Like most characters of a certain, shall we say, venerability, Locke's appearance is a nebulous thing. Is he blond, or is his hair a muddy shade of grey? Locke's outfit and demeanor change with the medium he's presented in.
The many faces of Locke Cole.
Although nothing says SUPERHAWT XXX like 16-bit graphics, the point remains that Final Fantasy VI characters live out their immortality in 256 colors or less. Locke's sprite is endearing, and it's obvious that a lot of work was spent getting each character to have a unique personality in their gestures. Locke's gestures are fairly big and open, although he can seem sly at times. Most player's lasting impressions of Locke are through his sprite, and it's probably what most people base their impressions of his physical appearance on.
Notice the advanced bandana angst technique.
The colorscheme was carefully chosen as well. Dark maroon on navy translates to "vagabond" in the Final Fantasy VI universe, so despite his generally upbeat personality Locke is stuck in dull colors. It's interesting that when Edgar must transform from dashing young royal to PERSONAGE of the NIGHT, he adopts Locke's color scheme.
That being said, it's obvious that the sprite leaves something to be desired in terms of realism. While it's easy to get an idea of his personality, we have no idea of his height or build, the shape of his nose, the curve of his chin, etc. Little clue is offered in his noseless SD portrait.
Enter the official Amano artwork.
Unlike in most of the later Final Fantasy games, Yoshitaka Amano was the lead character designer in Final Fantasy VI. Which means that his distinct portraits were the official design and not pretty after-thoughts. Here Locke looks like a cross between a Charles Dickens reject and a circus tent. Pale, thin, and clad in really tight shiny pants, Locke's got personality and brightly colored scarves to spare! I'm actually a big fan of Amano's style, but it might be a bit of an accquired taste. Certainly his unique aesthetic lends an extra touch of the fanastic to the games he's designed-- Amano titles tend to be more swords and sorcery than flying prep schools and dank post-apocalyptic cityscape.
Locke in Amano art is noticably less masculine than his sprite. Despite what certain fanartists may think, Edgar always has a strong jawline and broad shoulders, and wih Locke that is just not so. He's not all skin and bones, but the word "sinewy" comes to mind. In these drawings, he's pale and dresses mostly in black. Does he shop at Hot Topic? Though there are definite hints of ubergoth eyeliner, he's not afraid to accessorize with primary colors of flamboyant. What we get is a character that is a study in contrasts-- the black on the white on the rainbow-brite. Maybe he's hiding something.
When Final Fantasy VI was rereleased for the Playstation, special FMVs were added to the game as a bonus. My feelings are (somewhat infamously) mixed. The reason Nomura stepped forward as lead character designer with Final Fantasy VII is because Amano's desins don't lend themselves to 3d graphics. Even with the enourmous leaps forward Square was making, at least graphically, at the time, there's still a large problem interpreting fundamentally fantastic designs to a medium that aims at realism. We get some of Amano's whimsy, but we also get EDGAR FIGARO, DESTROYER OF WORLDS.
The FMVs consciously return to Locke's original haircolor, but the costume details such as the bandana are more subdued. The scene direction purposely avoids Locke's face, he appears only from the back-- looking at the past.