👋 Hiya! I’m Sera, the 2D artist at Pine Drake Games! I did all of the character portraits, concept art, and some of the UI in Apotheker, and I’m now working on concept art for The Phantom Keeper! I also do character commissions (mostly DnD)!
❗ There’s going to be a lot of exclamation points (and emojis) in this, just warning you. ❗
Anyways! In these posts I’m going to be chatting about the environment, creature, and character concept art going into The Phantom Keeper! So I figured I would start off with the first character you see in the game–yourself!
The player character was the first concept we wanted to nail down, since the rest of the game’s look could kind of be generated around their aesthetic. We wanted them to be gender neutral, and be the blank slate sort of character that players could identify with (huge inspirations were Journey and Hollow Knight). It was also important for us to aim for a somewhat neutral color palette that would work well with the different colored auras of the phantoms (more on that in a later post, probably). So! Other than that, there wasn’t actually a lot of direction regarding the PC. ❓ Were they tall? Short? Skinny? Round? ❓ Who knows! So I made a huge sheet of potential places to start:
From here, we decided that we liked (if I recall correctly, it’s been a bit) 8, 9, 12, 13, and 18 out of this set. So I kept going with a few more rounds until we came to our final design:
Things we were looking for in terms of shape:
- Legs somewhat free to move (so animation wasn’t terrible) 🦵
- This ended up being accomplished by having a sorta stiff, triangular-profiled coat
- Long, flowy bits that would make them visually interesting 🧣
- This ended up being the hood, sleeves, and scarf
- Androgynous kinda body (which, lemme just say, any body can be androgynous? But we wanted something that people wouldn’t immediately interpret as either feminine or masculine. Just wanted to clear that up real quick) 👤
- Mostly covered, and fairly angular / stylized limbs and face!
So yeah! That was pretty much the process behind the player character and how their design came about! Our concept art process might not be what every studio does, but it works for our tiny team. I like just throwing out a bunch of ideas, and then going through them with everyone, choosing what works and what doesn’t from each design before moving forward with another round of designs based on that feedback. I do miss the axolotl masks from the very first round though… maybe they’ll come back with an NPC later 👀
Thanks for reading (esp if you made it this far??? Wow???)! In the future, I’ll be talking more about the creature designs, which should be loads of fun! They’re pretty much all based on cryptids, monsters from folklore, literature, or mythology, so that should be a blast 😀