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BioWare artist shares early headshots of Tali, spreads of Dragon Age's wardrobe

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BioWare concept artist Matt Rhodes has "pulled his pants down" in an artistic sense, as he says in his latest blog post, by sharing a handful of early and unused concept art for the Mass Effect and Dragon Age series.

Rhodes was inspired to share the artwork by friend and Red Dead Redemption concept artist Hethe Srodawa, who shared a number of rejected drawings on his personal blog back in May.

"We can tend to keep our less pretty, less refined work hidden away on our drives but I think it paints a disingenuous image of the roll [sic] of concept artists," Rhodes wrote. "There's a lot more to the job than the few polished portfolio pieces that get released."

Rhodes' treasure trove of art includes early sketches of Mass Effect hero Commander Shepard integrated with Reaper technology, different ideas for Cerberus troops and the Illusive Man as well as a number of drawings of Tali's face. Rhodes noted that the decision to show her face was a long-standing debate among the team and a particularly grueling artistic challenge.

"Tali was like a pen pal, or a friend you've only ever known online," he wrote. "Depending on how attached to her a player was, how well could they handle her appearance challenging their expectations? If she looked a little too alien, just a little too repellant, would they still feel the same way about her? Or did her personality and your history together trump appearances? It's an interesting area to explore and I hope we can find other ways to ask that question."

Rhodes also shared concept art from Dragon Age, posting various costume and city designs, sketches of the Elven mage Merrill and a number of designs that "barely scratch the surface" of the number produced to get the Elf Fenris to look just right.

"Concept art is a strange business," Rhodes wrote. "There's all sorts of odd jobs, rabbit trails, misfires and victories. As I said earlier, you never know how to design a game until it's finished. All we can do is keep running out into the darkness, lighting torches until we find something good."