ArenaNet character designer Kristen Perry was presented was presented with a thorny task when asked to cultivate the plant-like sylvari race for Guild Wars 2: Finding the balance between green-skinned humans and tentacle monsters.
When you imagine plant people, those are the two images that immediately come to mind. Either you've got green elves with leaves for hair, or Swamp Thing. One is lazy; the other hideous. What Kristen needed to do was splice together trimmings from both branches of the plant people family tree and come up with a happy medium.
The solution was to create an illusion of anatomy. The figure was not formed from a human with leaves on top of it, but rather a human shape made from grown plant parts. This originates from specific growth sockets. The primary growth socket starts at the small of the back, where a tail might grow. Like many fruits and vegetables, there are two ends: the main stem and the opposing divot (which makes a really good belly button). Graceful leaves sprout from the growth socket, curving around and through the body to simulate the desired musculature. I used stems and broad leaves to articulate the carpal tendons and the flesh of the lower arms. Hosta leaves spiral out at the shoulders in a teardrop shape to form the deltoid "muscles," while branches spring from the clavicles. Scientific anatomy turned out to be creepy, but garden-variety fantasy anatomy was just what was needed.
What she wound up with is a rather gorgeous race of sentient-plants reminiscent of the tree people from the Doctor Who episode "The End of the World". As a hopeful Guild Wars 2 roleplayer, I'd take a pair of shears to that any day.
Kristen Perry on Designing and Redesigning the Sylvari [ArenaNet]