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Dance Central Sketchbook 2: Meet Miss Aubrey and Angel

Hey there dancers! It’s time for the second installment of our new sketchbook series dedicated to Dance Central. We talked with “Perly” (Matt Perlot) the lead character artist for the game and our Senior Writer, HMXHellion, to get you an in-depth look at the creation of your favorite characters from the Dance Central world. This sketchbook piece focuses on Miss Aubrey and Angel, the “poshest” performers in Dance Central.

Miss Aubrey & Angel Character Profiles

Miss Aubrey: Sassy, Snooty, Sophisticated

Name: Aubrey Hobbies: Horseback riding, fencing, all forms of dance (classically trained, unlike some people who shall not be named). Interests: Anything intellectually stimulating, private parties aboard the yacht. Favorite Movie: There’s never sufficient time for such base amusements… but A Single Gal in Perugia is a guilty pleasure. Best Dance Move: Are you new here? All of them Blood Type: AB+ (the most exclusive of all blood types and hence the best).

Miss Aubrey, the red headed, charming, confident, and proper lady of the DC world, underwent the most significant changes from initial concept to in-game realization. Perly and Hellion walked us through some of the initial “looks” for Aubrey and described her transformation from an over the top, avante-garde, haute-couture influenced ballerina, to the all-around powerhouse prepschooler that fans of the game know and love (or love to hate). “We struggled with her initially,” Hellion tells us. “There were ideas about her being this sort of pop princess or kind of like a Clueless-style valley girl, but the more we looked at her the more we wanted her to really be a much deeper character with a deeper personality.” Perly added, “Initially she was very very haughty. That was apparent in the first sketches we did of her wardrobe. We had her wearing these almost outlandish couture pieces that were mixes of business and ballet attire. She was more extreme. The idea was that the attitude we saw her having would come through visually.” Perly went on to show us how in the initial concepts Aubrey was also blonde with a crazy swirl of hair sitting atop her head.

Over time, as the rest of the cast of Dance Central started to take shape, it became apparent that the original vision of Aubrey just wouldn’t mesh as well with the more stylized aesthetics of the other characters . There was also, as Hellion mentioned, the drive to make her more than just a one-dimensional character. Despite coming across as a “daddy’s girl” on the surface, Aubrey, is really much more. “There’s this idea that she’s just really that good at everything,” Hellion says. “That’s part of what factored into the way we present her voice. It’s a very flat, serious, almost adult affect to it. You know that she’s intelligent and talented.”

Aubrey is also the most conventional character by her appearance. She’s now several levels removed from the blonde fashionista ballerina. Some of the influences of her early concepts are evident in Aubrey’s alternate in-game outfit, a flowy party dress with ballet inspired flats. Her default look draws on some of the initial concept work, but morphed to give the player the sense that she’s a prep schooler hanging out between classes.

While certain members of the team were fighting for Aubrey to stay blonde, Perly eventually made the decision to make her a red-head. “That was partly inspired by the Blythe doll1 sitting on my desk,” he added. To complete Aubrey’s prepster persona Hellion and the writing team added “Miss” to her name to convey the more formal terms of address that might be present in that kind of environment. The “Miss” helps retain some of the haughty attitude that inspired so much of Aubrey’s original creation.

Angel: The Dapper, Caliente, Dream-Boy

Name: Angel Hobbies: Salsa night at the club -- VIP style, obviamente! Plus weekly poker night with the boys. Interests: Got a serious interest in a certain chica hermosa… but keeping it close to the vest, sabes? Favorite Movie: Love Across the Tracks: The Musical. Favorite Item of Clothing: Couldn’t possibly pick just one. You seen these threads, verdad? Blood Type: O-, ‘cause everybody can get down with it.

Angel, the suave, dapper, romantic, “likes a challenge,” according to Hellion and Perly. In his original concepts Perly and the team thought of Angel was the “V.I.P. type” in Dance Central. Perly elaborated, “He’s that guy you see at clubs who steps to the front of the line and goes inside to his reserved table. You know, everyone knows him.” Angel’s unlock or secondary outfit actually includes a logo on the back that Perly thought of as a marker for Angel’s club of choice. “I’d done a cropped trench coat for him and this evolved into his unlock outfit. There was a lot of want for a classic, clean cut, guy with a suit outfit, so this is what we designed for his primary outfit. We then bumped his “jersey-style” club guy outfit to his unlock.”

Giving Angel’s character a voice also proved an interesting challenge for the DC character team. Hellion, specifically, had a type in mind as the DC team started casting for the characters. “He is the ‘locker lean’ boy2,” she said. Angel is, to be slightly cliché, the bad boy with a heart of gold. “He’s the guy who stays out all night at the club and then takes his grandmother to mass on Sunday,” Hellion added. To go along with this persona, the DC team wanted his speech pattern to have a natural cadence. After several rounds of auditions, the team actually found Angel’s voice in-house. “Every audition we ran, we found people forcing or faking these really weird artificial accents” Hellion noted. “Marcos, our own DC choreographer, ended up being the voice behind Angel.”

Want to know more about the other voices and styles of the Dance Central cast? Keep posted for more character snapshots and sketchbook pieces!

About Perly
Matt “Perly” Perlot graduated from Massachusetts College of Art & Design in 2004 with a BFA in illustration/animation. He just celebrated five years working at Harmonix, having started as a concept artist designing characters for Guitar Hero II. He says his best ideas come to him while on the subway.

About HMXHellion
HMXHellion is the Senior Writer at Harmonix. Before entering the game industry, HMXHellion worked as a dog walker and telephone actress. When not playing with her band Tijuana Sweetheart, HMXHellion enjoys uncomfortable footwear, clam juice-infused cocktails, and yelling at strangers.

1 A Blythe doll is fashion doll with an oversized head and big eyes. For a peek at Perly's Blythe doll, click here. 2 For those of you that did not ever have crushes in high school, the “locker lean” boy or girl is the person who would "do the locker lean" and make anyone in their vicinity sweat and/or swoon.