PCPlayStation 4

How Ninja Theory Are Tweaking The Anatomy Of Hellblade’s Senua


Ninja Theory have updated their Hellblade development blog with a new post on the character design of Senua, the game’s protagonist, and how the team has attempted to convey her personality through her character model.


The goal for Senua is that she is “is not sexy, not proud, not heroic, not pretty and not skinny”. With these goals in mind, Ninja Theory’s lead artist Hugues Giboire and art director Alessandro Taini have been sorting out the finer details of her anatomy. Here’s how they’re going about the process, according to the post on the devblog:


Our character artists build character’s anatomy first, building layers of clothing on top after. Alex likes to do the same, starting with a naked character and then building up his concepts with layers of costume. In the above image you can see 4 different Senua poses, displaying the character from the back. The intent with these concepts is to illustrate Senua’s physique, whilst at the same time exploring how we can maintain a natural femininity in her without resorting to typical heroine poses.


As you look at the line-up from left to right the pose changes from being that of a typical heroine through to one that is more natural. The purpose of doing this is to understand what anatomical adjustments need to be made to Senua in order for her to maintain femininity in a natural pose. The fact that Senua is a woman is an important visual message to be communicated, but in a way that supports her physical strength.  Adjustments such as narrowing the waist and shoulders will give her femininity but also help in avoiding having to adopt cliché heroine poses.


The anatomy of a character tells a story. Senua isn’t a typical Heroine like Wonder Woman but instead is a warrior. It is important to convey that Senua’s body has been forged through a lifetime of travel of combat. She is a fighter, wielding a heavy sword, so as a result her back, arms and shoulders are strong with defined muscle. But she isn’t a body builder, so her muscles are not entirely symmetrical, nor does she have well defined muscle all over her body. Her wielding of a sword with one arm needs to be justified with visible hard-working muscle, but at the same time kept within the realms of realism.


Hellblade is in development for PC and PlayStation 4. A release date for the game has not been announced yet.

Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.