Monday, January 4, 2010

Character Designs

With Leandro Panganiban on board as artist, the next step was character designs. I provided Leandro with my synopsis (a one page overview of the story), character biographies (1-2 paragraphs per character on their backstory and motivation), and the full script.

The central characters of Animal Control: Special Creatures Unit are two Animal Control Officers (ACO's), Aleksander "Alex" Kaminski and Marita Vasquez. In terms of physical description, here is how I described Kaminski:
Approximately 48 years old, moustache, badly balding but with hair around the sides, noticeable beer gut and out of shape, but very thickly built. Approximately 6' tall. You can tell by his shoulders, his arms, and his forearms that he's extremely strong under the dumpy brown uniform, despite being on the fat side. However, he's not going to win in a foot race.
Other than some photo reference I provided on ACO uniforms, that was about it for the physical description. You can see from Leandro's initial character design that he nailed the look right out of the gate!

And as you can see from the small panel from the story, Kaminski has truly come alive and become more and more "real" as we've moved through final pencils. This is exactly how I pictured him in my mind as I was developing the concept for AC:SCU.

To provide just one more example, here is how (in part) I described the Panda Dog:
Their face is mainly panda -- definitely panda in terms of color and markings, if someone looks at the face, it shouts "panda". The dog breed they were spliced with was Chow Chow.
I then provided about ten photo references of pandas and chows along with this description:
These are the things that really make the Panda Dog like a Chow Chow/dog:

(1) they have a distinctive, fluffy chow mane (around the panda-like face) (see "chowmane.jpg")

(2) the fluffyness of a chow's coat/body fur(see "chowFluffyCoatandTail.jpg")

(3) the chow curled up tail (same picture)

(4) the paw structure of the back legs are like a chow, with chow/dog paws -- straighter back legs, unlike other breeds of dog. (again, same picture)

(5) the eyes are just *slightly* more droopy and less round than a panda -- not squinty like some chows (see "chowNOTeyeslikethis.jpg" for an example of what we *don't* want for eyes).
In contrast, these are the things that make the Panda Dog like a panda:
(1) the face, other than the chow fluffly mane, is pretty much a baby panda. (Chow Chows have shorter snouts than other dogs anyway, and baby pandas have pretty short noses). Note facial features are more BABY panda than grown panda. (See "pandababyface.jpg")

(2) the coloring, markings are all panda from head to toe. So a white face with black patches around the eyes, black ears, black front and hind legs, white in in the middle. (see "pandamarkings.jpg").

(3) the **front** paws/claws are more like a panda's than a chow's. They can grab things with their paws, unlike a chow. This is important because their ability to use their claws (kind of like a ferret or racoon, or...panda...) gets them into all kinds of mischief a dog wouldn't get into. (see "pandababyEarsandClaws.jpg")

The ears are not really adult panda-like nor chow-like. They're smaller and less round than panda ears -- they're more like baby panda ears but with a chow point to them. (again see "pandababyEarsandClaws.jpg"). If you look at standard, grown pandas, their ears are more like circles at the top of their head -- **not** ears like that, please.
As you can see by the character design sketches, again Leandro got it right from the beginning, even as he tried out a couple different things.

Outside of the script itself, I sent photo reference and ideas on everything from alligators to the two kinds of Animal Control trucks in the story. Thankfully, Leandro saw this all as helpful (the way it was intended) and not overbearing. We make a good team.

In any case, that provides you with some idea of how the various characters and creatures came together in AC:SCU.

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