The cast of Canvas Menagerie grows with each Act, with most being designed all at once during the early parts of the game’s development. Although not entirely, most of the cast were concepted to reflect their TV show counterpart. Let’s begin!
Here are some of the initial sketches! You can recognize most of these characters as being very close to their final incarnations- some, though, you won’t meet until later Acts.
To start off with, let’s look at our protagonist.
Being the teen protagonist in the midst of a rebellion, the main character in the show finds himself in new territory while trying to get through turbulent years. Likewise, Niko is trying to navigate his early 20s and become comfortable with his newfound stardom. He’s a trans man and started transitioning several years prior to the start of the story, when he was 18.
Niko’s visual design has always been very casual. He puts a lot more emphasis on comfort over “coolness” and would definitely be the type to shop at second-hand stores, wearing clothes that were in style years ago. It’s the comfort and ease on the wallet that matters, not what’s in fashion now!
Most of his design process was actually figuring out how the heck to style his hair! Eventually though, I embraced the floof.
Next of course is our resident heartthrob, Ren. His character in the TV show is the rival- the man looking to tear down the fascist government after being wronged years ago. Both this character and Ren are family men.
Originally, he was supposed to be much more flirty and talkative. It was hard to write someone who’s a workaholic and pushes himself more than he should but is also excessively flirty and narcissistic, so as he came to life in the story he became much more reserved and pessimistic. Rather than flirting with coworkers, he now spends more time jumping from project to project and having little social life (work parties and celebrity events don’t count).
To put it simply… the more I wrote, the more of a loser he became!
Ren is someone who’s very self-driven but, despite first looks, he puts a lot of emphasis on trust and family. Being a celebrity workaholic, he always has to look good but never has much time for anything. His shortcut? Leather jackets and black pants. Sometimes a layered sweater.
He is almost always dressed in a lot of black, whether it be in a leather jacket or a vest or a full suit. He may be on the verge of 25 years old but he’ll never outgrow his goth phase.
Next up is our other celebrity, Angel!
Angelica “Angel” is a self-made star and loves the limelight. She got her start making quick, funny videos on her phone and after a few months they took off- now, she’s got millions of followers waiting for her next video. She has seemingly boundless energy.
Angel and her TV counterpart’s basic personalities are very similar- both are peppy and energetic outwardly but are susceptible to feeling lonely. They both have an easy time talking to people and making acquaintances but feel it’s hard to make actual friends.
She is definitely the most fun of the cast for me to draw, with all her frilly outfits and the variety of hair styles she can have.
Next on the list is Serena!
Serena is the resident older sister on set- whether you need romance advice or someone to go barhopping with, she’s your girl. She plays another on of Niko’s classmates in the TV show, a girl who has ties to both sides and finds herself stuck in the middle.
She’s also very much a family person like Ren, though her family isn’t as tight-knitted as his anymore. Serena likes to be close to the people she likes and makes friends easily. She’s currently in a long distance relationship with a photographer in Canada.
While she’s been an actor for around as long as Niko has, having started as a child, she wants to move on to modeling.
Her clothing style is fashionable and not as modest as Angel.
Our last main character for Act 1 is Victor! He’s an easy going, laid back kind of guy. Like his character in the show, he’s a dependable friend who’s maybe a bit dumb in some areas—a loveable himbo.
Victor might not always understand what’s going on, but his “go with the wind” kind of attitude makes him great for breaking up conflict—it’s hard to get mad at him.
He usually plays minor speaking roles and prefers more action-oriented projects. While not the best at it, he loves doing stunts and is always early to stunt coordination. In the future he’d like to be a stuntman.
And now you’ve met the main cast of Act 1! There are several other characters to meet in Act 1 and more main characters will be added in later installments.
Hope you liked this look at how they were designed!