Final Fantasy 7 Remake is out today. Who isn’t in the mood to revisit a classic?
In celebration of the release, the Polygon staff took on a challenge: to draw Cloud Strife’s blue eyes and blonde hair. Polygon Draws host Jenna Stoeber was “worried about the human figure” — particularly the staff’s ability to perfectly capture Cloud’s famous figure — but we all did pretty dang well.
But who was the best? There must be a winner! Please let us know after thoughtfully considering each artist’s statement as well. If you can’t get enough of our illustrious art, please see Polygon Draws Sonic (yikes) and Tom Nook.
“Cloud Strife is probably the only Final Fantasy 7 Remake character I could pick of out a lineup of Final Fantasy characters. Even that, though, is not a given ... unless he is holding the large knife. The most striking thing about Cloud is his knife, so I chose to focus my efforts there. The red marks are the blood of Cloud Strife’s enemies — and yes, it’s real blood.” [Ed. note: It’s paint.]
“Having never played a Final Fantasy game (ducks rotten vegetables) the only minds-eye concept of Cloud Strife that I have is his low-poly version, with the square eyes and Naruto hair. Oh and that ridiculously large Buster sword on his back.” — Owen, age 46
“Even if Cloud has gotten a beautiful glow-up in the Final Fantasy 7 Remake, there is something about the cold, dead fish stare from the original I can’t get out of my head. Also I really thought he and Sora went shoe shopping at the same place. My b.”
“I’ve never played a Final Fantasy but I knew two things about Cloud Strife: spiky hair, big sword. However, I’m also terrible at drawing, so I don’t know that my lack of FF7 knowledge was a hinderance here. My husband’s review was, “it looks like he’s doing a murder on himself” and so now I can’t unsee that. I did my best.”
“ I haven’t played Final Fantasy 7 and haven’t even really played a Final Fantasy game, but I do know Cloud has 1. a big sword and 2. a big hair. The rest I filled in with belts.”
“I had a status to uphold by drawing this accurately. I needed to prove that I am the writer at Polygon dot com with the most Final Fantasy 7 brain worms. I haven’t thought about anything else since getting Final Fantasy 7 Remake in my talons, and I won’t think about anything else for at least another four months.”
“My initial goal was to draw a very small Cloud with as big a sword as possible. This was immediately ruined the moment I drew his face a normal size. I was committed. For obvious reasons of ease, I decided to attempt to replicate blocky original cut-scene Cloud. This Cloud is easier to draw, though less familiar to me than the Cloud in Hercules’ arena in the original Kingdom Hearts. I couldn’t really remember his clothing. I guess I thought he wears a V-neck. I considered adding some superfluous belts or zippers but eventually went with this simplified look, plus a buster sword as big as could be fit on the page. If I’m proud of anything it’s the absolute himbo expression on his face, which I understand is in character.”
“I’ve spent the past two weeks staring at a Cloud’s beautifully rendered face and sweater tank top. So I decided to throw all of that out the window and create my own monstrosity. I’d like to say I captured the beauty of the original version from 1997, to give myself some slack. But truly ... Sephiroth would not want this sad Cloud. Only I want this sad Cloud. And I hope that’s enough for him; he’s enough for me.”
“I’ve always been pretty bad at drawing human feet. Thankfully I found a loophole: Chocobo feet.”
“I’ve had an OG low-poly count Cloud behind my shoulder in Zoom all week, so thankfully I had some idea of what to do here. One large spike in a sea of smaller spikes? Check. Weirdly large wrists? Sure why not. Baggy pants reminiscent of bad 90s fads? That... that might actually come from my memory of looking at concept art back when I was a kid. Oh! The sword is big! And more importantly, Cloud having a struggle with the sword means I don’t have to draw eyes. I remember he has ‘mako eyes’ but... what the hell is the color of Mako?”
“I know vaguely what Cloud’s face looks like but remember nothing else about him besides his sleeveless turtleneck, having a shoulder thing, and a giant sword. Hence, ‘Folks …’”
“I was hoping this week for an attack helicopter, perhaps the Kiowa from DCS World. Alas. I know Cloud has hair, and a body of some kind. Also a face. Attempts were made. But his iconic element is the sword. I’ve drawn many swords in my life, but never once have I drawn them on a pad of paper won by selling Girl Scout Cookies or with this many colored pencils. I’d like to thank my 10-year-old for the last-minute assist there. I used an Altoids tin — the same one I keep my voice recorder and microphone in — as a ruler.”
Simone de Rochefort
“I love Final Fantasy 7 a lot, but I went into this challenge with low self-esteem, knowing that human bodies are simply beyond my artistic abilities. I didn’t think it could be possible to lower my expectations further, but as I put pen to paper I realized I couldn’t remember what Cloud’s hair looks like. You know, Cloud’s famous fucking hair. His most distinct attribute. The one feature that would make a minimalist Cloud look like Cloud Fucking Strife. What direction does the hair go? What shape is it, beyond that iconic spike?? I feel like one of those people who saw the ‘imagine an apple’ twitter meme who discovered in that moment that they can’t visualize objects. I CAN VISUALIZE OBJECTS. I’M A VERY VISUAL PERSON.”
“I started drawing Cloud and realized he sort of has Calvin hair so I went from there. I haven’t played Final Fantasy 7, so I just had to make an educated guess as to which concept Calvin Cloud would prefer to derisively micturate upon.”
“The only frame of reference I have for Cloud is the fact my younger brother main-ed him in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U for a bit. All I knew was intense anime hair and vague brooding attitude. And tank top? I think there’s a tank top. Also very much channeling 2008 Deviant Art.”
“I can’t believe I thought there were three holes in the sword. What a rookie mistake.”
“Proud of cloud from Smash for getting his own game.”
“Big sword, bigger pants.”
“I have not played Final Fantasy 7 Remake, nor have I actually played Final Fantasy 7. My neighbor had a PlayStation, and I watched maybe a few hours of mostly incomprehensible gameplay. I think I got baked once and watched Final Fantasy: Advent Children once. The point is: I know the hair, I know the color purple, I know the giant sword (but I ran out of room to make it truly giant) and I knew Final Fantasy involves chocobos. I got it all in there for this piece.”