The Art of the Mass Effect Universe


At the top left is an early concept for Saren, depicting him as an older, physically weaker character who still possesses incredibly powerful biotics. The concepts on the right are brainstormed images exploring different aspects of Saren’s head, experimenting with structure, scarring, and decorations. We ultimately decided that, unlike most turians, Saren would not have tattoos. We went with a distinctive crest and visible Reaper machinery to reflect his indoctrination.

These designs explored different different directions for Saren’s armor. We eventually decided to show signs of severe indoctrination and Reaper cybernetics by giving him a mechanical arm.

We tried several concepts for Saren’s head. His final appearance was kept similar to other turians, allowing him to blend in to society rather than be an obvious monstrosity.

#mass effect #saren #turians #concept art #the art of the mass effect universe
#mass effect #garrus vakarian #turians #concept art #the art of the mass effect universe

T H A N E   K R I O S

We made many thumbnail drawings for early Thane concepts. Early in development, concept artists are given as much freedom as possible. For Thane, some drew upon lizards or birds of paradise for inspiration. Later refinements led to a mixture of aquatic and reptilian characteristics. Also included are some concepts for jewelry on his face and neck. Only his necklace made it into the final game.

In early passes at Thane’s clothing, we debated whether to give him tight clothing, suitable for an assassin, or a loose-fitting jacket that spoke of the image of a professional. Variations on Thane’s face included a mannequin-like, “perfect human” appearance, but this was considered off-putting for a character intended as a potential romantic interest.

Closing in on the final concept, the artists used an open-collared look for a rebellious vibe. Early attempts to remove the jacket because of animation concerns ended up destroying the entire design. Thane’s balaclava-style helmets were intended to evoke a ski mask, signifying his criminal background.

#mass effect #thane krios #drell #concept art #the art of the mass effect universe
#mass effect #thane krios #drell #concept art #the art of the mass effect universe

A S H L E Y   W I L L I A M S

Ashley, Kaidan, and Liara were meant to be love interests throughout all three parts of the trilogy. After taking them away from players in Mass Effect 2, they were ready for a passionate return in Mass Effect 3. For Ashley’s reappearance in the series, we let her hair down and gave her sex appeal, while keeping her in a uniform that introduced the new Alliance colors. Ashley first bumps into Shepard as an Alliance officer on Earth, so her ironic look is a stylish officer’s uniform, but later she will don a full set of armor.

We tried many hairstyles for Ashley. Ultimately the team decided on a less formal look, appropriate since she and Shepard are well acquainted by Mass Effect 3.

#mass effect #ashley williams #humans #concept art #the at of the mass effect universe

K A I D A N   A L E N K O

Kaidan’s armor in the original Mass Effect was hardly memorable. We wanted to change that. The team bulked him up to show that he’s seen a lot of action and is ready to fight in the biggest war the galaxy has ever seen. The armor went through many slight changes as we figured out the Alliance colors for human male characters.

We used Kaidan’s head from the first Mass Effect, but since the design was more than six years old, we updated his look for Mass Effect 3.

#mass effect #kaidan alenko #humans #concept art #the art of the mass effect universe


  • To add a familiar element of science-fiction fantasy, we decided one of the main species in Mass Effect would be a race of beautiful, blue alien girls. An extensive exploration of the idea led to the asari appearing exotic and alien while still having some human qualities, which allowed them to be desirable as potential love interests. The original inspiration of the scalp tentacles was to evoke the image of women emerging from the water with her hair swept back.
  • Asari clothing was to be alluring and sexy but with a sense of class and style — more of a Hollywood red-carpet feel than that of a stripper (except for the asari who were, in fact, strippers). Once we established the general look of the asari, we examined the fine details, like the scalp tentacles.
#mass effect #meedit #meedits #asari #concept art


  • First Page | Tali’Zorah presented a challenge. We needed to create one alien who would, for a time, be the only example of her species. All we knew about the quarians was that they were a scavenger race that created the geth. When some of these drawings were done, we didn’t yet know what the geth actually looked like. Eventually, we decided on a look for the geth that influenced the (lower) quarian drawings. Tali was to have her face covered by a mask, tantalizing the player, who could barely make out the shape of her eyes, but no more.
  • Second Page | Here you can see the influence the geth had on Tali’s design, ranging from the very gethlike on the far upper left to the final designs on the lower right. The breathing mask and clothing became the enviro-suit. The quarians, having a weak immune system, won’t live long outside an enviro-suit.
#mass effect #meedit #meedits #tali'zorah #concept art #quarians