Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Characters with Heart pt. 1

Last week I talked about the origins and themes surrounding my new book, Heart.  This week I will properly introduce one of the main characters and show the evolution of the character design.

Here is the first sketch I ever drew:  As you can see, her name is L.B.  When I first drew the character I really liked the idea of seeing the construction lines.  I was on the right track but I figured it was too perfect. If that makes any sense to you.  So I decided I wanted to stray away a bit farther than what I was used to doing as this felt too comfortable to me.  It was definitely a good starting point though.

I liked the pen sketch so much that I thought about doing the entire book in Paper Mate pens.  I had a fear that it might be too hard to see in the final scan even though I could tweak it in Photoshop.  As I stated earlier I didn't want to rely to heavily on Photoshop work so I thought felt tip markers would be good.  I ended up with something like this:   


I really like this look because it kept the idea of seeing construction lines and keeping it loose. It made the drawing more simple which is what I wanted initially.  I felt that if I was going to do a book like this I would need something more surrounding the drawings.  I thought maybe if I did the entire book on a pink construction backdrop it would fill in the gaps of white within the character and it would give the pages some texture.  I got some construction paper and gave it a try:

When I got to this point I felt like I lost track and the pink back drop was a little hard on the eyes.  Plus the texture of the paper really didn't come through as well.  This process narrowed down what I wanted for the look of the book. I wanted to be able to see some of the line drawing, I wanted it simple but not perfect looking, and I wanted it to have some texture.  That's when I thought this book would be a perfect opportunity to try water color.  I've always been fond of the look of water color, but I wasn't into paints.  I am not very good with paint and I have no patience when it comes to waiting for it to dry.   I painted Batman in my nephew's room once and I found it a rather long process and difficult to master.  I figured water colors would be easier and not as messy.  I was wrong.

I bought a bunch of watercolor materials and tried my hand at it.  This was the first water color test of L.B. that I did:

I did not like it.  I was pretty frustrated right off the bat.  First off, I thought I would be a cool guy and use white out and all these other tools/pens but they seemed to be troublesome and added too much to a character I wanted to look simple.  I also didn't like the color of blue as it was too dark and didn't match the complexion of L.B. that I had in my head.  

I decided to use water color pencils to sketch out the characters first and mostly stick with the light blue pencil for L.B.'s color tone.  I also decided to nix the white out for the eyes and just leave it as the color of the paper.  I kept the ink brush for the eye lash and mouth.  I just had to train myself to ink those in last after the paint has dried.  I obviously wanted to try and achieve a less is more.  I sometimes get obsessed with filling in the gaps rather than letting them breathe and be a part of the drawing.  My second attempt looked like this:

I was a lot happier with this and I felt that I was back on track for the character.  I realized in doing this, her body got lost in the paint and she didn't really have a form anymore.  I made a mental note to stretch out the length of her body and to really exaggerate it for certain poses and positions.  This character is suppose to look quite different from everyone else (in the book) so I thought her being a bit taller would help with this.  I tried some more attempts before I arrived at this:

This image was the one.  It set the look for L.B. and my process for how to arrive at this with the paints.  I realized it was important to get much of the tone with one whole stroke before going over it again.  I would later learn how to blend better and get to what I wanted quicker.  

The challenge from this point on was to replicate this look for the remainder of the story and not completely get away from this first image.  It's been quite the learning experience but you can definitely see my progress with the water colors in the pages of the book.  I kind of like that as it reflects certain aspects of the story and of the character of L.B. 

Well that's all for now.  I hope you liked learning about my process a bit.  I have one more character to introduce as I go into the final stages of wrapping up so don't expect any more sweet images of Heart until it's released! 

1 comment:

2cuteink said...

Love it! I like seeing the process of sketches. The final designs looks great and i love the blue tones.