THE ART OF SCARY MOON DESIGN
I love horror and I love monsters. It is fascinating to see how the human mind can transform abstract fears into physical creatures. They can make us feel scared, repulsed, or anxious if done right. Because video games are easy to play, they have created a lot of monsters. From the creepy clowns, to the evil Necromorphs. Sociology and evolutionary psychology are both involved in the study of what makes a scary monster design. Sometimes, creatures are used to avoid the need to empathise and relate to what you are facing in a game. What I really want to focus on is the ones that scare us.
KEEPING IT REAL WITH ANIMALS
Creature designs are based on the real world. This allows for suspension of disbelief. Mother Nature has some amazing ideas for creating scary monsters. Many monsters are made from a variety of real-life animals. It may seem a bit strange to create something new from scratch. It is an important element of the design that makes a monster real. The Gears of War4 Pouncer is an example of a hybrid dog, crustaceans, and scorpions’ tail. Designers need to understand anatomy and how the body is constructed .
The Pouncer of Gears of War 4 is a combination of scorpions, dogs and crabs
It is also helpful to know how the environment will affect the creature’s evolution. It’s not difficult, but shouldn’t the arms of a Mermaid be webbed? Or should the Centaurs’ human body be placed further back than the horse? Of course, this applies to creatures with more industrial/mechanical aspects as well. Pyramid Head’s iconic helmet, for example, is awkward to hold up and seems clumsy. This works visually in the same way that a large metal helmet would be.
Jerad Marantz is the concept artist for Gears of War 4. describes how the process works as “the combination of familiar components…You’d believe you can do almost anything…But you’d be wrong.” We hope that will someday return to Dead By Daylight.
MANIPULATION OF HUMANOID FORMS
While animals are a good starting point, let’s not forget about the most terrifying monster of all: humans. It all depends on the design goals. For our fear of predators, we can tap into our instinctive fear with more bestial designs. The human monsters can be even more disturbing. Until Dawn deliberately exaggerates the human anatomy of the Wendigo by using unnaturally tight skin or long limbs. Not only can a corrupted body be dangerous for us, but it could also mean that we could become it. We can relate to the creature, much like the uncanny valley effect. We will not be disturbed by the unnatural design.
Until Dawn’s Wendigos use the teeth, taut skin, and elongated legs to create an inhuman and tortured appearance.
Humanoid designs are well-suited to psychological and body terror. You can think of all the famous monsters that are human but twisted. Vampires and Zombies, Werewolves and Sirens, Goblins and Goblins, Trolls… the list goes on. Partly, this is because we assume intelligence and malice on the part the monster. The fear of becoming the monster and the consequent loss of your mind and soul is even more frightening. It is possible to create a terrifying monster design by combining human and inhuman elements.
FEAR AND SYMBOLISM
This has been the forte of the Silent Hill franchise, particularly Masahiro Ito. The psychology of the protagonist is the basis for the creation of monsters. Masahiro Ito describes his designs as metaphorical. This is what I consider to be the difference between great monster designs and the average. The Lying Figur from Silent Hill2 depicts a patient in pain. Mary Sunderland is the protagonist’s wife. It also spits acid, which is symbolic of both the illness she suffered and the harsh words she spoke to her husband.
Based on what the player is focusing on, the Raw shocks (a play upon the famous Rorschach Test) of Silent Hill : Shattered Memories adapt. You can make them abstract, atrophied or diseased depending on what you focus on: alcohol, your daughter, trivial matters, and sex. This design adds another layer to the meta-level because it responds to the players, not just the character.
It is wonderful to see the personal connection between Silent Hill 2’s characters and Silent Hill 2’s monsters.
Incorporating important symbol details or themes into a creature design helps to embed it in the story. This can help to tell a story in a more subtle way. It allows artists to link the design to current social moments in ways that tap into our fears.
THE EYES OF A CREATURE
Eyes are a critical component of monster design. Eyes are the window into the soul. Eyes are a way to feel more grounded and to better understand and/or empathise. They are essential for assessing intentions and focusing attention. We feel more secure with their childlike, round eyes. This is why we love baby animals. It can be difficult to trust small eyes and make them seem predatory. It is completely alien and inhuman to have no eyes. This is exemplified by the Xenomorph, a well-known example. It may be humanoid, but its lack of eyes makes it appear cold and emotionless.