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Out of my comfort zone (Part I)

You can't imagine how much I waited for this moment.

As many of you may know, we have started to design our next range, which will be focused mainly on Orcs and Elves (I will probably design also some new Dwarf character, just to keep the practice, you know...).

I will talk about Orcs later because actually we are 100% focused on Elves, so there is no fresh news about them, at this moment.

As the title suggests, working on Elves was, is and surely will be a real challenge for me because I'm demanded to go out of my comfort zone with no hesitations and, after all, Elves are not my favorite subject: I won't lie about that (and I think you are not surprised about this fact!).

However, I deeply want to create at least the best Elves I can imagine and for this reason I simply have to be on top of my biz!!

But let's proceed by degrees: people that managed to know my attitude, probably have already guessed that I have a strict and linear process, concerning character designing. This chart, in fact, perfectly nails my ideal creative process:

Follow these lines, and you can't go wrong with your designs.

However, to properly design Elves I had to explore lands that I wouldn't normally want to visit and, believe me or not, I had to completely change my mind.

Indeed, although some moments of panic and lack of self-esteem, I think I found a way to create my Elves in a way that satisfies me and, hopefully, might be interesting also for you. I won't spoiler you too many details about the first character of this new range (you will see it the next week!), but I can anticipate you some behind the scenes of my pointy ears guys (and gals).

Let's start with some sneak peek (please, consider that you're seeing a w.i.p!):

Since the very beginning, I decided not to design a classic "Tolkienish/Warhammerish" kind of Elves. I know: I'm the less money-grabber Ligurian ever.

I wanted to design a different kind of creatures, more inspired to the ancient Anglo-Saxon myths, with a sinister but colourful and "fairy" vibe, like the masterpieces of Brian Froud.

I wanted them to be weirdly fascinating: you know that there is something wrong with them, but you are attracted to them the same.

Finding an interesting anatomy has been a real challenge and Valerio really pushed his cosmo beyond its limits, to catch the right feel: after several experiments, we came out with an anatomy that surely has extreme body proportions: big hands, small feet, a fragile but "snappy" body with volumes that are ulteriorly extremized by the iconic equips we designed for them (wide trousers and huge bracelets).

You can tell that they are a kind of humanoid species, but they have almost nothing in common with human anatomy: just like our Dwarves.

I think that it's interesting and unique.

After having found a nice anatomy, I had to think about their style. I like to take inspiration from reality and our history when I design my miniatures: it helps me to give my characters a precise soul and to develop a proper lore, defining their society, way of life and, consequently, their look.

I wanted to create my version of a super classic, comfortable, archetype: the Wood Elf.

Elves of Inneath are so isolationist and mysterious that their existence itself is questioned by the other peoples: Humans, Dwarves, Orcs, they all share legends and hearsay about Elves, but almost nobody can say to have seen one in their life. And if they do, nobody would believe them.

Since the beginning, I wanted to give this folk a kind of exotic vibe, instead of a classic North-European style and for this reason, I thought about making them a kind of incarnation of all those "tribal" (at least, to our eyes) peoples that inhabit our world: Polynesian folks and Native American tribes are, in fact, the main references of my Elves.

To make my design challenge even harder, I decided to link these two archetypes merging their unique styles to the classic Brian Froud's one: our Elves, in fact, are not a primitive civilization. They live with a strict connection with nature, but they are not barbarians. Their craftmanship (or craftelfship!) is elegant and refined, and you can easily tell that they have a particularly spiritual view of life: demons, ancestors, talismans, they all belong to our Elves' look.

You may think that there are enough ingredients in this recipe, but I saved the best for last: since ages, Wood Elves had a strong connection with animals, generally forest animals: wolves, deers, owls, bears, bearowls, eagles, hawks, rabbits, gnomes... indeed, they love animals.

Our Elves are no exception, even if I thought big: my Elves, as anticipated, are Dinosaurs tamers!

However, I won't anticipate too much, but you will see this concept applied soon, don't worry.

To better suggest their connection with nature, however, we directly made them more animal themselves: their ears and horns make them look like badass fauns and I think that they really seem part of the woods and not only inhabitants of them!

What do you think about this first glimpse of our Elves?!

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