Saturday, April 10, 2010

Evolution of a Player

When I sat down design a player character, I had no idea how painful a process it would be. I knew the character would fly, so I wanted a cape. I knew that I wanted a lighter, "cartoonier" feel so I didn't want realistic proportions. I also knew that I wanted the animation to be better than normal, so I needed keep it simple if I was going to be drawing, inking, and coloring a lot of frames. Most important, I knew that I didn't want to take a "good enough" attitude with his design. The player has to look at it for the entire game so I needed it to be right where I needed it or at least as close as I could get.

So over the course of a couple weeks, and in the margins of many notepads, I started to doodle the character shape. I wanted a bulkier upper body to imply great strength, and shortened the legs for a little contrast.
I was pretty happy with a few of those and kept pushing forward. I was getting a little excited, and way ahead of myself, so I drew an action position and tried a few different color schemes. I wanted it to look like a piece of finished art so I tried to make my lines as tight as possible. I roughed out my shape with a non-photo blue pencil (they don't show up in copies or B&W scans) and then inked over the character. I used the red pen to signify where my shadows would go. Also, I mozaic'ed the images to give it a 16-bit feel. The final game won't look like that, I was just curious.


At this point I was feeling pretty good about the shape, but didn't love the colors. I decided to go forward to a "character turn-a-round". I was hoping to animate a walk cycle in the coming weeks and needed to figure out how he looked from all angles. So I went to work.


At first, I was pretty happy with this. He had the shape I set out for and definitely looked like he could lift anything, but had lost the cartoony feel I was searching for. Growing up on the "Bruce Timm" era of DC animation, I had grown to like the angled, low detail approach of character design. It helped keep down the line mileage and would keep the characters from looking mushy and wobbly. But it clearly wasn't what I was looking for. So I sat down with my original thumbnails and started to work again.
I was looking at the middle one when I realized that was the look I was going for. I then decided that I was having trouble trying to draw in such a full scale when my thumbnails were what was capturing the essence of what I wanted. So I took my favorite out of all of them, blew it up, and created my character on top of it.

This is where I ended up. I still need to figure out the logo for his shield, and maybe change the circle on his chest, but I'm happy with it. Hope that wasn't too boring for you. I'll put up more as I get it.

Ben

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