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!

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