Exercise 28

Character Design

I went back to this exercise as I felt that the original sketches done were not up to scratch.  Although I experimented with textures and backgrounds which was something positive, the character wasn’t the main focus and I wasn’t satisfied with the result.

For this exercise and for Part 5, I wanted to try and be more organized and stick to the steps when receiving a brief.  So I created a template for myself that basically helps me to tick each step off as it is completed.  There is still room for changing things but it feels a little more solid and it’s a way of helping me stay on track with things.

The key words were ‘character’ and ‘contrast’ for me.  I felt that it was important to show opposites, regardless of gender and genre of setting for the characters.  I had been playing around with an idea before the exercise was read, about doing something with some historical influence, so I decided to go with that idea and see where it went.

From the image below you can see where the thought process went:

With my new template in hand I felt I was sticking to a system rather than running at it head first and then grappling with changes as I saw fit.

I felt that the Tudors characters could be fun to do, with a slight hint of ‘Horrible Histories’ tied in.  For research purposes I gathered up various images related to Ronald Searles characters from St. Trinians, Roald Dahls characters drawn by Quentin Blake and the characters that featured in The Beano.

All of these styles were primarily ink based and coloured in either light washes of accent colours or primary colours.  All had a very distinct look and character and the contrast between them was clear.

The ideas drawn up were intentionally done using squares, triangles and circles.  The idea being that each character would adapt to suit that shape and the personality was reflected in the shape.

The next step was to put the Tudor history into a context relatable to current trends.  The Osbournes came to mind as this was one of the first big reality TV shows to hit the screen, giving us insights into the family of a famous rock star.  King Henry VIII and his wives and how court was conducted would give a sense of drama and definitely add a flavour to it.  However, I wanted to keep it fun.

I drafted up a few sketches in my sketchbook, aiming for shape and size rather than accuracy.  In contrast I wanted the women to be triangular in shape as the costumes for this period featured that shape quite prominently.

The garb for King Henry VIII had more square features and lots of texture.  The circular shapes of his accessories were a good contrast for his somewhat boxy demeanour.


For further references I created a number of other boards outlining characters for men and women at various ages.

These would prove helpful for a variety of poses and facial expressions.  However, for this exercise I ended up using the older men and women boards and the mood board from the Tudors.  I then sketched out some ideas in the sketchbook based on what the characters would be doing or saying to one another.


I managed to use a few of them in the inktober 2017 postings on instagram.  Either way I felt that the character for King Henry had a sense of energy about him so I went with that and developed it further.


This was my final inked version which I am happy with.  I didn’t do a profile and side view, which is what should be on a character sheet, as I just wanted to explore where this character design would go.

The contrast is evident and the facial expressions do well to give an indication on mood from both characters before any speech bubbles are put into play.

I could have gone another step further and put in more textures and colours on these two.  However, revisiting this cost me time and my deadline was looming, so it might be revisited after deadlines are finished.  I’d like to explore using patterns and textures in PS and maybe reuse the inky backgrounds that I had tried out in Part 1.

For this exercise I had to design two contrasting characters.  I’m still in the process of this but while exploring it I went off on a tangent experimenting with watercolours and inks.  I really love the artwork of a game called The Bloody Inn.


The artwork in it is simply beautiful and I love the mixed media used.  So I wanted to experiment and see if I could achieve something close to it.

Firstly I used some acrylic ink and scratched out some marks on watercolour paper.  Next I used a wide brush and splashed some water onto it to try and make the ink bleed out.  The mess created was softened with a dry brush and as each stage was messed about with a photo was taken on my phone.

I then sketched out a character on the paper and used the ink to give shadow in sections.

I wanted to explore texture here and give the impression of a layered background using the ink marks.  I wasn’t sure how to do this exactly in PS but I wanted to try it out anyway.

Having emailed them to myself I proceeded to layer them in PS and adjust the levels so that the white was brighter and the blacks darker.  The photo had a lot of grey in it.  I then layered the various textures on one another and tried adjusting saturation and adding a coloured layer.

In the end I found that by simply darkening all the layers in a certain way I got the impression of scratches and a weathered background.  The image also has this impression of a scratching through layers.  I selected the sections that I felt were working well and layered them and adjusted the size of them too.


The character itself just emerged as I was making the marks on paper.  It felt very western and the scratchy wood and dried rust or blood ink spots lent to this feeling.


Overall I felt that coupled with the exercises completed in recent months and the assignments done recently, this was a successful merge of skills. It has more of an editorial image feel to it.  My Assignment 4 felt more like a book cover illustration than an editorial piece.  This image I feel revisits that and honours the editorial vibe rather than a book cover.


I also feel that having the inspiration from the game art helped a lot.  It gave me the inspiration to go and experiment and try out something new.  Based on the previous exercise where we had to research two artists and try and recreate an image in their style, I feel that the exercise helped me to achieve this image.