Friday, July 18, 2014

Character Design with Jose Lopez

My latest class at the Concept Design Academy is Character Design with Jose Lopez. We're about halfway through the class.

I've been working towards taking this class for two years. When I first got interested in concept art, I wanted to jump immediately to character design, but I knew I wasn't ready - I had to study the fundamentals first. This is a complete list of the classes I have taken so far, in this order:

VisCom 1
Landscape Painting
Analytical Figure Drawing
Intro to Digital Painting
Intro to Story Development
Figure Invention for Animation

I took Story Dev and Fig Invention during the spring semester because I was thinking about pursuing a track as a storyboard artist. I subsequently realized that I did not enjoy storyboarding at all - but I don't regret taking those classes. 

Even if most of these classes weren't directly related to character design, I've learned something and made artistic progress in every single one. I don't miss struggling with oil paints in the hot sun. But the landscape painting class made me a much better artist because I learned to pay attention to the big picture, the broader statement of the image. I don't miss calculating precisely at which angle a generic box is casting a shadow. But learning perspective paid off greatly during my character design homework this week when I had to do turnarounds and calculate precisely where my characters' feet would be on the ground.

I would have taken more classes before character design if I had had more time - I particularly would have loved to take Animal Anatomy, and the more advanced Head / Figure Drawing class. But I've been studying those things on my own on the side as I go along. And I knew my fundamental drawing skills were getting strong, but I was sorely lacking in my design skills. I felt ready to tackle a design course.

For Character Design, we were supposed to come up with a story (or choose a classic fairytale) and do designs for 4 characters of our choosing - a hero, a love interest, a villain, and a sidekick. We started off with LOTS of thumbnails, and finally it came down to doing a final design and turnaround for 2 of them.

My characters are Riva, a scrappy cartographer's daughter, Altus, the forest prince, Unnamed Villain, the mayor of Riva's town, and Altus's steed, a creature of the forest.

I did turnarounds for Riva and Altus. I finalized their designs more during the turnaround phase, after receiving a critique on the final design from the teacher.

Overall I have been really, really enjoying this class and I feel like I've learned so much. I already cringe when looking back at my earlier design process!

© Gina Florio 2014

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