With “Shinai” I wanted to ignore the practical requirements of the model, and to just enjoy the design process. No mesh streamlining, no UV-layout fretting – just design concerns. I think it was the simple technical discovery that two models can have completely different “heritage” (mesh structure, Polycount etc) and one (in fact, more than one!) and can still be used to create a Normal Map for the other.
Modelling and concepting are two different pursuits, and this model lies somewhere in between. I haven’t used the female form much, and wanted something sleek, feminine, and a little (!) alien.
I started off with these sketches knowing only that I wanted to retain the echo of the cowl in the crotch area – and that there would be little detailing. It would be a simple design in that it would be defined by wide areas of texture and a few graphics, rather than a field of details spilling into one another, which is the way I normally work.
I adapted a previous model for the character, finalised the peripherals and arrived at some colour scheme choices. It is probably crucial to designate areas for colour hierarchy in the earliest stages of a design, so that you can just slot them in at this stage. This can mean quick assignments in 3d software or the handy copy/paste/overlay approach in Photoshop. I had planned to go with something like the “harlequin” scheme on the right from the very beginning, but I felt that the red-headed design third from the left offered both a few curious design problems and also an opportunity for some eventual subtle textural hints,so that’s the one I went with. Clearly its a different animal from the other design options – maybe an “elite”, “tactical” design as opposed to the others, which have a “rank-and-file” essence to them.
I wanted something sleek and a little over-designed for the peripheral assets. I saw these as curvy, porcelain-like weaponry that would complement the swoops of the uniform panelling.