How would I design a rifle for a non-human character?
Stephan Carney, England
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.