Thursday, August 30, 2007

Chowder Design Evolution

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!