Character design – Thor

Between now and the launch of The Last Viking Returns (Sept 1st, 2014), I’m doing a series of posts showing my rough sketches for all the characters in the book.

I’ve covered Josh’s family already, so it’s on to the Norse gods – the Asgardians. Thor is up first.

 

Millions of children are familiar with the Marvel comics version of Thor, thanks to the Avengers cartoons and films. For copyright reasons, we were unable to reference that version of Thor (not that we would want to).

In the original stories Thor had red hair and a big red beard. He wore magic gauntlets to protect his hands when wielding his lightning hammer, Mjolnir. I tried to include these elements in my design, while making it (hopefully) original. (Though in all these Viking characters there is more than a little influence from Asterix comics).

 

These are my reference sketches and notes for Thor.

Thor-2 Thor-1

I made a standard colour version of each character too, so that I could keep their colours consistent. Here’s the colour sheet for Thor:

Thor-colour

And here’s how he appears on the back cover of The Last Viking Returns.

back-cover-Thor

Next week I’ll focus on a new Viking character – the hero Sigurd.

 

Character design – Nan and Pop

Between now and the launch of The Last Viking Returns (Sept 1st, 2014), I’m doing a series of posts showing my rough sketches for all the characters in the book.

Next in the family are Nan and Pop.

 

I hadn’t drawn Nan or Pop at all in the three years between The Last Viking and The Last Viking Returns, so it was back to the drawing board to learn them again.

These are my sketches and notes.

Nan

 

Pop

I made a standard colour version of each character too, so that I could keep their colours consistent. Here’s the colour sheet for Nan and Pop:

nan-and-pop-colour

Character design – the twins

Between now and the launch of The Last Viking Returns (Sept 1st, 2014), I’m doing a series of posts showing my rough sketches for all the characters in the book.

Next up in the family are the twins.

 

The twins only appeared once in The Last Viking – on the very last page. I didn’t give a lot of though to their design. I didn’t think I’d need to draw them more than once. I was wrong.

Norm has fleshed out their personalities in The Last Viking Returns. It turns out the twins are not all sweetness and light – they are berzerkers in the making.

I needed to refine their appearance, make them look a bit older and cheekier, and practice them before trying to do any final artwork.

These are my sketches and notes.

twins-1 twins-2

I made a standard colour version of each character too, so that I could keep their colours consistent. Here’s the colour sheet for the twins:

twins-colour

Point to note: the twins have never been officially named. I’ve been referring to them as Timothy and Tabitha (which aren’t very Viking-like, but to be honest neither is Josh).

Have you got some names in mind? Give us your best ideas in the comments.

Character designs – Wolverine and the lady dog

Between now and the launch of The Last Viking Returns (Sept 1st, 2014), I’m doing a series of posts showing my rough sketches for all the characters in the book.

Next up in the family is Wolverine, Josh’s faithful companion.

 

As with the character of Josh, I’d already illustrated a whole book with Wolverine before, but I hadn’t drawn him very much at all in the 3 year gap in between. I needed to practice drawing him again.

Wolverine
Continue reading “Character designs – Wolverine and the lady dog”

Character design – Josh/Knut

Between now and the launch of The Last Viking Returns (Sept 1st, 2014), I’m going to do a series of posts showing my rough sketches for all the characters in the book.

I’m starting with the family characters. First up is our main man Josh.

 

Even though I’d illustrated a whole book with him before, it had been almost 3 years since I’d drawn him regularly. I wanted to feel more confident at drawing him consistently, so I sat down and worked out how to draw him again. These are my sketches and notes.

 

Josh-1 Josh-2I made a standard colour version of each character too, so that I could keep their colours consistent. Here’s the colour sheet for Josh:Josh-colour

Next up will be Wolverine, along with his new friend…

Designing Josh’s other rellies- Nan, Mum and Dad

I’ve mentioned before on this blog that all the characters are based in some way on people I know. That’s mostly true.

Josh’s Nan is based on a friend at my day job, Lea. They’re not similar in personality (Lea isn’t grumpy like Nan)- it’s more in the facial features… their hairline and glasses are very similar.

I wanted Nan to be non-stereotypical, so my original plan was for her to be a funky grandma (which Lea liked the sound of). But then when Pop became this cuddly bear-like Viking man, Nan needed to be more boring in comparison- good cop/bad cop.

Here’s one of the first sketches of Nan, from the first storyboard. This image changed, but I love the look of horror on Nan’s face. She’s upset because Josh has announced he’ll be worshipping the Norse Gods.

Nan-1

The original script had Josh being sent to Sunday School, but it was taken out… our editor Cate suggested that Sunday School wasn’t relevant to kids today, and we wouldn’t want to set up a theme of Christianity vs Paganism. Excellent point.

Nan-2

So, Nan’s a tough woman. Here’s a more recent sketch.

Nan-recent-sketch

Josh’s dad and mum make few appearances in the book- only at the start and the finish. Dad is based on me. Not that I’m a Dad. But I wanted the dad to be easy to draw, so I picked a face I’m familiar with- my own.

The mum’s hair is based on a lady I met through my day job- she’d come along to a training session I was running, and she had this awesome bit of fringe hanging over her forehead and a big ponytail. I sketched her in a quiet moment, intending to use her hair for a character in a different story- but then Josh’s mum seemed to like it so she took it for herself.

Here’s the first scribbly sketch of Josh’s family around the breakfast table.

mum-and-dad-1And here’s the final rough…

mum-and-dad-2

Here’s the whole clan.

mum-and-dad-3

Designing Josh’ Grandad. First name, Pop- last name, Gohsaweezel

That’s not true. I don’t know what Pop’s surname is. What I do know, is that he’s a major character in the book, and a major influence on Josh. He introduces the little bloke to Vikings, and encourages his efforts to be more brave and Viking-like.

Norm and I definitely didn’t want him to look staid and boring, like a nerdy historian or your standard beige oldie. He had to have presence and something different about him.

I’ve based most of the characters in the book on people I know. Pop is based on Norm, even though Norm has neither a moustache nor a beard. Without realising it, I guess he’s also based on my dad, who has a moustache. But no beard.

Here’s the first character sketch of Pop, with some notes. You can see he has similar hair to Josh, but his fringe curls up to make ‘horns’ like a Viking helmet.

Pop-first-sketch

At one point, Pop was going to have a motorbike in his shed. He even had a Celtic tattoo on his arm in the first storyboard.

Pop-tattoo

He’s changed a little though, become softer in character- but his appearance has stayed mostly the same. Here’s some comparisons of Pop from the first storyboard (top row) to the latest storyboard (bottom row).

Pop-comparisons

Not much change really. He was good to go from that first sketch. But I’ve needed to go back to my first sketches and check the character tags (defining features), making sure I’m drawing him consistently. He’s still a bit different in each of those sketches above.

Here’s some more recent sketches of him. I’ve been practicing drawing all the characters in a little jotter pad, trying to get them consistent and rough, to be able to draw them fairly accurately without trying too hard. It’s making the final artwork look more spontaneous and fluid, and it’s helping me to not care so much about whether the artwork is ‘perfect’ or not.  I’m finding that the less perfect it looks, the more perfect it feels- corny but true.

Pop-recent-sketches

Here’s a panel from the colour storyboard (…I’ve used Photoshop and a Wacom Intuos3 (graphics tablet) to try out colour with the final storyboard.)

It’s a big symbolic moment, where Pop gives Josh his Viking sword, while heavenly light shines down from the window. You can almost hear the Valkyries singing angelically in the background.
The-gift

And here’s a sneak peek at a final artwork sample, just completed! It’s another significant moment, where Pop gives Josh a book on Vikings. This is a scan of a pencil sketch, with digital watercolour applied in Corel Painter.

p8-v7-20100904-colours-sneakpeek

Working on Wolverine the Westy

Wolverine is Josh’s dog. Norm had the idea to make him a West Highland Terrier- cute, loyal and with a moustache like a Viking.

First step- Google image search for references.

Here’s the very first sketch of Wolverine..

wolverine-first-sketch

and an early turn-around.

Wolverine-turnaround

The first watercolour sample was promising.

Wolverine-watercolour-sample

Continue reading “Working on Wolverine the Westy”