Creating the character of Knut- part 5

I started attending a clay sculpture class in November 2008, the year before I started working on this picture book. I find clay a great medium to work with, especially for making models of characters. I’d made one sculpture of Knut already- the big-nose version- but I wanted to make an updated version.

Here’s the big-nose one:

big nose sculpture

and here’s the newer one, based on the ’round-cheek’ sketches:

round cheek sculpture

The head isn’t very big, it fits into the palm of your hand.

Then I started making the body over three sessions.

Firstly, I got the basic body parts in there. No detail at this stage.

sculpture-version-1
he looks a bit weird with no clothes on

I hollowed out a hole in the bottom of his head so that it could pivot on his neck. This kept the head stable.

The next time round, I added a base to give him stability, and I put in the details of some clothes.

sculpture-version-2
Much better with clothes I reckon

Then in the third session, I put in finer details- his fingers, the stitching and the wool on his ugg boots, and I shaped his shirt a bit.

sculpture-version-3
version 3- more detailed

I’ve left gaps in his hands to hold a sword and shield, and I’d like to make a model of Wolverine to sit beside him (that’s why the base isn’t symmetrical).

I’m glad I made his head separate, because I’d like to redo it. His face is a bit flat, and his nose and eyes are too high on his head. He also needs his viking helmet! Perhaps I’ll also make some cardboard armour.

So, that’s how the character of Knut developed. From next week, I’ll look at some of the other characters in the book.

Creating the character of Knut- part 4

At this point I had a meeting with Cate to show her my character design for Knut. She gave some great feedback-

  • The gap in the front of his teeth might need to go- kids usually only have those gaps when they’re younger, around 4-6 years old, and Knut was supposed to look a tiny bit older, around 6 to 7 years old.
  • The size of his head, arms and legs in proportion to his body made him look slightly too old- maybe 8 or 9.
  • Maybe reduce the pointiness of his chin, and make his cheeks rounder
  • Wolverine looked great and could stay as he was.

Based on that feedback, I revised the character design on my computer, fiddling with the body proportions.

round-cheek-version-1
revised character design- dated 4/12/09

From there I started resketching the character, making the face rounder and the chin less pointy. This version of Knut I call the ’round-cheek’ version.

round-cheek-version-1
Starting to take shape- dated 17/3/10
round-cheek-version-2
I'm really liking this version now...
Photo0287
...so much so, that I was caught drawing Knut on the whiteboard at work

The body proportions started to look better with this version, and his character was more closely aligned with the text- Knut is a very innocent, sweet and gentle boy. His hairstyle is more consistent now too, with the two little bits of fringe coming down on either side and the little curl at the end. It was a lucky design, because when Knut wears his Viking helmet, his fringe pops out from the front, making him still recognisable.

I had been working on Knut for a long while at this stage- my first sketch had been in June 2009, and the round-cheek sketches were from March 2010 onwards. Here’s how he progressed. Which is your favourite?

many-faces-of-Knut
The many faces of Knut

Next week- I show you how I made a  clay model of the round-cheek version of Knut.