Character Development

I’m currently working on a short film that goes inside of one of our projects at VBI. I thought it would be a good opportunity to show the progress as I go. The first thing  I do after reading/writing the script is think about each character and what kind of basic shapes best represent them. I’ll go right to left, because that’s kind of the order I designed them in. Some traits and shapes come quicker than others when I’m thinking this up.

The doorman is the major obstacle for the two teens. I knew I wanted him to physically represent the wall he was being for the characters. So, I used thick solid shapes to form every aspect of him. At his most basic he’s made up of giant rectangles; solid and wall like. Then I focused in a little more. How can I use these shapes to hint at a backstory? Make his brow big and heavy and he seems serious and contemplative. Add a crook to his nose shape and it shows he’s been involved in some fights. Pull up his sleeves and add a curve to the shape pf his mouth and he’s not only ready for new fights, but excited for them. Then I made the decision to hide his eyes to make him harder to read. Now That his shapes are flushed out I move to the next character.

The boy gets angry but is easily swayed. So, I focused on using thin shapes to illustrate his fragile psyche, and threw in some subtle points that hinted at his anger. I made sure to make him top heavy and really thin out his ankles so people would get a sense of his unbalanced nature. His eyes I’ve made big and very expressive, so I can really push the emotional changes he has during the short. Then I made sure to make him a sort of zigzag shape overall so that you could really get that he might not be such a stand up guy. Those things were really my focus when it came to his shape language.

So, onto the girl character’s shapes. She by contrast of the other two is the normal one. She’s more level and happier than the others. So, I used lots of rounder softer shapes. Circles feel fun and happy so I put them throughout the design. I also used her proportions to hint at her being more balanced. This was a bit tricky because of her head. I gave her a bigger head to fit with the others better, but then I needed to add some width lower down to create the balance I wanted. I didn’t want to make her hips bigger because she’s a normal girl. So I thought about what I could do to create balance. I came up with the solution of big shorts that flared out wide and voila, a greater sense of balance. After I’ve done my due diligence with the shape of my character I focus on the colors.

The big guy is again a wall; stoic and somber. So I focused on darker more muted colors like blue and grey. The boy is loud, fragile and holds some anger. For him I used bright pink and indigo, with some darker colors in strategic areas to emphasize the unbalance. Then for the girl I used some pleasant analogous colors to again drive home balance. Then I grab some pops of color from the boy to better relate them together. After doing that I knew I needed to add some of the doorman’s colors into the boy and girl’s schemes so they’d all gel together nicely. So I took his blue and grey and added them across every character. Now I have a nice cohesive group.

Next I’m going to finalize scene details. Then I need to finish off the lighting and shadows. After I get that setup I’ll make my extra hands, and other bits for frame swaps. Once that’s done I will be ready for animation. Hooray for progress! I hope this has been a helpful look at the creative process, and how much is involved in creating even simple things.