I decided, for a project where we have to create a female warrior from either Chinese, Indian, African or Japanese history, there would be no better choice for me personally to base my design and idea on a Japanese Samurai. I know most people will think this an 'obvious' choice, but seeing as I've never had a project where I've taken one of my main interests as the main theme, I thought now would be a good opportunity to do so. I also think as I have such an invested interest In Japanese culture and history already, it will make the project fun to do, and I think the end result will benefit in quality from that.
From the start I decided to create a character based upon the historical warrior, Tomoe Gozen. Seeing as there isnt a large variety of female warriors to choose from, I thought she'd be a cool choice as one of the first well know female samurai. Also the fact that she comes from an early period in Japanese history, means that the Armour and clothing design is a lot more unique and intricate than the later incarnations, and so will be interesting to design and bring to life in 3D.
For research, I'm not only looking at just artwork of Tomoe Gozen, but also samurai in general, as well the style of Armour and attire worn by the warrior class in the Heian Period of Japanese history she was from. There are lots of reference photos I have collected of Armour over the years, so I ill analyse it to see how it all fits together: The style of Armour from the older periods of Japan, was a lot more intricate and difficult to wear, though has a lot more unique and ornamental look to it.
I also am looking at the sort of weaponry Tomoe Gozen often used in battle: she is always depicted with the Japanese Pole-arm, the Naginata, in artwork, but in official writings and documents it was actually written that she was often seen riding into battle with a large sword and a powerful bow. Though I really think the Naginata is a very impressive weapon to depict this character with, I want my design of her to be as accurate as possible, so will probably try to stick with the sword and bow.
For my initial designs, I didn't stray too far from the research in terms of her attire, Though I have concentrated on areas such as the head and Armour, and I think that as the samurai Armour isn't adapted in obvious ways to fit a female warrior, the head of this character will need to be visible and exposed to a degree. I do like the idea of giving her a traditional Japanese black cap, of the design worn by warriors of the 12th century. This gives her a distinct look that shows what time period she is from, and its an item I can play around with stylizing and making more unique to her.
Though I've looked at different variations on her costume and how she could wear her Armour, I have my heart set on depicting her as accurate as possible to her historical appearance, as I think Samurai Armour as it is is pretty awesome in its own right, and I want to stay away from impractical design that you often see in warrior characters in various games today.
This is essentially the final draft of my depiction of Tomoe Gozen: I have the Armour how i want it, though will develop this piece further into a final one, as I play around with color variations and clothing patterns. As I begin modelling my character in 3D, I will continue to post my progress in my design doc, the second part to this blog post will be the showcase of my final character, so keep an eye out for that. :)