Monday, May 14, 2012

A foray into character design

I have recently began working on contributing character concept art for a group of students who are making a multiplayer first-person shooter. I came into contact with them through my brother, who noticed an acquaintance of his requesting help for concept art on Facebook. This alone has made me realise the importance of keeping a steady social network as opportunities to work can be found almost anywhere and from anyone. I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to develop my character drawing skills, practice taking directions and working with other people's ideas

I was initially apprehensive about how well my work would fit into a gritty first-person shooter; after talking about the project, I was asked to create a character design for one of the classes to see how well my style would merge with a slightly more realistic aesthetic. I usually work in a slightly exaggerated, cartoon fashion so I thought it would be an interesting challenge to practice and perfect a more realistic approach to character design. This is the first time I've worked according to another's requests, so the main challenge has been fulfilling what they would like in the design whilst also adding my own personal touch.

After studying the reference images that I was sent that expressed the overall look of the game, I began my sketching. The character is a post-apocalyptic scavenger. These were my quick initial drawings where I focussed more on the impression rather than technical details (I was aware he's far too skinny and oddly proportioned here):

Following positive feedback from the designer who thought I had a grasp of the style, I sent over a more refined image that experimented with something slightly different:

This drawing, although giving an indication of a more developed design, was not quite right. I was sent an in-depth critique from one of the other artist's working on the project, which was in fact one of the most useful and motivating critiques I've had. It was noted that my figure wasn't anatomically correct or in proportion, and also that I perhaps hadn't thought through some of the physical traits of the character. It was suggested that I make him more lithe and "rat-like", as he spends most of his time searching through scrap for materials. Also the outfit wasn't quite reflective of the post-apocalyptic environment. It was also suggested that I work more on the silhouette and overall shape of the character before starting on the details.

He sent me this redline for help on drawing the figure:

I had read about these methods before, but for some reason I hadn't abided by them in my first designs... So, taking all of this on board, I've began sketching again, making sure to first focus on an interesting, unique silhouette, and then start on the details.

I roughly sketched up a new outfit after thinking more about what the life of the character would be like; I aimed to make his outfit look more ragged, like he's having to continually patch it up and build his own armour on top of it. I also changed the face so that he had some rodent-like qualities.

I got a more positive response from the designer over the design of the face and outfit in this image, although the anatomy and pose are still incorrect - his stance is too rigid and doesn't display the outfit well. So next I'll be refining this into a more solid, three-dimensional figure to make him appear more lifelike.

This is the first glimpse I've had into what it would be like to work for a client, and I'm looking forward to gaining crucial concept art experience and developing my drawing skills. This has already spurred me into learning more about colour theory and drawing the figure in the correct proportions, which I'll write about in another post.

Any feedback on this work would be appreciated!

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