Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Designing more Characters

Hey folks - no update since Halloween!! Shame on me.

Things have been progressing pretty slow, as is expected when everyone working on this project is doing so in their spare time.

I've been spending a lot of attention on The Romantic, with little extra time for producing Burp's Christmas artwork.

Nonetheless, we have been keeping up on the film! I'm proud to announce that Veronica has officially created our company All The Friendly Beasts LLC. She's going to write a blog post detailing that process. Meanwhile, I've been able to do a few more sketches, and some other original art which I will show later.

The following images are mostly secondary characters. While they don't have as much screen time as the main cast, it's extremely important to pay just as much attention to their design and creation. The most successful films/cartoons/comics of this ilk owe a lot of their appeal to their secondary characters. Think about The Simpsons, which, especially in the earlier episodes, spent a great deal of time developing their secondary cast into characters that you want to spend time with, sometimes even moreso than Bart, Homer, Lisa, Marge or Maggie.

Secondary characters are the most crucial part of "world building". The characters need to feel like they have their own stories going on in the background of our main story. We need to know that they exist separate of our main story-line, and don't just exist to deliver a couple of lines that further the arches of our main characters. This is what separates a character from a device. I want to make a film about characters, not about devices.

Norma considers her gingerbread house.

I've slowly been weaning off of the bulbous, 'muppet' noses that appear on my earlier designs. While I love these noses tremendously, they do push the design to a cartoonier level. I'll still keep them on some characters (I don't know how to take it off of Odds), but probably keep the noses on the main family more traditional. Above, you can see a Norma with a bulbous nose and a normal person nose. The "normal person" nose is still big and has a lot of character, but it isn't as far out as the nose that looks like a separate piece.

Little Trevor gets pumped reading Carl Sagan.

Trevor is geeky. While I like some of the above designs, they are a bit too typically 'geeky'. I hate the Paul Pfeifer/Milhouse device of having the nerd wear thick glasses. When I grew up, nerds, if they had glasses, wore normal glasses. If they had any fashion tic, it was generally less obvious - their clothes were frumpier, they carried themselves awkwardly, they wore kids clothing (power rangers/tmnt gear) past the age when it was acceptable to wear that stuff.

I'm more in favor of the Pete & Pete model, where a lot of the supporting casts are pretty unique in their geekery.

Stephanie is a mess.

Still working on this poor girl. Not sure if I want to make her super pretty or super frumpy.

Mr. Fogerty sells shoes and plays the jazz saxophone.

Fogerty is a tough character to make three dimensional. He's Charles' boss and sort of the antagonist of the film. I'm not really sure what direction to take him yet. Should he be a hard ass? (like a Mr. Spacely) Should he be awkward? (Like the boss in Office Space) Should he be the "friend" boss that thinks he's cool and has a great relationship with his employees when he's actually a factor in their personal despair? Even though this character's dialogue has been written, so much of his personality will come from how he dresses, how he looks, and how his lines are delivered.

Emeline Clemins is highly competitive and pretty awkward.

Here's another antagonist that can go many different ways. She was originally intended to be very pretentious, very egotistical, very "proper", and would speak in a froofy way. This has been done so many times before (as has the boss character from above). I'm pushing her now either in the direction of a single mom stuck in perpetual adolescence, or as someone who is extremely awkward and mumbly as well as a little cruel and undermining.

Pastor White is by the book, for good or ill.

I want the Burp's pastor to be a very very nice and very charming guy who means well but whose pastoring is very clean, traditional, and less messy/human/real. I want their to be an obvious rift between the good news he preaches during advent and what's actually going on, ground level, in the Burp's life. I want him to be a dude that you feel can get real, but doesn't know how to get real with the bible.

G.R. has a big heart and a big bank account but unfortunately has not learned to marry the two.

Lastly, this is a quick doodle of a guy Charles' used to work with. He's only in one scene. I feel like calling him G.R. already gives his character a dollop of extra dimension.

Anyhow, that what I'm working with now. More soon!

Take care,

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