Creating a new character for a brand-new IP takes a lot of iteration. With Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, developer Ninja Theory went through reams of sketch paper trying to nail down its two main characters, Monkey and Trip. Ninja Theory’s very own creative art director, Alessandro Taini, shared a few of Trip’s early concept designs and walked us through the birth of its female lead.

“This is the first sketch of Trip that was created for the game’s initial trailer, even before the production had started on the game. The initial idea was to give her the look of royalty, so she looks Queen-like. This is similar to the Trip character in the original Journey to the West novel. We looked at making Trip pale in order to give her a gothic look, but ultimately decided to steer away from that direction.”

“I knew Trip was going to be a hacker and a mechanic, so I had Tank Girl in my mind, as well as Kai from Heavenly Sword – one of the best characters I think I have ever made. At this stage Trip still had a cat-shaped hat – like Kai – with a string at the back to give it some dynamism. On the shirt there is a face of a random character; it’s supposed to be like something you would see a teenager wearing. It is important when you create a character to give them personality through their costume. If you make a shirt with a specific logo or drawing on it, you can make the character more unique. With her legs I was experimenting with different colors, textures, and fabrics."

“I wanted to make her look feminine, so I gave her these hair ornaments. I was curious to try different hair colors to see what effect it would have on the character. We decided that the blue hair felt too science fiction and too punk, and finally settled on red.”