creative elements

Week 2 – Character Design

This week I changed groups – I am now part of the ‘Bermuda Island/Tiki God’ project with Darcy Burrows, Matthew Duddy and Ryan Loughran.

We spent the first part of the week – as did many other groups! – actually trying to finalise and define the idea that the previous members had left us with. (Believe me did the ideas get weird. Think Big Brother / Survivor – style game show for Lovecraftian aliens weird.)

Big thanks to Darcy for explaining the concept to us, dragging our ideas back from the brink of insanity whenever they went off the rails and allowing us to destroy all of her favourite ideas over the course of the week! She’s a star. Please look at her blog post on this week’s work here. 

Once we had gotten the brain-melting conceptualising out of the way, it was time to work on the characters that would inhabit our world.

I myself took a slightly different approach than rest of my group, starting out with highly cartoony, even comedic, animal characters and then showing their rather more horrific mutated forms –  a kind of ‘before/after’ setup:

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I intentionally started out with stylised, anthropomorphic characters (I always feel that I need to inject some personality into my designs, adding an element of narrative to most things I draw, whilst also trying to apply the principles of using basic shapes to convey character relationships) to contrast with their more complex and monstrous mutant forms. Think the likes of your average Dreamworks animal characters transforming into creatures from, say, Bloodborne: 

Character design for Dreamworks’ Madagascar (2005), artist Craig Kellman, and concept art for the Blood-Starved Beast from Bloodborne (2014), I cannot find credit for the artist of this particular piece and it is annoying me to no end. 

As much as I liked these ideas, this initial approach completely failed to sync with what the rest of my group was doing. Hahahahaha.

You see, the rest of my group was focused less on the weird, messed up body horror nightmare fuel I was thinking of and more on the actual functions these mutated – or rather, evolved, life forms would fulfil in their island community. Also, their designs are nothing like mine – they look a lot better, because they actually worked on them together and made a considerate effort to get to a distinctive ‘look’ for the world’s inhabitants.

I mean, just look at this!

This is the final-ish lineup of characters, plus Trump for scale, put together by Ryan but featuring art from Darcy and Matthew as well.

The only design of mine that made it into this incredible piece was the super-vague mutant psychic iguana sketch, redrawn and made ten times more awesome by Ryan.

EDIT: Ryan stayed on this project for the tonality week, and boy did he produce some even more amazing art for that. *LINK TO THIS WHEN I CAN* 

So anyway,  in an ill-fated attempt to reach my group’s standards during the latter part of the week I produced a page of designs more in keeping with the rest of my group’s work:


I quite like the pufferfish blimp and the phrase ‘industrial strength pelican’. I was also quite pleased with the potential for the coral mecha idea, but quite rightly these designs did not make it into the final lineup, since they were produced too late with little consultation of the rest of the team.

I’m going to be honest and say I don’t think I applied myself terribly well to this task. Or rather, I failed to communicate and work with my team when it came to actually designing the characters. Nonetheless Darcy, Matthew and Ryan produced some excellent work together, consciously meshing their styles to produce the amazing designs above.

So… If nothing else, I have learned a valuable lesson about teamwork this week! Yayyy!  (Next week: healthy eating! See you again soon boys and girls! *kid’s show theme song plays*)


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