With Resident Evil Village out, protagonist Ethan Winters is on a lot of people’s minds. Unlike series’ mainstays Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine, Ethan has starred in two Resident Evil games and we’ve never seen his face. Not directly, at least. Capcom has never officially shown the man’s mug. Even in promotional art, Ethan’s face is often covered in shadow. Through things like camera hacks in Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, fans have been able to see glimpses of what the character looks like, and recently, fans modded Resident Evil Village’s model viewer to remove shadows meant to obscure his face and give the man an actual face reveal.
In the years since, artists started making mockups of what they thought Ethan looked like outside of Resident Evil 7 and Village’s first-person perspectives. And over the weekend since Village’s launch, one mockup went viral over social media as it was passed around as an “official” render by Capcom.
This is what Ethan winters looks like ? pic.twitter.com/LjiCydwLUa
— Dwayne Kyng ? (@DwayneKyng) May 9, 2021
People had jokes about Ethan’s relatively generic appearance, some of which were pretty good. But comparing it to the model in Village fans tinkered with, the original artist got it pretty close. However, since the art was cropped in a way that removed the original’s watermark, that artist hasn’t been getting credit for their work. That artist is Ray “DemonLeon3D” Nunes, who has been doing Resident Evil renders for years now.
Nunes’ decision to try and put a face to the faceless protagonist was prompted when he played Resident Evil 7 and the game made every attempt to obscure Ethan’s image.
“When I played RE7 for the first time, in the first hour of the game, I thought Ethan’s face would appear at any moment.” Nunes said in an email interview. “However, this wasn’t happening, so my curiosity increased more and more as the game progressed. In each new scenario, I desperately searched for a mirror to see his face, but found no reflection. Even by the end of the game it didn’t show up.”
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What eventually inspired Nunes to make one of his first renders of Ethan was Resident Evil 7’s PlayStation Network avatars, which contained portraits for several characters, but the faceless protagonist was only represented by his hands, which has become a meme in and of itself.
As such, one of Nunes’ attempts at finding Ethan’s face was to try and emulate those icons, while also obscuring a little bit of his face in shadow to keep in-line with the game.
Nunes’ screen name has been cropped out of the tweets featuring his art, making it easy for people casually scrolling to mistake it as an official Capcom piece, but he’s in pretty high spirits about it. While art theft remains a constant issue for artists working online and on social media, Nunes finds the situation flattering.
“My art being confused with an official rendering is simply incredible,” Nunes said. “I never thought that my art would be good enough to be confused with official art from a franchise that I’ve loved since I was a child. This is certainly one of the greatest honors of my life. It’s something I’m proud of and will remember forever.”
Artists often have to add watermarks to discourage the spread and misuse of their art when it’s posted online, as well as ask those who enjoy it to not use it without credit. But Nunes says he has become less steadfast on the issue personally, and is just happy to see his art appreciated.
“I’m very honored that my art went viral,” Nunes said. “Whenever an art of mine appears on any website like Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, it makes me extremely happy. So I encourage people to continue using my art without feeling obligated to give me the credits. My art being used is an honor for me.”