From the start, I knew that I didn't want the Necrotrophs to be hostile looking at first glance. When the player spotts a Necro, there should be a moment of hesitation as they try to discern if what they are looking at is of any threat. So for the first round of sketches, we played around with different ways the Necro could "transform" from appearing human to looking hostile.
Once we found the face we liked, figuring out the rest of the body was fairly easy. We instantly knew a character like this needed to have ripped clothing, lots of dirt, and overall just raggedy looking. While the rest of the body was being fleshed out, Jonny had simultaneously began choosing colors. Being a parasite-controlled human and NOT a Zombie, more pink, yellow, and purple-ish colors were chosen to show the Necro was more diseased and "possessed" looking rather than corpse like.
While we felt overall the character was moving in the right direction, we still needed to make some changes to the mouth and face. At this stage, the tentacles resembled more of a plant than a realistic parasitic organism. Also, we wanted to show that the host's body was trying to reject the organism so Jonny added more rashes to the Necro's mouth and chest (as the tentacles most frequently touch this area of the body). We ended up going for more of an octopus/sea creature look for a couple reasons: 1. The parasite needed to look like it belonged to a water-based environment (since it primarily lives most of it's life within a host) and 2. Adding suction cups hinted that in addition to strangulation, the parasite also uses suction to hold it's prey in place (so that it can fully emerge from it's current host and transfer itself to another or just feed).
The first stages of the sculpture were looking great, however, he was a bit too muscular for essentially a nomad that roams the street stalking prey. The Necrotroph needed to look more like an agile hunter/predator as opposed to a burly man. The reference I turned to for his appearance and behavior was a Hyena.
"Hyenas make a variety of vocalizations including wailing calls, howling screams and the well-known "laughter" used to alert other clan members up to three miles away of a food source."
The next big change came from Jonny reworking the Necro's back. We felt that showing a deeper level of integration with the parasite would make the character more believable. Now by showing that the parasite had weaved itself within the host's rib cage and spine/neck, we felt it grounded the character more in reality and allowed us to hint at how the parasite was controlling it's host (via nerve connections between the tentacles and spinal chord/brain stem).
(Low-Poly with Phong in Half-Life Model Viewer)
Model and Texture by Jonny Ree
Animations by Sick420
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