Sai went through many, many, MANY changes through the film’s progress. He started out inspired by the grungy dystopian style of Koji Morimoto:
Instead of representing the Western culture, Sai embodied the urban lifestyle.
He was a spray paint artist, and swung around the city’s many wires and cables.
Look at that chicken there in the bottom right. Yeah. That’s some good concept art.
By this time, we had decided to move the film in a different direction. The first step to doing this was making Sai a quadruped! This is another piece Sarah Menzel did for us.
Here is the process we went through with Liz Lundblade. We were going in an aesthetically pleasing direction, but Sai still wasn’t looking as creation-god-y as Dong. One thing we ended up keeping was the element of heraldry (example below).
More ferret/masked critters. Possible integration of Welsh Corgi.
Getting closer here, but still just looks too much like Dong, and doesn’t have the prestige Dong has, either.
Then I found this bear I drew in my sketchbook.
Drew some bears, testing out the shapes.
I thought lynx kind of looked like cat bears, and would lend itself to the aesthetic of a heraldic lion.
Some profiles. (Thank god I got rid of those ears.) Also, that dragon in the upper right corner I drew from Dan Woodling’s portfolio, because I liked the heaviness in the jaw.
Here we go! That’s more like it.
Finally, Sai’s design is finalized! Next up: color!