Since his inception as a character, Quinlan has always avoided responsibility. It’s not so much that he’s lazy (he’s not), it’s that he enjoys the freedom that the life of a scout provides. Unfortunately, that lifestyle came at a cost in his early years, which is one reason why he’s so resistant to the idea of giving it all up to become Captain of the Royal Guard. We’ll see more of that next week!

This week, since I’m talking about the inception of Quinlan’s character, I wanted to show a little bit of the evolution of Quinlan’s outfit design. He’s not a clothes horse by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m sure as most folks will tell you, designing what your main character wears is almost as challenging as designing the character itself.

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Original Quinlan (easily spotted by the gray fur and different facial features) wore an outfit somewhat similar to the one he’s wearing right now. The big differences being the shade of the green tunic and the lack of any real accents to give it “pep”. Another big difference was that this was Quin’s outfit. All the time. Forever. So when we went back to the drawing board with Quin’s fur color, we also took another stab at the outfit design.

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This was the second attempt at designing a Quinlan that felt like a main character in a fantasy epic. The colored accents and layered clothes were a step in the right direction, but as the story and lore solidified, Quinlan’s manner of dress began to take shape. We needed to stop looking at his clothing as “what looks cool?”, but more about “what would he actually wear?” We’d spent all this time coming up with a world for Quinlan to inhabit, so it made sense to ask questions like: Where do the clothes come from? What are they made of? Would a scout dress in frilly multicolored clothes? Would the Captain of the Royal Guard dress like a soldier or wear something more ceremonial? What would they wear in front of the king? Asking questions like these led us closer to the current design for Quinlan’s garb.

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The outfit shown above was what we settled on for the pitch we assembled in 2010. While we liked it at the time, there were a few problems with it that I can see pretty clearly now. First and foremost, the tunic design has no layering to it, making it feel less like something you’d actually wear and more like a costume for a Shakespearean play. That is supposed to be his “Captain of the Royal Guard” outfit, but it doesn’t really look like something befitting a captain.

You’ll also notice in the above illustration that Dakkan’s outfit is much different. His original design involved a simple sleeveless tunic – nothing too spectacular. When we get to introducing him in a few pages, I’ll be sure to go over his own character design evolution, but at some point between the 2010 pitch and the webcomic, Rachel did a wonderful thought experiment with all the Lutren clothing designs. She pulled together a look that felt different from anything I’d seen previously, combined some very cool designs and armor themes, and in general made the Lutren armor feel like it was crafted by the Lutren. Rachel set to work shortly thereafter crafting a look for Quinlan and his fellow Tamian to match.

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The above page resulted from those thought experiments. Quinlan’s outfit needed layers, it needed to feel like it fit his station, and it needed to be practical for the journey ahead. When in doubt, asymmetry also helps (and is a well that Japanese RPG character designers have been going back to since the early 90’s)!

You’ll notice, however, that the above images don’t reflect Quinlan’s current garb in the comic. This is because, at least for these starting panels, Quinlan is wearing his old scouting uniform. He’s not quite used to the more complex, heavier garb of the captaincy, and takes solace in wearing the simpler, single-layer outfit from his scouting days. Also, considering he’s used to leaping between trees and navigating dense forests, the idea of wearing a long billowing cape or wearing clothes that could easily snag on branches would be near unbearable.

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The original version of this page featured a lot more dialog and an extensive use of medium shots. When Mouse Guard creator David Petersen looked at the original draft, he pointed out that most of our shots looked very samey – same perspective, same camera distance, same orientation… He wasn’t wrong, of course – the original draft looked very much like a storyboard in many ways. I’ll attribute this to Rachel’s education in animation and her awesome ability to storyboard :)

Still, when we revisited the scene for this iteration of the comic, the diversification of panels (and purposeful removal of excessive medium shots) was a top priority. The thumbnail didn’t change too much from the final version – the silent panel was bumped a bit to instead show Quinlan trying to focus on his drawing (unsuccessfully) and the wider shot was used to set up the next page.

This week’s fan-art comes once again from VarVau! The diversity on display here is just amazing – looking at the last Hardin piece you did compared to this new one, compared to the first Quinlan piece – it’s really quite something! In this piece, Hardin is locked in the middle of a harrowing battle, pivoting in mid-leap to strike down foes on all sides. Just another day for the Ermehn warrior!

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Thanks for the continuing support, VarVau! I’m honored that you like painting our characters so much :)