Is 'it' green?: Creating early character silhouettes

Use silhouettes to get your mind thinking in a way that strengthens your characters. When posing a character, it’s a good idea to act them out, in your head or physically. Take reference photos; posing helps you understand the stance and personality better. You can always pose a sketching Doll, or a Biped in 3ds Max, to get a better idea of shape and action lines too.

Action lines or ‘lines of action’ is a method used by animators. If these characters had animation: “what would they do?” It’s useful to think this way. It strengthens the character, giving it life, even if it’s not going to be animated.

Proportions take time to get right! Time was against me due to the amount of characters I had to design from scratch. I utilised a time saving method.. or cheated!. Rather than drawing from eye, I printed out and traced over a BiPed model in 3ds Max. I didn't have a light box or a Cintiq, so I used my computer screen as a light source using tape to keep the paper still. Later, I rescanned it with all the changes I’d made. 

Line work refinement (important Illustrator and Photoshop knowledge)

Once happy with your sketches bring them into Adobe Photoshop and focus on tidying the lines. I added colour, thinking it would make it easier on the eyes, I don't recommend doing this as it didn't help in the long run. The colour pass comes after the line work so it’s best not to jump the gun. Stay focused on the lines for now and nothing else.

Adobe Illustrator Line work

Use the pen tool to draw out your lines. I found the inner lines worked best at 2pt and the outside line at 3pt. The thicker outside line helps the character pop.

Red Pen Corrections Line Pass

Always take a step back. Go make yourself a deserved cuppa and come back with fresh eyes. It’s easy to get too close to your work; spending far too long looking at it and not seeing what’s wrong. That’s ok. Step back, ask for someone’s unbiased opinion. My Creative Producer Paul Jennings (PJ), leading the design on this project, has a wealth of knowledge from years of experience managing art teams. He has a super eye for graphic design, alignment and balancing. At this stage I had a form of art blindness and needed his opinion. I couldn’t see what was staring me in the face.

NB: Taking regular brakes can help prevent art blindness.

A Creative Producer red pen pass was just what I needed at this time, highlighting the areas I needed to pay more attention to.

Come back tomorrow for a little about adding colour!