Sunday, 14 April 2013

A few thoughts on Character Design...

So, currently I'm figuring out the look of my protagonists. This is a fairly fluid process as I have the power to follow my whim and change my ideas from the ground up (script up) as I go along. While I have a finished script, there are many character types that would fit into the role, and the joy of creating characters is that I get to try on a lot of different peeps before setting my decisions in stone.

I'm fairly close to having a final cast I think, but I'll save them for a future post. What I want to talk about today is my approach to character design. To let you know, I'm coming at this with no school education in these arts whatsoever! So don't take what I say as gospel, this is just what works for me.

Let's go!

So I kick off throwing around some facial profiles, working with shapes, and an idea of what I think the character ought to look like and just as importantly, who the character actually is... Is he obnoxious, soft hearted, weak, strong, arragant, posh, working class - All these things play apart. While they may seem a little simplistic and clich├ęd, asking these kind of question helps me narrow in on the character that I'm trying to create.

At this stage, there is very little consideration to how the finished puppet will actually be animated.

Eventually after many small sketches I'll hit upon a profile design that I like and from there, I'll attempt to work out the features from other planes, i.e. front, 3/4's profile and so on. With this I'm looking to pull the design features from the original profile and try and realise how to keep the integrity of their design and the balance of the features as the head turns around. At this stage the drawings are quite still and lifeless as I'm concentrating on the default structure of the head before I figure out how the face actually moves and shows expression.

But a face alone, does not a character make! Next we take on the body shape, the stature and overall construction of the character. Working in tiny thumbnails (these are approx real size), I dabble with ideas of how I think the character stands, how she/he carries themselves, the distribution of weight across their body.

Working quickly, with no reverence for the drawings, I springboard from one idea to the next, informed and armed as I go along with the knowledge of what worked from the last pose and what still wasn't right. I eventually wheedle out the imperfections until I reach the final pose.

And I've hit upon something that I think may work, I set about drawing the character, usually in a 3/4's profile as it helps to bring some interest into the drawing, and helps in the understanding of how their weight moves across their bodies.

For me, designing characters is a little bit of a lottery. As I'm in control of this whole project, I am able to sight my sights on quite specific outcomes from the start, so there's not as much extrapolation and different design ideas that come to the fore as there would be in a studio project or a larger collaboration.

However, everything you've seen here has been rejected so perhaps that's all nonsense. :)

I'll introduce you all to our cast properly soon!

Thanks for looking.


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