Intro to Character Design
“Create multiple unique characters with a combative cartoon sci-fi bent.”
Scribbles to Thumbnails
This is a really fun part of the process. I literally scribble shapes that have roughly the right dimensions, but intentionally don’t think too much about them. Some loose sketching and a couple of spots for eyes trigger possible ideas for forms, shapes and poses. The great thing about this process is that 1 scribble silhouette can yield multiple ideas depending on how it is interpreted. I sometimes play this game with my kids where we share a silhouette, and see what each of us makes!
The image below shows a breakdown for Piccolo Diablo, our mean moustachioed intergalactic taxi driver.
This scribble silhouette could have become any number of thumbnail characters
I end up doing loads of these thumbnails, most of which get discarded.
As nice or interesting forms emerge, so do possible stories for this character – good or evil, their role or where they’re from – and as the story evolves, so does the sketch which in turn adds more detail to the story – it’s a cool little circle.
After I have a sheet of 10 to 15 thumbnails which have something interesting going on, I send them out to the team for a ‘gut-feeling’ review. This is without any story information – it is purely about identifying which thumbnails visually resonate well within the group – they have to feel good first!
Working up a colour concept
From a chosen thumbnail (in this case I’m going to continue using Picollo Diablo) I start working up the colour concept sketch.
This process resulted in these initial character concepts below, though it’s important to note that not all of these will make it into the final game!
Prep for 3D’ifying
Generally the more detail you can provide the 3D artist, the better – ideally orthographic drawings (front/back/side), a colour concept and/or material reference.
As the colour concept for Sarge is close to front on, I provide a rough side projection showing basic detail for his torso, posture, odd leg/hip shape and arm.
A few chats here and there, and a few days later back comes this great 3D model. Sarge’s character has really transferred across from the sketches, which is awesome!