First Time for Everything

I present my first ever character model, and the first one to have any type of clothing.

There's some minor tweaking that needs to be done to the gap between the calf armor and boots to make sure, once this guy is rigged, they don't clip into each other. Another thing still up in the air is the boot "tails." Both their shape, much more pointed than the rest of the model to be more like a aircraft's tail, and their position, I moved them from being a type of spur on the heel of the boot to the back of the calf in order for it to better act as a control surface (being more exposed to passing air if the character was flying in a horizontal pattern). One more thing to point out until I get into the explanation of the character and their kit, the pauldrons. I had an idea to make them more angular, but decided to go with a tame U-shape with an antenna/static discharger. I didn't want to go full flight suit, but more a hybrid of flight and armor.

The Concept

The plan from the start was to make an armored person. I went through a standard medieval knight to a cemetery guardian whose shield was a crypt lid and was covered in vegetation from standing guard for hundreds of years to what is displayed above.

I took inspiration from a movie I binged as a kid, The Rocketeer. The helmet took the most from the movie, having a fin on the back so the user, while in flight, can turn their head to steer. I made a more angular version with a radio/COMMS set built in.

Cover image for The Rocketeer. Notice the large fin extending out over the jetpack, acting as a tail-like control surface.

In the movie the jetpack is controlled by a button in the palm of the user's hand. I made a similar system in the form of a exo-skeletal glove. Different hand/finger gestures are used for controlling the amount of thrust and the various control surfaces.

This is where I got the idea of a jetpack trooper. I experimented with a full-sized jetpack attached to the chest piece, but it began to look too clunky. I ended up going with a sort of jump pack or, what I've termed, the Rocket-Assisted Movement Enhancement System. The RAMES is used to help get the heavily armored trooper around the battlefield quicker and to allow them access to hard to reach places. It is less a jetpack, not for extended periods of flight, but like stated above a jump pack. That being said, why the tails on the boots if there's no jetpack?

Another inspiration came from the idea of an Orbital Drop Ship Trooper, as seen in Halo: ODST, Warhammer, and Star Wars: The Clone Wars. This lead to not only to the addition of the tails on the boots, but to their move up to the calf. I had originally had the tails as a set of spurs on the heels. They looked good, but I wanted to stick to a less aesthetics and more practical approach. Placing them on the calf made them inline with the exhausts on the back. This means the tails have more air to direct and become better control surfaces. Being placed on the calf also has the benefit of being controlled by a major muscle group. At higher speeds it may be difficult for the ankles to move the fins effectively. The calf is perfect for them. This also brought up the issue of shock absorption when the trooper comes in to land. On the backs of the boots are small pistons to help with landing.

The armor itself comes from a favorite game series of mine, Destiny.

The Ikelos armor is made by the Warmind Rasputin for the people of the Sol system to aid them in defending their home. The reason I chose it for inspiration was its modular design. In the lore, the armor is easily modifiable to suit a number of roles, from HAZMAT to stealth ops. The large diamonds function as heat sinks when not connected to a module. The carbon fiber construction coupled with the look of a satellite's minimalist housing and solar panels makes it look futuristic yet human made (side note here: I'm still thinking of adjusting the design of the pauldrons to something like this instead of the more rounded ones of the current armor).

The last thing is the shield/weapon. I experimented with a classic shield with a sword, and one with a lance, but I fell back on just a shield. Now, I play a lot of games with planes and spaceships. One of my favorites is the Russian Sukhoi Su-47 Berkut.

I decided to use this fighter's beautiful design as a shield/gun/flight assistance device. The RAMES trooper holds the shield with one arm inserted in between the air intakes . An autocannon is mounted on the nose and two missiles are held on pylon under the wings. The shield is mounted on the chest piece or held in both hands during orbital insertion to assist in guiding the flight down. I'm still tooling the design, I may add some pouches or compartments for ammo/grenades. One of the attacks with the shield involves using the two jets to propel the pointed nose into an enemy, a sort of rocket punch. (side note: This attack may lead me to move the majority of the cannon behind the shield so it can't be clogged by debris from whatever is punctured.)

I'll be refining the design in the coming weeks and making some rough storyboarding of combat/movement animations. I hope to be able to texture and rig this before August 2020, and then make a small animation for use in my portfolio.

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