The first brief I decided to tackle is for the Dreamworks outreach program. Essentially I have to create a iconic character as a child and an adult. I went with Marco Polo as I figured he would be as far out of my 'comfort zone' as I can get. Also Marco Polo doesn't really have an defining visual characteristics so I felt it would be much more challenging and therefore enlightening to try and depict him as a both a child and an adult.
Brief: Design 2 versions of an iconic character. One version should be the character as a child - between 5 -10 years old. The other version should be the same character as an adult.
Try to choose a character out of your personal ‘comfort zone’ – if you usually design sci-fi warriors/monsters – or young female characters – challenge yourself by choosing a different option for this project.
- Caliban (from The Tempest)
- Marco Polo
- Wyatt Earp
- Maid Marion (from Robin Hood)
- The Wolfman
After you have thoroughly researched your character's previous designs and iconography - and before you start working on your original design - write a brief description of the world your new versions of the character will inhabit. Create a mood board for yourself to refer to when considering details of anatomy/costume.
In particular, ask yourself these questions:
- At what date is this character living?
You may design an updated version of a classic character or place the character in a new environment (eg: Marco Polo as a space explorer) - or keep to the appropriate historical period for him/her.
- What are his/her/its prevailing weather/accommodation/lifestyle conditions?
How will this environment influence clothing/weapons/physique?
- How will the environment affect the character’s appearance?
Example - in How to Train Your Dragon some of the key action sequences take place underwater - so aquatic dragons were also designed. The Avatar sequel also takes place under water - lots of interesting design possibilities there!
Remember that, although this is your original design - the character design should still be recognisable as the source character.
Example - updated versions of Alice in Wonderland (there have recently been several) tend to reference iconic 'Alice' design elements such as long hair, blue dress, apron etc.
Note how leading character designers such as Iain McCaig reference costume elements from different cultures/historic periods to give sense of authenticity to futuristic designs (Queen Amidala/Jedi Knights).
If you choose to create a non-human character such as Caliban or the Wolfman make sure the anatomy - however fantastic - is believable - do thorough research before starting designs.