body shape studies 3

some people get a lot more extreme with shapes than I do. I’m not necessarily sure that’s a negative for me, but I do want to get more confident in going ‘all out’ than I feel like I currently am. motion in particular can be hard to be to exaggerate proportions.

harder still is making zany bodies fit compositionally in comic panels. I can tweak and pose my ‘comfort zone’ figures a lot easier than some out there designs. i’m sure practice is all that can help this. always trying.

more studies to come in the future, I’m sure.

uncommon medical phenomena

was looking up conjoined twins the other day. i don’t know why.

as an american with the name callum, I have received a lifetime of blank stares in response. is that anywhere equivalent to being born a conjoined twin or dwarf, having to live your life with people awkwardly trying to be polite? probably not. I find the personal dynamics those conditions create as more interesting than the conditions themselves, though the conditions are too. anyone with something ‘odd’ about them eventually just adapts. of course what makes one different may be more obvious than another. if you’re not weird, you’re a weirdo, i guess.

i moreso wish i could present people with autism or asbergers or downs or what have you but I feel unequipped. no one in my life that I knew well had any of these traits. for the moment, I will try to stick to sorts I feel I can portray better.

mens suits are a proven cure for insomnia

i understand that this blog is becoming a fashion one more with each passing day but what are you gonna do I suppose.

mens suits suck.

they are the same thing over and over again with nearly no variety. in my opinion the design isn’t even that appealing. I understand that something neutral and minimal can be classy in the right circumstance. still, there has got to be some more variety before I lose my mind. at least women in the west can get away with more pizzazz.

man even just tiny little stripes or blocks of color can add a ton. and while I know that is what neckties are for, i have a very deep, personal, and petty vendetta against ties. ties were locked up in the dungeon where they belong for this exercise.

and while I hardly think that “new is always better” in anything, I swear that suits haven’t changed much at all since the colonial period. look at like rembrandt paintings or whoever. what we have today is basically the same thing. featureless black mass of cloth with a few points of contrast around the neck and sleeves.

I’m sure this is heresy to many, but if we had to settle on a design for hundreds of years, couldn’t we have settled on something good?

whatever. I’m not advocating that every business executive needs to start parading around in a tie-dye hippie wonderland, but surely we could play around a little bit with mens’ suits. I understand having a muted main color and simple shapes. start small to aid the easily-startled. but let’s at least get some slight variety in here so I can feel a little less like a bystander from Mr. Roboto.

i’m hardly saying that all of these designs are winners. they are concept doodles like anything else. need to experiment to throw away the bad elements and keep the good. but goodness I feel like even these few designs have more interest than 99% of the suits I’ve seen in my life. and this is just scratching the surface, you could go way more creative than this. I was playing it safe to make something I think a businessman could in theory wear today in an the ocean of peer pressure.

i can only hope that one day western suits can look as good as this.

Otigo Trappings

as always, playing with things to see what i like and what i don’t. in real life people wouldn’t dress like they do in the fire nation (“we all have to wear red!”), but it definitely helps the reader. you have to be a little heavy handed sometimes to drive a point home.

these are some ideas i have for the Otigo people. at this point they will not be the main focus but will impact other nations in the area through their actions and culture. they are a loose group of many disparate tribes and i was dabbling with how to make the body shapes and outfits distinct but not too different (they are all part of one people group). at this point i’m leaning towards reducing the diversity even though I like most of the outfits in a vacuum. ideally i want the reader to be able to fairly easily recognize any of these characters as from the otigo area. for that purpose they’re not there yet. how close should they be to each other? that is the question.

the voice of the character

Back when i was laying the groundwork for the comic I worried about having to follow a small cast of characters for years on end and was worried that I might get burnt out on them before long. one of the strengths of the quasi-anthology format I came up with for motherland is that it lets me flip around between new characters often. if I like one I can come back to them in the future, and if I feel satisfied with a character’s arc I can leave it there. it lets me dabble. i like to dabble.

most of the time when i do a story i just have a very rough outline of what happens. i more or less make it up as I go, filling in sections here and there and letting the story sort of take its own path. I’m sure that ‘winging it’ would make some creators cringe but it gives me life. i spend less time worrying about who i want the characters to be and just go along for the ride for who they are. i sort of treat them like if I was meeting a real person.

as a result, when i am working on the visual design of a character, the design may not match up with who they seem to be turning out to be personality or arc-wise. Su for instance i knew from the start was going to be one of the main players for ch4 and she originally was going to have the design shown on the upper-left. but the more i got to ‘know’ su, the more some elements felt out of place. i ended up with the headdress shown on the upper right after some iterations because it felt much truer to something that a very shy introvert might wear. i did like the first headdress design, so i ended up using it on the older sister. but it felt too ‘confident’ for su.

that is just a tiny example, but for my process it is a frequent occurrence. the design of the character influences who i imagine they might be, and vice versa. they feed into each other. i really enjoy the process. not every artist necessarily thinks that way.

a lot of times i’ll just doodle face or body shapes and mill over ‘who could this be’? a lot of character designs i’ve come up with over the years came about as a result of this process. a lot of it is barely intentional. i’ve always thought that I was stronger at ‘putting together a puzzle’ than i am at designing according to a strict concept. people ask me if i draw what i see in my head. i do to a degree, but it is more that I can turn shapes into other shapes and make an image or a statement from elements of what i see rather than have a clear concept in mind from the start. i play and listen a heck of a lot more than i plan.

i like the characters showing me who they are, so to speak. i’ve come to realize in recent months that understanding is one of my main driving forces in life, whether that’s people or concepts or anything else. i want to know and help others know and that is a huge reason why i pay attention to people and their motivations. this doodling process that i do is just one way that i use this desire and hope to share it with others. i enjoy the artistic process, but it is more of a means to an end for me. however, it one of the best facilitators for me to understand others and help others understand – regardless of if those others are real or fictional.

The shape of your average LADY (and boy)

some more body shape doodles. just seeing what works and what doesn’t for the story.

trying to design the clothes hand in hand with body shapes, which i haven’t done as much in the past as i probably should. the clothes and silhouette are basically the characters’ “brand”, i think it helps for them to build off each other. it makes the impact more distinct at least.

panel borders always kick my butt. it’s still easier for me to draw characters without worrying about panels even after all this time. a lot of times i like how a character silhouette looks in a vacuum but when it’s on the panel it clashes with other elements. oh well. still learning

At a glance

I find silhouettes and shapes just as important as detail. Silhouettes can be tough for me to integrate into the background and still make it look good. always learning.

I find a lot of these have interesting shapes which can help differentiate characters. the types of clothes a character wears is just as important as their body shape and body language, since it helps the audience recognize them. it is their ‘brand’, if you will. it also makes certain poses more or less difficult to draw. 😉

what are half of these outfits? i have no idea. the story of my life: we can take it further.

Clothes makes the man

I really do like drawing and designing clothes. which is kind of odd since I don’t care at all how I dress in real life.

playing with shapes, playing with ideas, the norm. trying to make believable designs that I could see someone wearing in real life, even if they are not necessarily practical. these are intended for the renes, though I may end up stealing elements to use for other nations. the renes in particular do not like showing skin. part of that is their colder environment, but i would hazard a guess that their climate and their particulars of modesty play into each other over time. I think that tended to happen in real life.

patterns add some flavor, but they can be a little difficult and tedious to do in B&W without breaking silhouettes or muddying the body language. if I ever use designs in the comic I have to do B&W versions to make sure they work. but right now the shapes and the silhouette are more important.

A short look ahead

speak peek for a future character.

played around with him for a bit but just wasn’t feeling where it was going. so I decided I’m gonna make him a dwarf. why not. it’ll add some interest. it’s always fun to do a new spin on something.

he is specifically of the achondroplasia variety, which I believe is the most common type. meaning he has an average sized head and torso with shorter limbs. I tried to give him the forehead and posture that I notice many dwarfs have. I might play around a bit more, but he’s getting there.

An oral tradition

Stories existed long before writing. Some of the most ancient texts we know of likely had a long existence as oral accounts way before they were first penned. Oral traditions do rely on the faultiness of memory, yes, but I think they are much more accurate than many give them credit for. Especially if your society is organized around these histories, they would take every precaution possible to prohibit the corruption of information. Many probably trained their whole life to be oral tellers. One particularly interesting technique I discovered recently is that storytellers often skipped a generation (so a grandparent would tell their tale to their grandchild, skipping their child), which I think is really smart. You would have half as many steps for something to go wrong.

Many cultures far removed from the west still have strong oral traditions. It is fascinating how many cultures who had no contact with each other have shockingly similar stories about a global flood. 🙂

Anyway, here is some insight to the design process of a major player in ch4, of which storytelling plays a large role. He likely has been a teller for most of his life, and is respected by his people as such. He is their library. They would trust him much more than some joe schmoe telling the same story.