Rookie Awards 2024 - Open for Entries!


Stephen Sebastian Njoto
by stephennjoto on 31 May 2019 for Rookie Awards 2019

Collection of work ranging from character design to architectural design.

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Eagle Huntress

Character and Costume design


Nomadic tribe in Central Asia that lived along the Silk Road, observing and synthesising cultures they encounter, and over generations become an integral part of their own identity.

What if the Silk Road encompassed a larger range, what if Aotearoa (New Zealand) was discovered during the peak of this trade route. How could the trading of goods and knowledge of this distant land influence those that lived alongside this great road.

Exploring the Character design of a 14 year old eagle huntress from this Nomadic tribe that possesses strong influences from Central asian and Oceania, as well as other cultures.

Final painting.

Fourteen year old girl huntress and her eagle companion on the lookout somewhere on the steppes of Central Asia.

Circus Challenge 2019

Character design


Create a character that you would like to find in the Circus.

The character can be from any show or any type of performance. The character can be from ancient Roman to the modern day show.

1919, 17 year old Russian Trapezist prodigy, with gravity defying performances and amazing agility, she has earned herself the title “Karakurt.” Named after the widow spiders of Eurasia.

Circus often appear very extravagant and glamorous, but we know that behind closes curtains there are darker truths, whether it be animals being punished for not behaving or dangerous training regimes for the performers. I wanted to zone in on this ‘dark truth’ to drive the narrative as I developed the character.

After some brainstorming, I decided to focus on the three elements of the trapezist, Russian attire (due to Russian setting) and the Karakurt widow spider. These will be the driving force of the design. 

Looking into poses and studying different forms of trapeze performances to familiarise myself with the world of circus.

After some sketching on concepts, I turned them into black and white silhouettes to see how effective the character would read. Drawing influences from Russian attire and the Karakurt spider.

Exploring and developing for the character through storyboarding. The prodigy may appear superhuman to the audience, but her old injury is acting up again and she knows that her life will never be the same...but this is all she knows.

Final design for the character synthesising various elements from the iterations and looking into details of the costume too.

Anioly Hussar

Gwangmyeong Concept Design Competition 2018


A fantastical land on an unknown planet, bearing some resemblance to Earth in the Late Middle Ages. This period of history on Earth was ruled by religion where myths and legends were more than just fables. On this planet the legendary 'angels' are the dominant race. These winged creatures share a symbiotic relationship with giant flightless birds, combating predatory organisms that live beyond the high walls they reside in.

Final painting

Exploration sketches for character design.

Painting process.

武則天  (Wu Zetian)

Character design and Key art


When Wu was fourteen she moved into the imperial palace to serve the Emperor Taizong. She continued her education at the palace until the emperor died in 649. As was the custom, when the emperor died she was sent to a convent to become a nun for the rest of her life. Wu had other plans, however. She became romantic with the new emperor, Emperor Gaozong, and soon found herself back at the imperial palace as consort (like a second wife) to the emperor.

Final painting


The clothing of both the Emperor in Empress, as well as woman of the Tang dynasty of Ancient China.

Composition exploration in black and white.

Silhouettes and composition iterations.

Painting process 

Wu Zetian is said to be the only woman in Chinese history to wear the yellow robe as a monarch (otherwise reserved for the sole use of the emperor

I wanted to capture a moment of her where she secretly commissioned a yellow robe, having utmost faith in herself that she would rule over China.


Key art

Re-capturing a quiet moment when I was strolling through a shrine in Narita and encountered a black cat.

Inspired by that 猫また (Nekomata) a cat yokai from Japanes folklore often depicted with two tails.

Final painting.


Some photos I took on my trip

Black and white thumbnails.

Colour roughs,


Wanted to capture the whimsical atmosphere of the forest next to the temple I visited, with a dash of fantasy.


Key art / Illustration

Inspired by a photo I took my exchange trip to Japan, 7:03am. 4 degrees. Winter.

Wished there was a deer at the station.

Final painting.




Ancient Chalcolithic tribe that crushed various minerals and pigments to create iridescent ink. 
Tribeswoman are granted a unique tattoo as protection charms at the age of 15.

Inspired by the story of Ötzi the Iceman, Europe's oldest natural mummy, whom had 61 tattoos which remain visible to this day.

BBC landscape studies

Quick studies with focus on shapes.


revit / lumion sync render / rhino / adobe suite

Proposal for a cat rescue centre in Waitakere, consisting of a vet clinic, cattery and ‘empathic gallery’.


rhino / vray / photobash / adobe suite

Conceptual project for artificial, self-sustaining iceberg for rehabilitating the Antartic marine ecosystem.

Rough assembly concept drawings of the 'iceberg'

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