Was giving the style guide a good research over the weeks, just to construct a guideline to unit creation, when the time to outsource arrives. 
Where to start from? Of course, from creativity's best ingredient: CONSTRAINTS!

A list of constraints I can think of right now:

  1. Tile volume
    1. Units should, as much as possible, occupy the tile area of its size, majority being in a 1x1 tile.
    2. Deformed proportions fits the stylization better.
    3. 2 head/bobbing head/chibi proportions focus details purely on the head, hard to form silhouettes below.
    4. 3 heads deformed proportion gives enough room to pose and add significant silhouette to accessories/wear.
  2. Execution
    1. Being a 1 man team, I should be able to bring at least 1 unit from concept to asset ready ( render + animation ) everyday.
    2. With a base groundwork of Vector shapes, I can refine modularly in Photoshop, with additions like Gradients/Glows/Shadows/Texture Overlay/Soft Masking etc.
    3. Keep detail density within hue cluster as much as possible.
  3. Maximum in display
    1. There can be a max of 20 units per side, totaling at 40. Alongside so many UI, units can't be too complicated at quick glance.
    2. Closer shape clusters per unit will help visually separation.
    3. Minimal hue shifts within a unit.
    4. Value clusters like a dark gradient banding at bottom of unit ease visual transition into unit UI, which mostly shows at the bottom.

What will that look like then, you ask. After weeks of Pinterest surfing, I'd found something that fits the bill pretty well:

Disney Infinity

Jon Diesta and his team laid down the foundation guidelines for Infinity's character design, as much as I can fish from the net:

  1. Urban vinyl feel mixed with an animated flavor, resulting in bold, clean shapes.
  2. Chiseled, simplified look.
  3. Had to look like designer collectible figure at least.
  4. *Most of the volume details are rendered in low contrast within its own hue group.

Using Disney Infinity's considerations, I'll incorporate my own and come up with the full detailed .pdf guidelines in the next post.

Take care, y'all!