[Riot Creative Contest 2017] - Apex Predator Nami

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Apex Predator Nami

In her lore, Nami has to painstakingly acquire the Abyssal Pearl and travel on land to meet with the people of the land... only to realize the hero of the Moon is missing and the humans are petty. What if, instead of relying on the land dwellers for a trade that is vital to her people but seemingly not so important to humans, she just flooded the world and took both The Abyssal Pearl and The Moonstone for herself? This is a skin that shows her at the peak of her power as the Tidecaller on top of the food chain.

^ the final illustration

^the skin sketch



Chronological Feed

Decisions, decisions...

Let's go back to before I decided on my entry. I wasn’t sure whom to pick for this project. There are lots of characters I like for different reasons so I created a list to narrow down my options. I knew I wanted to create a new skin as design is my favorite part of character art. 

First, I made a list of characters I like to play as which were mostly support champs (personal attachment makes me more passionate about the work). I then added characters whose personalities I enjoy to the list (more narrative material for the illustration). I also added some characters whose silhouettes would be fun to work with (purely for artistic enjoyment). I then pointed out what I like about each character, as well as some cons to using them for the project. It was a pretty intricate evaluation process.

Some characters immediately set gears in motion in my head so I did some quick sketches in isometric (the design has to work in the game camera angle). I spent only a few minutes on each, but I was already more excited about some than others.


In the end, I made a decision between Lulu and Nami


My fae skin idea for Lulu wasn't adding much to her narrative, it was more of a visual change. Nami's shark skin would add some weight to her personality as she is the leader of her people who were on the brink of extinction. How did the burden of leadership change her? What kind of leader is she? How does she deal with land-dwellers polluting the ocean? It would also give me the opportunity to paint lots of water and fishy things!! 

I'm a scuba diver who adores the ocean so I went with my heart and landed on Apex Predator Nami.

Designing the Skin

My initial doodle gave me some ideas to work with. I collected some images to guide me along the ideation process. I created a moodboard which I don't want to clutter the thread with but here are some of my references I kept going back to.

I was looking for a vibe that is both regal and vicious. I played with royal vs warrior as my aesthetics. Below are a few quick interpretations of her.

I ended up enjoying my first idea the most, but it was worth exploring more as one never knows what will pop up.


I experimented with different hairstyles and armor. I found the more dramatic hairstyles looked neat up close but muddied up her silhouette from afar. Decided to go for a more subdued hairstyle and focus on her moon/hammerhead shark crown. Also beefed up her tail tip to make it almost like a stinger. I want her to read as dangerous. Lots of edges and curves which remind me of a dangerous ocean.


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  • sugoilord
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    sugoilord triangle
    Went on hiatus for a bit because of a family visit and freelance work piling up :)
  • sugoilord
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    Moving onto her weapon, as I've put it off for long enough. Nami's weapon has a circular element in all her skins and I definitely need to keep that. This skin comes with a bit of a story which involves her keeping the abyssal pearl instead of trading it so I thought it would be good to plop the pearl into the design somehow. Not terribly into these 6 designs so I'm drawing more. I like the harpoon/hook vibe of some of them and I like the idea of a trident as she doesn't have a skin with that weapon shape. I noticed most of her skins also feature a wave shape on them which would be nice to keep.

    More to come this week, now that I finally have more time in my hands to update the project :)
  • ALYBERIA
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    ALYBERIA vertex
    I love the first and sixth designs for the staff. It keeps elements of the original iconography of the classic staff, and are blended well with sharper elements necessary for the skin.

    I love this skin concept so much! (I may or may not be partial to loving sharks and things related to them haha  ^ v ^)
    Looking forward to updates!
  • sugoilord
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    ALYBERIA said:
    I love the first and sixth designs for the staff. It keeps elements of the original iconography of the classic staff, and are blended well with sharper elements necessary for the skin.

    I love this skin concept so much! (I may or may not be partial to loving sharks and things related to them haha  ^ v ^)
    Looking forward to updates!
    Yes! As a kid, I spent a lot of my time watching Net Geo and Discovery Channel (back when they were more about science documentaries rather than pawn shops and bikes) and sharks were always the coolest part.

    Let me know if there is a sharky element that is missing that you'd like to see incorporated. It's usually worth trying ideas from fresh eyes!

    I also like 1,2,6 because they follow her staff design better. I'll do some more iterations on those ideas and commit to something soon.
  • kuhleesee
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    kuhleesee polycounter lvl 3
    i really love your ideas!  shes my favorite champ :)
  • ALYBERIA
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    ALYBERIA vertex
    sugoilord said:
    Yes! As a kid, I spent a lot of my time watching Net Geo and Discovery Channel (back when they were more about science documentaries rather than pawn shops and bikes) and sharks were always the coolest part.

    Let me know if there is a sharky element that is missing that you'd like to see incorporated. It's usually worth trying ideas from fresh eyes!

    I also like 1,2,6 because they follow her staff design better. I'll do some more iterations on those ideas and commit to something soon.
    I did as well! I was going to be a marine biologist if I didn't get into art. 

    As for sharky aspects, the obvious one missing for me is the iconic dorsal fin, but I am sure it can be done both in a subtle and obvious way, depends on how you want to work it.

    This is small, but if you do draw gills on Nami, maybe do 5-7? Most sharks have 5, with some unique species having 6 to 7 gill slits. It's a small detail and may be too small to implement because of the way the game is played, but it is a knowledgeable one.

    Again it's up to you when it comes to implementation and execution.
  • sugoilord
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    ALYBERIA said:
    sugoilord said:
    Yes! As a kid, I spent a lot of my time watching Net Geo and Discovery Channel (back when they were more about science documentaries rather than pawn shops and bikes) and sharks were always the coolest part.

    Let me know if there is a sharky element that is missing that you'd like to see incorporated. It's usually worth trying ideas from fresh eyes!

    I also like 1,2,6 because they follow her staff design better. I'll do some more iterations on those ideas and commit to something soon.
    I did as well! I was going to be a marine biologist if I didn't get into art. 

    As for sharky aspects, the obvious one missing for me is the iconic dorsal fin, but I am sure it can be done both in a subtle and obvious way, depends on how you want to work it.

    This is small, but if you do draw gills on Nami, maybe do 5-7? Most sharks have 5, with some unique species having 6 to 7 gill slits. It's a small detail and may be too small to implement because of the way the game is played, but it is a knowledgeable one.

    Again it's up to you when it comes to implementation and execution.
    I was thinking about the dorsal fin, actually. I think I'll place it on her "butt"  or between her shoulderblades as a piece of armor. The back view is seen very often in the game so it wouldn't be an unnecessary element. There will also be shark teeth attached at the ends of her "hair" braids, like Rengar's.

    As for gills, I'd rather go with 3 on each side for the isometric design (highly visible and chunky) due to the dime-sized characters in the game. I want to keep the design catered to the game rather than just pretty for the illustration, HOWEVER for the illustration I can make the gills more numerous as the screen real estate will be bigger. Splash art often has more details than the skin textures in game afterall :) 

    Thank you for the input <3
  • MaoAkari
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    MaoAkari polycounter lvl 3
    Looks awesome, ill took it to favs after a first look! 

    A little advice (if you dont mind) - maybe should play with her fins? in silhouette the look now as little fat legs.

    Love the colours ;3
  • sugoilord
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    sugoilord triangle
    Here's an update. After playing around with more staff shapes, I decided to just settle on one so I can have enough time to do the illustration. The concept ref page isn't too tight but it's enough for me to start the splash. I can always go back to this and polish it up. It's more important to get on with the illustration :P




  • sugoilord
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    MaoAkari said:
    Looks awesome, ill took it to favs after a first look! 

    A little advice (if you dont mind) - maybe should play with her fins? in silhouette the look now as little fat legs.

    Love the colours ;3

    Thank you!
    I lengthened the fins a bit, but ultimately it can't get too wild as it is not the focus of the character. I imagine the fins wouldn't look so odd when she's in motion, swimming like a fish. Still appreciate the feedback though!
  • DawnHeart
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    DawnHeart polygon
    sugoilord said:
    Here's an update. After playing around with more staff shapes, I decided to just settle on one so I can have enough time to do the illustration. The concept ref page isn't too tight but it's enough for me to start the splash. I can always go back to this and polish it up. It's more important to get on with the illustration :P




    As a Nami player I'm totally in love with this skin idea! Would be her first really good looking skin *-*
  • budi whteper
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    budi whteper polycounter lvl 3
    wow! I really like the skin, I think it's fantastic, the shark-shaped really fit to the character :) nicely Done! :D
  • gyllenhaal
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    gyllenhaal polycounter lvl 3
    I really like the concept, very unique. Good luck
  • sugoilord
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    sugoilord triangle

    Been a while! I was enjoying the holidays and taking care of freelance work since I last updated the project. I had some spare time today to work on this awesome fish lady so.. here's my update!

    I'm more fond of the ones where she is interacting with Mt. Targon as that is part of the skin's story. I want the splash to show just how terrifying she is and how she is about to take the Moonstone for herself after flooding the world. The poses aren't final or anything, so please do make suggestions if you have any ideas!
  • itstimetohosh
    I think not giving her boobs, because she´s not a mammal was the best thing to do, it gives her more credibility and fits better with her theme of being a marine being.
  • BeccaBeeArts
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    I love the idea of her sinking Mt. Targon, I like 6 and 8 the most but 8 is the most dynamic it just looks a little odd with the staff coming from the top, maybe flip it and have the staff sweeping in from the front of the image?
  • DawnHeart
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    DawnHeart polygon
    6, 2 and 8 are my favorites
    while 6 is my favorite it just looks the most epic
  • sugoilord
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    DawnHeart said:
    6, 2 and 8 are my favorites
    while 6 is my favorite it just looks the most epic
    I think epic is probably the best feel to go for. Personally fond of 3, 6, 8. 
  • McKennaKhelpi
    I really love 1, 2 and six. 
    One has fantastic movement, but I feel really drawn to the intense scale of six especially!
  • sugoilord
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    I'm finally able to go back to working on this project. I reimagined 3 of the thumbnails. Going to sleep on it and pick one of these 3 to complete the value pass and move on to color.

    Edit: All the thumbs I did!

  • sugoilord
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    I'm pretty content with the pose.

    There are also some armor and staff changes coming to the skin. 
  • sugoilord
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    Made some changes to the skin. There are some details i need to figure out but the silhouette is much better now.


  • sugoilord
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    sugoilord triangle
    Not fully done with this concept render, still needs to be fleshed out more but I need to get going with the colors for the illustration.


    Glazed some color on and wrote up things to fix first thing tomorrow. Rethniking the colors and composition can be fun. I'm more comfortable working straight from color with the CTRL+Y greyscale trick. For this project the entire premise was to use new workflows so decided to use a value rough and glaze kinda approach. Back to painting opaque now, to build color and shape.


    The lower body also needs to be adjusted, it's looking a bit bloated and misshapen. Lots to do still but my goal is to finish this weekend!
  • sugoilord
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    sugoilord triangle
    So I was tired of all the monochrome. Changed up the colors a bunch. Need to refine things and sprint. Can't resolve the mountain shape for the life of me. Didn't think that'd be the tough part.


  • sugoilord
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    A little color update.

  • sugoilord
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    Here's another update. Didn't make enough progress on Sunday due to some errands. Still happy that I worked on the painting despite my tiredness.

  • Yangyexin
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    My biggest concern is how much red you're putting in that background. You've got such a nice color scheme going on in the model itself that it'd be unfortunate to lose all of that in the illustration. Try softening the red and/or enhancing the colors of Nami's own armor/skin to balance it out. Mostly the former because you don't want to blind your viewer's eyes haha. 

    Looks great, can't wait to see the finished product!
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