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Supergiant artist goes behind-the-scenes on building a god in Hades

Hades is a bloody gorgeous game. There’s no arguing that. But did you know that the enigmatic Nyx started life as one of the Fury sisters? Crafting a god is a strange process for mortal hands – but such is the job of the artists at Supergiant games, one of whom has this week gone in-depth on how the studio models, rigs, textures and animates a Cthonic diety.

While it gets a little technical at times, this rundown from 3D artist Paige Carter is a fascinating watch, going step-by-step as she hand-crafts Nyx, Night Incarnate.

I’ll admit, I’ve been playing Hades handheld on Switch since it hit 1.0 – and with the gods taking up maybe a centimetre of the screen at most, I’d missed how incredibly Carter captures the look and feel of 2D artist Jen Zee’s character portraits. After watching her rundown, I actually reckon it’s a damn shame her work doesn’t take up more screen-space, regardless of platform.

Carter uses a few nifty little tricks to speed up the process, mind. As she explains, every character starts life as either Thanatos or Megaera, using either as a template from which to build upon (Nyx, obviously, starts life as the Fury Sister and not her own son). She then uses Zee’s character portraits as a direct reference, filling out the rest of the character (back, lower half, etc) herself. It’s kind of incredible how close a likeness Carter manages – save for a few proportional differences, the two final pieces are practically uncanny.

Other points of note include characters actually standing a little shorter, on account of the game’s isometric, top-down perspective. And while they’ll broadly animate along with dialogue, Carter gets to skip the fiddly work of rigging facial animations, with the game instead relying on shifting visual-novel style portraits. Still, it’s a shame that you can’t really see the care taken to paint the stars under Nyx’s hair in the game proper.

Supergiant have been surprisingly open with Hades’ development. Since the game’s launch into 1.0, individual developers and contributors have come out and gone through everything from building the Underworld’s shifting chambers to performing the songs ringing through its halls – never even minding the whole Noclip documentary series running throughout early access.

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Natalie Clayton

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