Character Design Hot Seat: Three Feet Under
This month’s Hot Seat topic is Character Design. The rules are the same for every Hot Seat critique. I’ll start the conversation and then open up the discussion to the general membership. There’s still time for you to submit a character (or characters) for discussion. Just follow the directions in this thread.
Three Feet Under
Joel submitted three character turnarounds for discussion. Here are the original drawings.
As we’ve talked about before, one of the guidelines for good character design is an identifiable silhouette. If the characters can be recognized by their silhouette, it follows that their design is unique enough to allow them to stand out in the comic. I think Joel’s characters are very recognizable.
My overall reactions, when I started studying these characters further, boiled down to two main areas: The very-thick necks and the super-stiff posture. I think focusing on these two areas would help these characters “read” much better.
This is, by far, my favorite character. She’s unique. She has a fun look, and she’s emotive. To make her look more natural, I’d want some “flex” added to her body. Right now, she’s built along an almost-perfect vertical line. And nobody’s built that way. I’d add a little flex to the spine, tilt the pelvis, and bend at the knees a bit.
Be careful. The profile view tends to get angular and thin. Try to keep the same proportions you’ve established in the front view. (You can see I draw blue lines across to show how the profile skews.) And remember to draw the back of the skull. There’s a lot of real estate there that’s missing in the original profile view.
Everything else — the costuming, the hair, etc. — works really well. And that’s true of the other characters as well… the hair and costumes are impressively well-thought-out.
This character has such a thick neck that it almost makes him look like a “heavy.” It makes his head overpower the rest of the body — causing a top-heaviness that I found distracting.
same as before, the profile view tends to mis-match the front view. The eyes rise higher on the skull and get much smaller. I would encourage you to try to keep these proportions as consistent as possible.
Again, adding some flex gives this character a little life. Remember, no one is built along a vertical line. The spine curves, the legs have counterbalancing muscles (especially from the side view). Even adding a little flex along the path of the arm improves this character.
Finally, I thought this character was the most problematic:
He doesn’t seem to fit in the same visual universe that the other characters occupy. His chin is drawn with such sharp angles that it’s very distracting. His eyes are drawn as two thin slashes — which really contrasts with how eyes are drawn in the other characters. And his neck is uncomfortably long.
Regarding the profile views and the back view: Pay attention to how glasses change as the view changes. I don’t know that’s I’m super comfortable with simple leaving out the bows (as you do in these views), and I know the glass part would be much thinner than they are drawn now. Simply avoiding them in the back view feels like a cop-out to me. This might call for a little drawing-from-life to understand better how to draw glasses.
By addressing these points (and adding a more natural posture), I think he improves noticeably. What are your thoughts? How can we take Joel’s already-good character designs and make them even better?