Monday, January 16, 2012

Creation of a character--- Part 2

Creation of a Character--- Part 1

So here we are again on the second part of five posts on how I personally go about creating a character, taking it right up to the point where it's ready to be posted to prospective client editors.

The first post (which you can read by clicking on the link above or just scrolling down) dealt with how my creation, Captain Alzheimer went from a rough sketch to fully fleshed out character.

On this post I'll be drawing Captain Alzheimer in a variety of poses. I do this purely to see how versatile he is and how he looks from different angles and how he performs with different emotions.

Below is a typical example of one of my character sheets. Some cartoonists use these sheets as reference, some  use them as a way of warming up in the morning. I personally don't do either as I've never felt the need to warm up --- I just like to get straight to it, and once I'm into drawing the character, I tend to throw these pages away.
Action is a big thing for me so even when Captain Alzheimer is standing still (as in the top right illustration) he's still got signs of action; like the bend in his knees or the pondering finger to the mouth or the way that his cape droops along with his stance. Also you may note how the capital 'A' above his head aides greatly to his movement; if he's moving fast the 'A' is stretched far out behind him. If he's surprised it could be poinging straight up as if in shock; or when he's looking confused or dejected, it could hang low with almost a look of depression. And finally, and for this character in particular, I needed to see how his cape would affect his movement. The cape in a super hero is almost like a supporting actor and can aid greatly to a panels mood.

And speaking of supporting actors, the next thing I needed to do was create Captain Alzheimer's immediate supporting cast.

But before I did this, I needed to get the idea of the strip right---I had to create a premise or a world for them to live in. A world which would continue to produce storyline after storyline---very important if you want your idea to run past the first few weeks.

When creating a character, the most important thing to remember is your market. If you're looking for a syndicated comic strip then you want pink and fluffy things. If its political, then the character or idea needs to be more hard hitting, angular and less fluffy.

In this case the market I was targeting was for over the top humour --- strips that took on adult themes through the medium of a children's style comic format, but a format that most definitely was not for children. So the thought of a pompous superhero who kept on forgetting things seemed like a great idea and something they may very well be interested in and if you add to that all the superhero cliches and standard story lines then this was an idea that had possibilities. But deciding to have him run around in his thermal underwear and a towel because he could remember to change, but couldn't remember what he'd done with his costume, made me realise I was on to something.

The other characters in this strip needed to be at a minimum and act mainly as a 'straight guys' to his ever confusing activities. So I drew the characters below:

His wife, who is very calm and tries to get him to realise that he's no longer a superhero and to stay indoors where its safe. She also seeks respite care and this causes more fun when he tears around the day centre causing even more confusion --- seeing the nurse as a super villain called Miss Matron or the psychiatrist as Dr Psychobabble, the evil mind controller.

The next character was the Police sergeant who Captain Alzheimer keeps on referring to as the commissioner; almost like Batman would to his police contact.

The sergeant is a frustrated character who has to juggle budgets with crime figures, ever more increasing pressure groups and a total lack of faith by the public in the system of law. Now, it would seem, he has to deal with an idiot in long johns and a towel who thinks he needs him to solve the cities crime wave.

So the cartoon had a socio political theme with a silly side. The two would, I feel, work very well together.

I hope you've enjoyed the second of my posts and got more of an insight into how an idea is formulated. Not all cartoonists use the exact same formula, but as a guide it will work very well for the aspiring cartoonist.

Next week we'll be looking at the character breakdown or how he is put together in stages. I'll also be showing you how I put the grey shading on him in Photoshop.

See you then...

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