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2.1 Shapes

In this lesson, we will be discussing how to conceive characters through designing and practicing with shapes.

2.1 Shapes

In this lesson, we're gonna start off by using shapes to help create ideas for characters. There are several ways that we can do this, but let's first start off just by using simple shapes to figure out what our character will look like. Let's go ahead and get started. Okay, so let's get started with our four basic shapes. We'll use these shapes to start to build our characters. Pretty simple, pretty relaxing and fun for an exercise, so let's do it. All right, so I want to start off just with the basic circle. Pick any base color that I want, just do fill and I'm going to think in terms of the human body, right? So this guy's going to be a fat round character, or robust character, I guess that's a better term than fat. So I'm thinking about him being hunched over and having a head somewhere about right there. Let's go ahead. And let's go ahead and do a square character. And the legs will be here, so I'll cheat a little bit just to get ahead. And just thinking of a very top heavy character because based on our design brief, which we'll talk about later, I know that it's gonna be a strong character. It's gonna be masculine and I wanna keep that in mind and just really figure out his form. That's really it. Just change the color and jump to the next one. Now always put these sketches on different layers that comes in handy, because we can use them over and over again. So, that's pretty cool. So let's do a triangle. Upside down, top heavy once again, clean the edges up, and let's figure out his weight. Square this up a little bit, here we go. And so, that'll be the top and this will be where his abdomens, that area will start right there. Clean this up a little bit more you go. Now, the goal of this exercise is not to get a perfect drawing. That's not what we're looking for. We just want to figure out the shape and the weight of the character. Maybe some ideas, some options, and we want to go from there. So if you notice as I draw, my goal, I'm not making any glamour shots, I'm not making anything to impress the client. I really just want to get loose and just see, really like this shape or let's start to build from there. So it can be as ugly as you want it to be. And you wanna try to spend, I don't know, anywhere from a minute to no more than three or four minutes. Maybe five, if you're new to this and you haven't done it very much. But you don't wanna spend a lot of time there, because what'll happen is you'll start to invest in your drawing. And you'll find it hard to go away from it. So the quicker, the better. The looser, the better. If you hate it, that's probably a good thing. You wanna be able to take bits and pieces from it and go from there. So, I can look at this right now and say, okay, I like the shape of the shoulders and the way that the chess lays on top of the stomach and the curve of the hips that connects the legs. I'm just looking for little things like that, that's it. And then as I go to a more polished drawing, I'm going to look to implement those things in a polished drawing. So here I just have a basic hair shape and I like that hair shape. That's a pretty nice hair shape, I could work with that. It doesn't mean it's the want to have to use but I just wanna point it, I push myself in a certain direction. And the good things about the sketches is that, you can save them or use them later on. You can build from them if you wanna practice painting, you can paint, you can do whatever you like to do with these. So, they really come into play. These little sketches really come into play if you want to do this kind of thing as a hobby, or if you want to do it for a living. You can actually say them, use them over and over again. Change them, just simply erase the arms, changes the arms and come up with a myriad of different styles to present to a client. So, that's really the goal, we want to present different options. So here we go, let's go ahead and build more of a square slash triangle style character, where we have the legs tapered, so we know he's top heavy. I'm going to go ahead and make this adjustment thinking about the shape of the character, once again I'm a little bit ahead in my mind then what you see on paper. But at the same time on paper, I mean in Photoshop. But at the same time, I'm thinking about how to use the shapes. So, I'm bouncing things back and forth. I haven't made any decisions as far as exactly how it has to look. I'm just very loose and free. Running through, you know, if there is off, that's okay. And oftentimes, they will be. Now, different artists will handle this approach or this part of the the project different. We don't have to do it the same or you may switch this up a little bit. That's okay. It's all right, there's no rule that you have to do it this way this is just my process and I just want to get something down on paper on digital paper and go from there and often times it works out for me. Sometimes, I actually have to go and sit down with a piece of paper and try it, but nine times out of ten, maybe eight times out of ten I could just digital digitally sketch and work it out from there. The cool thing about this too is that you get to enjoy the characters and you get to say, let me, I want to give them a little more muscle here, I want to make them a little taller, make his head a little smaller and you get to play without erasing or feeling like you have wasted time. So I really like using this technique. It's just very helpful and it's fast. And I can get an idea out very quickly, I could make adjustments very quickly. And that's what I'm looking for. Okay, so here's a reverse triangle. The bottom is the sharp point, the top will be the shoulders. So the bottom would be the the waist. The top of the the shoulders, so let's go ahead and change the perspective a little bit and build from this. And start off with the head. Now whenever I have my shapes there, I add another layer. So that if I make a mistake, I don't have to worry about the shape. It's a pencil drawing thinking about a character like, a robot or the Brown Hornet, just the very top heavy character. Really small legs, so think about The Incredibles, something like that. And just figuring out the flow. How its arms will look and how big and massive his chest is, where his abdomen area is, and just really taking it easy and not judging myself too harshly on the look, because I'm not gonna send this to the client. This is really more of a warm up exercise and an opportunity for me to figure things out. And don't be afraid to take risk here, like so here I said look, I'll make his head even smaller, interesting thing about a funny character. But not going to crazy because I'm always remembering the client that I'm working for, and what they're expecting and my goal is to try to stay close to it but to give them some alternative ideas too. And this is the start of that, so this guy I'm gonna give him an afro, makes him a little more interesting not the run of the mill style character, just gonna fill this in. There we go. And sometimes I'll catch myself doodling and cleaning things up, while I'm overlooking the character and looking at the shape and saying, hey, does his work? Is this is okay? Should I change this? Is there something else I could do? So now that we have all of these guys, got three basic characters, and we'll just kinda place them here. Move this guy over, Right there. Just get a look at them. And pretty strong characters for the most part. Let's put little drop shadows underneath them. See how they'll stand alone. And I'm going to instead of leaving them as circles, I'm gonna give them little triangles. Just like the shape of the actual bodies, in this case a little more round, so. There we go. And there's another guy that I sketched out. Doing exact same process. So, I like the way this is going as a warm up, you can experiment, you can jump in and try this over and over again, remember to keep your time limit down. You don't wanna spend a lot of time doing this. You really just wanna rush through, make as many mistakes as you like. The client will not see this, no-one will ever see this. I'm showing these guys to you, because it's a part of my process. So, let's go into the next lesson. We'll talk more about the creative process of designing a character.

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