Friday, 15 March 2013

Marco Polo Development sheets

Initially I started off my Marco Polo child designs in a cartoony style of drawing. I felt this was style was too forced and therefore I went towards more of my usual realistic style of rendering. Whilst my goal was to try and create a realistic style of work I incorporated some of the initial exaggeration from the first cartoony sketches, so that work didn't end up looking stiff. I think it has worked much better than if I were to try and make myself render in a cartoon like style, more akin of Dreamworks animation.   

Another area of difference from my usual work flow is the idea of doing the designs as figures in motion, showing poses that reflected the characters traits. This really helped me flesh out the character design and get a more interesting character design in the end I feel.

My goal with the Marco Polo designs was to have a character whom initially would look more akin to towards a 16th century Tudor style of culture whilst as a child. This was to reflect his beginnings and to help enhance the look of a character whom has been influenced as an Adult by his travels.

In my initial paragraph that laid out the world I was going to incorporate steam punk elements in to the design, but I decided that those kind of designs are quiet tired and I felt design a mixture of Tudor and Chinese/Mongol 16th century clothing styles was challenging and visually interesting that it didn’t need the added science fiction influences.

It also helped to keep to doing something that is out of my comfort zone which is the point of the whole brief. With the face I initially had a cutesy look going for Marco Polos child version, however this looked like just any child.

As such I decided to research forensic ageing photos which lead me to try and reverse engineer the adult drawings/paintings I found of Marco Polo. From my research I found that I could only find pictures of when he was middle aged and from when he was more or less at the end of his life. As such I had no reference for what he could of looked like as a child.

My initial head shots of the character I thought looked older than the required age range, with the final design I tried to add more baby fat to the bone structure of the face, it seemed to help both make the child look younger and also 'cuter' for more audience appeal.

One of the areas I find difficult was balance out the fat and bone structure of the face so that the character looked masculine and young, but not feminine or androgynous which appears to be the danger of drawing children. Before this project I should clarify I have never drawn children before, so this has been a great learning experience.

With the adult Marco Polo I decided to depict him in his mid 30s/late 20s as I felt that drawing him as an older character would force me towards just copying the famous images of him for the iconic appeal, and thus reducing the challenge of the brief. As Marco Polo is not depicted really as younger than 40 from my initial research. This therefore made designing him much more interesting and rewarding from a creative and educational standpoint.

For the adult facial design I basically just took the younger face and trimmed the baby fat, added more planes to the face as your face becomes more defined as you get older and Ive added some wrinkles as well as sunk the eyes into the brow. In regards to his style of clothes as mentioned I wanted to mix traditional Chinese and Mongol dress from the 15/16th centuries with Tudor era clothes.

I felt their styles of clothing were so different it really helped give him that strange/otherworldly appearance he is famous for having when first returning from his 17 years in China.

At this stage I am quiet happy with the designs, I plan to come back to them later to render them out for presentation. If I get the time I will probably depict the Adult version of Marco polo in various poses as well.

I will leave them as is for now, as I need to move on to the Atomhawk brief for their in-house 'The Realm I.P.' I am heading up to Newcastle for some reference shooting soon so I will hopefully get this project started after that.

Edit: I decided to do a final sheet of development sketches exploring the style of of the characters with a visible line and 4 tonal colours. I think with a bit of work they would probably work much better for animation than my preferred style of painting that focuses on pushing the realism to what I can manage.


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