Friday, 19 June 2009

Tha Work Thang #9: "Keeping an eye out": Concepting the Cyclops.

Way back in July 2006 Stacy Longstreet, then Art Director at Wizards of the Coast, contacted me about designing a Cyclops for the, as then unannounced, 4th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons. The art description asked for a design “based upon the traditional Cyclops (one-eyed monster) but altered slightly to create a version that is unique to D&D. The idea is to have a design that we can "own" that can be identified as the D&D Cyclops. He should be more sophisticated than an ogre. Wear descent metal armour, chainmail or scale mail and carry a real weapon hammer or axe, not a club. It will be related to the Formorians. (MM II pg 105 BUT we are going to make even him look a bit more intelligent.) “The Cyclopes were almost like human beings but of a gigantic size and with only one eye in the middle of their heads."
The first thing I thought I should concentrate on was the head. Getting the right look for the eye and determining the overall head shape. What should I go for? Something like the ‘Harryhausen’ look or more alien? So I came up with a selection of head designs (FIG 1)and sent them in for feedback

The initial feedback on these was, “We like F and would like to see a few more similar to that one. Make the eye slightly larger. No horn. No hair. Try maybe 4 ears, possibly not all the same size? Work with the head shape, not ridges like in H, but maybe lumpier or a more uniquely shaped back side of the head? We like the nose on F - does it have 2 or 4 nostrils? can't tell.

Once we have chose one, it will need to have a long spear being held in both hands above his head, pointed horizontally and he should be wearing a breastplate (but the arms are bare) and a pleated kilt (skirt) and boots.”
I went away and worked up a few more head designs, looking at dinosaur heads for inspiration like the pachycephalosaurus. I also sent in a couple of alternate poses (FIG.2 & FIG. 3) The first pass at a final figure, in the pose and armour required was FIG. 4

An additional idea was put forward at this point." What does the Cyclops look like if you make his eye run vertically instead of horizontally? Rotate it 90 degrees. and let's look at it....” So I came up with these concepts, including a more ceratopsian head shape. (FIG. 5) :

Wizards took a look and suggested the following changes (FIG. 6), and also stated, “Clothing and weapon for this creature should look a bit crude and other worldly. welded together bits of metal and chains torn or poorly stitched together leather/cloth.”

With this in mind I reworked the final version (FIG. 7)

Feedback at this stage requested a few more changes.
“There have been some changes and we'd like one more pass at the Cyclops.Changes we'd like to see:Body proportions altered a bit. Make the legs a bit longer not so stubby incomparison to the rest of the body. He should look more like a towering Gianttype.The armour seems a bit too Roman Gladiator,should be more primitive.Adjust the cheekbones a little so it does not look so cat-like.Pose is still good.”
I went back and adjusted the figure accordingly to reach the version seen in FIG. 8
At this point the figure was approved, the look of the 4th ED. Cyclops was decided and I could go on to draw the back and side views for the miniature design. (FIG. 9) This miniature was unveiled in the ‘Desert of Desolation’ set of D&D miniatures.

Since then I have had the pleasure of doing two more Cyclopes for the miniature range. (FIG 10 & 11.)

I am pleased that they have a consistent look (FIG 12.) about them. It was a great privilege to be able to concept these pieces and hopefully I’ve created a look which is unique to D&D.

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