A Time of Crawling Chaos - introducing Nyarlathotep / by Andreas Kopriva

Hello everyone and welcome to a new subsection on our site where I will be illustrating my journey through the world of character concept design. 

I have been interested in starting this exploration for quite some time now, but as with most things, life got in the way and I was sidetracked a number of times. That all changed a few months ago when I decided to invest the time to finally learn anatomy and start putting the hours in developing as a character concept artist. 

This section is about exploring the wonderful world of H.P. Lovecraft and will serve as both an introduction to this hugely influential author and as an introduction to certain concepts inherent with successfully considering what is involved in the creation of compelling characters. 

Introducing the Crawling Chaos

Nyarlathotep is a an ongoing character in the Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythology, first appearing in the eponymous short story in 1920. He is the 'odd' one out of the deities present in the Mythos as most of the Outer Gods are exiled to the stars while the Great Old Ones are sleeping and dreaming, whereas Nyarlathotep actively walks the earth as a tall, slim, joyous man who appears to be deliberately deceptive and manipulative. 

There are indications that Lovecraft was inspired for the character by Nikola Tesla whose well-attended lectures had involved extraordinary (at the time) experiments with electrical apparatus, an activity which is alluded to in the original short story. 

There is plenty of more information, if you're interested, about the character in the extensive wiki page

Now the interesting thing about Nyarlathotep as a character is his shape-shifting capabilities. In the original short story, he seemingly transitions from a human figure to a mess of 'blind, voiceless, mindless gargoyles'. Other representations include an Egyptian Pharaoh like entity, a black-skinned avatar alluding to the Christian Devil, and a being of pure darkness, possessing a 'three-lobed eye'.

This capacity to shape-shift into maddening manifestations is what makes the character very flexible as a source of inspiration for character development and is what I'll be exploring in my attempt to create a character model based on it. The other ideal aspect of the character is that, though a shape-shifter, Nyarlathotep is also influenced by a number of characteristic traits, such as the displays of scientific prowess, the Egyptian affiliation and his utmost joy in disseminating fear and madness to his followers. Furthermore, he also serves the Outer Gods, primarily Azathoth, so certain design decisions can also be influenced by that overall aesthete.

Prior to exploring the theme further, one is only as good as their references, so below I'm sharing a collection of images done by some very skilled artists that I discovered on Pinterest. Check out a sample below, and click here for the full board. Be sure to show your support for the artists featured on the board and leave them some love at their respective sites : 

In the next post I will get into more depth regarding the design decisions that I will be taking when sculpting my version of this character. So stay tuned for more and share this post if you like it!