About Me

I study animation and tell stories through my art, whether by writing, illustration, painting, or animating. I live in the country with horses and 2 German Shepherds named Raven and Sula. When I'm not drawing and animating at work, I do farm stuff at home!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Character Development: Conrad Flynn

Conrad is my very special character.  Oh so special!  I must give you a quick back-story:  I saw him in a lucid dream, but he, unlike Smokes, was a good guy, and I didn't know his name.  "Conrad Flynn" is a name I made up which means "feathered friend", because he started appearing after I was constantly barraged by cardinals!  No joke...they'd wake me up all the time, pecking on my window.

 I've seen Conrad in dreams when I was sick and rather morose, and frankly hopeless, but the next day I seemed miraculously guided to a cure.  I also saw him after I saw Smokes for the first time, and as I said, I was scared huckleberriless!  But Conrad appeared and made me laugh about some absurd joke, and I forgot my fear.  Then , the night before we were going to put my dog Biscuit down (he was suffering from cancer), I saw Conrad playing with him, and wouldn't you know, the next day Biscuit was much better!  He lived for four months after that, (two more years than his predicted death-day, in fact).  Good things always seemed linked to this child in my dreams.  Needless to say, I grew fond of my little dream friend, and HAD to make him a character.
The first time I saw Conrad, he floated slowly up out of the ground in a pinkish mist.  He had reddish-brown hair, and a kind face that inspired comfort, and I instantly liked him.  It wasn't a "hot/gorgeous hunk" face...it was a simple, humble face, with very wizened eyes, even though he was quite young . 
I decided that Conrad's design would be that of a young boy mixed with a cardinal; basically, he'd have the appearance of a normal human with the markings of the cardinal (black skin around the eyes and neck, very vibrant red hair in a sort of mohawk, and red-to-black attire) 
His clothes started off basic, long sleeved shirt and pants, and they lacked character, big-time, which is a no-no.  So, I'm now dabbling with his sleeves having a sort of fringe (like feathers), a black shawl around his neck, and plain black pants that blend seamlessly into sharp little shoes.
Conrad started without wings, then I foolishly gave him some out of a naive desire for him to look like an angel.  I took them away once I fully developed his history (look to the books if you want to find out...your heart will throb with such emotion!)

Conrad's face is the hardest for me to get right, since I'm wretched at drawing cute things!  But Conrad has given me a reason to practice, and I'm getting better.  I'm also trying to come up with an "animateable" design for future prospects.
Another fact about  Conrad is that he changes age frequently due to his *cough* spiritual condition (it's a part in my book...I shan't reveal more!), so I needed to work on various ages, trying to keep him looking like the same character, which is still a big challenge.

I've used Conrad for multiple projects of mine, and always find little secret places to put him in my art, either as a plain old cardinal, or a boy with rusty hair and a red shirt, a super-hero, or even himself.

So there you have it: A brief history of the character inspired by a good-hearted spirit in my dreams. 

Next:  Either Adela, Jay Walker, or some other basic character development.

I go now.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Character development: Smokes

Alright, so here's the deal:  good characters aren't usually the first idea you come up with...first ideas are usually biased and predictable.  It takes time to make a visually-appealing character, and time to bring personality to the character as well.  I've been developing personal characters for years, and will show you a few steps in the process.  I'll start with Smokes, my evil demon whom I saw in a dream. 

In the dream, he was impish, and not too memorable visually, but he scared the holy huckleberries out of me!  So, I wanted to amp up his design, but make him strangely appealing, because even evil characters must be likeable in order for the audience to become attatched, and we animators rely heavily on manipulating the masses subconsciously! *insert evil chortle*
bottom left corner...how atrocious!

top left corner...SICK!

Smokes started out as impish as I saw him, and was first an "off-to-the-side" character, but he was just rotten-ugly!  No one liked him!  And that's BAD!  No one cared enough about him to allow themselves to be scared.  So, the evolution began.

The puggish, pixie face took on a more elongated structure, emphasizing masculinity with a wider chin and squarer jawline.  Suddenly, people noticed him.  Oh, how peculiar!  They even started to LIKE him...wonder why...He could now stand on his own, without fancy backgrounds, and people KNEW he was a badass capable of inflicting harm.  

Current Design
Old design

Smoke's original design included a clown-like outfit with little spots and frilly collar...which is how he appeared in my dream.  Evil clowns are infamous, and people seem drawn to them for horror purposes, but the spots and frill had to go.  I needed to mature the character, for he was far too darling to inspire pure terror! I wanted there to be nothing about his clothing or design to take away from his face which I wanted to be the source of attraction...so I made his clothes simple white gauze, and the frill became spikes around his face, enhancing the focal point.

Smokes is still evolving, his spiked-appendages are still in development, and he is now attaining a hollow caved-in chest (hmm...no heart? why, how clever!)...the red nose has been omitted (I am moving away from "clown" all-together), charred flesh is being considered around his gaping chest, and stitches may appear to hold his appendages on (for a more grisly effect).  This all has to do with the history of the character, which I shan't reveal!  So stop asking!

Next, I'll talk about my other characters...perhaps..if you behave.      

Monday, February 7, 2011

Why do dogs bark at the sky at night?

Because there are UFO's and flying invisible creatures!  Anyway, hello.  I am a curmudgeon, and this is my first blog entry.  I'll just start off by saying "hi" to whoever reads this, and thank you for viewing my page.

I'm sure you're wondering why  you'd follow my blog, so here's a few reasons I've considered: 
  • if you are a fan of my art
  •  if you would like to witness for your brain-eyes visual stories from my wandering mind
  •  if you're interested in animation and the processes involved
  •  if you're curious about my upcoming book series (which I'm still in the middle of writing).
  • if you like tea

What would I like to become?  Well, surely a nomadic yak herder, an alpaca farmer, a restaurant chef and shop owner, a novelist, an art director/concept or character designer or artist for feature film (animated or live action).

So there you have it.  I will finish by stating that tonight I had some spicy chai tea, and will leave you an example of a character design for a children's show done with copic markers.