How to Design a Warlock in 8 Weeks

How to Design a Warlock in 8 Weeks
INTERVIEW WITH Martin Cabrea Pavez

Martin Cabrea Pavez tells us how he took his warlock idea and transformed it into a dynamic force of nature in Character Design for Film and Games.


Hi, I am Martin Cabrea Pavez, from Paraguay. I finished my studies in Santiago de Chile and obtained my degree in Digital Animation & Special Effects. For four years, I worked as an art director and generalist artist in the development of mobile videogames at Fhacktions, alongside a talented team of developers. The game won the Indie Price in San Francisco and was also presented in the 2017 edition of the GDC (Game Developers Conference), in which we were amongst the best multi-player games at the Indie Price in Singapore. The game was then promoted by Apple & Google in their stores.

After this, I started working as a free-lancer creating various works in 2D & 3D for customers abroad. I find this to be somewhat complicated since both North American and European customers tend to look for people who are more specialized in one field. It is for this reason that I looked for further training in one of my favorite branches and taking up a character design course with Marco Nelor in CG Master Academy. The project I present next is a product of the course I took.

Research & Sketches

It is important to have or create a story for the character one is about to create. This helps us understand what the character is like, what the world that surrounds it is like, as well as what its backstory and objective are. I decided to bring a Warlock to life writing a short story that helped me understand how the character would be like and feel like.


For thousands of years in the forest of Northon, horrific battles have been fought. Mother Nature has been covered in the blood of countless warriors and creatures. Polluting the landscape and leaving behind a sad and desolate spectacle. The time to fight back has come, nature has used the knowledge of the dead to create its own warrior. A deadly warlock with the sole objective of bringing havoc to those who come to harm Northon’s Forest. 

Searching for references is key. Along with the step-by-step guide provided by Marco, I was able to develop my character with greater accuracy. The search for references became crucial in my work process.

With these references, I started to work on the Sketches. This part is rather fast, you do not aim to have something polished but to find the essence of your character. All the same, I do try to keep a definite and legible silhouette so that the result is appealing and balanced. Overall, I managed to do thirty-six thumbnails for my character.

Narrowing Down the Selection

Out of all these options I chose four to further work on and follow up the progress with the adjustments provided by Marco. Within these selections, two characters remained which better adjusted to the references from the story and seemed more alluring.

The chosen Characters were number 2 & 4. Both similar, creature-like and humanoid hybrids.

Number 2’s idea was that the character was armed with different parts/limbs from warriors, animals and other creatures, which lay long dead in the forest all mixed up with fragments of nature. Something of a Frankenstein of the woods if you would. This sorceress would be more of a force of nature. Pure force and chaos lashed out violently against the enemy.

Number 4’s had an approach to that of a forest elf and creature with feline traits. A sorceress who would be able to control nature’s elements that surround it in order to defend nature itself. A fearsome foe when faced in her environment. Half-witch half-shaman, she was intended as a master of medicinal potions and controller of the elements.

In the end, I decided to go with option number 2, due to the variety that I felt I could achieve with the character. Also, being able to define the role of the character in the story helped me choose it.

Head Explorations

Since the character wears a mask, I had to base my explorations on the mask and face. This implied more work but it also led me to better define other aspects that I hadn’t thought of. For instance, if it would finally be a creature, a humanoid, an elf, and so forth and so on.

After making different options I opted for Number 7; with which I could play around with a darker character who, at the same time, had a human-like face. With it, I would be able to generate empathy if needed.

I presented some variations of the face so that I could better tell what she was like behind the mask. Trying, in turn, to accomplish a somber and lost stare that at the same time would work as a feminine and delicate but demonic countenance. This is why I chose option Number 1 at this point.

Character Through Gesture

Once I better understood how my character was like throughout the process, I realized that the initial pose did not reflect what I was trying to convey. So, in order to solve this doubt, I worked on several poses as sketches.

I chose to go with pose Number 5 because it had an interesting and clear silhouette. In addition, the pose was threatening, as I thought the character should be.

Final Glamour Shot

In this last stage, I used all I had been doing in order to get to my final result. Aiming to define the pose, the details, the colors of the character. In spite of finding myself in the final stage, I continued to use references such as fabric that would help me define the folds of the clothes and the way light would affect the material. I used bat wings as a reference for the demonic wings. As for the boots, I found old Spanish Armada leather boots. I let imagination soar with the ogre head and the Sorceress’s mask.

From start to end, the character went through many changes that aided me to simplify it and make it more consistent with what I wanted it to communicate.

My main problem was finding the right colors. After trying various tones and combinations, I chose to go with the gloomy green clothing thus relating it better with its environment. I did not want to use saturated colors so that it didn’t have a lively or joyful aspect.

Final Thoughts

Throughout the course, I was able to see progress in both the development of the character and in my working method. Incorporating steps and previous investigation that allowed me to properly define what I had in mind. Still, there is much to be improved, with the difference being that now I have the theoretical tools I need in order to be able to create characters in a faster and safer way, being sure of what I want to accomplish.

To me, the most important aspect of this course is the methodology and step-by-step procedures provided by Marco. With them, I was able to understand the techniques behind character development and will apply them to future projects.

Currently, I use the reference and investigation steps in all my works, which enables me to enhance my imagination, justifying what produce and comprehend what lies behind each element that is to be created. I reckon it is a long process in which it is important to draw daily and research constantly.

You can see more from Martin at his sites below: