Thursday, November 28, 2013

Coming up with an attractive and functional helmet/mask for Cass is a fun process...

I wish I had time to scan the sketches I'm doing, or at least snap some photos with my iPhone.  I think I've got a new-look Batgirl/Black Bat costume for Cass I'm fairly happy with, but her headgear is another matter.  I've experimented with full-head helmets, anime Batgirl-inspired regular helmets with goggles, flared cowls with an open area up top and around her nose and mouth and even a strange mask that's reminiscent of the cat/butterfly mask worn by the character Noodle from the animated band Gorillaz during their most recent phase.

The suit is a sleek, one-piece affair with a larger and more stylized bat-symbol on the chest.  The color scheme is a very dark gray that you can either read as something close to charcoal or else a matte black, with the bat outlined in yellow and completely blacked in.  The belt is yellow but thinner and features rounded pouches in the back, out of the way.  Cass was never one to use a lot of tools-- all she really needs is that grappling gun and some batarangs and she's good to go.  None of that requires giant flopping pouches, but she can add any that become necessary depending on her mission.  The boots have a kind of flapped or hinged ankle arrangement.  No cape.

The first helmet I came up with for her really clashed with the suit's sleekness.  It made her look clumsy and top-heavy.  So I decided that wasn't the way to go, unless I wanted to bulk up her boots or add some visible padding at her elbows or knees, but then we're cutting down on her mobility, which was the basis for the entire design.  Another issue was I wanted her to have a little mouth opening and a simple rectangular one is too Iron Man and expressionless, but when I went for an inverted delta or crescent, the design looked too Star Wars stormtrooper for my taste.  Eventually I took a design cue from the fangs real bats have, with some triangular openings suggesting a vampire bat in the abstract.

After that I played around with the flared mask, which looked menacing but a little too alien.  I 've always admired Jamie Hewlett's Gorillaz designs, but just as I wanted to avoid duplicating Annie Wu's work on Batman Beyond, I also wanted to do something more me.  So I modified that into an open-topped cowl but I haven't worked out the way it wraps around Cass's neck and the back of her head, or a functional hairstyle to go with it.

This probably sounds like a lot of work for a fan drawing project, especially one for a character who doesn't officially exist.  But I do this during big group meetings here-- they're all in Japanese and I haven't the foggiest idea what I'm hearing anyway-- and it keeps me entertained.  Rethinking character costumes is fun stuff.  I've got a couple of ideas for both Superman and Wonder Woman, too!

This weekend I'll post some of my efforts here and we can all have a good laugh.


  1. I really like Cass' canon Batgirl suit, while from a strictly efficient standpoint the cape is useless, she's one of the few characters and especially girls who have the sense to completely cover their bodies. It really annoys me when they leave their juggler veins bare.
    The Huntress worked for Oracle who was paralyzed by a shot through her gut, and yet Helena does not feel motivated to protect her own spine with armor. I seriously don't get that suit, although I know it isn't the worst one out there.

    I recently purchased a New 52 Birds of Prey for no reason other than Comixology's Cyber Monday sale and I was surprised to find that Black Canary's suit actually looks improved in it.

    1. I couldn't agree more. The original Cass look has a menacing quality to it, very simple and dramatic. I also really like the redesigned Katana, all sleek armor. I've gushed about that a few times on this blog, but her costume is my favorite in the New 52 redesigns.