Feb 16, 2012

Building a Better Cyborg

For a little more than four years now, I've had in development an original character named Reina Cloude.  For those who are unaware, she's a character set in Novus Imperium, an original sci-fi universe initially created by several friends and I, and now largely maintained and expanded by myself and my close friend Kevin.

Sometime shortly after I began developing Reina, I was with some friends over at Kevin's place and we decided to watch Serenity.  During some of the expository segments on River's past, Kevin suggested that maybe Reina should also be the result of some government project.  From that point onward, Reina has slowly been accumulating more and more cybernetic bits.

It started with nothing more than a Ghost in the Shell-ish data port on the back of her neck, and her bizarre eyes being her only outwardly visible augmentations.

A couple years ago, I decided that she would also have prosthetic joints in her elbows and knees.  Originally, they were blocky metal joints with a bundle of nerves and blood vessels running through their cores.  The only sketch that exists of this early version is a quick reference done while brainstorming ideas for civilian clothing.

Early last year, then, I went and reworked the design of the prosthetics with some inspiration from Liquid Ocelot's arm as it appears in Metal Gear Solid 4.  This was certainly more elegant than the previous design, and even managed to look fairly plausible (despite that I got the musculature all wrong.  Oh well).  The design featured synthetic muscles grafted into her natural musculature creating that subtle gradient.

Later last year, while at another friend's house, I got to see Deus Ex: Human Revolution in action for the first time.  Naturally, I was blown away by the level of detail in the various prosthetics (and really just technology in general) in the game, and decided it was time for Reina to get some more artificial bits.

And then, come Christmastime, I finally got my hands on Deus Ex: HR (the "Augmented Edition" in fact.  It came with a book of concept art! Yay!).  So sometime around a couple weeks ago, the realization finally struck me that having only the joints of the elbows and knees be artificial, while interesting, was hugely, ridiculously impractical.  So I said, sure, screw it, and decided to have her limbs be fully prosthetic from the joints down.

That design is pretty close to what I'm after.  It's worth noting that I'd had the idea for blades stored in the arms prior to getting Human Revolution, but I'd filed the idea away, as Reina's arms were still mostly natural at the time.  I tried to limit the amount of direct Deus Ex inspiration to the segment above and behind the elbow.  I'm still trying to figure a more elegant way to have the prosthetics attach to her natural musculature, as I'm not totally sold on how that bit looks right now.

So hopefully this was at least an interesting read, if not too terribly informative.  I've also been trying to refine Reina's general-purpose outfit with some digital painting today.  The most notable additions are black knee-segments on her cargo pants, and a white stripe down either side of her tank top.

Cheers, all.

Feb 1, 2012

"The Corrupted"

A few months back, my good friend Kevin and I decided that our original sci-fi universe "Novus Imperium" needed a new hostile alien species.  I don't wish to disclose all of their backstory as of yet, but suffice to say that they're an alien species which has been "corrupted" by an ancient, long-forgotten piece of technology, hence their name.

While brainstorming, Kevin and I agreed that they ought to be mammalian, with a vaguely humanoid structure, but "unsettling" in some way.  This is the sketch that resulted from that description:

While their design isn't completely finalized, this at least gave me something to base my concept designs around.  The next step, naturally, was to try to get a feel for their armor.  The Corrupted's technology is in many ways a less sophisticated adaption of the technology used by the ancient Seraphim, who appear to have colonized many of the Terravon Galaxy's worlds hundreds of thousands of years ago.  In short: "low-rent Seraphim tech."  While their technology pales in comparison to the original Seraphim technology on which it is based, it is still far in advance of the rest of the galaxy.

With that in mind, I produced this rough concept of a Corrupted infantry unit:

Once again, not perfectly true to the intent, but as a rough concept that's not the aim.  It's about hammering out the kinks in the design and figuring out what works and what doesn't.

Over the last few days, then, I've produced a few sketches based on that helmet you see up there.  Variations on that theme, if you will.

1-  A more refined version of the standard infantry helmet seen on the rough armor concept.  Sketched in my pocket-sketchbook while sitting in a parking lot.  Of the several versions of the helmet I'd drawn up to this point, this was the first to feature the power-tube things hanging down from it.

2-  This is probably my least favorite of the bunch.  While I like the overall shape of it, the individual pieces of it don't really fit together.  It doesn't look like it would really work in three dimensions.

3-  Most definitely my favorite of these designs, this is some kind of commander's variant helmet, outfitted with an advanced target acquisition suite.  I'm still playing around with the color scheme, but for now, I'm going with a sort of pale iridescent material for the majority of their armor plating, with the face bowl section being matte-white.

The Corrupted are certainly the least-developed species in Novus Imperium, as they're also the newest.  You can expect more concepts for these guys at some point down the road.