Design a unique video game bad guy

Freelance illustrator Tony Foti takes an unlikely source for this original game baddy.

Design a totally original-looking video game bad guy

A common question when illustrating, especially for video games, is how to get ideas for a cliché-free character. And considering that I've decided to design this particular destructor in the form of a bath toy, it'll have to be blowing something up or the whole piece will be too adorable.

It's in our nature to trust cute things, but some rubber ducks just want to watch the world burn. On the upside, reference won't be too big of a deal. If you can find a toy store, they probably have one. Aside from the duck, it's really just a matter of finding the right environment for the chaos.

Composing the elements should reflect what you're trying to say about the monster. If the message is, "He's big, he's powerful and he's going to destroy us all," then focus on how you can specifically convey those three things.

To get the sense of 'big' across, we show our duck towering above the buildings. For 'powerful', a focal point should be his ability to blow things up. As far as 'he's going to destroy us all' – well, in this instance we can just put the two previous parts together and let the magic happen.

01. Compare sizes

Design a totally original-looking video game bad guy

I consider having him rise from the ocean like Godzilla, but if there's only water around we have nothing to compare sizes with.

Conveying the enormity is one of my primary concerns, so I move the whole thing into a city where buildings will set the scale. Since he's large and far away, make sure the edges aren't too hard.

Design a totally original-looking video game bad guy

He needs a terrible power, but what to choose? Flame breath is an old standby. He could bounce on top of the buildings, have laser eyes, or even sonic screams.

In lieu of the Godzilla theme, though, I've gone for something else. The skyscrapers are no match for the death beams that burst from his bill like hellfire.

03. Don't call me ducky

Design a totally original-looking video game bad gu

Giant things can also be considered adorable, so this can't be where we stop things. It's time to accessorise.

Any of these items alone may not seem intimidating, but adding a headband, a facial scar, stubble and a shark's tooth necklace will say everything we need to know about this rough character.

Words: Tony Foti

Tony Foti is a US freelance illustrator who contributes to D&D and Fantasy Flight Games' Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings lines. This article originally appeared in ImagineFX magazine issue 106.