#OO5 | The Art Style
In this post, myself, Kadaver and Marcus are going to discuss Koogi's art style, how it's evolved throughout the years and what her evolution means for the animated series.
[ THE EVOLUTION ]
Koogi's art style has evolved and improved since she released Chapter 1 of Killing Stalking in November of 2016.
Her iconic style consists of the prominent under-eye shadows, the large misshapen ears, grey gradient eyes (mostly) without pupils, unique eyebrows and the lack of eyeballs in most shots. For Episode .O1 we had to take reference and direction from Koogi's material, this meant that we couldn't choose one particular chapter and base a character or environment solely from that. We've had to take an approach from multiple angles of what Koogi has given us to work with. On top of us trying to get her iconic style across in a three dimensional setting, we also needed to consider how we could translate that result into the chAos OPUS style and find an appealing balance. We want to achieve a stunning result of semi-realism and iconic artistic style that will compliment the story and bring out the heavy emotions that the manhwa can't achieve with a still image and no sound.
As you can see by this example below, her style has changed dramatically over the years. Here we see the day Sangu and Bum made eye contact in college from Chapter 1 and another day that Bum thought back to this moment in Chapter 50. When Koogi wanted to take us back to this day she couldn't re-use the same panels from Chapter 1 because of how much her style had evolved so she re-drew the panels to meet her new standards.
Koogi had this habit of not drawing eyes in some panels for some angles. In three dimensions, you can't completely remove the eyes of a character to make it seem more mysterious, but it's possible to achieve a similar result with clever use of lighting and camera angles. We can even see here how much Koogi has evolved with how she drew close ups of eyes in the beginning of the manhwa and how she drew eyes near the end. Adding details like eyelashes, better reflections and more realistic shading.
[ THE FACE & BODY ]
Let's discuss the face and body challenges we face as 3D artists that come with a 2D artist changing her style.
Usually in a 3D production we'd have a chatracter designer draw up concept art of each character, once we're happy with the design we then start concepting clothing and outifts for the character. When it comes to Killing Staking, we've got no control over anything because everything has already been decided., which is fine, until you realise that you can't fix any problems the way you'd like to. We'll start with Sangu:
Sangu is described as a tall, handsome, athletic man who looks after his appearance and has a great sense of style. He draws people to him with his mangetic aura and gentle but confident personality. We see his design evolve throughout the manhwa so much that it almost looks like he's a young teenager in Chapter 1 compared to Chapter 50 where he looks like he's in his late 20s when he's actually 23. Maybe this is because of the subtle proportional changes in how she drew faces and possibly the shading thatgives the illusion of a younger character in the beginning. This might just be me though.
With Sangu, even if his character design did not change as much as the other characters throughout the chapters, he's the perfect example of Koogi's style progression: she kept her 'linear' shading, but it became smoother and less erratic.
One thing that stood out to me is that Sangu's facial expressions became less... eerie? At least, not as eerie as in the first chapters. By the example shown below you can see that Sangu had a totally different set of expressions to what he showed in later chapters even when pulling the same face
Sangu's body is your typical muscular, tall and athletic build (that is not that common in Asia, but it can exist). Sculpting Sangu isn't much of a challenge because I'm familiar with this type of body. mOss has already given me a solid base to work from so I'm not creating Sangu from a sphere like I usually would in zBrush. I'm redefining his shape to closer resemble the character of Oh Sangu.
Bum on the other hand is Sangu's polar opposite. He's short, underweight and frail but Koogi gives him these chubby cheeks and a huge bottom that wouldn't be possible with his malnourishment as his body would burn all the fat that he had left for energy to keep him going. You can't have a plumpy ass when you're underweight. To be honest, I think Bum suffered the most changes when it came to overall appearance: his hair, eyes and face structure changed A LOT since chapter one. It's clear how Koogi progressed artistically.. that doesn't make our job any easier.
His body is a challenge for me, mostly because I never worked with this type of body before. Naturally petit and frail, but also borderline anorexic. One thing I know I have to achieve is his very feminine legs, thighs and ass. Like mOss mentioned before, you can't have a big bum and be underweight for your age and height at the same time. So I'm making choices of changing Koogi's original design for a more realistic one while maintaining some key aspects of the character. Hopefully we'll achieve a really beautiful result by the end.
It seems like the only character who stayed consistent throughout the series is Seungbae, this might be due to the fact that he wears glasses or that his character design is quite simple. His glasses make him immediately recognisable as a character. When Seungbae removes his glasses during his investigation of Sangu at his place of work, he looks almost similar to Sangu. The nose shape is the same, the ears are the same and they eyes are almost the same if you remove the under-eyes bags. Now again, this could be due to the fact that Koogi has a very prominent style and draws most ears the same and most facial features the same. Try to spot which of all the female and of all the males have the same noses/ear shapes ect. and you'll notice a lot of stuff you didn't before.
A little insider for you: When I was asking Koogi for individual details about Seungbae and Sangu, she told me that they were the same height and that they both basically looked the same. I thought to myself that this may have been on purpose so that Bum would have this hero figure who was a 'good guy' version of Sangu, but as we find out in the manhwa, Bum still woons after Sangu even after everything fucked up so my theory was wrong. Koogi just chose to make them look similar for her own reasons.
[ THE HAIR ]
Let's move onto hair. I'll leave this section to Kadaver since it's his specialty ~
As I started working on the characters hair I realised this wouldn't be a smooth sail. The first problem I ran into was that Asian hair typically doesn't act the way she draws it. Bum's hair appears to be volumized and styled most of the time instead of greasy. You can't have this wavy, soft, bouncy hair especially when Bum is clearly malnourished and doesn't have access to hair masks. From what Koogi showed us, he doesn't take care of himself or keep his hair clean, so it's a bit unrealistic to have his hair act this way given his living conditions, but of course, this is a 2D fictional world and it wasn't made to follow the laws of the real world.
Let's be real, even with his incredible body, Sangu's hair is the actual reason he was fangirled over so much. So no pressure for me to get this right. His hair is not your typical Asian hair either, not only does he have an unnatural curl to the top half, it's an unnatural colour too. As I am styling Sangu's hair, all I can think about is him sitting in a salon chair, getting his hair bleached and permed.. or d'you think he does it at home in his bathroom? we'll never know.
In order for any of this to work, Koogi's characters needed to be translated into real life just like the rest of the series.
I get mixed feelings when approaching this, it's like 'I get where she's coming from with the design choices' but at the same time 'I need to make this work in 3D' and it's not that simple. A lot of elements come into play like gravity, motion, interaction with other objects (hands ect.) and I need to make sure that I follow mOss's direction too. Your work is hard enough with the technical aspects of the job without having a perfectionist director who knows exactly what he wants. I think this is why it's taking so long to get this shit done, because we're going through trial and error to get this looking right and how moss envisions it in his mind.
So taking everything into consideration, all the little ‘unrealistic’ traits can be fixed with believable storytelling and clever solutions, which is something mOss & I work really hard to achieve. As we've said many times before, this manhwa was not made through a film director/ 3D artist's eyes, so all the inconsistencies might not be noticeable to your average reader. Although ambitious (especially for a team this small), this project is something that I think will shake the anime/manga/manhwa community. We're very excited to show you the final result, let's get there first.
Thank you for your patience with waiting for this month's blog post. I will keep this Progression Blog updated with a new post every month. I hope you find some interest in this information 'behind the scenes' of the production. Thank you again for supporting my work and the chAosOPUS STUDIO ~ ¬mOss & the chAos Team