Kings Can Fly

by Firedroid

Character Design

Posted by mariecke On August - 3 - 2012

Our game has a good solid base: inviting scenery, difficult and engaging puzzles, a great atmosphere and a polished GUI. But it still needed that emotional trigger, an element players can relate to and easily recognize. To this end, we crafted a storyline and created two main characters for Kings Can Fly.

Despite the name suggesting a king, we started out with a female protagonist, captain of the airships and navigator of the Air Kingdom. Keywords for the character were adventurer, cartographer, spunky, tough, happy.

First round of concept sketches for the main protagonist.

Here basic shapes and outfits were tried to fit the character into the role of navigator (as evidenced by the rulers, maps, goggles), as well as fit her/him with appropriate attire – a 1890′s look with a touch of steam punk.

The small sketch of the girl in the top-center was favoured most, so she was fleshed out into the right hand character. The period clothing worked well in general, so the next round focused on the outfit.

Second round of concept sketches, focusing on the outfit.

On the bottom you can see the female version of the character from the first sketches, because we liked the expression, but wanted to keep a female character. The outfits show vests, jackets and gloves to make the char seem adventurous, while the big coats tend to lend authority. The goggles are present everywhere, hinting at air travel.

In the end we picked the outfit third from the left, loving the big black coat and the high collar along with sturdy, big boots.

Final outfit, sketch to determine style.

 Colour matching the outfit.

To pick fitting colours, the character was placed in the general game setting. The final colours (far right) were quickly chosen.

Finalized sketch to experiment with a more realistic style.

The original story and setting were fairly serious, dealing with a world that inhabited complex characters who schemed and plotted. However, this didn’t fit the general upbeat theme of the levels and it wasn’t a style we were keen on pursuing. Instead we opted for cheerful, cartoony characters with over-the-top expressions and a stylized look.

Now that we had a firm grasp on where we wanted to go with the characters, fleshing out the king was much easier and concepting was a lot faster. We wanted an iconic figure, an archetypical king with recognizable facets like bushy, white facial hair and a big ermine mantle. Keywords for the king were short, comic relief, easily bored and easily entertained, older, royal.

Concept sketches for the king character.

A mere five sketches later, we went for king number four; we couldn’t resist his huge mustache and adorable pot-belly.

King colour schemes.

We opted for a blue-red king, with shiny golden footies. Then there was the matter of adapting the captain character to fit the same style the king was drawn in, which was quickly done. We ended up with a bright, happy team of characters who will guide our players through the game, giving hints, explaining the rules and responding to player actions.


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