FINAL FANTASY XIV: CLASSES AND JOBS ICONS (PART 3/3)

Cover image from Creative Uncut. Classes and Jobs icons from reddit

And here is the third and final part about the design of the icons of the classes and jobs of Final Fantasy XIV. This post is divided into four subheadings that represent the last four categories, in which the icons were divided according to the inspiration resource used for their design. Although this topic has three parts, context is not lost if you want to read only one, however, I hope you can read the first and second parts because all the icons have very interesting details about their design. But for now, let’s start with this last part!

CLOTHING WITH MEANING

Using clothing as inspiration can be tricky because many classes and jobs share the same type of wardrobe, such as mages, who wear robes. That is why it is necessary to choose those garments or accessories that have a meaning, as was done with the icons of the works that analyzed below.

  • Scholar

Scholars, rather than serving as mere healers, are expected to take command of the battlefield, focusing more fully on strategy and tactics, a practice that earned them their title. To accomplish this, Scholars learn to bind and control faeries so that they can entrust these otherworldly creatures with a portion of their restorative duties.

To be a Scholar, it is necessary to raise the Arcanist to level 30 and complete a certain quest. Like the Arcanist and the Summoner, the Scholar’s main weapon is a book. However, this object did not influence any of the icons of these jobs and classes as already observed in a previous post when the Summoner was discussed and as it will be seen with the Arcanist in subsequent subtitles. The same happens with the Scholar, since the icon of this job derives from its description, already mentioned in the previous paragraph, and from the real meaning of the word scholar, which is “a person who is highly educated or has an aptitude for study” [1].

With the initial information and dictionary definition, the first word that comes to mind when thinking of a Scholar is “intelligent”. This is a concept that people instinctively relate with glasses, in fact, the European Journal of Social Psychology did a study where the participants associated the image of men wearing glasses with occupations with high levels of intelligence. Therefore, the best way to represent a Scholar, who is considered a smart person, is with the abstraction of glasses, thus justifying the icon of this job.

Glasses as the Scholar’s icon.
Glasses photo from ebay
  • Blue Mage

A so-called mage of rather questionable character claims to have mastered an outlandish form of spellcasting that resembles neither black nor white magic during his voyage to the New World. Allegedly, anyone who purchases one of his soul crystals can learn to mimic the aetherial magicks of wild creatures. But can he be trusted, or is he merely a con artist looking to make a quick gil?

— FinalFantasyXIV.com Blue Mage

Blue Mage is a job that was introduced in Final Fantasy XIV in version 4.5 and is described as a “Limited Job”. This is because is a solo job oriented towards the Masked Carnival, a series of single-player combat-puzzle events exclusively for Blue Mages.

The Blue Mages are always presented wearing blue clothing and, taking this idea from the “Masked Carnival”, a domino mask. This type of mask covers only the area around the eyes and the space between them, and since the 18th century, it was the traditionally used in particular local manifestations of Carnival, particularly with the Venetian. This is the reason this type of mask could not be missing from the Blue Mage icon.

Blue Mage of Final Fantasy XVI.
Image from Siliconera
Domino Mask on the Blue Mage icon.
Domino Mask on https://pxhere.com/en/photo/1371680, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Besides the mask, there is an additional element that can be noticed on the icon and, it is a stick. This makes it appear that the domino mask depicted it the type that has a stick to grasp rather than the type that has a string encircling the head. This is done to subtly introduce to the icon another important item of the Blue Mage, the cane, the main weapon of this job.

Domino Mask with a stick in the Blue Mage icon.
Mask photo from MardiGrasOutlet.com

A VERY INFORMATIVE MIX

This classification only includes one icon, but it is worth talking about it in a separate subheading because it is curious how this one is made from the combination of icons from other jobs. This is a way of communicating that this job uses abilities from others. This job is Red Mage and its icon is discussed below.

  • Red Mage

Red Mage is an added job in Final Fantasy XIV’s second major expansion, Stormblood. The particularity of Red Mages is that they not only combine white and black magic to inflict massive damage, but also melee strikes with a rapier. Although this rapier is their main weapon, they wield a magical focus to combine it with their blade to form a staff for their spells.

The previous description can be seen reflected and summarized in the icon of this job. Initially, because at first glance, it is possible to notice that the icon is a rapier, the main weapon of this job. However, observing in detail, it is formed by small elements that come from other icons, starting with the White Mage that, if it is turned upside down, it is possible to obtain the central shape of the Red Mage icon. Here, only the point is sharpened to obtain the form of the rapier blade.

At first glance, the Red Mage icon is a rapier.
Rapier photo from Amazon
The White Mage icon is present in the Red Mage icon.

Next, to represent black magic, as with white magic, it can be said that the Meteor is taken on the icon of the Black Mage. This is seen present in the pommel of the rapier which, at the same time, is a shape that also refers to magical focus, the medium that allows Red Mages to channel their Aether in focused spells.

The icon of the Black Mage in the Red Mage icon.
The magical focus on the icon of this job.
Image from the Red Mage from FANDOM

A DEEPER MEANING

There are jobs where their story and role in battle in the game are more representative than their clothing or weapons. At first, these icons are probably the hardest to understand because the video game has to be played, however, once players comprehend the meaning behind the icon’s shape, they may realize that the designer made the best decisions. So, let’s see what these are.

  • Arcanist

Arcanist is a Disciple of Magic and one of the classes the player can choose from when starting the game. It is the only class that at level 30 can specialize in two jobs: Summoner or Scholar.

Arcanists research and develop the field of arcanima. The game describes the arcanima as the science of employing “arcane geometries”, which are intricate patterns that map the unlocked mysteries of existence. This allows the aetherical energies of the body to be drawn forth and manipulated. The roots of arcanima are said to go back to esoteric calculations practiced by the people of the south sea isles. It was these island folks who first discovered a method of expressing natural phenomena in mathematical terms. The symbols born of the “arcane geometries” are held written in grimoires and lend shape to the Arcanist’s aether, allowing the production of powerful spells.

As with the Scholar and Summoner, the Arcanist is a class that avoids using the main weapon, which is a book, as an icon. The reason is probably that the book is rather the medium, since the arcanists’ real weapon and power lies in their intelligence to decipher the symbols they study. So it seems the designers opted to view the Arcanists as the game’s mystical geometry and math specialists. Taking this as a reference, they decided to look for elements that can evoke these themes and employ them as inspiration.

If one does a deep investigation, it is rare to find icon symbols that represent geometry and mathematics without falling into the simple and familiar numbers and geometric shapes. Since the latter cannot be seen as mystical and powerful, it was necessary to look for an element that gave these sensations and that had a more complex and unique form.

The best option was to inquire into the history of geometry because it is the oldest branch of mathematics, having been developed to satisfy some practical needs in astronomy when the Greeks were intrigued by the world and how it worked. The Greeks began to geometrize the heavens by assuming that the Sun, Moon, and planets moved around a stationary Earth in a rotating circle or set of circles. All this led to think of an object that helped to study astronomy in ancient times and that is also still applied, but as a mathematical instrument: the Armillary Sphere.

The Armillary Sphere is a model of what scientists thought the heavens were like and how they were supposed to move. It consists of a spherical framework of rings, centered on Earth or the Sun, that represent celestial longitude and latitude lines and other astronomically important features, such as the ecliptic.

Therefore, when observing the icon of the Arcanist, it is possible to detect how it consists of the abstraction of an Armillary Sphere because it is an item that involve mathematics and geometry, sciences that have a close relationship with this class. In addition, thanks to the astronomical elements, that mystical touch that was needed is achieved.

The Armillary Sphere as an icon of the Arcanist.
Armillary Sphere from Wikimedia Commons
  • Thaumaturge

The Thaumaturge is one of the initial Discipline of Magic that the player can choose from in the game. Thaumaturges are mages who have the ability to call forth and command the latent aether within themselves through deep introspection. To mold this aether and turn it into sorcery, they make use of a scepter or staff, within which is housed a medium—a natural stone imbued with magical properties. Despite this description, the icon of this class does not have any elements that can refer to it. In fact, the icon consists of a cauldron emits burning flames.

The cauldron is an object that is usually related to rituals, since it was said that they were a vital tool within wicca and witchcraft. They were used as incense burners or as fire resistance pits to burn items for rituals and spells. Utilizing this figure as in the Thaumaturge class icon begins to make sense when in the game explains how the priests of the Order of Nald’thal, the group of thaumaturges at Ul’dah, focused and refined arcane magicks for centuries to apply them in funeral rites. A freezing blizzard to halt corruption, a raging fire to cleanse the corpse, and a bolt of lightning to expel the sins of mortal life.

Therefore, a cauldron with flames allows one to immediately think of the raging fire of the rituals and sorcery, actions performed by Thaumaturges.

A cauldron with flames as the icon of the Thaumaturge class.
Cauldron image from Patheos
  • Dancer

Dancer is a job that was introduced in the Shadowbringer expansion for Final Fantasy XIV. The Dancers are graceful performers who came as a troupe from the Near Eastern nation of Thavnair. Although their elegant and beautiful movements speak of a pulsing, persistent energy whose rhythm can inspire souls and soothe troubled hearts, Dancers also utilize their dance to throw their bladed chakrams and deal damage to enemies.

The Dancers’ main weapon may serve as an inspiration for their icon, but rather than causing harm, the importance of Dancers lies in using their various dances to greatly enhance the speed and the power of the party. Poetically speaking, as stated in the previous description, they are in charge of inspiring souls and relieving troubled hearts.

That is why the designer decided to see the Dancer as the heart of the party and employ this figure for the icon of this job.

The icon of the Dancer job is a stylized heart.
Dancer icon from Instagram

A small tip is probably added to the heart at the top to refer to the shape employed in the job gauge that is part of the Dancer’s fighting mechanic.

The icon of a Dancer also appears in the job gauge.
Job Gauge image from Final Fantasy Official Site

REPRESENTATIVE ELEMENTS

Sometimes the best inspiration to create an icon is not within the video game, but in the history of the job in real life. The best examples of this are the Ninja and the Bard, since these already have symbols that any person, player or not, can recognize. So, let’s analyze them.

  • Ninja

At level 30, Rogues can go on a mission to obtain the Soul Crystal to become Ninjas. The Ninja job adds a second resource for the former Rogue Warrior of Light to manage: mundras. By combining these mundras in different ways, it is possible to activate a variety of ninjutsu abilities.

Both Rogues and Ninjas wield daggers, but since these have already been occupied for the icon of the first mentioned, the influence for the icon of the Ninja job must be different. This is not a problem because daggers are not the first thing one thinks of when hearing about ninjas, in fact the first thing one visualizes is shuriken.

It is true that shuriken were not exclusively used by ninjas, since samurai wield them too, but thanks to half-truths and pop culture, this type of weapon became representative of the ninjas. So this is why designers decided to take a tri-blade shuriken, and exaggerate the size of the center and the curvature of the tips to simulate, not only the way a shuriken moves after being thrown, but also some animations that occur when the characters use some ninjutsu.

Tri-Blade Shuriken is the first element that was taken to make the Ninja job icon.
Shuriken photo from Mercado Libre
The second component taken was the animation that can be seen while executing a ninjutsu.
  • Bard

In history, the bards were those who sang songs recalling the deeds of bravery of the tribal warriors, but in Final Fantasy XIV the bards decide to be part of the battle not only to fight but to take advantage of their singing ability to fortify the spirits of their companions.

This job is unlocked after leveling the Archer to level 30 and obtaining the respective Soul Crystal. Both Archer and Bard wild a bow as main weapon, however, this is more representative of the first and that is why it is better that the Bard icon is another figure.

To find the correct icon for this job, it is good to remember that because they sang, Bards choose to also play a musical instrument to accompany their voice. These could be a harp or lyre, drums, lute, guitar, flute, bagpipe and fiddle. However, some researchers consider the harp or lyre as the traditional symbol of this job because historical records indicate these were used in Mesopotamia as far as 3000 B.C. and in the Bible, David played the harp for King Saul. Also, in McGaw Hill’s “Welsh Folk Music”, it is pointed that the bard was traditionally presented with a lyre when assigned the position of the chief bard.

All these reasons lead to understand why the lyre is the best icon to represent the Bard job.

The Bard job represented through a lyre.
Lyre photo from Music is Life

XIV are already explained. With these three parts, it is possible to realize that the inspiration for creating icons can come from anywhere. This takes a lot of work, as a lot of research is required, but as one can see from these posts, the results are staggering.

Well, I hope you liked this post and want to open a friendly discussion about these designs in the comment area. Until then, see you in my next post.

REFERENCES

[1]  “SCHOLAR | Definición de SCHOLAR por Oxford Dictionary en Lexico.com y también el significado de SCHOLAR,” Lexico Dictionaries | English. [Online]. Available: https://www.lexico.com/definition/scholar. [Accessed: 12-Oct-2021]

BIBLIOGRAPHY

I'm a Graphic Designer in love with Otomes and JRPG. I like the interface design area and that's why I really like to talk about this theme. You can win me over with a good videogame Illustration book and a good capuccino.

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