Campo Santo is Putting in the Work to Perfect Black Hair in Video Games
When I first saw the trailer for Campo Santo’s In the Valley of Gods during last year’s Game Awards, I was blown away by something that I thought I would never see in video games. For the first time ever, I was satisfied with Black hair.
While Zora explored the Egyptian desert I found myself mesmerized by her hair flowing and bouncing in a way fit to blackness. The credit for this attention to detail goes to Campo Santo’s Lead Artist Jane Ng, and her dedication to directing change within the industry. Jane notes that while none of the members of her team have the type 4 hair type commonly found among black women. She gained inspiration from Evan Narcisse’s 2015 article about portraying blackness in video games, which lead her to think critically about the representation of hair for the first time. Jane wanted to ensure that with the characterization of Zora, she embodied more than what we’ve all came to expect from years of poorly handled Black characters.
So when I first saw the character design for Zora, I had an understanding of what task lays before us as a team. None of us has Type 4 hair, characterized by tight coils and common among black women. In fact, none of us have even made video game hair before, but we are committed to giving Zora the hair she loves, the way she chooses to wear it, with all the care and effort we can.
In her blog post on Campo Santo’s website, Jane dives into the process of accurately crafting the hair of Zora. Speaking about how she would spend days at a time working on nothing but the perfection of Zora’s hair. She explores the technical aspects of creating a “good enough, first pass” model, and then detailing it to create the right bounce with movement, and shading when interacting with various environments.
Jane and her team have gone the extra mile to accurately represent black hair with Zora, and are promising to continue their effort up to the game’s release. For a more in-depth read on the development of Zora’s hair, please head over to Campo Santo’s website and check out Jane’s blog post!
Source: Campo Santo