I watched a Channel Frederator video talking about how the colour yellow is used in cartoons. It got me thinking even more about Lotor and the Weblum Galra. So time to update an old post (since now we have an official character design for him) and use some colour theory to crack this nut (no not like that!)…
As everyone and their lion plush in this fandom knows by now, this is Lotor’s outfit in the arena…
Ignoring the cow head, if I had to guess what his colour palate is according to the RGB Model (since that is used most often in digital media, especially TV), it would be something like this…
Granted, this is not directly spot on since the dark colour on Lotor’s outfit is more of a royal blue rather than just plain purple, but it is still worth noting. (This is not counting his skin colour, obviously)
This design, from what I can tell, is using a Triadic color scheme (basically, using colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel), or a warped version of the Complementary colour scheme with it using the colours opposite to one another and a dark version of blue. Hard for me to say right now.
Something I noticed right off the bat is that his accents were changed to orange. Before, they were clearly red…
So them changing him to have orange accents is clearly an intentional design change. But makes me wonder, why? All of the other colour’s in modern Lotor’s outfit match almost dead on, except for orange accents. Sure, one could make the argument that to compliment Lotor’s outfit more, since red matches up with light blue more, even then, it’s still a bizarre choice. Because, like I will touch upon later on in the article, red is a more traditional villain colour while orange well…isn’t, so it’s pushing him away from a traditional villain design.
Lotor also has a creepy amount of paladin aesthetics to the armour too. Lotor has the same markings on the neck as they do…
Lotor also has a symbol on the chest as they do. It’s hard to say if there are more things to tie these designs together since we only seen a little bit of VLD’s Lotor’s outfit, but there could be more design elements to tie him back to the paladins and Zarkon.
If the Lotor is meant to be this pure menacing emperor figure in the future, like Zarkon, Zeppo from DOTU or Throk in DOTU, he really does not look the part and I feel the show staff would have designed him far differently if that was indeed the case.
What is odd about this is that orange and blue not tied to villain designs as much since it is not considered as powerful and striking of a colour as say red, purple in the case of a lot of the Disney villains, black, or yellow/green in the case of a lot of comic book villains like Dr Doom. Granted, there are obvious exceptions to the rule, like Haggar using orange in her design and the prison warden, but is still less common.
Symbolically, blue represents trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, and truth. It is often used in places where you want to feel more relaxed like spas. What is more interesting about it is that blue, especially royal blue, like one used in his, can also represent royalty.
Blue is tied to the Alteans, although the shade used in the armour isn’t. It also connects back to the Blade of Marmora.
His armour, as everyone in the fandom noticed by now, is almost dead on with the Weblum Galra design, either saying that they are one in the same or the Weblum Galra works under him. With Lotor not being mentioned until the end of season 2 and hardly anyone knowing who Lotor was in the arena, I think him being the Weblum Galra is more likely since I highly doubt he’d have underlings if that was the case. Not to mention him and the Weblum Galra the same height, weight and body type, saying they are more than likely the same person. And let’s face it – Lotor’s hips and ass don’t lie and neither does the Weblum Galra’s.
Another quick thing to note is that Lotor’s colours were close to the prison warden’s . I don’t think Lotor is a warden somewhere, but I think it might say that he has a more practical and fighter roll in the empire by the colours being similar to his.
Orange, other colour used in the design, means enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity, determination, attraction, success, encouragement, and stimulation. It is less intense than red, but still a very powerful colour and catches your attention.
Villain designs in general often use sharp edges (which the Weblum Galra has), but also use very dark colours as the main staple to the design. Black in design symbolises thing like elegance, formality, death, evil, and mystery. These traits are things you often want to communicate in a villain design.
For example, from another franchise I love, the Supreme King from YGO GX…
The Supreme King’s armour design, even though I admit it is really over the top, uses a lot of blacks and reds with hints of yellow and purple. The Supreme King was like Zarkon in the fact that he was a emperor, who was meant to be menacing and terrifying.
Let’s look at VLD Zarkon…
His outfit also uses a lot of blacks and reds, too, except with red as the more dominate colour. However, in the past, his armour was a brighter shade of red with sliver lining and a blue cape. My theory about that is it ties back to the fact that Zarkon used to work along side the Alteans before backstabbing them and becoming a tyrant, so his design communicates that more than someone who is pure evil for the hell of it like Maleficent.
Many other villains fit this as well such as Darth Vader, a lot of the Disney villains such as Maleficent, Azula, Amon, Aku, Medusa from Soul Eater, Bill Cipher (if you do not count his yellow body, obviously), Venom, the Nightmare King from Rise of the Guardians, Dr Claw, and so much more. Even characters like Batman use black as the main colour of the design because it is tied to the night and “darker” elements like I mentioned before. Sure, there are exceptions to the rule, obviously, such as Sartorius from YGO GX using white as the main colour (although in that series the “light” was ironically tied to evil a lot more and made people go insane like what happened to Yubel, so there’s that), but having a lot of dark colours in the design are often used on villains or people who want to strike fear.
However, Lotor doesn’t fit under any of these! Lotor outfit uses orange and blues, so him using less dark colours in his outfit would make no sense if he is meant to be a dark menacing villain like Maleficent or something.
Normally when a character design uses less dark colours such as black, but those colours still hold intimidation and are still intense…it could mean that the character is an antihero.
For example, Lelouch from Code Geass, another mech franchise…
Lelouch was a more sympathetic villain/antihero of the series. He wanted to start a revolution to over throw the oppressive government (kinda like the Blade of Marmora in VLD, except operating far differently from them.) However, make no mistake, he was not a harmless kitten either. He went to dark means to make his goals happen like mind controlling others to do his bidding and made people kill themselves with mind control among other much darker things. But, with that said, he also had a conscience, wanting a better world and to help his sister.
One thing to note is that there is a lot more dark blue in the design than more intense shades like black. While, sure, it has red in the design like before, but it is only used under the cape. The outfit is mostly blue underneath the cape. The only real use of black on the design is just on the outside of the cape.
Sure, I admit, there are some antiheroes that use black in the design, such as Chazz from YGO GX, but it is rarely the main colour in an antihero design.
Even TV Tropes notes that orange is usually a neutral colour in character design. (x)
Lotor fits an antihero design, such as the one I previously mentioned, a lot more to me. Sharp with intimidation, but also connects back to the Blade of Marmora colour wise. Do I think Lotor works for the Blade of Marmora somehow? No. But him using a lot of those colours could mean that he has a rebellious nature and wants to go on his own path in life, wanting to connect to Altea more and stand out more in the empire like a angsty teenager. Not only that, the crew mentioned during an interview before that Lotor will be a very complex character and that he would be “complicated”, so him leaning towards the more moral grey side of things would fit that description.
With Lotor coming close to having a redemption arc in DOTU…albeit unsuccessfully and this being made by the studio that brought us Prince Zuko, one of the biggest cartoon antiheros of all time, it could be possible they are planning to have Lotor actually redeem himself this time around…but near the end of the story, at least. Because I think he will be a villain, who can strike fear into the paladins for a very long time to come.