Mala and Kalo


Mala and Kalo (temporary name) was a personal project that I first started during my independent study with Neal Daugherty. I used this project to explore concept art and character design. Later throughout my study, I focused on improving my understanding of human anatomy to help me tackle the issues I was having with my style.

Click here to see my progress throughout this project!

This project was meant to be a meld of my personal inspirations. Neal suggested that I approach this project as an autobiography as reflected by much of my previous works. It started off with the two characters, Mala and Kalo.


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Mala and Kalo were inspired by the idea of devoted partnership. Some of my favorite series, Digimon and Gash Bell, demonstrated the kind of bond that I wanted in my own story. I wanted their relationship to be mutually beneficial and for them to be treated as equals that both inspire each other to be better people. Personality wise, they are complete opposites. Mala is optimistic and generous, but also naive and confirmative. Despite her good intentions, she is easily manipulated and taken advantage of. On the other hand, Kalo is more level headed and assertive, but also cynical and isolated. Unlike Mala, he has strong resolve and is in confident in his beliefs. However, he prefers to keep to himself and not get mixed up in other people’s conflicts. Apart they’re not perfect, but together, they balance each other out. Mala learns how to be more independent and confident in her beliefs while Kalo learns how to be more empathetic and charitable to others.

The Colony

The Colony is Mala’s home. It’s physical appearance is based off of termite mounds and rock formations like the tufa towers from Mono Lake. The society of The Colony is inspired by dystopic media, particularly Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We. Like the people in We, The Colony prioritizes efficiency and resourcefulness. However, instead of literal glass walls, the transparency is created through the people themselves and their relationships with each other.

The colonists are generally friendly and personable. It is a neighborly community where everyone knows each other, their roles in The Colony, and the details of their personal lives. Everyone strives to do their share to help The Colony. Overall, they are efficient, organized, and resourceful. Since the beginning, they have been known to not waste resources that have been given to them or that they have collected. They take what they need and share the rest. To not dedicate all hours of the day to benefit the Colony is seen as selfish and looks down upon.

The people find joy in doing everything they can in order to benefit The Colony. By dedicating their lives to The Colony, they ensure the well-being of their families and neighbors. Everyone is familiar with each other and know the details of their lives. However, this leaves little room for secrets and suspicious behavior. With The Colony being so organized, irregularities are noticed quickly and reported throughout the community. Many consider those that choose to leave The Colony as selfish and naive. Usually younger generations have this desire, but it is quickly smothered due to societal pressure.

It is because of these themes that when depicting The Colony, I have been drawing inspiration from socialist realism paintings from the Soviet Union. It is meant to show the idealization of efficiency and labor, celebrating what the Colonists do for their home. Mala, having grown up in this kind of society, has a deep love for it and her people. During her travels away from home, the guilt of leaving her family behind often causes her to fall into an emotional spiral. Mala is use to following rules, staying in line, and being told what to do. Often time she struggles with forming her own opinion about things, because she gets frustrated when it feels like her thoughts are not her own. Mala does not particularly hate her home or her people, but she recognizes the flaws that were present and wishes to break the conformity by seeing what is beyond The Colony.

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