Friday, December 5, 2008

My god, what have I done!?

The thing about designing unique characters with their own set of physical quirks is that, when one is not paying attention, doodles end up being some unfortunate hybrid that don't match anyone!

It's all about the fluffiness! My cartoon characters all have some sort of fluffiness represented in their cheeks. Some fluff points are rounded, some are sharp. If I'm not sketching with any purpose, I let the pencil decide what I'll do. I'll draw the basics of a face and then decide which character is being drawn. Buuuut, the problem with lazy drawing is muscle memory seems to even things out and make me draw a face that is between the pointy and rounded. It doesn't match up well with anyone, so I either have to force it to be someone, use the eraser to correct the sketch to death or draw a random character.

This sketch went wrong early. It clearly wasn't a Bud, and the face was too masculine to be turned into Tiffany... so I decided to draw the "missing link" character between the two families. Shortly after I started I realized the missing link is not supposed to look like the kids, but like their FATHERS. D'oh. So, hey, fuck it, LET'S MAKE A CREEPY HYBRID OF MY MAIN CHARACTERS! It's highly disturbing.

To blather on, let me explain the subtleties of cheek fluff:

The general rule is kitty cheeks are rounded and doggy cheeks are pointy. It's the degree of the point that subtly differentiates between the characters.

Bud: His cheeks are the most obvious, as they are very round. The fluff *should* point down.

Autumn: Her cheeks are pointy and wider. They can droop a bit depending on her mood, but the normally pointy personality means normally pointy cheeks. Over time, I've scaled her cheeks back for cuteness, but we'll see how that plays.

Jacob: In theory his cheeks are the same as Autumn's, but his varies far more often. This is partly because it's somewhat easy to force my accidental hybrids into Jacobs, and partly because Jacob's impressionable nature softens his facial features.

Tiffany: This is probably impossible for anyone but be to notice, but Tiffany's cheeks and jaws are drawn with a different motion than the rest. In theory, she is supposed to have an angular jaw with smaller-than-average round points. In practice, they look like every other kitty's cheeks. Both lack of technique and affinity for cuteness bring her more into the norm. This does explain why I keep screwing up Tiff's jawline, at least.

Suzette: Of all the doggies, her cheeks are the most rounded. The motions for the basics of Suzette's face closely resemble Bud's. Suzette is also a good default for when I screw up a face, since the bangs and ears override everything.

Dionne: Her face should be halfway between Bud and Suzette. Since I need more cheek space for spots, the roundness helps.

Max: His cheeks should have Autumn's width and Jacob's slight rounding. I should note here that all my best Max drawings are accidental and that it's very hard for me to draw him on cue.

Roddy: Initially, the hybrid cheeks were meant for Roddy, but I'm starting to sour on it. If I'm not careful, Roddy's face looks fat because when a black outline is filled with black it stops being an outline and just becomes thickness. I'm trying to get around this by drawing him with the Tiffany technique. I really won't know what works best until I've put him down in ink a few more times.

If you're still reading at this point, I'm impressed. I find it fascinating that so much thought was put into what are nearly imperceptible variations in features - but this might only because I find *myself* so fascinating.

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