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Brave New Design: The Mongolian Princess


My name is Lucia Chuang and I’m from Barcelona, Spain. I graduated from digital design at ESDI University of Ramon Llull. I love drawing and comic art. After college, I landed a job at an illustration studio (Escletxa studio) as a concept artist and motion graphics designer. I’ve been working in the Catering sector for more than 10 years and it’s only recently that I decided to pursue Arts again. I wanted to expand my knowledge and improve my painting skills, so I signed up for several 2D illustration courses at CGMA.

Last term I took Character Design for Film and Games course and the instructor recommended this course to us, and I decided to do it as it’s a very good complement to my characters’ designs.

The Project

My character is a young Mongolian Princess inspired by Merida from Disney’s movie Brave. She is a free-spirited and very talented archer that loves riding her horse through the wide Mongolian steppes alongside the eagle, her loyal friend. She’s agile and adventurous, with a kind and compassionate heart, and loves animals and nature.

Finding a Character & Rough Line Drawing

In the course’s first weeks we focused on details for the character we wanted to design. I was inspired by the colorful clothes of the Mongolian culture, so I searched and gathered many references of their traditional clothing, creating several moodboards. Mongolia is a rural country of vast plains characterized by cold weather. The Mongols were nomads and hunters, and their traditional dresses were geared towards that lifestyle. Their traditional dress is called Deel, and it’s distinguished by its bright colors, embellished with semi-precious stones, paired with fur and leather boots and hats.

To start designing my character, I made a wide exploration of the shapes and silhouettes of her clothes. I made several sketches of different designs of clothing inspired by Mongolian culture, taking into consideration the fact that it allows her to ride her horse comfortably while keeping her warm enough to cope with the cold temperatures of Mongolia. I also made some traditional Mongolian princess’ clothing designs.

Then I sketched 3 poses that enhanced the personality of my character while showcasing her clothes. I narrowed down my selection based on her main traits: she had to be a brave and adventurous young archer, thus choosing certain poses with movement that I imagined her while in action.

Next, we worked on exploring the character’s face. Since my character is a teen and based on Merida, I wanted similar features to the Disney princess: large eyes, soft facial features, and lush and curly red hair. I opted to keep the same style as Disney’s. At this point, I realized that in my previous designs, my character looked too young to be a teenager, so I decided to change the proportions of my character to make her look more grown-up. I added a gradient from reddish to blonde to make her hair more interesting. I’ve also tried a few hairstyles and different types of Mongolian hats. The face and pose heavily influence my costume design, they give the viewer a lot of background information about my character.

Final Design

For my final character, I chose two poses, the bow pose, and the eagle pose. The garments are a mixture of tribal Mongolian clothing and current fashion trends. I’ve emphasized some typical Mongolian clothing accents, such as the oriental prints on her dresses, ornaments on the belt, fur caps, and pointed-toe leather boots. I also added a modern touch to her fashion with the shapes of her coats. For example, in the archer, her coat opens in 4 sections, to make it more comfortable when moving and riding her horse. And in the pose with the eagle, her coat is asymmetrical and sleeveless on the arm where she wears the glove that comfortably rests her eagle.

To achieve this final design, that week we made more detailed moodboards, separating the references by type and by color: Mongolian clothes, jewelry, gloves, hats, ornaments, shoes, princess dresses, fashion dresses, etc. That helped a lot to enrich the final design.

Color Palette, Texture, and Materials

We did several tests to choose the color palette. In my character, I knew clearly that it should be a bright and cheerful color palette like the traditional Mongolian clothing. For textures and materials, we looked up photos of prints and textures and applied them to the character’s clothes. In my case, I used typical Mongolian textures: oriental prints, silver jewelry, gemstones, fur, and leather textures.

Final Material and Conclusions

Finally, after having chosen the textures and colors for my final character, we had to place it in context and integrate it with a background. This last section was difficult, but very interesting since we learned different techniques to integrate them effectively.  The most challenging part of this last week for me was setting the light on my character to merge her with the background, but finally, I am quite happy with the result.

I loved this course and I highly recommend it! I’ve learned a lot, not only with understanding and applying costume design to strengthen my character’s personality, but also learning many super interesting techniques that helps me simplify the character creation process while getting very efficient results. I want to thank Phil Boutte, for his fantastic course, and CG Master academy, for offering such high-level courses with amazing professionals.

You can see more from Lucia on her ArtStation and Instagram.



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