As the sequel explained, the Sully family consists of Jake and Neytiri's biological children, along with Spider and Kiri, the latter whose mother is Sigourney Weaver's Dr. Grace Augustine from the 2009 film.
How Sigourney Weaver's Kiri Almost Looked in Avatar 2
In Pepe's Instagram caption, he explained how he, along with Legacy Effects' Glenn Hanz, worked on the character of Kiri earlier than the other Sully kids knowing Sigourney Weaver was set to return.
In the end, the Kiri seen in Avatar 2 has a different hairstyle and a slightly rounder, more youthful face than Pepe's first pass.
The artist also noted that young photos of Weaver were used to create Kiri's design, which may be why his original concept looks more like the actress and her 2009 character.
Interestingly enough, Kiri's design isn't the only character concept Pepe posted online.
The Avatar 2 artist also shared his early work on Matt Gerald's Wainfleet, explaining how he translated elements of the actor into the design, including his buzz cut.
According to the artist, he used a temporary face for his first-pass designs before creating the first image of Jamie Flatters as Neteyam in 2017.
He also pointed out that Neteyam's look is more traditional to the Omatikaya, saying, "Neteyam is to Neytiri as Lo’ak is to Jake in the design approach."
Lastly, Pepe shared his concept art for the youngest member of the Sully family, Tuk.
Once again, he revealed how he used a temporary face in his early designs before creating the first image of Tuk using actress Trinity Jo-Li Bliss' face.
Why Kiri's Avatar 2 Design Was So Important
Given that the Sully kids are expected to be key characters in future Avatar films, their designs were pivotal for the franchise.
But Kiri's design was even more so since it needed to reflect Sigourney Weaver while also being different than her original character of Grace and resembling a teenager.
In fact, Avatar 2' Senior Animation Supervisor Dan Barrett admitted "both Kiri and Quaritch" proved the most challenging due to the actors being older than the characters being portrayed in the film.
Comparing Joseph C. Pepe's early concepts of Kiri with her finished design truly shows the artist's process and the careful balance the character required.
It was equally revealing to learn how Pepe worked on the other young members of the family prior to them being cast and particularly how Lo'ak's resemblance to Jake and his hair - both reflections of his character - survived the design process and made it into the 2022 film.
Heading into Avatar 3, it will be interesting to see how the character designs evolve with their actors and their respective character's journey.
Avatar: The Way of Water is streaming now on Disney+.