It should be noted that, back in the day, I used to have a simplistic art style: just sprites. It wasn't until approximately June of 2012 that I decided to go the route of evolving my art in the comic. So obviously, when it comes to how they look, a question to come up would obviously be, “what do the characters actually look like?” Unfortunately, because they were conceptualized as having been sprites from the get-go...I never really knew the answer to that myself. However, even before I made the decision to evolve my art, I had been asking the question. And had asked it ever since I made the sprites. I knew what they generally looked like, but all the specifics eluded me. I never intended to make actual artwork, yet still the desire was there to express what they'd look like--think of it as being akin to seeing sprites in a game, and then wanting to see their portraits in, say, a menu. I had the sprites. The below you're reading is what my answer on approximately February 2012 was. Their designs since then have evolved massively, but this is where a fair amount of their looks came from.
A note before we begin: with various programs, I made "dialog-portraits", and with another program, their "menu portrait", so to speak. These programs, meant to emulate their appearances, deserve full credit for their part in influencing my style.
Three of them are called the same thing: “FaceMaker”, the "portrait" looks for the characters. The first one I found was through some fellow ComicFurians, most likely during a Chatzy conversation. I still have it, downloaded onto my laptop, so I am not absolutely sure where it originated from. I think it originated from here, even though there's some slight differences between that version and the version I have. It's the larger just-face one. The other two with that name I found by googling the term “FaceMaker”. This one was the first I found; it had many things that the other didn't and is useful for creating quick frontal profiles. The third is a bit weaker (and may be the originator of the second), but is still useful for some of its additional features. I would highly encourage checking all of them out just to play around for fun if nothing else. All have strengths and weaknesses. And when combined, gave me a better insight into their characters, granting them a spark for initial life.
That spark was furthered by a program creating a full-body anime-style program, which was one of the early contributing factor in my animesque style. Its latest version I could find is filled with creative ideas and insights that basically ignited my characters. As sprites, they had some potential. With the programs, they had the spark. This program helped fuel my creative explosion like no other, and I would heavily encourage checking out the creator's work to support them. Though my current art is where it is because I've breathed life into it, they deserve recognition for having been two parts of that fire triangle, of having gotten me that far.
Still, though—the sprites are how they were designed to look. The programs gave me the first attempt at emulating more ‘realistic’ versions. My own artwork is more finalized, and canonically "correct" versions, but again, read these knowing that there's a lot of artistic liberties with how they look, and no interpretation is going to be that right or that wrong.
Also, if all else fails, check out the characters page to see if there's anything there; it might even be more up-to-date. (But can also be less.)
More or less, this is how Argus was conceptualized. I've since evolved his appearance, but how he looks on the left was essentially where I began patterning: Most of the hair (though the middle-right is more accurate), the pale skin1, the wings2, his robe, his shirt underneath, having bits and pieces of body armor (gauntlets, shoulderpads, and some armored straps across his chest), something encrested on his chest, weapons beyond spells (a majestic sword in this case), spells being cast, and most of all, that smirk.
He was effectively designed to have the hair style of typical anime protagonists—Cloud from FF7, Chrono from Chrono Trigger, etc., modified to have his left eye covered entirely by his hair, as shown in all the right-side sketches. (Well, most of them portray it as the right eye, but that’s the limitation of the programs.) Which basically combines the ‘hidden eye’ look (PeekABangs/EmoHair) with the ‘protagonist’ look. Spikes for everything except the bangs, which are more curved. To my knowledge, this is not a common hairstyle. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if it doesn’t exist at all, so if anyone could find an example of what I’m describing, they’d be my hero. It’s incredibly tricky to get done right.
Now I haven't drawn Argus all too terribly recently, but as of December of 2012, he looks more or less like this image shows. As of July of 2013, that's basically unchanged; a casually-drawn Argus is in this image--from a weird angle (thus why the hair is horrible; I haven't practiced drawing him that way), but otherwise accurate.
^1Note: All of my original sprites had white faces and hands. It would be easy to assume as a reader that it was spawned from either laziness or ignorance—but each had a justification; characters who have more tanned skin existed, just weren't main cast members as the cast members currently appear. In Argus’s case, it spawns from the pale skin = evil cliché, but keep in mind, one of Soano’s influences is the Fable series, which did do this. Same reason his hair is black, and his (hidden) eye is red, and he possesses horns: alignment dead giveaways.
^2Similarly for the wings: they're a remnant of his original alignment, that didn't change when he switched. I personally don't think smaller wings do the angelic symbolism justice, and I wanted them to be large enough to plausibly be functional to at least glide if not fly.
More or less, this is how Aria was conceptualized, with the top-right essentially being what her face looked like, and the left being what her body looks like. Her core design was that she has some ghostly features, like a larger head, larger eyes, and smaller limbs. But she also has at her core character design expressiveness, from playful banter to deadpan snarking (mostly playful banter), as could be expected of a whimsical (yet slightly bitter) spirit. So I knew I wanted those features above all others, and the top-right was (aside from missing a couple nitpicky details) more or less precisely that. Then, I wanted after that to capture features of a rogue. They'd have light armor, which doesn't hinder their movements at all yet still offers protection to vital areas, which I felt the left captured perfectly, giving a somewhat-sexy but still pragmatic wardrobe to her.
So a lot of the basic details can be found between the two, as having perfectly captured the essence of her character. (Aside from the amulet not being right.) I haven't really drawn her that much, though, to show you details. The difference between her ghosted-out form (which is more pale and desaturated) and her fully-solid form and her mid-way form1, her daggers, her hair, things like that haven't been properly explored. So she's not someone I've defined too well with my own art, or even the art of others, for that matter.
Like Argus, she was drawn here, also shown way back here, and that's partially transparent. She hasn't been shown as pale since the infancy of my artistic endeavors. I'm working on a fully-solid look to be something like this, though she's not wearing her current equipment in that drawing.
^1This one is a nightmare to explain. Pale in some art, not-pale in others. Of the main cast, she's the most normal color-wise...but it's supposed to only be when she's fully human. When she's partially-seethrough, she's supposed to be not exactly pale but not exactly normal. When she's pale, she's also meant to have an aura that gives a ghostly glow, but is only slightly more transparent than the partially-seethrough form (this is a form where she can't interact directly with objects; her mid-way form can). In sprite form, it was easier to simply show white head/hands and if backgrounds were to have been present show them through her. But this convoluted explanation is more or less my answer. The effect is nearly impossible for me to show in-comic, but is how I picture her.
Davos's character was designed and conceptualized with a lot of inconsistencies in contrast to Argus and Aria who were rather consistent, so I'll start out by saying I was expecting a despritified version of him to similarly be plagued by troubles. And I was blown away that...of all the characters I've designed, his was the easiest to nail down the appearance of. To this very day, his appearance has not yet changed that much from what he looks like on the left, aside from a few nit-picky details. Though that can partially be attributed to me not having drawn him that much, the fact remains that were I to draw him, his design would be nearly identical to what is shown. (The main differences being the shoulder pads, the size of the scarf, the details of the armor, and his pants.) All of them do such a good job that while I once described them in detail, I can say now simply that all portray him excellently.
Side-fact: When looking at Davos’s pictures again, I made a slight realization: the top-right one looks a little kiddish. The middle-right one looks slightly more mature, but not really older than teens. The bottom-right one and the left one both look more like the adult he is.
And now we get to the most neglected of the Outcasts when it comes to drawings, since she's not an immediate member of the crew like the other three. And...it kinda shows. The one on the left held a heavy influence on her design, moreso than any other character was influenced by a program. (I suppose the top/middle-right ones also helped, because their faces are much closer to her character.) Her concept was fairly simple: goblin with green skin and different-shade of green hair, with goblin ears and earrings, wearing tribal leathers that'd be heavier than a rogue's but lighter than a full warrior's.
I drew her the first time right here, and drew her again more casually for the anniversary drawing in July. That's...basically it. Frankly, she was the character that I put the least amount of detail into. So as a result of that, I had far less of an idea of her cultural background. In fact, until May of 2014 (well, well after these were made), I really hadn't expanded on her background at all. She wasn't an empty character, but of all The Outcasts, she was certainly the most shallow, and as a result, the least-defined and most prone to having nothing original of mine in her. All I really had was that she was a goblin, her tragic backstory, and her physical age being half the total for a goblin (20s) making her be a bit more mature in aura than her age would suggest.
So she's the character most easy to give artistic liberties for.
Sanik's design is one that I've had in my head for a long time, but have had trouble exactly defining over the years. You have to understand before-hand that unlike The Outcasts who were conceptualized specifically for The Descended...The Elementals (and Latens)...weren't. They were designed from things much older, taking from several different things. For instance, this comparison helped so much as form their sprites, Sanik being the template for them all. You can read some more about it here, though note the chaotic formatting means it's a mess. He was Arrow, then a sprite-Arrow, then an unnamed generic adventurer, all before he finally became Sanik as his sprite was formed.
And I think this multiple-source, trouble-defining shows in the above image a bit. The best description I can more or less give is that he has the typical anime hero protagonist hair style (pure gray because the saturation was lost, just like his skin tone became pale), along with a big cheeky grin, plus a ring headband. Then, when it comes to his armor, he's wearing essentially rusty-formerly-gold plates, with an identically-colored latex-like two-piece (shirt and pants) body suit (the transition hidden by his black belt), and a gray shirt underneath of that. And that he has shoulder-pads colored gray, and that he has magical bracelets to channel his magical energy through, plus a golden dagger. (All of this describing his appearance after his "descent" when defeated, of course.) And this all reflects his backstory. Hero who became more idealistic rather than less, after an event that should have broken him. Carrying a lot of mementos from the past. Hair as a hybrid between the top and middle right (spikes of top, hair pattern and detail of middle), expression of the middle, and a fair number of the features from Sanik's body on the left.
That said, though...it's probably better not to rely on the above at all. Sanik's one of the characters I've drawn more than most. You can look here for the last time he was fully drawn (and as a sketch looked like this), and also recently drawn casually here (albeit from the opposite angle as normal, thus the weird look), yet perhaps most vividly shown back here. Those are probably better reference pictures than the above, but again note the consistent trend: characters' designs are not rigidly set in stone. They're highly fluid.
Sarge has all the problems Sanik did, only moreso. So simple to describe! A warrior who's seen many battles, is a cool guy to be around, casual, light-hearted, honorable, but yet blunt and sometimes highly deadpan. Nearly impossible to represent accurately (in part because of the simplicity in the description--simplicity gives flexibility; good for final products, bad for people wanting to start having to make a product in the first place). I have a whole catalog of alternative versions for the above portrait/menu pictures, simply because he's so difficult to portray. How hard could it be to actually draw?
Well, that he's in the top-two for “most pictures drawn for reference” should be a tip-off. Drawing, not too hard. Drawing well, well…the sprite art captured him better than anything else for a significant amount of time, and even to this day, I have doubts as to my art's credibility to his look. There's guesswork involved, even for me. What does his hair look like without a helmet? (I did eventually settle in on an answer, though I'm not sure about it; it may change in-canon. In fact, I'm fairly certain it will.) Is it a buzz-cut, bowl-cut, or longer hair? (Top-right shows the longer hair looking badass, but too long; left shows a better length.) Does he have a stubble or is he clean-shaven? (No answer, yet.) And if he does, what color is it? (No clue.) What color is his hair, exactly?
Your answer's as good as mine. His spartan helmet obscures too many of the features underneath, so there's guidelines (such as his age being the oldest and most battle-hardened of The Elementals and showing it but not severely), but no rules. Though I will say that as far as the body goes, the guy on the left is pretty much how I envisioned Sarge. Plate armor, black shoulderpads, gauntlets, a flaming sword, and all.
Yet I'll give links to him, anyway. To this very day, I still reference back to his first and last appearances on this page, because of how well I felt those two captured his essence. He's been my most-drawn character since then, appearing here prominently, and again here, and looking awesomely here. (In all the reboot pages, though, note that I never once have managed to fully capture the effect of his flaming sword. The closest I've come to nailing it is in this WIP that I never finished. Basically, the blue central core is like a lightsaber. The red part is more like a vibro-blade. The orange dancing around serves as an aura, but is controlled and precise enough to still have cutting power. As I said...easy to describe, impossible to draw.)
He also appears casually here, but again, note that it's probably not going to be his final unmasked look.
Tyra is not someone I have drawn that much. In spite of having had the same amount of time brewing as Sanik and Sarge did, Tyra's actually had to suffer through very little character change. (Admittedly, this is in part because she has been one of the lesser-developed characters among my cast. She has more than Sasha does, thus why it's easier to pin her down, but less than nearly every other Elemental and Laten.) I basically envisioned her as the girl on the left aside from a few nitpicky details. (Mainly, that we actually need to see her ears to see the earring, that the earring should be closer to the middle-right in both size and color, there's no spear, the bow's too short, she lacks eyelashes, and the exact color of her hair/eyes.)
Yet that said, I obviously don't like relying on a program to draw her. I've done so a decent amount myself. Most recently, I drew Tyra in a casual outfit. Her most recent appearance in gear (face-up, at least) is on this page, with her appearance before that sadly being way back here. In general, just think of her as wearing mage robes, but having those mage robes serve as decent attire for a rogue as well, yet also having a touch of extra protection, hinting at her past being more of a front-line attacker. A calm, motherly figure to the team, serving the role she needs to serve. And you've got her.
(Links are to full size.) M is an androgynous mage with a habit of being long-winded and relying highly on logic. Hmm, sounds familiar. Yes, it's intentional. But if you keep that description in mind, you've basically got all you need to know about M right then and there! M got hit with the character divergence bug the worst, yet in spite of that, is actually surprisingly easy to nail down. Keep the eyes light blue, keep the decently-light-blue hair at about just above the shoulders, and then give M a blue headband, golden earrings, and a dark blue robe? And you've gotten everything you need. (All of the above satisfying these criteria means any of the above can just as equally be seen as being M.) Just keep the design androgynous, and then remember that M's primary weapon is basically the most complex asset of M's design.
For that, just think of a monk staff, modified to have a spear at the end, small gems inside the circle part, and a large golden gem at the top and bottom of the circle part.
And when you've got that, you've got M.
That said, if you want how I have drawn M, I've actually done so a fair number of times. Most recently, there was this page, but another solid appearance is in this page. Though I don't think it's as good of a reference overall, way back here you can see M some more. (That version may be helpful for the staff, though, since the staff is shown weirdly on the later pages.)
Before I begin, I wanted to say something: all of The Elementals and The Latens have a pre-"descent" and post-"descent" look to them. In all cases, it's visible. Some barely at all (Sanik, Sarge, and M), some only a little (Tyra and Nathan), some quite visibly (Enlecar and Sinaer), but none of them have quite as much contrast in their before looks compared to their after looks. Which is why I chose to place this bit of information here, rather than higher up on the page. Now with that in mind, see the contrast—
…And Kinas after. Side-by-side, they look like this:
As I said, every character suffered a fall of some kind. Every character had some visible change to them. But Kinas was the most strongly emotionally-affected, thus why his change was the most striking. It's also why I'm talking about both at the same time.
Let's just also say that his post-descent look is much harder to describe without the pre-descent look to help emphasize it. (The images do it decent justice, especially in displaying the stark contrast, but do little to fully encapsulate him as a character. He's basically the most human member of my cast, the character I've spent the most time fleshing out of anyone and who I know most intimately. At this stage, I know more about Kinas than I do about even Argus!)
The basic version, though, is that Kinas's before appearance is nearly identical to Sanik's after appearance, only golden instead of silver. I COULD describe it in detail, but instead, I'm going to focus on his appearance after. (Because it's his appearance as he is right now, inside the comic.) Here, his appearance is essentially what his personality is: a weird cross between Sanik and Argus. (That IS essentially how I describe his character.) He retains most of the protagonist hairstyle, but it now partially (rather than entirely, as with Arugs) covers his eye. (The middle-right one shows it well.) I think the post-picture on the middle-right shows it best, and that's more or less what I envisioned him as. Just add a diamond earring, and you've got his look. I also quite like the armor shown on the left. His basic design is having plate armor on top of robes, layered similarly to Sanik, and he does have a light dagger.
However, that said, there are better ways to draw him. The anniversary sketch was from a weird angle and in casual clothes, but conveys the idea rather effectively. However, the best drawing of Kinas I've done is this one right here, and as far as I'm concerned, that is the Kinas drawing that fully, 100%, encapsulates his character. (Aside from the fact that I didn't draw the dagger, there. Whoops. :P You can currently find what the dagger looks like more or less on this page.) I mean, he was drawn okay in his previous appearance, and Kristy made an absolutely beautiful fanart of him, but that drawing (as much as it may resemble GreedLing) is still what I see when I see him.
Sinaer is one of my most-neglected characters when it comes to actually drawing her. In spite of that, she's actually surprisingly easy to nail down. As far as concepts go, you can't get much closer to what I wanted than the girl on the left, who basically is Sinaer to me, minus nitpicky points about her staff (color and length). Her whole character essentially revolves around being a light mage with hints at her former past as a Darkness Martial Artist, and I feel that her getup (including the black tunic) displayed above captured that perfectly. Her personality, her hair style (that's what her sprite's hair was meant to be showing!), everything is conveyed in there. Aside from coloring in some bits, of course. Sinaer has retained one of her purple eyes, and her hair has gained golden streaks, both shown in the middle-right.
That's really about it. Her only real appearance thusfar has been in here, and from a weird angle, drawn not very well, and not in her full getup. It's not too difficult to really do; I just...haven't gotten the chance to actually do it.
When it comes to Nathan, though, I've had a bit more trouble drawing him. He's basically the only mash-up conflicting-backstories character that I have not had luck with drawing well. I've since solidified his character model to be more consistent, but the fact remains that it's still a pain to pin down and show. Nathan was essentially conceptualized as being a hybrid between two fighting styles that you'd think incompatible, that of a ninja and of a berserker. Soano only has three classes and those aren't among them, but they remain as the central core of the character, anyway: a warrior with rogue-like qualities, stealthy, sneaky, cunning, yet when push comes to shove, able to unleash a torrent of uncontrolled raw power. Also, as the youngest of The Elementals/Latens, he's naive and often abused. So, a young, charming guy, fairly protagonistic-like in qualities, having the cooling calculations of ice yet the fiery passion of, well, fire, using two swords and having plate armor.
And the guy on the left does a decent job of capturing a lot of these qualities. Just a little more spikes and pointing a little more down, plus adding in the streaks of red hair, and you've got the basic model for what Nathan looks like. I have, however, drawn Nathan a little bit, so that you can get a better idea of what he's like. He appears casually here, and in full badass mode can be seen here. I highly recommend the latter link.
Enlecar's honestly one of the more empty characters among the cast, and I've never really bothered nailing his design down as a result. Don't get me wrong, he has one of the richest backstories of the cast, it's just that so little focus and importance is placed on it that I basically don't think about it that much. As a result, Enlecar's design changes a lot. In general, think something along the lines of the guy on the left. Light leather armor (aside from the shoulderpads, which're there because I think they're cool and am considering flat-out just adding to the sprite art thanks to them being so stylish), but with some plating from his past life as a warrior, plus his swordsword, and dual-colored eyes. (Plus blue and yellow streaks in otherwise-brown hair. Basically, middle-right captures his face, that of a gloomy grim and relatively old ex-warrior that is still young in spite of being among the oldest.)
He's only been drawn once, and it was done casually, but I feel as if it nailed him otherwise.
Though there's more cast members on their way, this is it for now!