IronStylus talks Quinn's aesthetics

Posted on at 7:15 PM by Moobeat
2/15 Update: IronStylus has posted another insightful wall of text about Quinn's looks, which I've added to the bottom of the post.

We got our first real peak at Quinn earlier today and now IronStylus is ready to give us some context behind her utilitarian look.
Continue reading for a lengthy post describing Quinn, where she came from conceptually, and why she looks the way she does.

Here is the full spiel from IronStylus:
"Some quick context: 
Quinn used to be a guy, then I turned her into a woman. That woman is a ranger, she's prepared for a fight, she's wearing thicker armor but not plate aside from key places where she would have to interact with an enemy's face.

Quinn was not designed to be in a skin-tight outfit. That was tried, and look, again, like a woman with a cape, in a skin tight outfit, which had been worked to death by Zyra, Syndra, Elise, and Diana. She does not care about looking feminine, she cares about utility. Baggy fatigues which have hardened pockets, knee pads to dig into the ground to take a shot, no exposed flesh to take a graze.

A functional Demacian helmet which adds sleekness is a design choice. It's Valkyrie, it's a motif, and it's a visual landmark. She has a gauntlet reminiscent of a falconer's glove which is armored because Valor has armor on his talons, to again, interact with an enemy's face. He can do damage to even thick leather.

Her hood is collapsed, she has essentially a themed parka with a bird motif, Functional but themed.

She has what equates to kevlar, thickened material able to resist a blade. She has Demacian signifiers all over her, and bird motifs worked in. She is functional but fantasy.

Regarding femininity, I was called out long ago when Sejuani released for making the reasoning that Sejuani might wear less clothing so that "you can tell she's female." That is an invalid argument and a sad excuse to design a particular way. A ranger, an elite, doesn't care whether you can tell they are a female or a male. They are interested in getting the job done, and having the gear to do so. We gave Quinn that gear and did not embrace the traditional route of the tight-clothed standard fantasy ranger. She's a new ranger for a new time. She hits the Demacian notes but plays off of them. That is the rational behind similar armor themes to Garen and Jarvan. That's how we establish she's in the military proper, but not standard in uniform.

For reference, take a look ad Deunan Knute from Appleseed. She has no boob or breastplates. She is completely covered with a half-helm. She has short hair. She is a bit more masculine, that's the goal. She is not a waif, but she is agile. She has small breasts, a tighter frame, but is fairly androgynous. That's what we wanted to portray, and I feel we hit that. 
Honestly, I feel I owe no excuses. You know my history, you know my goals. I design the women in armor. I do not design the over-sexualized, the seductress, or the siren. Different artists gravitate towards different styles and themes. When this champion came along, I opted to work on it because I felt I could bring a different take. Initially, she did start out as a traditional fantasy ranger, and actually was melee at the time. However, that was not the route we wanted to take. That was standard, it was conventional, and it was boring. I drove away from it and made something rugged in the new direction we're trying to take our style. Fantasy, but not traditional fantasy. 
This is my take. If you don't like it that's perfectly fine. I, like all artists, design with particular design and form language as my signature. You might have noticed Zyra, Syndra and Elise were designed by the same artist. Sexy bodies, integrated clothing/biology, dark females. Same with artist for Nautilus, Ziggs and Lulu. Friendly shapes, opposing colors, offbeat characters. Just like game designers have similar flavor to their champions across the board artists have similar common expressions.

If you want a traditional archer, with a traditional fantasy get-up, with a traditional build, and a traditional design where female form expression trumps practically fighting the fight, I am not your guy, and I'm glad to admit that. That's my strength, that why I work on what I work on. 
I do not abide by the established or the expected, neither does Riot on the whole. It is not our job to abide, it's our job to challenge the convention and question traditional execution. 
Thanks for the feedback. Thanks for understanding where we're coming from. This isn't just me. This is part of something larger. Pendulums will swing, you'll get your stripped down heroes. Quinn is not one of them and we're proud of that"

Need a refresher on what Quinn looks like? NEVER FEAR! Here is the most complete image we have of her.

P.S: I love IronStylus.

Edit: Here is another wall of text, from the bird master himself, now that we've seen Quinn on the PBE.
"Thanks. Here's a giant wall of text. This has been piling up in my brain all evening so I apologize that you have to be the recipient of this giant mind-dump.
Someone broke all this down especially well on reddit:
A lot of it is about expectations, how we set them, how we manage them, and how we might flip them. This post actually helped me wrap my head around what others, such as yourself, were saying. I was able to understand the rationale but also to figure out why I had made the decisions I had made and realize that I felt I made appropriate ones. It helped me come to terms with the feedback, negative or positive, and my own rationale on her design.
At the end of that person's post they link to a number of different "rangers" from Magic the Gathering. What people expected, by the journal and other hints, was the first few examples. The compact wilderness acclimated looking ones. They expected that, rightly so. That's the common fantasy trope. What it turns out what we gave people was more like the Ranger of Eos, the dude in heavier armor. It dawned on me then that this is what we were consciously or subconsciously gunning for. The most toned down a Demacian military-proper officer would be is how Quinn looks. Much like the latter ranger example, he's actually in heavier plate armor. This sort of soldier/ranger hybrid is what we on the team gravitated towards. We didn't want what essentially broke down to Woad Ashe. We also didn't want to make her too slick.

Everything to this point has been very good feedback, all things considered. I always think critically when I receive feedback, that's how I integrate and iterate. Critique from players like yourself are extremely valuable, and they're something not a ton of game developers have access to in the industry. Loud and passionate voices come to the forefront, and as reactive humans, we take that vocal feedback very seriously.

I'm very glad you find her design more pleasing as you grow into it. One of the big things to remember is that we're actually not designing for the view you're looking at when you see standard concept art. The RTS angle doesn't really care about anything on the front of a character because that's going to foreshorten, dissapear and/or compress when in game. However, places where we get a ton of real estate are the back, head, shoulders, arms, upper legs, and weapon/source of power. Some visual design choices, though they seem awkward front-on, end up working pretty decently in our game because they're strategically placed where the eye focuses or action occurs, in that angle specifically. Quinn's knee pads are a bit impractical, but they jump out of the silhouette a bit because they're pointy. Same thing with her large pockets which are trimmed with gold, those come over the thigh a bit and create a rhythm in game that isn't really apparent from head-on. Gauntlet, big visual marker and story telling element. Helmet, mainly decoration to accent the head. Holster on her back to break internal detail but be a communicating functional aspect. It's all there for a reason.

Some may argue that she's a bit mish-mashed, and I can totally understand that, however while we didn't want to overload her with tackle, we needed to break her out from the standard fantasy Demacian motif. We stuck components in to break up symmetry because we didn't want for her to have too much filigreeing or grandiosity.

Some also argue that she's over-designed. I'd agree to an extent, however it's an intentional over designing in many respects. We tried slimming down, making her more streamlined, etc. Her model, up until a couple of weeks ago, looked very much like just a woman in a costume. It didn't say anything special in terms of story. We went in and changed that because we felt she needed to feel in some way more substantial, in visual storytelling and in form.

She is indeed highly motif-ed also. I've seen some feedback saying, "It's like Quinn is saying I'M A BIRD. LOOK. BIRDS. BIRDS BIRDS BIRDS." That's not entirely off the mark. Demacian's aren't exactly subtle, and Quinn in that vein needed to abide in a way that incorporated some of that Demacian flagrant dress. We did want to flip it a bit though, we wanted to say something along the lines of.. if Demacian's are over the top in how they dress, how would you tone down the blue and gold thing in a way that still feels Demacian? Damn if that's ever hard to figure out. We made up for the lack of gleaming gold and blue with the overt, smash-you-over-the-head theme of avian. Quinn is somewhere between Batman, an army ranger, and a SWAT team member. An elite soldier who's using the motif of her primary inspiration while incorporating it into what, in a fantasy world, acts as utilitarian.

All that said, I don't expect everyone to love her design. That's not our job here. Morello has stated that many times. Not everyone will love everything. The only thing I ask is that we're given a chance to try the weird thing in our heads! If it falls flat, we'll learn from that and iterate again. With the amount of depth in our roster we have endless possibilities in skins and in future champions. Somewhere along the line, everyone will find someone they like, or hopefully love.

I do expect some pain along the way, I'm happy to absorb it. Our decisions are going to defy and upset at times. When we give you "our version" of an archetype it's going to rub people the wrong way and it will probably come off as feeling executed poorly. I understand that that's what curve balls do to establish expectations.

In the lack of context, or messaging, people usually fall back on "it just looks.. bad". It's absolutely ok for someone to feel that and rationalize it, but as an artist I have to challenge that statement. People can explain why something might not be working, but if it essentially equates to, "it looks ugly" or "I don't like it" I tend to poke at that because I don't find that a rationale for arguing against a particular design, especially when dealing in a fantasy game. Trying to rationalize fantasy or sci-fi is a head spinning experience.

If someone wants to come to me on the grounds of character design, then by all means please do. Speak to me in terms of.. Does it abide by the tone of LoL? Does it incorporate the proper form language? Does it have communicating elements of story? does it have proper material seperations? Are the colors being used properly for a game read? Are there iconic elements? Is the source of power clear? Is the frequency of detail too much or too little for the purposes of in-game readibility? People offering critique who just say.. "I don't like it." or "Looks like a dude." That's a great way to get an artist irritated and to not further a conversation. It's like telling a designer "That mechanic just feels dumb". Not terribly helpful. Learning the languages each other speaks goes a long way with helping to understand context and why we do what we do. Usually.. USUALLY, we have a good reason =)
Anyway, that's a lot of words, and I'm pretty tired. I've also been sucking down a ton of feedback in the last day, sorry for dumping a bunch of conclusions and rambling here.

On the plus side, this has taught me a lot too. I have to be conscious of getting defensive, rude, or prickly. I have to understand expectations and warn people properly when I plan on smashing those expectations with a bird, and I have to be cautious of redundancy in my designs. That's all stuff I'm learning and integrating. 
On the justification side of things, this tends to be how Volty, Runaan and myself roll. We do not like convention. You can see that reflected in what we did with Diana, and what we've done with Quinn and Valor. Visually, Quinn is not a traditional ranger, she is something completely different and frankly jarring to the unprepared. Kit wise, on the surface i've seen a comment or two saying it's convoluted. Lore wise there are questions as to why we would take someone from the working class of Demacia and make them "just another elite", stating that we've squandered an opportunity. Indeed, that's what it might look like on the surface, but as they say.. we have to go deeper! 
There's reasons we do all of these things. We know in our heart they'll have novelty as well as longevity. They're going to be tough to swallow at first but they end up synergizing the longer they are allowed to coalesce. What seems at odds from one angle ends up making sense from another, and what we've found is that what ends up being sometimes abrasive and very unfamiliar at first, (see Diana's kit, theme and visuals) ends up being something endearing and really special. We hope the same will be said of Quinn. We had a lot of challenges to overcome, and of course we'd do some things differently, but honestly I think we've created something unique that will not end up being a throwaway, but will in the end deepen our world and our game. 
Keep a lookout for an AMA that we're probably going to do about Quinn and Valor in the near future. I'll be touching on a lot of this I feel, as will Volty and Runaan. There's been a lot of controversy, but there's also been a lot of consensus. I'd rather have the former drive iteration and change than the latter leading us to a place of stagnation.

All in all, I'm glad things are sitting better with you. I take this all very, very seriously, so any feedback that I see I take pretty seriously and sometimes personally. There are risks to that, but I feel in the end it makes me a more responsible and agile developer.
Thanks =)
Also, by popular demand, here's a little insight on how I design:"

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