– Karolina Firman
It always amazes me how people can go from concept art to the final product. As anyone who knows me can attest, I can’t draw to save my life, not even stick figures.
That’s why I had a look at two great concept art processes from Alice by American McGee, and Final Fantasy VII. After having a look at the concept art from Alice, as opposed to the final project there aren’t actually a lot of changes. It seems that they had a clear idea of what they wanted in the final project, to be fair they were working off the idea of, Alice in Wonderland, but even more messed up which is why we have images like these ones:
I feel like both of these animals need medical attention, especially the hare, it looks like a vet’s fever dream. But how do we go from these nightmare drawings to a finished product, and how true to the art is the final version?
The march hare looks much the same, as he was intended to be a test subject for the Mad Hatter, but there is a sense of realism that is dropped from the art to the game.
The centipede on the other hand, looks more grotesque in the final piece as the rendering process has made his features more pronounced and the game engine has left the posture out of whack, making it more ghastly.
You can see with these drawings that they relatively true to the initial design before the final version was released, of course there are some changes, but they aren’t very drastic.
However when you look at Final Fantasy VII, designed by the eminently famous and talented Tetsuya Nomura, you can see that there were more changes made in the design process, as the designers had to envisage an entire new reality. For instance when you look at Cloud you can see how his character has progressed.
In the early pictures he looks more like a rejected Dragon Ball Z character rather than the Cloud we know and love. That being said, it has many of the elements that Cloud has in the final product.
He has his iconic sword, as well as a hairstyle not dissimilar to what he ultimately has. However Cloud’s initial design had the character with short, black slicked back hair so that there was a marked difference between his appearance and that of Sephiroth. This picture is the evolution of his character design, the main difference is Cloud gets a bit taller and less squat, he also bulks up a lot.
But many of the same design elements are in place, such as the arm jewellery as well as the large boots, although those get more fleshed out and distinct in the final version.
As concept art goes, Cloud is pretty different that the original version, that being said, throughout FF7 there are essentially two models for the characters, the one you see when moving around, and the combat ones. Both vary drastically.
One of the biggest changes with the depiction of Cloud is the size of the Buster sword. Note that how in its initial incarnation it looks like a large kitchen knife compared to the final. The harness and shoulder pads are also more detailed. I’m sure that it will surprise nobody that the earlier designs for Cloud were recycled into the character Zack Fair.
The journey from concept art to final product is a fascinating one, and it continues to become more interesting as technology advances. Since games like L.A Noire, which pioneered facial recognition technology to portray characters, we have seen more character models which are grounded in reality.
We also now see a lot of drastic changes from working models before the final product is released now. How many times have you been shocked to see a character’s design demonstrated in an E3 gameplay trailer become completely altered or removed before a game’s completion?
Anyway, enough complaining, let’s just be grateful that people can draw better than me and hope they continue to develop amazing and creative characters.