Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Squirrel in the Rough

Here's a little character I've been playing with for awhile. I've had an idea for a story that's been kicking around in my noggin involving a squirrel and some birds. I'm hoping to develop it into a children's book. Anyway, this is the rough prototype for the rascal. (Actually, I think in several expressions he sort of looks like me!)

I'm posting these sketches as an example of what I am always suggesting to my Sheridan Animation students. That is, before finalizing a character design you should take it out for a "test drive" to see how it's working. A common mistake I've found is that a student will draw one or two views of a character and be instantly sold on it. I maintain that you should never nail down a character design until you've sketched it many times over, trying it out in various animated poses. Many's the time that I've found that a design that looked good to me initially proved to be awkward to move around into different poses. When that happens, always be prepared to make whatever modifications that may be necessary to make it work better.

In these 2 sets of sketches, I've just allowed my stream of consciousness to take over, doodling my squirrel in whatever pose and attitude that happens to flow out of my pencil naturally. None of these sketches are finished in any way and they may not even show him in altogether consistent proportions. In fact, sometimes I find that more ideal proportions may develop quite naturally through the repetition of drawing him out in different poses. Likewise, the facial features may evolve into a more appealing design through trying various moods and expressions, as well as tilts and angles of the head. Even my approach to construction is looser at this stage. To dwell too much on structure right away would be a hindrance to developing him as a little personality.

For me, this is what is most fun about drawing. I love to just do little rough sketches like these to get a performance on paper. Admittedly, I am much happier having made a career being a cartoonist in the print medium. The only way I would want to be involved in animation is if I could draw in this "organic", fully dimensional way that pleases me. I'm not much of a fan of today's flat, graphic styles, I'm afraid.