Evolution Of A Character: Trip From Enslaved

by Ben Reeves on Sep 22, 2010 at 08:00 AM

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.”

“The tattoos were really to give her more attitude. The same with the hair, because shorter hair gives a stronger, less feminine look. In the end, we decided that we wanted her to look more delicate and vulnerable.”

“In this concept, I really liked her attitude. I love how she is looking at you. However, the problem with this concept is that she looks a bit too aggressive. We wanted her to look more fragile, so I decided to modify her. I also wanted to make something iconic to go on her head, and decided on something that looked like horns. At first we tried a hat, but then I came up with the idea that it could be a flying pet with wings that create the horn shape.”

“This is very close to the final Trip. She looks more feminine and less aggressive. The fringe makes her look more delicate. I like her shape; she looks classically sexy rather than like a glamorous model.”

“This is the final Trip. We focused on her face and head to bring out the real details – especially her eyes. This 2D version is the true artistic vision of the character.  But when transferred to 3D, some alterations usually need to be made to make sure the character fits within the game and the environment.”