Here is the second part about the design of the icons of the classes and jobs of Final Fantasy XIV. In the first part, only one category was presented because it contained many icons, but this post will talk about three different ones. Although some of the icons that will be discussed still take inspiration from the main weapon, they contain details that make them belong to a different category than the one discussed in the previous post. Then, let’s get started!
The last post talks about icons inspired by the main weapon of each class or job and that were obtained by directly abstracting said weapon. However, there are icons that, despite also using the main weapon, it was necessary to add an extra element to achieve a better interpretation of the job or class they represented. Dark Knight and Reaper fall into this category and will be analyzed below.
Since even the holiest men led by the pious Ishgardian clergy succumb to the darkest of temptations, it takes an elite to defend the feeble from the transgression of these men who are supposed to guide and protect the people. This is how a few brave people decide to take up arms to defend the oppressed, seeing that no one dared to administer justice to this sacrosanct elite that resides outside the reach of the law. These sentinels are known as Darknights, and they don’t bear shields that declare their allegiance. Instead, they wield the greatswords that act as beacons to guide the meek through darkness.
Dark Knight is a job that was introduced in the first expansion pack of Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensword. In battle, Dark Knights infuse their blades with the powers of darkness and, like Paladins and Warriors, are tanks.
Considering the story and description mentioned above, the key concept for designing the icon for this job is the greatsword infused with the power of darkness. So, firstly, in the icon one can note the drawing of the greatsword placed in a vertical position. The greatswords are two-handed swords that are related to the long sword of the Middle Ages. These were too heavy to be wielded one-handed and possesses a large grip for leverage. In Final Fantasy XIV, these swords are exaggerated by making them ever larger and thicker.
Secondly, a curious element can be observed: that the guard is shaped like a spark. This last detail is a way of symbolizing the power of darkness that the Darknights infuse into their weapons. However, it can also represent the text fragment that mentions that the greatswords “act as beacons to guide the meek through darkness”.
Reaper is an upcoming job in the new Endwalker expansion pack for Final Fantasy XIV. Reapers are former farmers who were driven from their lands by invaders wielding arcane magicks and forced into the frigid mountains to the north. To survive, they had to seek a means to tap into the aether reservoir that would otherwise be closed to them, achieving binding themselves to creatures to gain verboten power—power fed by the souls of the slain. In battle, it is possible to see that the creature that Reaper has as Avatar is the Voidsent, a creature that grew twisted in mind and body due to be deprived of ambient aether necessary to survive.
Reaper’s main weapon is a scythe that comes from the classic Grim Reaper figure, this being a skeleton clothed in a black cloak with a hood carrying a large scythe. So this main weapon has to be on the icon, as it is easy to match the scythe to a reaper.
However, this element is not alone, as it is accompanied by a hoop with a horn. The exact reason for this last symbol is unknown, at least to me, but I have three theories that have good and bad points. The first is that this shape represents the Voidsent because it is a creature with a pointed hood, but this may not be true as the face of the Voidsent is more elongated.
The second involves the halo left by the Reaper’s scythe when executes an attack. The detail that can break this theory is that the drawing lacks dynamism.
Finally, the third idea is that the circle represents the face of the Reaper and that the horn is the tip of the hat that is in the costume of the official illustration of this job.
The other three jobs whose icon take the main weapon as inspiration are Monk, Samurai and Gunbreaker, but in this case the abstraction is not obtained from when the weapon is seen as hanging on a wall or as being wielded by a person ad does the Astrologian. To identify where the Monk, Samurai, and Gunbreaker icons are coming from, it is necessary to look at their weapons from every possible angle. So, with this in mind, let’s start the explanation.
The Monk is a Discipline of War obtained after the Pugilist reaches level 30 and acquires the Soul Crystal. Monks master the seats of power within the body known as chakras, they are capable of performing extraordinary physical feats. They use fist weapons, but, like Pugilists, these only serve to increase their attack strength.
The Monk icon is particular as it handles two concepts. The first is the same one already explained in a previous post about the relationship between the hand and the Pugilist. But in this case, to differentiate the icon of the Monk from that of the Pugilist, the full fist is not used but an abstraction of it from the front. This abstraction consists of three lines that represent the knuckle lines.
However, to give a feeling of more power, since in battle the Monk is stronger than the Pugilist, the Monk icon includes another concept which is the marks left by the claws, one of the weapons used by monks, when perform an attack. So this icon involves the two main concepts of the items that Monks use to attack: their hands and the weapon that increases the damage they deal.
The designer may have chosen to use the claw marks not only because they represent this weapon, but they may also refer to a particular “bangles”: The Spharai. The Spharai are the weapon wielded by the Monk character in the official illustration with which this job was first introduced when it was announced. The important detail here is that the Spharai are shaped like a Coeurl, a clawed feline creature.
Gunbreaker is a class that first appears in Final Fantasy VIII when Squall wields a weapon called gunblade that consisted of fusing a sword and a gun.
In FFVIII, the gun part had no functionality. It is until later versions of the series, as for example in Compilation of Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy XIII, that it began to have a utility. Since then, all Final Fantasy where the gunblade appears to give it a different use. In FFXIV, the gunblade has a firing mechanism that allows aetherically-charged bullets into the blade to enhance its cutting power and the force of its strikes. Additionally, when fired normally, the gunpowder coalesces into a defensive barrier that can protect the wielder and their allies from harm.
Applying the silhouette of a gunblade, taking it as seen in the image above, was not the best option for the Gunbreaker icon as it could be confused with the Gladiator sword or the Machinist gun. Therefore, the best thing was to observe the gunblade from different angles. Perhaps this is what made this icon one of the most difficult to decipher, since at first glance it looks like a “Z”, when in fact the trick is to look directly at the weapon, as if someone was pointing it at our face, to understand the real idea behind the Gunbreaker icon. In this way, one can notice that the circle is the gun cylinder and the diagonal line is the blade.
It could be considered that it is not correct that this icon cannot be identified immediately upon seeing it, however, it must be recognized the enormous creativity and mental work that existed behind it. This was because the designer had to face various obstacles, such as avoiding shapes that were similar to other classes or jobs, and also taking the essential elements of a gunblade.
This icon is an example of a design that once its origin is known, its greatness can be seen.
A recurring character class in the Final Fantasy Series and a classic warrior in history is the Samurai. It is known by all that these solemn warriors wield katanas as their weapon, and in FFXIV that tradition is not broken. Although one might think of using the shape of a katana for the Samurai icon, in small sizes this could lead to confusion with the sword used for Gladiator. But this does not rule out the katana as inspiration, on the contrary, the icon take one of the important parts of the katana: the tsuba.
The tsuba is the guard at the end of the grip of Japanese bladed weapons, such as katanas and their variations. It is essential since it contributes to the balance of the weapon and to the protection of the hand to prevent it from sliding on the blade during thrusts.
During the Muromachi period (1333–1573) and the Momoyama period (1573–1603), tsubas were more for functionality than decorative and thus were made of stronger metals and designs. During the Edo period (1603–1868), when there was peace in Japan, tsubas became more ornamental and were made of less practical metal such as gold. From this knowledge, the close relationship between samurai, katanas and the tsuba is observed. Therefore, it is considered to abstract a tsuba to achieve the Samurai job icon.
The next category talks about the jobs and classes that are considered classic and iconic from the Final Fantasy series. That is why the elements that serve as a source of inspiration to design the icons that represent them are those that every fan of Final Fantasy will understand immediately.
Dragoons are lance-wielding knights who have developed a style of aerial combat to pierce the scaly skins of their mortal foes. Dragoon became one of the most iconic job classes in the Final Fantasy series, and it is very common to see them with armor that is intended to evoke the image of dragons, including dragon head shaped helmets, spikes, and wing and scales designs.
In Final Fantasy XIV, the Dragoon job is obtained by raising the Lancer class, mentioned in a previous post, to level 30. Dragoons also wield lances, and employing this main weapon as the inspiration for the Dragoon icon may not seem ideal, as that the Lancer already applies the spear as an icon.
However, the designers found a way to use not only the spear, but also the dragons within this icon. They chose to abstract the dragon’s head not only because it was identifiable, but because it could be adapted to look like a spearhead as well. Therefore, the icon of the Dragoon has two iconic concepts: the main weapon of the Dragoons and their mortal enemy.
The Black Mage is a recurring job in the Final Fantasy series of games and is not only one of the first Warrior of Light available since Final Fantasy I, but also one of the most recognizable symbols in the Final Fantasy series. The Black Mage is the dedicated offensive spellcaster of the game that, while having minimal physical proficiency, casts Black Magic that deals heavy damage to enemies. In Final Fantasy XIV, this job can be reach after using the Soul Crystal obtained from the level 30 Thaumaturge quest.
To represent a classic job, a classic element is necessary, or that is what the designers thought when they decided to abstract “Meteor”, one of the strongest spells and usually the Ultimate Black Magic in games where the Flare spell is not considered as such.
As mentioned above, not only Meteor but also Flare is considered classic and ultimate spells in the Final Fantasy series. However, using Flare’s abstraction as an icon could have caused it to look like a simple flame of fire, or like MegaFlare ability, Bahamunt’s signature attack.
Therefore, “Meteor” is chosen because it is iconic and easy to interpret.
Summoner is a job that appears in several games in the Final Fantasy series. Summoners have the ability to summon magical beasts, and in the case of Final Fantasy XIV, these beasts are the “essence” of the Eorzean primals. They generally have the lowest physical stats, but also the highest magical stats.
Although not all the games of the series use it, the Summoner’s iconic outfit is a green and white robe with a large horn on the foreheads. This last element is essential because it is said to allow communication with otherworldly allies. This importantly makes the horn the one indicated to represent the Summoner, and that is why the abstraction of it is presented in the icon of this job.
And with this ends the second part of the analysis of the icons of the icons of the classes and jobs of Final Fantasy XIV. Hope you liked this post and are looking forward to the next and last part. Please comment on what you think about these icons and this post. But for now, see you in the next post.
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