11 Jun 2011

Some kind of rat girl



So this is Ratgirl. Well, perhaps this version is called ‘some kind of rat girl’. The story of some kind of rat girl is as follows. A friend, who we will call Miriam to conceal her identity, wrote on her facebook wall something like she didn’t think Ratgirl would be a very good superhero. This spiralled out of control as Scott turned this idea into a character. He drew the very first (or one of the very first) Ratgirl in my sketchbook. This spiralled further out of control when I drew a very clay-styled copy of Scott’s drawing. This even further span out of control when I kept drawing her, but making her more domestic cowboy flavoured. Anyway, turns out there are infinity parallel universes, and Ratgirl exists in at least two. Scott’s Ratgirl is very cool… a hell of a lot more realistic. You can see Scott’s Ratgirl designs here.

Above is just a few sketches to try and work her out – not attempting anything special or nothing… just trying to get a better idea of what I want her to look like. I was also giving her a go with the brush pen to see if I could get some nice inking going. I learnt 3 things in this little drawing exercise.

1) A light box may be holding me back. I drew these with pencils on a tablecloth… without any light-box. I felt like I drew better if I just gave it one shot, rather than if I drew it, placed another piece of paper over the top, tried to improve it, place another piece of paper on top… etc. This is something I had been taught to do in animation school… but maybe that’s something more for Disney animators.

2) Using a line of action might be holding me back. Another thing I learnt in animation school is to draw all characters using a line of action… a line that tells the characters inner emotions or something like this. Again, I think this was probably really helpful to Disney animators, but perhaps it’s giving me awkward characters. In the above drawing… the two girls on the right were drawn with a line of action, the two on the left weren’t. I think I’ve spent years trying to force a line of action into my characters. Perhaps the line of action may be one of those ‘toys for the grown ups’ and just something I shouldn’t play with. Fun fact: the two drawings on the left actually have a line of action, I just didn’t draw one in.

3) Brush pens may actually be the inking tool after all. I love the idea of brush pens. They just make sense. I’ve spent year trying to use them with no luck, but tonight they’ve worked well. Maybe this is because I haven’t been trying to use them on my lightbox where my hand sticks to the glass… or maybe because I always am to scared to ink strait onto my pencil drawing so I do it on a new piece of paper, and again it’s the lightboxes fault.

I guess I’m a slow learner.

Here are a few colour’s I was quickly playing with. Maybe that brushed style is something I should be going for.

On a slightly related note, there’s this ‘myth’ going around that a good character design must have a clear, defined, unique, instantly recognisable silhouette. If you have two characters in the same show that have a similar silhouette you should crawl in a hole and never come out. Every character designer preaches this as if it’s some pearl of wisdom handed down from guru to guru. I think it’s a load of Hogwarts. Why? Well that’s just it… why? Why does every character need a unique silhouette? Is it because the audience can tell characters apart? No… does anyone watch the Simpsons and get way confused whenever Homer, Barney or Krusty are in the same shot? On my goodness… this show makes no sense… Krusty is talking to Barney and I just don’t understand anything. Is it because it makes for more interesting characters? No… it just makes a miss-mash of random shaped people who don’t look like they should be on the same planet together (have a look at homestarrunner). Is it because it is helpful in setting up the scene… layout… framing all that? No… there is no reason why you can’t set up any situation well… if you just stand similarly shilloette characters next to each other without thinking… then maybe it’s helpful to have random blobs… but that’s not a character design fault. I assume this was just something someone said once and no one challenged it and it sounded like it could be right so people keep saying it. Anyway, this is trivial so no need to listen or even understand… this is just 2am babble.

In Christianity, if a guy wants to be a preacher or a pastor but can't preach and is terrible with people, often people subtly suggest he should become an academic theologian. I think I can't draw and am not any good with animation... so perhaps I should become an academic cartoonogian. Once again... 2am babble.


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