Tentatively titled, The Guardian Legend: Corridor Strut, this work-in-progress digital painting was started sometime in 2016 (or 15?) on my obsolete (and now dead) Fujitsu Stylistic PC tablet and transferred to a state of the art Wacom Cintiq Companion 2 to finish the job...as such, the image pixel dimensions were incredibly low (1024x713, fortunately with a resolution integrity of 300dpi) - but the realization of this was the most painful after having transferred the artwork to an HD device. The good news is is that I have since discovered high-res image enlargers, such as SmillaEnlarger, which my university art training taught me didn't exist (*hears professor say*: "You cannot upscale, only downscale pixels without quality loss!"), which I'll be using at the end of this project for the final draft.
To be honest, as an artist sensitive about his work, I'm somewhat hesitant to share this painting openly as this space girl's costume becomes more and more "revealing" with every painting session. My original goal was to reflect the subject's ability to morph, and also that her "suit" isn't really a suit after all, but rather, her cyborg body is a combination of integrated human/robot body at the cellular/molecular/atomic levels. So, bare with me (haha), and I'll explain my thought process while trying to keep poorly placed puns to a moderate minimum.
The Guardian Legend, is an obscure scifi 8-bit hybrid action/shoot-'em-up ("schmup" for short) classic Nintendo game from 1989 about a far distant planet of Naju that was filled to the brim of its ten regions with giant and bizarre alien creatures hurtling its way at great speed toward planet Earth to secure it's doom.
In steps our heroine, Alyssa Miria, the legendary guardian. She's a cybernetic mecha-woman who transforms between human and a winged flight-craft by folding her body and rearranging her mechanical bits - you know, the kind of woman you'd want to take home to Mother Brain (Metroid cultural reference, for the uninitiated - *sigh* I'm really trying to write this without the Geek Speak).
She approaches the first line of Naju gate defenses in outer space and blasts away at a surface gate guardian full of rows of mechanical eyes that fire continuous waves of energy shards intermittently as shutter shields open and close sporadically. Victorious, she then enters the inner planet, where she is greeted by a recorded message at the Naju computer control terminal left by the (former) lone survivor of Naju's prior alien invasion. Her mission is to infiltrate all 10 regions and detonate the inner core of Naju to stop the imminent planetary collision.
Back to the Painting...
The Guardian Legend world captured my teenage imagination in those early Nintendo Entertainment System years. The feeling of solitude for being the lone warrior penetrating the corridors of this lonely planet void of humanoids gave me a sense of mystery, foreboding, and a form of warrior-romanticism that my young mind tended to wander off into (........and draw lots of pictures about in study hall in my sketch pad).
I remember that in my Jr. High art class I had made a sketch of this character with two energy balls circling her while she held a saber of light (<--notice how careful I was just there?) - both weapons in her broad arsenal. I drew her tall and poised with one leg bent on a boulder facing the unseen enemies (from viewer's vantage) that approached her, her hair black and short - as portrayed on the game screen. And so I started this painting with a similar concept in mind - only this time, I wanted to see her in action. I wanted to see her marching down (or in this case, strutting down) the corridor way with style, command, but also with femininity. And, in contrast to many fan artists out there, I wanted to grow her up, mature her. I know anime/manga has taken the world by storm, but I was not satisfied to see this character interpreted in some strange child-yet-woman kind of way as I had seen her portrayed (to be fair, I think this is because TGL doesn't get enough attention from experienced artists and amateur artists find that style quicker/easier/more manageable). She needed to be like Xena...in space. With frickin' laser beams. Giant space sharks included (but only in the game). So, here she is.
I'm still debating at this point between the last two versions above as to which way to ultimately take her design. I like the transparency in her torso that gives her a synthetic feeling, yet I want the human feeling not to become too diminished. Though I wanted to stay away from metallisizing her body with chrome, her lower arms and legs are covered in shiny, metallic sheaths and her folded wings in the back may become chrome.
Additionally, I added the concept of a light-feather to the design. As you can see from the early version of the wings, which were more geometrically shaped, I added the cool blue glow to match her weapon energy. The energy feathers came in later when I saw an inspiring image on Instagram of a very similar TGL concept on the fashion runway:
When I saw that, I instantly thought someone had glanced at my strutting Alyssa. After seeing Kendall here, I decided Alyssa looked more attractive, if not wilder and stronger, with flowing hair, so I stroked that in, too.
Another item (that so far hasn't made it into this concept painting) is Alyssa's head gear. In a separate concept sketch, I painted this head piece re-designed with a crab-leg adornment because there are similar red crab-legged, spider-like creatures that are encountered in the corridors of Naju. I used a photo of an attractive female model and painted over the top for accuracy.
Scrolling beyond this point may be NSFW (not safe for work).
This is more for the concept designers and those curious about the creative process and techniques.
Here is a time lapse gif of some of my concept design work done on top of a couple more models, plus some actual 3D modeling work as well based on some earlier concepts Alyssa (where her upper torso and lower were visually separated).