Friday, August 31, 2007
Looking at these old Mung Daals makes me shudder. I'm so much happier with this new version. Like the Chowders in the previous post, I can't believe how stiff, even, and cluttered he looked. To me the real difference is in the front view. That's the angle I struggled with the most in the previous versions. This time it flowed naturally. I guess that's a good sign.
My original concept of Mung was that he was the love-child of Don Knotts and Yoda. With the pilot version, he's got crap jutting off his head in all different directions. Nothing takes visual precedence or helps gives a line of action.
In the next version, I removed the eyeglass temple from the outside of his face and more importantly, I tried to emphasisze his nose as his most prominent feature. His shoes and hands got slightly bigger, his ears became much smaller. But it was incremental. Too subtle. His features still didn't read well. He didn't bend well. And now with a season behind me, I can see those faults.
So with the new version, the first thing I tackled was proportions. He's all head and neck now; the weight is in his nose. His body is smaller. He's not so stiff, but forms a nice "S" cruve with his head and body. His moustache extends farther than his ears, giving his face a balance point. The bump on his nose has always been a vexing issue. I originally put it there to give space between nose and his eyes. In the footage we've gotten back, his eye and nose often tangent anyways, and the stinking bump blocks his eye! So it's created more problems for me rather than solving them. I've made his eyes bigger, flattened the bump and moved it so the eyes are no longer covered. His eyebrows are clearer too. Now his expressions should read a lot better. There's no extra line defining the side of glasses. And I've removed his far ear in the 3/4; it keeps the curve of his head consistent now. His hands are bigger. His shoes have been simplified and extended, giving him a floppier look.
Now he feels like he has gesture, direction, and balance. And he feels overall sillier. Which is good. I really want this show to be cartoony, and I'm realizing it's time to start pushing the crew to make it that way, starting with myself. For now, I'm really happy with this new design. But maybe in a season or two, I'll think he looks like garbage and he'll get another revamping.
Next to tackle: Truffles!
Thursday, August 30, 2007
As happens with all shows, the characters really come into their own over time. You learn a lot about who they are from a full season of writing, as well as dealing with the animation footage that comes back from the overseas studio. Plus just drawing the character hundreds of times over causes you naturally learn the economies, the proportions, and the necessities of the design.
Being between seasons, I decided to take a stab at reworking the characters using the information I've gained. Chowder was first on the list. Look at the difference from the pilot to now! Wow! He really feels like he's finally coming together. Clay Morrow put it best in describing the Season 1 design: "Everything touches." The theory was that he's a fat kid. It makes for a a mess though. The original concept of Chowder (I'll post the doodles someday) was a fat, shy kid who often hid low in his oversized collar and wore his pants on his head. His features are supposed to be all squished up. That's why I made those shapes on him. But look how even in proportion he is. He's more body than face. Where's the focus?
I'm also seeing how stiff the drawings are. Especially when we are getting some pretty stiff drawings back from overseas. Noooo! The funny thing is my drawings don't tend to be that stiff. I draw "stiff" characters (maybe cuz I'm so uptight), but I usually try to give them some life and energy in the drawing. I think that in locking down a "definitive model," I lost a lot of that energy and life.
After drawing him consistently for a year, I started making his head bigger and bigger, diminishing everything else. I've tried to simplify him by removing the tangenting cheek lines, focus the visual weight into his cheeks, make his eyes read better. I made his hands stick out a little more. I think the most drastic change is in his profile view. Now he has a muzzle and his face doesn't flatten out as he turns. And while his clothing no longer feels oversized, he feels more like a fat kid. He's now all about the chubbyness of his face. And that's his defining characteristic. It only took me a few years to get there. I'm learning.
More characters to come soon!
Thursday, August 23, 2007
It goes without saying that my job has become a bit more stressful. And one of the wonderful side effects of stress is clenching your teeth at night. I've become so good at it that I cracked one of my molars. But after going through the trouble of getting it crowned, the pain still returned. So I had to choose between a root canal or completely replacing it. Since the crack could eventually cause the tooth to break, I opted to pull the sucker. This was a few months ago.
Now that my mouth has healed, it's time for phase 2! Today they drilled a large hole in my jaw and inserted a monster screw right into it. I'm still numb, so I can't comment on the pain. Tonight should be fun, fun, fun. The oddest thing about it was the torque of the drill on my jaw. This was no delicate dentist drill, the kind ordinarily used for little fillings. It was a Black and Decker with flames painted on the side. The dentist had to wear a hard hat. I had stepped into an episode of "This Old Mouth."
So phase 3 will be in another month or so, after the bone grows around the screw. That's when I get my new, fake tooth.