Here’s another Saturday, and another sketch session that’ll be missed due to me and my absenteeism 😉 (But really, it’s due to a conflicting schedule. Alas, this is ME we’re talking about here – I’m always doing something.)
Now that I’ve actually managed to find a few hours before I’m obliged to do anything (except, of course, getting keys cut, tying up the boxes in the back for recycling and mailing off a package), I’m looking to get a decent blog post put together.
So yes, character creation – how the heck do I do it?
Oftentimes, I’ll come up with ideas for my comic, Fish & Chimps (which I really do hope to start re-releasing sometime soon) where I haven’t figured out what characters will be used, or even if they exist as of yet. Without spoiling too much of my story or thinking, let’s observe one character I’ve come up with recently – it’s one that’s still in the works, so if anyone has anything to say on it, feel free.
There’s a situation later on into FNC where I need Yeti-like creatures in order to better develop a key character. I wanted them to look extremely powerful and somewhat aggressive, but also like they could be their own race with their own culture, etc. I didn’t want them to just seem like your basic enemy threat, something that’s only around to be defeated by the protagonist. So, since this is based on a Himalayas-like mountain range, what do I know?
- Need to have bodies that help shield them from the elements
- Need to have bodies that look like they could haul massive loads
- Need to appear as if they’re slightly more “primitive”, in that they haven’t been touched that much by the technology and “progress” of the world
- Need to be mostly white to help blend them in with their surroundings
So this is a good start – parameters that I can work with to define what kind of character I’m creating. Now that I know what kind of character I want to create, I need to figure out what kind of factors from the rest of my comic will affect how they’re going to be created. I ended up taking these into consideration:
- As the type of characters in my webcomic are Planet of the Apes-esque, I should try to keep that in consideration for this new character
- I don’t want to have any one-dimensional characters in my comic – I want everyone to be the type of character that people could see themselves caring about, no matter if it’s only a little bit
- Even though I like detail, I don’t want the character to be so overly detailed that I won’t want to draw them repeatedly – I need to keep in mind that I’ll probably be drawing a TRIBE of this character at a time
So, keeping all of this in mind, I went to work. I think this exercise was likely the epitome of the statement you see on all those infomercials for self-help products – results may vary.
I figured that the most powerful primate that I’d thought of using in my series so far was a gorilla, so I decided to base the Yeti design around that. Taking a look at G, my gorilla character, I decided to start basing the Yetis around him.
The first sketch was a rough one – with rough being the operative word:
White Gorilla: First attempt
As you can see, this is what I like to call très horrible. It was a rough to more or less figure out the look I was going for with this new set of characters. Though, it wasn’t a complete failure. What I figured out from this exercise was:
- This race would need to have a lot of fur/hair on their bodies to survive cold, mountainous conditions
- I wanted them to have strong-looking jaws to show that they could rip through a variety of foods, since they’d likely have to hunt some tough creatures for foods
- I didn’t quite know what I’d do to show that they have to deal with a lot of snowblindness from the sun always reflecting off of the expanses of white around them, so I settled for black surrounding the eyes – what I felt that this could show is that the rings could help absorb the excess light so they could still see in those conditions (yes, I have an explanation for everything!)
So, great. I have something to work with. Let’s try again:
Second attempt: Starting to get a better idea of form
This was starting to get closer to what I was going for – looked a lot better drawn, stronger and put together than the first attempt. However, if you clicked on the link of G I posted above, you might agree with me when I say that this just appeared like G with white fur to me. Obviously this is due to using my “gorilla” body style as a base. I need to figure out what I can do to make the White Gorilla a little different. Back to the drawing board – literally:
Third attempt: Really starting to figure out how big and powerful these things will be.
This is where I felt it really started to come together. This version involved a lot of pencil layering and redefining to capture a few things:
- The density of the fur
- How freaking massive these things will be
- The degree of their musculature
I thought I’d really hit the nail on the head here and asked a couple of co-workers if it reminded them of a Yeti-like being. They said yes, BUT the posture was way too humanoid.
facepalm Let’s try this one more time:
Attempt cuatro: This is where I’m at for now.
In the end, I ended up with a more primal version of what I’d come up with on my third attempt, and that’s okay with me for the time being. As I get more comfortable with the character, I’d likely draw group scenes with males, females and children to get a better idea of what they look like, how they interact, their size relative to others, etc.
So I hope that gave a little bit of insight into how I go about creating characters for use in FNC, and now I’ll open up the floor to questions and comments.
Have a great day, one and all!