lot of the things they're supposed to be killing have to be stabbed or cut apart just right with a specific implement. This leads to some extra danger since most of the things they're killing are also natural predators for humans.

I wanted to keep close to her previous design but also show off the fact that she's a lot more beat up from work than I had been. Remove a nipple here, an arm there, add some scars...everywhere. I've already talked about this before with her and Victoria, but I really wanted to convey that more in her 'finalized' design. (I really hope I'm done making changes...)

I also wanted to incorporate circles into her design and add a touch of colour for her. She's a bit soft and round and thought that'd fit her. I wanted to keep her a bit stronger looking but chubby, she doesn't spend a lot of time working on core strength, more relying on her arms and legs to put force behind swings and blows.

She lost her arm to a werewolf and though it was cut off before the infection could spread she still gained some features. Mainly her canines getting a bit bigger and her hair sticking out on the sides a little bit like ears. The body hair was already there beforehand.

I can't let go of the hair colour, honestly. Though the length will definitely be changed due to some events later on. Long hair doesn't make sense for someone who has to get right up close to people.

If you want to watch me draw her it's right here.

 

Victoria Sinclaire. She's changed quite a lot, even since the last time I showed her off. 

I kinda wanted her hair to look a bit more unkempt, a little like a wet dog. She has a septum piercing, pierced nipples and ear cuffs. Her clothes are nearly the same except for a slight change in colour. The biggest changes are her tattoos, which have some symbolism to her and the story but that'll be gone to in the story itself.

I wanted more than just battle stars on her, the one down her chest being from a surgery when she was younger instead. I wanted her body shape to convey that she takes things a liiiittle more seriously than Julia, but still is kinda lax with things, hence the slight belly. Since guns are her thing she wouldn't be getting nearly as close as her fiance, so she'd be a little less scarred up, but still it's not as if everything has claws. Sometimes they spit acid, or sometimes it's just a dick with a gun.

I wanted to incorporate triangles into her design but couldn't find a way that would seem natural or fitting like with Julia, though the hair and her general body shape are good enough for that.

There's a video of me drawing her here.

 

Up next is Clementine Fisher. I think she's gone through some of the most drastic changes so far between hair, body type, gender and everything else.

Back when I started working on Dead I hadn't come out yet, hell I was still kinda in denial. I hadn't considered representation or the things I wanted out of my own story. Now that I have I realized that I want trans characters and Clem was the first candidate on the list.

I definitely wanted her to be softer and rounder, partially because that's what HRT does to you, but also because she's not an incredibly active person. She hangs out behind the bar and talks to people and gets them drinks. She's not bussing tables or waiting, she's not out fighting monsters, she's hanging out and showing some cleavage in the hopes of some better tips (and to laugh at all the straight guys ogling her without knowing).

She'll have her fair share of scars but I wanted the new designs to be of their first moments in the story, not their final. Things will change over time but this is how she is when it all begins; a tired trans girl who just wants to make enough money to live. 

If you want to watch me draw her you can right here.

 

With Kleine I wanted to do a lot different. They'd always been a hodgepodge of parts but that didn't quite come through before so now it's slightly different sizes and lengths with extra bits thrown in. Mismatched toes (they have to large toes on their right foot) and different length and weight arms, their right hand has 6 fingers, one of them obviously different than the rest. The scars are more in line with an autopsy, along with the different skin tones of each part that's connected.

They wear baggy clothes and just a regular mask now (finally got those last Psycho Mantis bits out of me). The baggie clothes are more for their comfort than anything, sensory issues and all, the mask is so that no one they might have known before dying, being chopped up, and then stuck back together might recognize them; not that they go outside all that often anyway.

If you want to watch me draw them here you go.

 

Finally, for this set anyway, we have Jack Fisher. Clementine's father and owner of The Haunt, the bar they both work at. Jack is an ex mob enforcer who was allowed to retire after his wife was killed in a car accident when Clementine was five. He still keeps in contact with the family and passes information along to them from time to time, but otherwise he's a perfectly legitimate and clean businessman.

He's got a few scars from his previous profession, mostly knife wounds on his hands and forearms with a nice scar in his shoulder to remind him that not everyone carries a shotgun.

He spends most of his time worrying about Clem and trying to make sure The Haunt doesn't go under. It usually stays in the black (thanks to Clem) but doesn't doesn't mean things are always going super well.

He tries to stay 'hip' but fails most of the time, spending a lot of time looking like a 50's greaser instead of anyone remotely from current culture. Even still, he's more than willing to listen to anyone's problems and give them a drink to help comfort them, or to forget.

If you want to watch me draw him there's a video here.

For the hell of it, here's all their heights compared to each other.

The Evolution

So, the above image is what I want to talk about. Not about improvements in art cause yeah, that's definitely a thing; no, instead I wanted to talk about the evolution of character design and what four years and do.

In 2011, when I had started doing the actual design work on eeeearly Dead stuff (I think the original picture of Jack is from 2010 even) I had no idea what I was doing. Not just because of lack of experience or talent, but also because I didn't know these characters. I didn't know who they were or what they were like. I knew nothing more than a basic design I'd slapped a name on with no personality or substance.

At the time of their original designs Victoria and Julia were basic things. They had names, associated colors and clothing and the faintest hints at their language and movement, of their reasons for being who they are.

The origins of them are so far removed from who they are now they may as well be different characters entirely. Victoria was originally shy, clumsy and somewhat inept. She was Jack's assistant in the bar and rarely spoke and was, reluctantly, pulled into monster hunting. When she did, she stuttered and stammered and blushed.

Things about her have stayed the same, she still has a hard time speaking, still doesn't do well with people, but her core has changed. She's an accomplished Exterminator, a skilled fighter and confident in herself. Her stutter doesn't come from fear but simply a speech impediment. Her anxiety is mostly due to mild paranoia and PTSD from the horrors she's had to deal with in her lifetime. 

At least she looks somewhat human nowadays.

Her physical design has changed to reflect her personality (as well as my own personal taste). Not really shown in the newest version but her clothes are pretty much the same as the 2013 design. Her original clothes were more for appeal than anything, with nothing about them really particularly useful in combat. She's scarred now, cares less for her personal appearance or for conventional beauty standards and more for keeping herself patched up and ready to hunt.

 
I lost the psd to this years ago. Thankfully.

I lost the psd to this years ago. Thankfully.

Julia, I think, has gone through some of the most drastic changes (other than Clem) compared to anyone else in the group in both personality and appearance. She was, originally, going to be a rival for Victoria, even somewhat an antagonist. She was even planned to be part of the main Big Bad in the story, even going so far as to be the reason that Victoria lost her eye and some other kinda important things happen that I'm going to still use but in another way so I'm not going to spoil them here.

Instead she slowly changed from that into someone who's a bit headstrong but ultimately caring a good-hearted. She became She's incredibly protective of Victoria and people in general, going a bit too far in her attempts to defend them, hence the abundance of scars. She does still have a bit of a complex and deep seated hatred of undead, but it doesn't lead to her doing overly irrational or rash things when faced with them. Anger is still an issue for her as well, but not nearly in such a violent way as it was originally. She would, before, fly off at the smallest thing, usually destroying some property in the vicinity. Now, she typically stores up any frustration or anger she has and lets it out during a fight, or sex (which is all well and good by Victoria's standards).

She took pride in being a large, furry, dog-woman even before the werewolf tearing her arm off. Her body and appearance changed as my tastes and outlook did as well; going from a typical comicbook female form (skinny, tall, white) to being far more realistic as someone who doesn't do much more than swing a sword and punch things with her prosthetic arm. Her clothes became more practical over time (the 2013/2014 clothing choices still stand) and her scars and body hair piled up over time. As a close range fighter she doesn't need or want a short skirt and tanktop, something covering but still flexible enough is more suitable. (Don't worry that hair has a reason for being there as well) Her body shape is, well, more reminiscent of mine than anything, honestly, just a bit exaggerated; muscular arm, shoulder and legs but not so much in core strength. She slouches more, her posture is more relaxed than it was and overall she gives off more of a tired vibe than anything else.

 

This entire thing started just from me looking at old art and seeing the changes all of the characters had gone through. I realized that even with all the time constraints, lack of personal ability and everything else that've gotten in the way of working on Dead properly, the thing that has been the biggest issue is that I didn't spend enough time developing them beforehand. I tried to throw some loose ideas onto a page and thought it was good enough, but it's really not. Everything falls apart after a short time unless you build it up right, so I guess that's what these last couple years have been, rebuilding it in a way that'll stay together this time.

Max coming on and helping me with it really helped solidify some of the characteristics for Julia and Victoria quite a lot, both in terms of their designs and personalities. Without them I would definitely still be stuck in that 2013 mindset and still unwilling to really experiment with either of them, or the rest of the cast.

Dead is going to go through a few more changes before I'm done. I'm not solid on some things, others need retooled, but it'll happen; maybe not even in its current format, but it will.