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Sketchbook: Record Run's Art Issan aka Chester P. Meowsers, Esq.

We sat down with Gianna “Gigi” Ruggiero, lead artist on Record RunTM, to talk about how she developed the fun and varied cast of characters in the game. Gigi attended Ringling College of Art and Design for Computer Animation, and has a background in film animation as a concept artist and texture painter. You can see more of her work at: and Gigi joined Harmonix in 2012; in addition to Record Run, she has worked on concept art for Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved and character designs for another unannounced project. This week, we’re taking an in-depth look at…

Hipster Concept 1

As with Tina Tommy, Gigi’s goal was to avoid the easy stereotype with her Hipster character. “I was looking at a lot of images, and kept coming back to glasses, cats, and button-down shirts,” she says of the elements that inspired the character’s outfit and Groove World alternative. Hipsters are often portrayed negatively, but Gigi “wanted him to be charming, adorable, and super-likable.” An early concept in the game’s development was “a big, tough-looking guy who turned into this really cute fluffy soft character – that became the Hipster, where he’s broader shouldered and more muscular than the Punker,” but turns into a cute cat. “People get really excited when there are cats in games!”

Sharp-eyed players may have noticed that just as Art carries a cat in his backpack, his alter ego wears a messenger bag with a doll representing his normal-world state inside.

Hipster Concept 2

Gigi explains: “the character’s back is always to the screen during play, so I tried to find ways to make their backs more interesting.” That goal inspired the Hipster’s feline companion, which in turn led to his Groove World form. “I showed him in an art meeting and everyone said ‘he needs to turn into a cat!’”

Hipster Concept 3

Switching from a burly human to a lean cat proved to be a technical challenge. “The Hipster was the hardest because of his rig – I wanted the cat to have a spindly body but had to make it beefier to fit the rig” so that animations could transition seamlessly in game, says Gigi.

Hipster Concept 4

Players have probably noticed that each character has a distinct personality, reflected in their animations in the main menu and at the start and finish of each run. Gigi notes that sometimes artists shy away from going too strongly in one direction with sketches during the concept phase, but that “having a personality in the initial drawings gives the animator a lot to work with. Avi [animator at SuperVillain Studios] saw the personality in each character and did an amazing job.” Now that the characters are fully fleshed out, Gigi can reveal that she does have favorites: “If I could hang out with anybody it would be the Punk and the Hipster.”

Hipster Concept 5

This Record Run sketchbook is part of a series. Check out the behind-the-scenes info on Ronnie Joggins, Tina Tommy, and Edie M. To learn more about the game, visit, follow us on Twitter, or visit us on Facebook.