Art Case Study

Step By Step: The Stray Kids

Artistic challenges offer new perspectives, opportunities to develop, and the chance to discover unconventional solutions. In this case study, we’ll share how the Inlingo.Art team took on a project to create four characters at once, each with distinctive designs, characteristics, and histories that intertwine to form memorable and unique personalities. We’ll explain our process step by step, from developing the pipeline to polishing up the final details.

Introducing the Stray Kids

In the Inlingo.Art team, we’re passionate about our work and always trying to develop our creative abilities. By challenging ourselves in different ways, we’re able to hone new skills, boost our creativity, and learn to approach everyday tasks from entirely new perspectives. That’s how we came up with the idea to create four new characters, using a technical task that was developed right within our team. It was important that our design was both interesting and able to convey our characters’ morale and history.

Yana Glotova, Art Director at Inlingo

We wanted to address the problems of bullying and otherness, while also portraying themes of friendship, hope, and the strength of those who choose to break from the crowd. That’s how we came up with the Stray Kids, a group of youngsters who, at first glance, may not seem to have much in common. However, they’re all united as social outsiders and by their desire for a world in which they’re no longer outcasts, but courageous heroes. And a roleplaying game is the perfect escape for these characters. With Dungeons and Dragons, they can leave the real world and enter a realm full of magic, battles, danger, adventure, and brave exploits.

Evgeniy Gilmanov


In the DnD universe, characters are divided into certain classes; mainly, wizards, fighters, clerics, and rogues. Their fates are controlled by the Dungeon Master. For each character, the Inlingo.Art team came up with unique personality traits that could help explain their role in the game.

Emma, Dungeon Master

Emma is a brave and indomitable leader. At 15 years old, she’s positive, active, feminine, charismatic, and clever. She comes from a respectable and well-to-do family. Emma could have easily been the star of her school—that is, if it weren’t for her uncompromising character and passion for truth and fairness, staunch principles, and desire to protect the vulnerable. Sometimes, her outspoken nature gets her into trouble, as it’s often mistaken for rudeness. Emma almost always gets her way, and will never abandon someone in need.

She loves to read and write, and has all the makings of a future writer or journalist; one who seeks truth and justice at any cost. However, that’s all in the future. For now, Emma has brought together the Stray Kids to help them through these difficult times, and entrance them with her imaginary world and thrilling stories.

Thornberry, Wizard

Thornberry is a geeky botanist with a kind heart but terrible social skills. At 12 years old, he’s awkward and scrawny, shy and distracted. He looks at the world through old, thick-rimmed glasses, avoiding the gazes of those around him. However, when he’s among the Stray Kids, Thornberry truly blossoms as the High Wizard, able to help others with his wit and cleverness. Thornberry was raised in a poor, single-parent household. His clothes are ripped and dirty, which makes him the subject of bullying from his classmates, but his friends don’t seem to mind. One day, he’ll become a great scientist and even launch things into space, but for now, he’s on the hunt for the greatest spell in the world.

Violet, Fighter

Only 11 years old, Violet is the youngest of the Stray Kids. She’s a sassy little tomboy with perpetually scraped knees and unkempt hair. At first glance, it’d be easy to mistake her for a boy. Violet wouldn’t be caught in pink, skirts, bows, or ruffles, and for that, she’s constantly bullied in school. Violet loves sports, nature, and animals. She dreams of one day becoming a veterinarian and working with wild animals in Africa. But for now, she defends the Stray Kids with strength and courage, protecting the weak and innocent, and fighting for goodness with a sword and shield atop her trust steed, Silverstorm. As the fifth child in a large family, Violet is mostly left to her own devices. Luckily, however, her friends are happy to give her the care and attention she lacks at home.

Butch, Bard

At 14 years old, Butch looks much older than most kids his age. Tall and well-built, with broad shoulders, Butch is arguably the only Stray Kid you wouldn’t want to cross in school. Of course, his strength is also his biggest weakness. With his dark and threatening appearance, other kids avoid Butch like the plague. Fortunately, Butch never feels alone among the Stray Kids, who, in turn, were surprised to discover the warm, gentle heart hidden within his large, imposing body. Butch has a hidden passion for music and everything related to it. He dreams of quitting the sport that his father has forced on him, and instead taking to the stage and learning to play guitar. One day, Butch’s lyrics will become chart-topping hits, but for now, they’ll be used as powerful spells to slow his enemies or heal allies.

Bringing ideas to life

The first step in the design process was choosing an artist to fulfill our vision. Experience and perspective are crucial to a project’s success, so we needed to find a professional with a portfolio and style that matched the project concept.

Yana Glotova, Art Director at Inlingo

Inlingo.Art has a professional base of over 100 talented artists with all different styles. When choosing an artist for the Stray Kids, we wanted someone with a portfolio of interesting artwork that matched our project’s theme and spirit, the skills to put their heart and soul into our concept, and a creative approach to design.

The Stray Kids was an artistic idea that allowed for a lot of creative license. The artist we chose had a rich imagination and was able to bring original ideas to life.

Evgeniy Gilmanov


Alongside each Stray Kid’s personal characteristics, the art team provided possible attributes that the artist could adopt when designing the characters.

Butch: A guitar, band t-shirt (from a fictional group), bard beret, music player with headphones, and music book.

Emma: A makeshift hooded cloak, books, notebook, pen and pencil, maps, and a t-shirt with fantasy symbols.

Thornberry: A makeshift wizard’s hat and staff, spell book, glasses with thick lenses, and a backpack stuffed with books and manuals.

Violet: A makeshift sword/shield or baseball bat, sports equipment, and animal print accessories, a hat/cap with animal ears, band-aids and patched-up wounds, and her bicycle “Silverstorm.”

We used references from “Stranger Things”, Stephen King’s “It”, and the 1980’s to capture the mood and atmosphere for our characters.

Our work pipeline: The Stray Kids take shape

We developed the Stray Kids over four stages:

  • Sketching the group
  • Choosing a color palette
  • Rendering
  • Developing facial expressions and emotions for each character

Our key challenge was creating four characters at once, each with their own individual appearance and history that still complemented the others visually.

Step 1: Appearance and poses

We started the visualization process by creating black and white sketches of the Stray Kids. Our artist developed unique visual characteristics for each character, including their design, outward appearance, and pose. These features all help highlight the characters’ individuality and distinct personalities. Overall, the designs manage to capture both sides of the Stray Kids: their lives in the real world and in the fantasy world where they can live out their wildest hopes and dreams.

When creating the sketches, we always drew the characters together. That way, we could already see how they’d work together as a group.

Different sketches of the Stray Kids

Out of four sketches, the team chose the one that best represented the roles of Dungeon Master, Fighter, Bard, and Wizard, while still conveying each child’s real story. The Stray Kids are depicted as they’d like to be seen: open, brave, and free from prejudice.

Final sketch

Step 2: Choosing a color palette

Once we finalized the kids’ style and poses, it was time to choose a color palette. Once again, we worked with the entire cast of kids as a group, making sure that their individual colors would “harmonize” with one another. Each character was given a dominate color that would complement the group’s overall color palette.

Color options for the Stray Kids

We picked out individual color palettes for each character. However, by incorporating elements with warm tones, we ensured that the kids would truly look like a group and complement one another. Through their choice of colors, the team was able to convey the mood and coziness, strength, and warmth of the characters.

The colors we chose for the Stray Kids

Step 3: Rendering

At this stage, the artist adds the final details that will make the characters three-dimensional and lifelike. For the Stray Kids, the team chose a light, almost watercolor style for the materials that really conveyed the characters’ lively and vibrant personalities. And that’s how we were able to create designs for Butch, Emma, Thornberry, and Violet that fully reflected their unique spirit and individuality.

The Stray Kids after rendering

For the style, our team combined realistic proportions with soft, pastel materials to hint at the characters’ fantastical origins and lifestyle.

Step 4: Emotions

To really unlock each character’s emotional range, the team also developed sketches of the Stray Kids with different reactions and facial expressions. At this stage, we focused on each character individually, emphasizing their personal characteristics. For example, to convey Emma and Violet’s outgoing and courageous nature, we depicted them laughing heartily. On the other hand, timid Thornberry and reserved Butch are pictured with a small smile.

The Stray Kids with different facial expressions and emotions

Yana Glotova, Art Director at Inlingo

We’ll leave it to the audience to decide whether we managed to communicate both our idea and the spirit of each character. On our part, I can say that this project was an incredibly useful and fascinating experience. Throughout the process, we gained skills and solutions that will certainly be used in future tasks. But for now, I’m just happy to share our story and final results.