Thought it might be cool to take a look at all the development work I did for a new character in my Happy Samurais comic. I compiled all the drawings I did for it in the images below.

In the past, I’ve almost always designed characters with pencil and paper and I still did most of the “daydreaming”, “what if…” type of stuff that way. But when it came time to try out all the subtle variations on the designs (what if these lines go up instead of down, or what if I make that part fat instead of skinny…) I started using Photoshop. When drawing on paper and I’d want to compare design variations against each other, I’d just bust out another drawing — which invariably would be slightly off (proportions, shape, silhouette) from the original. I gotta say, I really loved being able to just keep tweaking the same image over and over and end up with dozens of variations to chose from. Admittedly, I went a little overboard (60 + variations!) but the process also helped me arrive at what I think is one of the coolest character design I’ve ever done.

Character Design Development Sketches

Character Design Development Work

Is all this a little much for one character design? I guess that all depends on your point of view. Monthly comic book guys would NEVER spend this much time on a character design. They just don’t have the luxury to work on something this long that’s NOT a page. And I get that. Monthly comics gotta get out the door. But I also think that’s one of the reasons most comic book character designs are so average. Seriously, character design skills among comic artists are way inferior to our brothers in video games, animation and film. Hell, half the time, comic artists are designing characters on the page. There’s no way you’re going to come up with a strong fundamental design that way.

I’m also trying to make a different type of comic than most. One that’s developed more like a film than a comic — where tons of time and effort is placed on character design, prop design, location design and special effects, etc.

Yes, that’s a lot of work for one character design, but badass shit isn’t made overnight.

Will it all be worth it in the end? Only one way to find out.

And I know I’m being a tease by not showing the final design, but I’m still trying to figure out how much to hint at and how much to show in this making-of process stuff. After all, I don’t want to ruin any of the comic reading experience.


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