Late night design work for a supporting character in The Happy Samurais.  For a lot of my character design work lately, I’ve been doing the preliminary idea sketching at my computer desk until I figure out the basic idea for the character (overall shape, silhouette, proportion etc).  Then I’ll compile all the specific reference I need to do the final design, print it out and head over to the drawing table to do the final model sheet.

I mentioned it on twitter last week, but I think the first time I REALLY start to understand a character’s personality is when I design their outfit — whether that’s jeans and a t-shirt type of design, or some latex and shoulder pad getup.  As I’m writing the script I’m creating the character’s back-story, their motivations, their goals etc. and I THINK I know them backwards and forwards.  But really, once I start to design their outfits, a lot of that changes pretty drastically.  “Would kind of person wears ‘that’ kind of outfit?”.  It takes takes some balls to wear some of the ridiculous outfits you see rock stars or hipsters wear.  Balls or stupidity I guess.  Take your pick.  So is that something my character would wear, or are they too self conscious?  Or is that not ostentatious enough for them?

This specific character is the manager of the series’ main rival and he’s just a colossal asshole.  Not physically intimidating in any way, but he’s so conniving that you have to be aware of him at all times.  And one thing I’m starting to learn is that I LOVE designing the asshole characters 10x more than the “good guys”.  A large part of that has to do with that “what kind of person would dare wear an outfit like this?” question.  And the answer is usually, “an asshole”!

So ridiculous outfit = asshole = fun to design.

In the future, I think I’ll probably work back and forth a little more when creating a character.  Always starting from the story point-of-view — what is their purpose in the story? — and then working on visuals at the same time as motivation, goals, etc.

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