Viewing entries tagged
Character Creation Process

       Is 'IT' green?: Colouring    We refined the line in the last post so now its time to add some colour! Use layers like this:     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     Photoshop Setup   Start with the wireframe and select the ‘magic wand’ tool. Select the outside of the character and any space between the janitor and the mop. Select 'inverse' and fill white as seen above.  To create an ‘ALT Link layer’ hold down Alt and click between the two layers. The bottom layer becomes a base for the top colour to fit on top of. Add more ALT link layers to the base by using the same process    
    
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   
    
       Red Pen Corrections Colour Pass  The red pen is out in force once again, this time there is less red and it’s taking into account colour too. The changes range from quick fixes to big fixes but it’s all workable. It helps if you do this one character at a time.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     I have taken up the red pen approach PJ introduced to all my work now. I use it to find any defects and fix them. It improves the final quality of the images and acts as a final refinement. It trains your eyes to spot mistakes. You will soon have eyes like a hawk and will be able to spot all kinds of little problems with ease. It will make you a first port of call for critiquing colleague’s work. Tomorrow is the penultimate blog of this series and I'll be looking at final refinements and last minute tweaks - I hope you'll join me!   

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IS 'IT' GREEN?: COLOURING

Colour using layers organised like this:

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       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! 

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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. 

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       Is 'it' green?: Drawing and researching      
  
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
  
  
  
  
      Draw, Draw and Draw!     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


    

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


       
  
  
    You have to keep drawing! Even if it’s not going well and you find you just can't draw. Maybe you're having one of ‘those’ days. That's ok. Take a break. Leave your desk and get some fresh air. Have a bite to eat or a nice cool beer. Relax.  Then get back to your desk. Change from a pencil to a ball point pen if you have to, draw! As seen below! I believe you have to draw and draw and then some, if you are going to uncover the gem you're after.   I like using a ball point pen as it makes you focus on creation rather than refinement. I’m looking for the rough beats which I’ll get plenty of time to tweak and refine later.         

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        Early sketches for the Data Executive    
  
  
    Here I thought I would save time. I jumped straight into illustrator without really thinking, this is what I came up with. Very mediocre, slightly lifeless icon style. The character still had comedic value but it was missing a vital ingredient. My advice is simple: Avoid doing this- work on paper and then scan it in when you are happy.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        Back to research  I looked back at my research. I focused on some Italian characters that seemed to suit. I finally found a great celebrity to loosely base my character around and I went from there.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Green IT. Character Design Process, Nicky Rhodes  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


       
  
      Now we enter the refinement phase. As you can see above my sketching is a bit ropey and raw due to them still being in the working out stage. Once you are happy with your sketch idea; get feedback! Get as many people as possible to look at it and comment. I let work colleagues look through my final 6 character sketches. They would make passing statements, good and bad. Pick up on comments like: ‘I don't trust that guy’, ‘Is she a ninja?’, ‘he looks like a knight’, chances are these opinions will reflect the masses thoughts too.        

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        If you can: adapt or, at least, consider what would happen if you turned the janitor into a knight? It can give character added dimensions. Not everyone has to like your character, just as long as they recognise what it’s supposed to represent then your job is done. Don't take offence if people say "it’s rubbish" or "that could be done better". But do question them, ask for specifics so you can refine it and adapt. Equally, be mindful and question "is their criticism founded and worth pursuing". Also wise to remember; you won’t please everyone you ask. People will see different things and want different tweaks. Don’t try to please them all. Take the ideas that resonate most with what you are trying to achieve, otherwise you’ll end up with something designed by a committee: vanilla and lifeless. 

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IS 'IT' GREEN?: DRAWING AND RESEARCHING

Draw, Draw and Draw!

You have to keep drawing! Even if it’s not going well and you find you just can't draw. Maybe you're having one of ‘those’ days. . .

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