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Project Orpheus
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Project Orpheus

Pongphol Tangcherdchar
by mrhappyartworks on 16 Apr 2024 for Rookie Awards 2024

Project: Orpheus is my graduation portfolio project which is a collection of concept arts for a stylized farming simulator game set in the Mythological Underworld. The story follows a talented musician, Orpheus, who has to farm and rebuild the valley of Elysium in exchange for his death wife, Eurydice.

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PROJECT ORPHEUS

Following the parting of his wife, Orpheus goes to the Underworld and pleads before Hades for the returnal of her soul. The hellish king agrees if Orpheus can turn the ruined Elysium back to the lush field it once was. Musician turned farmer, Orpheus has to overcome many challenges in order to win the life of his wife back!

ORPHEUS

Orpheus, the most talented musician of Thrace, is a bastard son of the King of Thrace and a muse. He grew up under the care of his mother, and even though he was not raised within the court, his childhood life was a quite a bit more privileged than that of other Thracian commoners. In his teenage years, Orpheus set out on an adventure with the band of Argonauts and made name for himself.

I designed Orpheus with a few key features in mind. 1). He must have a warm colour palette to contrast him with the rest of the characters and the Underworld. 2). He needs to have simpler clothing than the rest of the cast. 3). He must, in some way, remind audience of a classic MC in Harvest Moon franchise. It's me paying homage to the GOAT of farming sims.

Orpheus's clothing borrows quite a bit from ancient Greek fashion, just enough to set the whole project in the ancient Greece. I had him wear his base layer similar to a chiton (an inner garments worn by ancient Greek), and an outer layer which are two drapes of fabrics resting on his shoulders (inspired loosely by how they wore a drape as a second layer known as chlamys), fastened with a belt in a similar fashion to how they sported a zoster back in the day. Despite that, I took a lot of liberty to bring in some of the more modern elements and fashion into his design as well. These can be seen mostly on his gloves and boots, his red neckerchief, and in other smaller details.

In the end, he came upon as somewhat Greek, but it was loose enough to be seen as something of its own fantasy setting as well.

Orpheus hairstyle variations and some seasonal outfit designs. This showcase of hairstyle is late upon the design process, where I have already settled with his personality and background. I want him to have this pretty boy look. Cocky and well groomed.

As for the seasonal outfits, I want to keep the colour palette consistent throughout the seasons, hence the similarity in colours. They come out a bit close, with same gloves and boots, but I think the difference in silhouettes is satisfactory enough.

In early explorations, I did have some general idea of what his personality as a talented spoiled musician would be, but not his background. He could be a commoner, maybe a raised as a farmer, or he could be a noble, growing up in palace, or an adventurer that has tales to tell. I ended up choosing to explore the right-most option before making a u-turn to the one in the middle. I think he is kind of everything I mentioned mixed together.

In most of the sketches, Orpheus would bare his chest (his chitons are very low-cut). I think it fits very well with his flamboyant personality, like he is sexy and loves to show off. Also, it fits very well with the general perception that we have of ancient greek characters that they were graceful people covered partly in drapes, flaunting some skins.

Some of his main props are the Laurel Lyre and his farming equipment. The lyre is his possession he carries from Thrace. It started off in very fancy shapes before being toned down after a few passes of sketches because it is supposed to be in a portable size, and all the details in shapes would pose a problem for its scale. I ended up going with the white-wood look, with some beautiful carvings. The design is simple, but, in my opinion, compliments well the design and colour palette of Orpheus's character.

Farming tools are from the Underworld, and they started simply with the idea that they need to look unreliable. The metal must be chipped and rusted, and the handle broken or overgrown with these black glowing roots. They kind of blend in with the environment of the ruined Elysium as well.

Persephone's Abandoned Farmhouse serves as the main hub for player. Orpheus moves in here after taking the deal from Hades, to find the farm, the house, and the whole of Elysium in this run-down state where everything is broken and overgrown. I crafted this image with the intention for it to be busy with details, showing how everything is clustered by these creeping roots. Orpheus is supposed to feel overwhelmed when he first arrives at the farm.

When I laid things down, I planned for the farm to have multiple unlocks, where you make enough progress and unlocks more facility such as poultry coops, barns, processing rooms, etc.

HADES

Hades is the king of the Underworld, where he grew up having everything he ever desired. Hades is quick to temper, and, often, can display impulsive or childish behaviours despite his huge figure. He ruled hell alone until one day he laid eyes upon a beautiful goddess, Persephone. Being brash and self-willed, Hades did not hesitate to kidnap and bring the goddess to the Underworld hoping she would return the affection he had for her. At some point, they became man and wife, and in spite of several heated arguments, Hades lets Persephone rule over the Elysian field where she turns it into a lush, verdant landscape.

Hades along with other characters done in this project will be mainly designed with cool colour palette to conform with the general atmosphere of the Elysium. He is also much more ornated than Orpheus, sporting gold accessories and draws inspirations from other sources than ancient Greek fashion. I rely a lot on elvish motifs and aesthetics, mixed with Greek clothing, to generate this sense of difference between Orpheus and the Underworld.

The tiny Cerberuses are one of the key factor that helped me finalise Hades design in the end. I was hesitant on how I should approach the creature until I came upon this article mentioning that, in medieval times, some texts described Cerberus as a snake or a worm. Fascinated by that idea, I came up with this design where I combined puppies with caterpillar features such as the body and the legs. They are also tiny and cute to contrast well with Hades's personality.

Hades early explorations was fun but also uncertain. I could go about this character with so many different directions. He could be handsome and composed, or frail and sly, or huge and radiating. But after I came up with the idea of Cerberus being tiny and cheerful, I knew right away that I wanted my Hades to be extremely huge, and angry, and impulsive to contrast with his pet's character.

PERSEPHONE

Persephone, being the goddess of spring, and growth, and flowers, tended to the Elysium and made sure that it was teemed with life and fertility despite being taken there against her will. She had a bitter relationship with her forceful husband, Hades. There were times when she tried to understand, to, at least, make the cursed relationship less frustrating, but Hades was a very difficult man to live with.

Persephone was very fun to work on. Her design is supposed to come across as graceful, with colour palette that depicts nature and spring. I stray even further away from Greek look with her design, leaving only some patterns and ornaments, while implementing even more from Elven/Art Nouveau fashion. Fancy headdress and accessories. Split dress with long chiton underneath. Drapey sleeves.

After years of toxic and abusive interactions between both ends, Persephone mysteriously disappeared, leaving the once a teeming field of Elysium to ruin. After ages past, people of the field start to grow apart and drown in gloom. The fields that used to be lively are now plagued with the black roots creeping in from the Grove of Asphodel.

Runaway Persephone was designed to showcase the difference between her current self with her former one. She has fallen from grace, and is now bitter, and angry, and sorrowful. She also wears a more practical clothing, with sandals, wraps and bracers, and carries some practical items such as light bulbs and an amphora of water or wine.

CHARON

Charon navigates the Rivers of Souls in and out of the underworld, transporting the dead to their afterlife, while also serving as a general errand man for Hades sometimes. He is very quiet to new people he met and might seem to have thick walls shielding people out, but underneath his somber look, he cares so deeply about people and the world around him.

During Orpheus's time in the Underworld, the ferryman acts as the musician's advisor and a general guide to the Elysium. He is observant and thus very knowledgeable about so many stuffs such as farming and gardening. Other than being Orpheus's companion, he also works as produce transporter, who ships farm produces from Orpheus to people in need every night.

Some of Charon's early explorations depict him in this hood and robe, a bit similar to the general shape of a mage or a wizard. He was a bit more hunch, looked a bit creepier and frailer; however, I think he needs to look a little more witty and menace to fit with his overall personality.

The Ferry of the Dead was also designed to give more context to Charon's character. He navigates the Styx with this ferry, and when the Elysium fell to ruin, the boat had also been affected by the deterioration of the environment as well. Similarly to Orpheus's farming tools, the boat is supposed to blend well with the terrain of the ruined Elysium, hence the colours, the textures, and the creeping roots/vines.

And that sums up my whole project!

Thank you, everyone, for visiting my little corner over here. It has been a blast going through the program at Syn, surrounded by talented and like-minded artists. And I am glad to be engulfed by similar people in this community and the people in the industry as well. Huge shoutouts to my peers and instructors for helpful feedback and general guidance that help me find myself content with the result of this project!


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