Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Overhauling an Old Story! | Concept Corner: HEARTLESS #1

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Hello, hope you're doing well,

and welcome to the first in what is probably going to be an infrequent series on my channel,

but definitely one that I have been very much looking forward to making:

Concept Corner!

This is basically a video format that I've had sitting in my brain for ages now

where I take a look at some of my very old story concepts and comic ideas from when I was younger

and just kind of talk you guys through whatever I can remember about the plot

while redesigning the characters in my current art style.

Today, for this very first installment,

I wanted to revisit a story and a set of characters that have actually featured here on the channel before,

from an old manga concept of mine called "Heartless".

The last time I drew these guys all together was back in the days before I really did

any voice-over work for my speed paints though,

so this is going to be the first time that I really talk about them properly.

If you want to check out the last redesign I did of these characters back in 2017,

There's going to be a link both on screen and at the end of the video, but for now, let's dive into this concept!

So I first came up with the story of Heartless back in 2012, when I was like 15 at the height of my weeb phase,

which meant that it was very heavily influenced by all of the manga that I was reading at the time,

like One Piece and Naruto,

where they're all very long-running and the characters kind of travel around facing different enemies and story arcs and picking up new allies along the way.

The classic shonen jump kind of format, basically, if you're familiar with that.

And the main premise and setting of the story was a world in which some people are born with the ability to use magic,

they are wizards,

but also a world in which the use of magic is generally pretty frowned upon,

if not entirely outlawed.

I think that might have been because of some kind of historical plot-important thing,

with like evil wizards of the past making things miserable for people a long time ago,

uh, but I don't think I ever really fleshed that out.

The main thing is that the degree of wizard acceptance would vary depending on the different places that the characters went.

So, while some places are really accepting of magic,

in the majority of the world,

as the kind of standard,

people who use magic are cast out from society

and have to keep their magical abilities a secret because of that.

That was the main kind of premise, anyway.

But for the main character of that largely magic-phobic world,

um, I decided to make a character who is actually kept alive by his magic and he can't hide it away.

The original idea was that he had magical energy where his heart should be.

Like, he just straight up had like a ball of magic in his chest instead of a heart.

Which is how I ended up giving him the name Heartless.

Pretty on the nose, but if it works, it works.

Now, despite the fact that Heartless was the main character,

I never really settled on a design for him that I actually liked.

In my first drawings of him, he was way too edgy and then way too plain.

He never really looked like the kind of protagonist I imagined him to be,

he just kind of looked like some kid.

Drawing him this time around though,

I think I finally managed to come up with a look for him that actually works.

You see the main thing that always draws me back to this story concept,

even after so many years,

is the characters.

Specifically, all of the characters in Heartless have particular traits and drawbacks

that go along with their powers that have always made them really fun and interesting for me to think about.

Heartless, for instance, was always a character who I imagined to be really energetic.

But the drawback was that using his magic would use up a lot of that energy,

so he would get tired really easily and fall asleep in random places.

For this revamp I wanted to really flesh out Heartless's design by leaning into that idea of him being high energy.

So, I gave him a much sportier outfit that he could really run around in.

He's got a crop top, he's got leggings,

he's got his trainers on, he is ready to move!

Overall, it's just a much more unique and recognizable outfit than anything I've drawn him in before

so I really enjoyed seeing it come together.

The one detail I think I kept was the pulse pattern going around his hoodie.

That's always been his kind of defining symbol,

so I wanted to make sure that I kept that in there.

Beyond just his clothes though,

I also had a ton of fun reimagining exactly how his magic might work.

You see, this time around I thought rather than him just having magic where his heart should be,

he should actually be some kind of undead

and have that fact reflected in his magic somehow.

And in his eyes, I always drew him with his eyes closed before now because I didn't know what to do with them,

but giving him those like black sclera kind of filled in eyes this time around really hit the mark.

Anyway, I haven't set anything in stone

but one idea that really stuck with me while I was bouncing ideas around was that

because he's undead,

he has a limited supply of magic.

It doesn't replenish naturally.

Or at least not as fast as a fully alive person's would.

So whenever he uses his magic to speed himself up

or, you know, do whatever he does with it, I don't know,

Uh, it ends up kind of drawing energy from the living things around him,

and sucking the life out of them.

So if he was fighting a bad guy in a field or a forest,

you might see the plants around him all withering

because their energy is being sucked up to fuel Heartless's magic.

It's fun to imagine the different ways that might limit just how all out he goes in a fight depending on the situation,

because he wouldn't want to go too far and start accidentally sapping up his friends' energy as well.

As you can see, he's a pretty happy-go-lucky guy

so I thought the contrast of that chipper personality

paired with such a dark and volatile kind of power would be a lot of fun to see play out in different ways.

Plus, it still leaves room for him to fall asleep in random places if he pushes himself a bit too far.

In the original 2012 version of this story

Heartless would go around taking on odd jobs in different places, and meeting new people along the way.

And that was kind of it.

He didn't really have a greater purpose beyond kind of wandering around.

But I like to think that maybe in this updated version he would be taking on those odd jobs

while trying to figure out the mystery of why he's undead,

or maybe meet the person who brought him back to life or something like that.

Anyway, now that we've got our main character, let's meet the rest of the team!

Whatever his reason for traveling, he ends up meeting a whole lot of magical people along the way

and the first ally he comes across is Alchemy Valentine.

Alchemy is a wizard with the power of transformation.

Originally that meant that they could change anything and anyone into whatever they wanted,

but because I never thought of a drawback for their power when I first made them,

they ended up being both way too powerful

and just not as interesting as they could be.

So I went ahead and shook their concept up a bit for this redesign.

In some of my earliest sketches of Alchemy, they looked completely different.

They were a lot more on the edgy side, and they were honestly a bit mean in terms of personality.

And then from there, I ended up taking more inspiration from Nami from One Piece

and they took on much more of a confident,

somewhat typical,

shonen pretty lady kind of role.

But in every iteration, I was really keen on them being able to disguise themself.

So for this version of Alchemy, I thought,

"Okay. What if they can magically transform objects from one state to another and change their shape

in more of a Full Metal Alchemist kind of way,

where there are material limits and equivalent exchange comes into play,

and then the only living thing that they can transform or alter is themself?"

So they can alter their own appearance however they like,

but they couldn't change another person into a turtle, for instance.

I also got really excited at the idea of Alchemy keeping that confident personality,

and even ramping it up to the point where they're actually a bit of a showman.

Like they're really big on self-love and understanding

and because of that they actively celebrate their magical ability

and use it in their day-to-day life,

rather than hiding it away entirely.

Of course, I mentioned before that the world of Heartless is set in a society that's not exactly very fond of wizards

and Alchemy knows that, they're not dumb.

If anything, they end up being the brains of the group later on.

So I like to imagine that Alchemy ran a kind of underground magic/drag show

where they would pose as both the magician and their own glamorous assistant.

And they would just do performances for a crowd of like-minded people who could see the beauty in magic,

even when maybe the rest of the world couldn't.

Now, it's at this point that I'd like to point out that the beauty of growing up and revisiting your old stories

is that you hold the power to make all of your old characters gay! :D

So you'll probably be unsurprised to hear that Alchemy is non-binary now.

They change between their appearances and pronouns as they wish,

and all around I think they are just a whole lot cooler now.

It definitely feels like there's a lot more substance to them now at least,

rather than just being the token shonen anime pretty lady of the group.

You'll actually see here that I drew both a more feminine and masculine appearance for them here.

I think these would be the default ones that they kind of switch between.

And in each of them, they have a slightly altered version of the same outfit,

which I drew inspiration for from that theme of a magician's assistant,

with high-waisted pants and frills and a semi-transparent jacket

to really add that finishing touch of flamboyance.

They also have a staff,

which was inspired by one of their original designs where they had just like a long length of pipe.

I like to imagine that maybe the stuff they have now started out as a random bit of pipe,

but they transformed it to look more like a magic wand.

It's all about the aesthetic, ya know?

With both Heartless and Alchemy's redesigns here

I also tried to lean way more into giving them a specific color scheme,

since their old designs were a lot more muddled on that front,

they just had way too many colors going on.

Now I'm not entirely sure what particular circumstances would lead to Heartless meeting Alchemy in the story,

but once they do cross paths,

they end up traveling together to take on more odd jobs that are in need of magical assistance

And the first place they visit is also where they meet a new friend.

So this guy used to be called Moyasupiro,

because like all good weeb children,

I used to get all of my character names by Google Translating random words into Japanese.

But along with a couple of other characters, I have since renamed him.

So now he goes by the name Flint Solveig.

A shiny new name, which I think came from something Norse

but don't quote me on that.

Now while I'm still not entirely sure how Heartless would meet Alchemy,

the way that Flint comes into the story is a lot more fleshed out in my mind.

Basically, Heartless and Alchemy,

ready for their first job together,

arrive at the site of a martial arts tournament,

where the rules state that there is no magic allowed.

They're either gonna be there to do something simple,

like sell concessions,

or to help investigate something suspicious that's going on at the tournament.

Namely the fact that one of the competitors in the tournament is seemingly so strong

that their punches managed to knock their opponents out of the ring without even touching them.

Of course, it turns out that that competitor is secretly a bad wizard who is using their magic to cheat.

And Flint here is another competitor in the tournament,

and because he is very much the noble fighter kind of character,

he doesn't take very kindly to finding out about this other person cheating.

Not least because Flint himself is also secretly a wizard

who has been fighting and winning all of his own tournament matches fair and square

without using any magic.

So, basically, some other stuff happens,

and then there would be a very fun opportunity for a wizard vs wizard face-off in the final round

between Flint and the bad cheating wizard man.

Flint's magic, by the way, is all about fire

and his drawback,

or more like his personality quirk that goes with that,

is one of my favorites because it's really really dumb.

To put it simply, he just can't function in hot weather.

That's it.

If it ever gets too hot, or god forbid if the gang ever goes to a desert or something,

he just gets really groggy and complains and just can't really function properly.

It's not even necessarily because his magic makes him run hot by default or anything,

I just thought the idea of a really stoic cool strong guy who can control fire

not being able to handle a heatwave was a really funny idea.

At the end of the day, all of my characters are himbo and I cannot stop that.

I based Flint's fighting style and his updated outfit on boxing,

so you can see he's real muscular, he's got the wraps around his fists, and the boxing boots.

And if you can imagine he basically fights with a lot of fire powered punches.

Nothing too fancy, but definitely powerful.

In his original design, he had a tattoo of a sun on his arm

that I thought could also have some kind of cool link to his magic.

Like, maybe it changes shape or glows when he goes into overdrive or something.

But in this version I decided to move it onto his back.

So of course you can't see it in this drawing because it's behind him,

but I thought having it under his jacket would be neat because then he could like

dramatically reveal it as he goes to use some kind of high power magic move

midway through a fight or something.

Also, another aspect of his design that you might notice is rather different from his original version

is that he is not pasty anymore.

Uh, yeah, there were just a lot of white people on this team,

and I needed to change that.

Nah. Jokes aside, it is a good point to kind of mention.

Um, because when I first made these characters

um, I took in like a pretty limited amount of media like-like I said,

mostly One Piece and Naruto and stuff,


there wasn't a lot of skin tone variation in those sort of stories, to say the least.

But because those were the only stories I was taking in at the time,

I didn't really know that there was anything amiss with that.

I didn't realize that that was like,

not a very accurate representation of all of the really cool kinds of people in the world.

So, if I can give like one piece of advice from this to any,

you know,

15-year-old artists who are making their own stories right now it's that

you should draw from a wide range of reference material,

not just one or two

and you should never be afraid to draw people who don't look like you.

Because as I have said many times before, we are all about diverse representation in this house.

And I can never stress enough the importance of doing what you can to make other people feel seen in some way in the work that you create,

it's a very important thing.

Anyway, that was a lot more serious advice than I was expecting to give in this very self-indulgent video

um, but hopefully that is helpful to somebody. Hopefully, that's solid advice.

I don't know.


But the main takeaway is that I am just generally a lot happier with his design overall now.

I think it looks a lot more unified, I think he looks a whole lot cooler.

And speaking of stuff looking cool not for nothing,

I don't know what I did to make the fire end up looking the way that it does here

but I really like it.

I want to do it again and I don't know how!

But this is the only way I want to draw fire from here on out.

It was especially nice to do this particular character's redesign

because Flint has always been one of my favorite characters from this story.

Alongside the next one that you're going to see in a second.

I don't know what it is about the strong boy side characters that always gets, me but they really do hit different

(uh, boxing pun not intended).

Anyway, speaking of the next character,

let's go ahead and take a look at him.

So this guy's name is Eira Hale, although back in the google translate days, he went by Kori Hale

which was I think a mix of the word for ice and the word for god?

Eira is, as far as I know, a welsh name that means snow, in case you're wondering,

and he is indeed my other favorite character from this story.

The gang meet him when Heartless, Alchemy, and Flint team up after the martial arts tournament to deliver a letter

to the ruler of a kingdom covered in snow.

Eira is a very skilled self-taught swordsman,

who used to be a street punk in his youth,

but who now works in the kingdom as the head of the royal guard.

Eira is also the king's closest childhood friend, he puts the royal's life before his own.

So when the letter that the gang delivers to the king ends up putting him in peril,

Eira takes a bit of a disliking to them, to say the least.

To put it another way,

he does not trust our heroes as far as he could throw them.

For this kind of arc of the story though,

Eira does end up reluctantly working together with Heartless and the others

to rescue the king and save the kingdom

Now, you might have already put two and two together here after I explained his name a minute ago,

but Eira's magic is of the icy variety.

He can control snow and frost and turn water into ice, you know, all the good stuff.

You can see here, as well in this drawing, that he has a sword made out of ice that he can conjure at will,

but I'm not actually sure whether he would have that ability at the start of this arc where he gets introduced.

I've kind of been toying with the notion that where generally the rest of the group is kind of at peace with or, they at least embrace their own magical abilities,

maybe Eira is still kind of rejecting his existence as a wizard when you first meet him in the story.

Which would be kind of fun to see since he's otherwise a very disciplined and refined character,

but his magic could very easily be a bit more wild and unrefined

because he's staved off from using it for so long that it's not familiar to him.

I haven't decided exactly what angsty backstory reasons he might have for rejecting his magical abilities,

but honestly, Eira just feels like the kind of character where even if everybody around him was telling him like,

"Hey, we already know you're a wizard and we're fine with it,"

he'd still kind of hold himself back.

Then again, he also doesn't realize that he's gay when you first meet him in the story, so

maybe I'm just mixing my self-acceptance metaphors here. Who knows?

Oh on that note the drawback personality quirk that I always had in mind for him

Was that he just has a really hard time talking to women or female presenting people?

Much like flint's problems with hot weather. It doesn't actually have anything to do with his magic. It's just social anxiety, baby

Uh, actually I think this was another instance where I took inspiration from one piece. I always really enjoyed zorro and sanji's dynamic

So I wanted to make some characters with a similar vibe and maybe who were similarly shippable. Don't look at me


I guess where sanji is really crazy about the ladies. I just decided to make ira the complete opposite either way

What would the fact that alchemy switches between being masculine and female presenting now?

I think it opens up a lot of fun

Opportunities for them to mess with ira a bit by switching between the two just to see him get flustered

Besides his personality and the sword skills and the awkwardness and everything

The main reason that ira has always been one of my favorites out of all of the characters from this story

Is just because he looks really cool and he's a ton of fun to draw

I don't know what to tell you the military style jacket and scarf combo is a very fashionable look in my eyes

For this redesign though. I traded out his long overcoat for a cape

Because the logistics of the coat in his original design always gave me some trouble

But I still wanted to make sure that he had some kind of long and flowy element in his outfit

The combination of the cape and the shoulder tassels also kind of add to the royal knight aesthetic that I was going for

So hey, it's a win-win

That's all i've got to say about ira for the moment anyway

But just let it be known that he is a very good man, and I love him

So the next character up on the roster is doppelglass

Formerly known as kagami kage which I think translates to mirror shadow again. My younger self was nothing

If not, very on the nose with the old naming conventions

Doppel is another character whose exact introduction to the story. I don't have pinned down

I just know that he comes after ira in the adventure order

And that he comes from a more steampunk themed city with a lot of metal and waterways

I also know that he's a thief who uses his magic to help him get away with petty crimes

Now you might be saying to yourself. Alex. Why are you only talking about one character when there are clearly two on the screen?

Right now, well, that's because both of the people that i'm drawing here are actually the same person

You see doppel's magic is all about mirrors and reflections

He can make tangible mirrored copies of items and of people or he can reflect attacks back at the person who threw them out

The only problem is that when he was a bit younger

He accidentally split himself in two after getting a bit too ambitious with a spell

Creating a much more timid copy of himself that he couldn't get rid of no matter how hard he tried

that little mishap also left him with much weaker magical abilities than he would otherwise have

Because his power ended up being split between the two halves of himself as well

So if he ever wants to do some serious damage in a fight he has to work really hard to coordinate with himself

I do enjoy doppel

He's a very fun comic relief kind of character who could also kick some serious butt if he could just put his

two brain cells together for once

It's also really entertaining to think about all of the ways that both of his halves could interact

Since the original is very much on the rowdy. Let's do crime side of things and the mirror half is much more of a coward

I remember a drawing I did when I was younger actually of the original doppel shaking the copy by the shirt collar and saying

Would you just disappear already and then the copy just very frantically and very apologetically being like I don't know how

Ugh, he's so dumb

Anyway doppel was another character much like heartless where I never really nailed a solid costume design for him

He always had a purple color scheme

But beyond that none of his outfit concepts were ever really anything to write home about they had no flavor

There was a severe lack of spice very disappointing

So this time around I wanted to bring in some variation and personality to really set him apart from the rest of the cast

What he ended up with was torn up jeans a bag to carry any stuff

He steals and a leather jacket with a fluffy lining around the neck

This might sound very pinnickety

But the reason I went for that was to make it so that every single character had a different kind of shirt or jacket collar

on their outfit

I realize it's a very particular design detail to kind of single out and focus on

But it's also a very good example of how much difference it can make when you remember to vary your designs

It really helps characters

Especially in big groups like this to stand out a lot more when you don't repeat elements when you can avoid it

Anyway, speaking of big groups of characters. This group is still missing one more person

So let's move on to the last member of the heartless team

This final character is easily the one that underwent the most change since the original version of the story

I say change but really I just completely scrapped her old design and rebuilt her concept from the ground up

In the original version of heartless the final member who joins the team was this girl

Who was in another instance of prime google translate tradition named akuma?

Yami, because she was so edgy and cool

Uh, I do weep at the memory of some of the creative decisions I made as a teenager I truly do anyway

Yami was a character that kind of just didn't really fit the story

At the time I guess. I just wanted to include another girl, but I never settled on a good

outfit for her or even a solid idea of the kind of magic she should have

She went from having various animal abilities to having shadow powers to just straight up being possessed at one point. I'm, pretty sure

Honestly if there's one lesson you take away from this retelling of some of my 15 year old self's cringiest storytelling decisions

It's that sometimes as a creative

You gotta look at your old work in the face and say good effort kid, but this really ain't it?

Which is exactly what happened here

So let's put the memory of that original design out of our minds. She's gone. She's irrelevant

She does not exist anymore

Instead. I wanted to make a final character who would both round off the team

And complement the characters who are already a part of it

And by some miracle pretty much as soon as I started thinking an idea for a visual design popped right into my head

So I started drawing it down

For this new character I decided I wanted to go with turquoise green as their main kind of color theme

Since none of the other characters have been green yet

And because that's a color that you commonly see on healers and healing things in video games and stuff

I started to think that maybe her magic should be healing based

Which is why I started to turn the dress in her outfit into a nurse's uniform by putting the little pluses on the sleeves

but the more I thought on it the more I felt like just healing would be a pretty

bland branch of magic for this final character to have

Even though I still wanted her to be a nurse. I always think that having a

Kick-ass medical professional on the team is always pretty fun

So I thought about it some more and the idea I ended up with was that maybe her magic could be

kind of similar to heartless's

Except that where heartless has to consume energy from the world around him

Maybe this girl could amplify and accelerate the energy that's already inside of things and power them up

And why stop there? Maybe she can apply that amplification in different ways

Like limiting the magical output of a strong bad guy or accelerating somebody's healing cells to help them recover from a wound

Or accelerating the growth of a plant even there are a lot of possibilities

More than anything though

it was really fun to think about what kind of effect she could have on everybody else's magic if she decided to give

Them a little power boost

Much like the rest of the team. I named her after coming up with her abilities

so I had a quick look on the old thesaurus and decided to name her river dial because you know

It's all about the flow. It's all about the amplification

It's all about the natural implications of a river and she's green colored. I like it. I think it's cool

It took a while to think of a drawback for river and i'm still not sure if this would be set in stone

but I like the idea that for one thing she could be pretty clumsy because I just think that's endearing but also

maybe she is again kind of the opposite to

Another character here in alchemy, but maybe she can't use her magic to accelerate or amplify herself

So while she's really good at helping other people out. She probably couldn't be in the middle of a battlefield without putting herself at risk

that's why I ended up giving her the knee pads on her outfit because I

Really like the idea of her being very aware that she can't do a lot of damage magically

And maybe going to flint to ask him to teach her how to kickbox or something. I think that'd be really sweet

Originally, I also played around with the idea that she could maybe have some kind of magical sniper weapon

That would mean that she could still help people out, but from a distance kind of like anna from overwatch

but in the end, I just personally really preferred the idea of this tiny girl slowly learning how to

Basically suplex a guy twice her size over her shoulder without needing to use any magic at all

While I was thinking about that I actually did do

A test drawing in my sketchbook of her in more of a like training outfit as well

I'll see if I can get a picture of it on screen here

But yeah, I ended up really falling in love with river's design. She is a ton of fun to draw

She's really cute. And I think based on the little i've imagined of her so far. She's got a very sweet personality

She's real precious and she does what I was hoping she would do and rounds out the team really nicely. So that's pretty neat

Anyway, I think I finally run out of things to say for the moment. This video has been so long. I'm, so

Sorry, so, let's take a look at the finished artwork

All right, and that's that's the main characters of heartless, um, I hope you enjoyed listening to me ramble about them for a while

God knows how long this video is going to end up being. Um, if you made it this far well done and thank you

This is a story that I really love and that I would really really love to work on properly someday. So

It was really nice to just get the chance to dip into it a little here

And tell you a bit about these characters who I do love so much

If you enjoyed this first edition of the chaotic storytelling experience that is concept corner

And you would like me to make more of these please

Let me know in the comments. I have literally hundreds of other story ideas and characters in my old

Sketchbooks. I would be happy to revisit alternatively

If you haven't had enough and you're craving more heartless content, I could even do some fake anime screenshots of these guys sometime

Who knows? I don't

For now. Anyway, thank you very much for tuning in to this video. I hope you're all staying as safe

Happy and healthy as you possibly can and I will see you all next time

The Description of Overhauling an Old Story! | Concept Corner: HEARTLESS #1