Project: Character Design -Research and Evaluation.

Concept art turn around research.

For my turn around I took reference from several sources, be it images or even videos. What I mainly looked at was a way to create a readable silhouette (which my tutor kept pointing out several times) From the feed back I’ve recieved this point has been reached as she was readable from a simple silhouette and recognizable as the same character in every sheet, be it the turn around or even the Jay Ward inspired Mickaela.

(Source: Youtube, user  CGCookie)


For my expression sheet I searched for images that had large features, this would allow me to pin-point which features would be expressing the most in any emotion. When you smile, it’s not just your mouth that moves, it’s also your eyes, eyebrows, nose and sometimes even the position of your ears. The latter being something that’s most common for beings with longer ears.

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Disney wasn’t my only inspiration, even with them being the ones that like to push features on a face to a point of extremes, larger eyes, very flexible skulls.. I also went through the large amounts of deviant art pieces which again showed characters with larger features.  I very much enjoyed researching this bit as my usual illustrations read as flat when it comes to emotions so this is a practise that I will move up on my priority list. Thankfully, from the feedback that I recieved from people I know via my facebook page, Mickalea’s expressions read though they would’ve liked to see it be pushed a bit further. The cracking up expression on my sheet was the one that translated the most whilst the smiling one again read as flat.


Action poses.

For the action poses, for which we needed to provide only 2, I wanted to have a dynamic action pose and a neutral one. With a neutral action pose I mean something like.. how does she stand when reading a poster on the wall or how does she sit when sipping tea? After a page of thumbnails (small sketches that take only a few minutes) I narrowed the poses down to two: One where she’s in a casting position and one where she’s with her little demon Iris. I am pretty happy with the two poses, they aren’t overly complicated nor did I drench the illustration in details like I usually tend to do. To me the dynamic one read as dynamic, so much movement going on and the neutral one read as a very neutral one. Feedback in class about the neutral one was positive, a nice readable silhouette and not much commentary was given online about it either, Iris was seen as a nice addition to the pose.  The dynamic one read well, however the feedback regarding that one was that I could’ve pushed it even further, more movement in the robe and hair and perhaps even her stance.

(Reiq and Mike Butkus art.)

Now, the hardest part of all or well.. something that seemed to me to be a huge issue but later on turned out to be the easiest thing of all… Golden age Mickaela.

First I wanted to make her all Disney, but seeing as I’m putting a Disney sticker on -everything- I figured.. Whatever, winging it and checked out some golden age illustrators/animators. My search didn’t take me that far as the suggested ones on the brief seemed to be more than enough. In my case my fears were mainly that I either wouldn’t be able to translate the golden age Mickaela as the actual Mickaela OR that I would mess up the whole cartoon like style and it would turn out to be a hot mess.


“It’s as if some french walk-way artist did a caricature drawing of Mickaela.”-Feedback comment 

The feedback on the piece was that all my fears were useless. The translated it very quickly to it being Mickaela with someone else saying they recognized the style from cartoons they used to watch as a kid.

I’ve left the cartoon styled Mickaela in a sketchy form. This because I didn’t want every sheet to be the same, her colours were already shown on the age, turn around and action pose sheet, I wanted one with a sketchy feel to it after a long discussion with my tutor about the animator’s touch. (It’s when you see the lines and scribbles which seem to give more energy to a drawing also known as the sketch of something that eventually becomes an illustration.)

-Learning outcomes:

Mick has such a long story to her, many adventures and plot twists in her life. However, she’s always been a character I didn’t draw as much as I wanted to draw her. This because I found it very difficult and not as fun to draw her with her, what seemed to me, flat sheet of emotions. Due to this study I have found a way to still make her a readable character and with all the feedback I’ve received I know that even if I push her to a point of a cartoon, she still is who she is and is readable. This inspires me and motivates me to draw her more often and to practice even more with expressions and not to be afraid to push an expression more and more. The reason I enrolled into University was because I know how to draw, but not to express, as most of my drawings feel void of any emotions. This might been a project at this point, and I’ve delivered it in all it’s glory, but the exercise showed me new ways of approaching the issues I deal with regarding expression in illustrations. When I think I’ve pushed it enough, the audience wants me to push it further, more movement, more strength behind a glare and more expression behind a smile.

Thumb nailing. I do this alot,though at times my character just doesn’t read. During lecture I was shown that silhouettes are what make a character recognizable or not. If the audience doesn’t recognize it, it’s a failure to begin with. The exercise showed me that I can make easier steps from point A to point C in drawing, thumbnail, silhouette, lineart and then colouring.


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