How would I de­sign a ri­fle for a non-hu­man char­ac­ter?

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Imagine Nation -

Stephan Car­ney, Eng­land

Hous­ton replies

As cool and fas­ci­nat­ing as some guns may look, it’s im­por­tant to keep in mind that most de­sign choices be­hind the gun’s conception are made purely with func­tion in mind. So if we want to de­sign a gun for a non-hu­man char­ac­ter, we need to know more about that spe­cific char­ac­ter. What is its anatomy like? How does it move? How does it fight: stealth­ily, or all guns blaz­ing? Once we know more about the char­ac­ter, we can ap­ply what we know to its weapon.

The pro­por­tions of the char­ac­ter will de­ter­mine the pro­por­tions of the gun parts. For ex­am­ple, my non-hu­man, in­sect-like char­ac­ter has lengthy arms, so the gun’s shoul­der stock has to be long enough to ac­com­mo­date this.

Just as the art and ar­chi­tec­ture of a cul­ture are a di­rect re­flec­tion of that cul­ture, the aes­thetic of our weapon should be a re­flec­tion of the species it’s de­signed for – or rather, de­signed by. Are they an ef­fi­cient species or a bar­baric one? Do they like long, el­e­gant curves or sharp an­gles? Are they wealthy enough to af­ford stylish guns, or are their guns func­tion-only and made as cheaply as pos­si­ble? An easy way to de­ter­mine this and cre­ate con­sis­tency be­tween your char­ac­ter and their weapon is to have them share cer­tain vis­ual char­ac­ter­is­tics, such as the in­sect-like cara­pace cov­er­ing the me­chan­i­cal bits in my de­sign. When oth­ers see the weapon, they should know who it be­longs to, just based on how it looks.

Part func­tional de­sign, part aes­thetic shape lan­guage: a weapon should be a re­flec­tion of the char­ac­ter it’s de­signed for.

I keep my sketch on the top­most layer, and set it to Mul­ti­ply. That way, I can try out dif­fer­ent op­tions for colours, val­ues and graph­ics on the lay­ers un­der­neath.

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