Today I’d like to share a few more drawings of characters made for the FANSTRATICS game.
The first is the “Dwarven Alchemist.” I started with 4 designs ideas and worked with the client to find which best fit the idea for the character. Ultimately they chose C, and threw in a few odds and ends in from the others for good measure.
In general I have found that these quick sketches are great for capturing the shape and energy of a character, but they are never quite enough to really dive into a drawing. My brain is 95% cookie dough at this point, (and because I have kids the meager remaining 5% is never seems to be all there anymore,) so I need one more extra step to get a design I am happy with before diving into actual pencil.
To do this, I will do a clean line drawing in photoshop with the most generic pencil I can find. There is something about the grim indifference of pure, unvarnished line that is like turning a bright fluorescent light onto a design. You can’t hide behind any fancy shading or elegant brushwork. It either works or it doesn’t. When drawing this way I will redraw areas several times if I need too, I’ll hack and slash and carve things up and totally rework entire sections. I won’t leave this stage until I feel like I have really investigated the character and explored all the possibilities.
While making this cleaner drawing for this one, it occurred to me to add labels to some of this character’s potion bottles. The character was a battlefield manipulator, and they were meant to be thrown like grenades, buffing allies and debuffing enemies. To reinforce this, I added some runic hearts, magic stars, arcane symbols and death’s head skulls to the various bottles. Having an extra stage like this always leads to these happy little narrative moments that wouldn’t occur to me if I could just print out instantly the idea that I had in my imagination. At which point, I print the whole thing out and start scribbling away with my trusty Kimberly’s 2H and a sheet of Strathmore Bristol.
Another drawing from the series is the “Lamassu,” which also got the same robotic line drawing before moving on to the pencil work:
It seems like such a small simple little trick now, but I wish I could go back to a younger me earlier on in my work, and tell myself, ‘just to do this clean line stage every single time. There are no shortcuts. There is no rendering your way out of a bad design.’ I’d tell myself. ‘Just get used to redrawing and redrawing and redrawing until it is right. And stop buying so many fancy erasers. Also stop eating Oreos and playing warcraft until 3 in the morning. Also Coca-Cola has no nutritional value and cannot be used as a substitute for water. Yeah, that too. Also, don’t buy that 1985 300z. Yes it has T-tops and yes it talks to you in a sensual 1980’s robot voice if you start driving with fastening your seat belt, but that doesn’t make up for the fact that it leaks oil and the engine is about to go.’