Can you help me de­sign a tribal medicine man’s mask?

ImagineFX - - Imagine Nation -

Asha Lim­bach, Eng­land

Mark replies

For this ques­tion I’m de­sign­ing a medicine man in a postapoc­a­lyp­tic world, and I’m keen to show the at­tributes of that world in the character’s cos­tume, in par­tic­u­lar his mask.

Bear in mind that the medicine men of tribal so­ci­eties weren’t just doc­tors – they were also the con­nec­tion be­tween hu­mans and the spir­i­tual world, and their cos­tume usu­ally re­flected this. Their masks sym­bol­ised how the tribe or that so­ci­ety imag­ined a su­per­nat­u­ral power. So you can sug­gest a lot of things with this mask and its dec­o­ra­tion, in­clud­ing the tech­no­log­i­cal level of the group, their be­liefs and their past his­tory.

I al­ways try to cre­ate a story to support my character de­signs, so for this character I imag­ine that a war has wiped out most of the planet’s pop­u­la­tion. The sur­vivors have slowly re­gressed to tribal so­ci­eties liv­ing in ar­eas un­af­fected by the fight­ing. After the pass­ing of cen­turies the tribes no longer re­mem­ber what hap­pened to the ‘an­cients’ and their most pre­cious ob­jects would prob­a­bly be the rem­nants of days gone by.

I thought it would be cool to show this con­nec­tion, so I imag­ine a high-tech hel­met, dec­o­rated with bul­let cas­ings from the war and also some more clas­si­cal tribal el­e­ments and paint. I want to ex­plore how the orig­i­nal high-tech sol­diers could have looked like, so I jumped into ZBrush and cre­ate a quick sculpt of their hel­met. After do­ing some quick ren­ders straight from ZBrush and gath­er­ing some ref­er­ences and photo tex­tures, I start to build up my character us­ing photo ma­nip­u­la­tion and dig­i­tal paint­ing tech­niques com­bined with the 3D base of the hel­met. After mix­ing the dif­fer­ent el­e­ments I add some wear and rust to show the age of the ob­jects and fin­ish it with some tribal paint­ing, which is the fi­nal visual con­nec­tion be­tween the mask and the character’s body.

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