Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Evolution of 'Primates' Part III

After nailing down the basic look of Steven. It was time to finalize some of the other key characters of the story, beginning with April, the female lead.

My basic idea for April is that she is everything that Steven is not; attractive, witty, confident, and well spoken. The problem (as I mentioned before) is how to make her attractive, but still thoroughly ape in appearance.
Steven is a rather short character. April and he stand roughly eye to eye. In one version Steven was even shorter, but that just made him too pathetic.
This was my first April turnaround. It wasn't bad, but I felt like I was simply putting female attributes (I.E. long hair) over a masculine ape's skull. Additionally, the lack of hair on the face was, I felt, kind of cheating.
And so I came to this design. I decided that rather than try to hide the facial hair I should just stylize it. I also gave her a far more ape like nose and hair while maintaining unmistakably feminine eyes.
Steven's friend Ian has stayed more consistent in his basic design then the other characters. His aloof, sunken eyes, sarcastic smile, thick jutting brow, and messy hair have been with him since the beginning.
However, the basic forms underneath these attributes, combined with their stylization, have gone in all different directions. This digital version of Ian (with eyes far too big) just didn't have the same flair.
In the end I did basically the same thing that I did with Steven. Combining my favorite headshots of Ian into a single turnaround. I then went over it with the red lines to stylize the proportions a bit.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Evolution of 'Primates' Part II

So after playing around a bit with these ape characters I decided to start nailing down their final designs.  This was a painful process, as in every incarnation there was something I different that I liked.  I'd be convinced that "this is the final version" only to draw one that made me second guess myself.

I knew exactly what I wanted to communicate, but finding the best (and simplest) way to do so involved a lot of drawing, re-drawing, and re-re-drawing.
Here's a lineup of some of the story's main characters.  From right to left; Ian, Steven's cocky but goodhearted former roommate, David, Steven's asshole new roommate, Steven, our protaganist, Tim, his uptight other roommate, and Ralph, his good friend.  You'll notice our female lead is conspicuously absent.  At this time I was still figuring out how to portray attractive female apes.
Headshots of Ian, (dark haired) Steven, and David.
James (Steven's other friend and fellow biology major), Tim, and an incidental character.
More shots of Ralph.
In addition to the faces, I began to work more on the physicality of these ape creatures, and how I would streamline them for the comic.
I played around with size, posture, and the like.  I also considered going back to more human designs (as you can see on the bottom of this page).
I decided against it, and considered going in exactly the opposite direction, using the various ape species.  This was a concept of a baboon character.  I'm still not sure whether I will be using him or not.   He hovers a little too close to furry for me.
This was Steven's first "final" design.  His features are a roughly fifty-fifty blend between human, with big expressive eyes and a very human profile.
I must admit was a bit surprised when my good friend David Lundin preferred this (far more chimp-like) version of Steven, with a further protruding mouth, more prominent brow ridge, naturalistic ape nose, and shorter hair.
I decided that a re-design was in order.  In this file I gathered together all of my favorite quick sketches of Steve and combined the elements I wanted into a final cohesive design.  The resulting turnaround has formed the basis of Steven ever since, but I'm always open to new suggestions.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Evolution of 'Primates' Part I

Much of the character work I've been doing lately has revolved around a comic project I've been working on called "Primates."  It's one of my first attempts at a longer storyline, so given that I will have to draw these characters over and over again, I've been trying to make sure I get them right.  

Here is some of the earliest work I did with "Primates."  The overall designs have changed drastically over the different incarnations, and I've gone back and forth on a few of them, but for the most part I've been pleased with how they've developed.
These are the two main characters of the story, confident and self centered David, and Steven, a meek and mild biology major. When I first wrote the story, they were simply normal humans.
Then I got the idea to give everyone in the world (that's Steven and David at the top of the page) very ape-like features, as a reflection of how Steven sees the world.
Also, they were rather fun to draw. =)
Originally my plan was to make the characters that Steven admires more human, while others are simply like chimps in clothes.
I grappled a bit with the anthropomorphism of these ape hybrids. How hairy should they be?  How long should their arms be?  How ugly should I draw them?  Those are some concepts of Steven on the left. 
Again, some early Steven ideas at the bottom right of this page, back when he was more human and had dark hair.
For a short while (like on the top of this page) I tried to dial down the size of the eyes and add more ape-like wrinkles, but the resulting loss of appeal made me drop that idea quickly in favor of the designs at the bottom of this page.
I redesigned David several times.  I really like the version of him at the bottom center of this page.  It's a look that says "I'm the boss."
Woman were another important consideration.  Even female apes have very masculine features.  So how does one communicate femininity while still keeping the look of an ape?  These are some of my earliest (rather poor) attempts.
At some point I stopped trying to simply meld ape features onto a human face, and began exploring different types of primate to draw inspiration for the character design.  This helped a lot to make the characters more recognizable and infuse them with greater personality.
Well, that's all for now.  Any and all comments are welcome!

Quick character designs

Recently I've been taking a bit of a break from CG (which I need to deal with on a daily basis at work), to go back to good old hand drawing.  It's been really great.  I've been working a lot with character design.

Where is the fine line between appealing and cutesy?  How does one create characters that are both simple and memorable?  These are questions that I've been trying to deal with in my work as of late.  

Here's a little taste of the results.

I'm not sure which of these characters I like the best.  I guess I like them all for different reasons.
I really like the guy in the top right corner of this page.
For some reason the dumpy tie wearing guy at the top of this page always cracks me up.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Some animal doodles to start things off

Well, here it is.  My brand new art blog.  Now I too have leapt onto the cultural bandwagon that is 'blogging.'  Hurray!

I've been out here in California for almost a year now and feeling a bit disconnected from my Minnesota brethren.  So I decided 'what better way to tell everyone back in the North Country what I've been up to then to actually show them?!'

It's always better to have another pair of eyes looking at your work, and I'm hoping that having those eyes (or at least those potential eyes) looking over my shoulder might motivate me a bit towards getting things done.  I have a nasty habit getting really involved with an idea, then moving right on to the next midway through.  "I'll come back to it," I tell myself, "...eventually."

This problem is compounded by my reluctance to show people work that isn't finished.  Well no more!  On this blog I will show you my doodles, concept sketches, storyboards, and roughs in all of their half baked glory!  Critique them, comment on them, tell me what ones you like and don't like.  I'm always open to constructive criticism.

So, as this is an ART blog, let's kick things off with... what else?  Some art!  Here are some animals for your viewing pleasure.