DURING THE SPRING OF 2020, I invested a couple months into developing a pseudo-game concept focused on adapting the Super Mario Brothers world into more mature themes; e.g. class struggles and inherited greed.
The project began with a series of concept art reimagining some of the most iconic characters of the franchise. It later continued when spurred on an interest in 3D animation. Without delay, I taught myself how to use Blender and created assets for weeks until I had enough to animate a short trailer-like sequence.
This project still has room to expand in the future.
Above is a collage of the concept art I created for the characters lined up next to one other in order to determine their relative scale.
TOAD (or Toadoko as he came to be called later in development) is the first character to be redesigned, and the third character to be modeled. By the time I got around to his 3D model, I had a much better understanding of retopology, texturing, and building with animation in mind.
MARIO was the obvious next step for the conception of the project. While the design of Toad spurred the interest in the effort, the tone had not been quite solidified until Mario's redesign. He was the first model to be completed.
I wanted him to of course be immediately recognizable as the iconic figure he is, but also representative of a blue-collar worker. He, as the savior of the mushroom kingdom, is a bridge between the Monarchy and those that it governs.
LUIGI was the last character I designed both two-dimensionally and three-dimensionally. When I started the process of animation. His place in the game concept is relegated to a weapon-smith NPC with potential playability in later game events.
Luigi, as well as additional characters like Princess Peach were set as my own personal stretch goals. If I had enough time before The end of my assigned deadline, I would conceptualize and produce more content.
BOWSER was probably the character I was most excited to work on. His canon design, and especially his portrayal in the Super Smash Brothers series was super inspiring to me. There was so much potential to see him as a monster. That's exactly what I made him.
Though, to juxtapose his appearance, his role in the game is more of a helpless prisoner, held in the depths of the castle.
Definitely the most conceptually and technically challenging aspect to tackle in the project. Mario's house is generally only seen in the RPG entries in the series, and is less than consistent.
For the redesign, I wanted to lean into the wood, pipe-house aesthetic from The Legend of the Seven Stars, while also staying true to interior design elements of the Paper Mario games.
In order to tie the two together, I introduced architectural styling from Feudal Japanese culture. The roofs and coloring in particular are inspired by Himeji Castle. This choice also helps to bridge the gap between classes, like I emphasized with Mario's character design.