Monday, 12 October 2015

Week 1- Dawn of the Post it Notes

It Begins

To kick start this project I thought it best thing to research Leyendecker and his work. Luckily there is a Leyendecker book ((J.C. Leyendecker by Laurence S. Cutler and, Judy Goffman Cutler, pictured above) in the library filled with almost all of his work.

On the way there I also thought of a rough story for the characters I'd need to design. As a rough idea the main character has recently lost her father and is on a journey to retrieve him form "Hel" (The underworld in Norse mythology, the ruler of Hel also shares its name) going through several enemies such as Logi, his son Loki, and his children.She is joined by the couple who now look after her and they pick up a few other party members on the way. I also had a nice image of a rough idea for a promo image pop into my head on the way back from the library.

Finding a story to place theses character in is important to how I work, so I'm glad to have locked that down on the first day. I've found I struggle to  make successful characters without being able to think out their story and their relationships with each other in my head.

I made some rough goals detailing what I want out of this project. to keep me focused.

  • Mix Leyendecker style of rendering with my own stylistic way of sketching characters. 
  • Be consistent ad efficient with my work process when creating many characters.

I'm used to creating one stand alone character at a time so this  project will be a challenge for me. Figuring out how to produce many character in the same world, link them all together and render them to the same point, is something I need to work on. For example with my last character sheets I had the ideas for more characters, but ended up not designing them after the first. this project will force me to do so, and hopefully give me some energy to be able to go back to my unfinished projects.

Example: The Ringmaster character for a circus I still need to design 
After going through Leyendecker's work and organising it I picked up a few things:
  • Leyendecker's character are very glamourous, he more or less was the pitoeer of morden advertising and the notion the "sex sells" It'll be difficult to convey that glamour to Vikings.
  • Most of his images have a basic lighting set up, with a key light and strong back/rim light.
  • His figures tend to have strong angular shadow shapes.
  • Leyendecker drew from live models almost exclusively.
  • He used a pencil grid to the transfer his work onto a bigger scale.
  • The brush strokes and canvas texture are evident through his work.
  • He's a fan of rosy cheeks on his models.
  • The men are generally muscular, angular and stoic with the woman being more flamboyant and soft (though there are examples both being drawn in the other style.)
  • Bold outlines are  often used to frame his figures.
  • There's a limited pallet to most of his work.
  •  Leyendecker used brush strokes to give his work a "hatched" look.

Unfortunately after this  I had found that I was stuck, I had no idea how I was going to replicate this style as it was so far from what I am used to doing, so I left it and focused more on the Viking half of the brief. First researching Norse mythology and potential enemies for my Vikings to fight:
potential enemies list

I also looked into Viking clothing and armour, I found that most of these outfits are layered with cloth and fur being the main components in plain cloths, and leather and chain mail being main components in armour. There was no medieval type heavy armour for the Vikings :

Clothing mood board 
For the characters themselves, I wanted them to keep them varied in body shapes and face type, whilst still looking very much like Vikings.So I asked myself who would be considered modern day Vikings? My first thoughts went to the highland games, (especially the caber toss), then onto the worlds strongest men, then athletes and weightlifters in general. I came out with real people with varied features, still in a peak level of physical condition that would be needed to survive as a Viking warrior, (as my initial idea was to have them all as fighters, in an action RPG type game). though now I'm thinking of making a few shopkeeper and villager NPCs as well.

The Caber Toss. Photo by Rennett Stowe

My "Viking" character reference
After mood boarding I went to caricaturing these athletes faces in the regular way that I'd go about it, very quickly trying to get the essence of what I want in these Vikings. But honestly it did not turn out so well. I quickly realised I was at an utter loss as to how I am going to achieve my goal of mixing my stylised sketches with Leyendecker's rendering style.

Sketching out my Viking faces, fortunately I did work out some character traits from of these sketches

Trying to merge Leyndecker's style to my sketch

At this point in the week I was feeling lost with the information on my mood-boards and how  to transfer that into characters, make it  all look good, or how this will  even fit in my portfolio. I even, in a slightly desperate attempt tried to go and pick a fairly obscure Leyendecker image to base this project on so I could make everything easier/more interesting for myself. I was (rightly) advised against it  however as it wasn't really the Leyendecker look that he's known for.

Feeling overwhelmed I took a step back and drew some small thumbnails in my book. I had an solid idea of how I wanted a few characters to look body wise so I took some time out to scribble those down.

This was enough to get me going, so I decided to just focus on my Viking design and put Leyendecker in when I had something solid to work with. I took theese thumbnails into Photoshop and built on them, coming out with a few characters by the end of the week.

The main character

The main character father

A shield maiden "Tank" support character

My Goals for next week:

  • Have all of my character designs down (line work)
  • Start working with colour and texture for my characters

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