13 Apr The Importance of Anatomy
In Tameem’s original description of Senua he said that she “is not sexy, not proud, not heroic, not pretty and not skinny.” With this description in-mind we created Senua’s character model. However, this original description and intent has simply not translated into the game.
In film the saying is that the camera adds 10lb. In games the opposite is true. Features or attributes can appear less prominent in the game than they do in the original 3D model. With our initial intent in-mind and with our new Lead Artist Hugues’ fresh eyes pushing for even greater realism, we decided to re-visit Senua’s model an refine her anatomy.
Iteration is critical to achieving the best possible quality in a game. This is true of everything in Hellblade, so this week our Studio Art Director Alessandro ‘Talexi’ Taini has been reviewing and renewing the concept for Senua’s anatomy:
Our character artists build character’s anatomy first, building layers of clothing on top after. Alex likes to do the same, starting with a naked character and then building up his concepts with layers of costume. In the above image you can see 4 different Senua poses, displaying the character from the back. The intent with these concepts is to illustrate Senua’s physique, whilst at the same time exploring how we can maintain a natural femininity in her without resorting to typical heroine poses.
As you look at the line-up from left to right the pose changes from being that of a typical heroine through to one that is more natural. The purpose of doing this is to understand what anatomical adjustments need to be made to Senua in order for her to maintain femininity in a natural pose. The fact that Senua is a woman is an important visual message to be communicated, but in a way that supports her physical strength. Adjustments such as narrowing the waist and shoulders will give her femininity but also help in avoiding having to adopt cliché heroine poses.
The anatomy of a character tells a story. Senua isn’t a typical Heroine like Wonder Woman but instead is a warrior. It is important to convey that Senua’s body has been forged through a lifetime of travel of combat. She is a fighter, wielding a heavy sword, so as a result her back, arms and shoulders are strong with defined muscle. But she isn’t a body builder, so her muscles are not entirely symmetrical, nor does she have well defined muscle all over her body. Her wielding of a sword with one arm needs to be justified with visible hard-working muscle, but at the same time kept within the realms of realism.
As a 3rd person game, Hellblade will give players a view of Senua’s back for most of the game, hence the importance to getting this particular perspective right. Alex has started with a concept of Senua’s back and will next move to her front, taking the same approach to consider the story that has sculpted the anatomy. With both perspectives complete, these concepts will be used to inform the next iteration of Senua’s 3D model.