I’m so excited to show you guys the Cyborg card from Story War volume 2!
In science fiction a cyborg is a human being who has had parts of their body replaced with robotic parts that they control as an extension of themselves. I thought it’d be cool if the robotic part of her body was a mass-produced device that clearly didn’t match up with her human side at all. I thought it’d be a really interesting metaphor for the discrepancy between ‘the generic customer’ for whom products are designed and the actual individual human beings that use those products.
I originally wanted to make her metal parts look like 1950s consumer electronic appliances. But then I was thinking about how 1950s appliances are just puzzle pieces in the greater “somewhere that’s green" dream, and how that whole Better Homes and Gardens fantasy was all about selling a one-size-fits-all lifestyle to women.
And I thought it’d be cool to show a woman who was forced into this Stepford Wife body as a result of some kind of tragic accident (the typical backstory for cyborg characters) and not from her own choices. But we didn’t want to make her weak so we also figured she would’ve taken the initiative to upgrade her robotic arm into a plasma blaster. Remember, Mega Man was originally a house keeping robot too!
The robotic part was designed to look kind of like a combination of the Fem Bots from Austin Powers, the female robots from Futurama, and Audry from Little Shop of Horrors. The human part looked a lot like Korra (from Legend of Korra) in Alison's original sketch but in Vondell's final draft she came out looking more like Janae from Orange is the New Black. I'd also like to think that her personality is similar to Janae as well - a smart and stubborn loner.
Every card in Story War is originally based on ‘A Generic Concept Everybody Knows’ and then we take that generic concept and try to make it as specific as possible without breaking the concept’s original rules. We want people to be able to play her by referencing other famous cyborgs like Iron Man or Robo Cop, but we still want her to have her own unique personality.
When you read the title you already know what she is, but when you look at the art you suddenly become curious as to who she is. That’s one of my favorite things about designing characters for Story War and I think she’s a great example of this.
Right now we’re still plugging away at expansion cards and finally making a dent in our huge backlog of customer service emails.
Check out this flamethrower! The final image is the big one! The other four are earlier iterations of the card in the design process! The device itself was drawn by Olga and the final fire effects were drawn by Alison. The crappy photoshop mockup was by Brad.
Fire is really really hard to draw! (Ice is even harder to draw!)
I remember watching a thing about the making of the Lion King and they said they had to delay production and redraw the entire ending multiple times because they couldn’t get the fire to look right. The fire looked great in the lion king so we used it as a reference for our final art:
Here’s some things to consider when drawing fire:
Anyway, this card is so cool! It’s part of a trio of tool-like elemental items (Taser, Flamethrower, Fire Extinguisher) that share similar designs. Olga is an industrial designer so it’s super helpful to have her on board! We imagined these items were made by some sort of sinister Black & Decker-like company that gave all it’s weapons a consistent look and feel. They’re coming out great!—
Check out the first new Warrior card from Story War vol 2! This card is the Mech card! The 9 pictures below are some earlier sketches and unfinished versions of the Mech that’ll give you an idea of our process.
First Brad had the idea to do “a baby kangaroo piloting a robotic mother” and then Tom drew that. Then Jaime drew various poses and we came up with the idea to give her tank treads instead of feet. Then Vondell re-drew it so that all the machinery looked technically accurate. Then we tweaked the pose to look more boxery. Then Josiah drew the background and we tweaked the colors and lighting to make him pop out of the background.
We may have some more tweaks to this one before final print, but it’s definitely good enough to post! It was a lot of work! Hopefully we’ll rarely have to put this much work into a single card again, but this character has a lot of moving parts - both figuratively and literally.
We’ve got a pretty good system of combining the talents of multiple artists onto a single character or concept and it’s really fun to work with so many cool people! We’re still open to new artist applications but we’re waiting until we nail down a style for volume 2 before we bring on anyone new.
Anyway, how cool is the Mech card? Her caption will be something like, “This genius orphan couldn’t wait to grow up so she built a metal mother.”—