Entry 18: The Concept of Character - Development Part 1
A few weeks ago I briefly touched on a few characters I admire, but what makes them so great? In the near future I plan to unveil my fictional universe of storytelling and visuals, but it's a learning process for me. During my first year in college I created my first comic strip that featured a military man versus a robot. It was my first attempt at creating a real visual based on my imagination, and I felt that it was severely underdeveloped. Regardless, it was the first step in a long journey that I want to endure, knowing that I might not satisfy my own criticism, but at least I'll be working on something that I so dearly want to manifest into the real world.
Anyways, great characters! I went off on a tangent back there, but with good reason. What makes a great character? Is it someone you can relate to? Do you have to like them? Are they supposed to be triumphant or can they be admired if they fall, crash, and burn? A great character that always comes to mind is the infamous Darth Vader. People love watching him, imitating him, quoting him, and even dressing up as him. But he's a bad guy. We allow kids to dress up as a murdering evil man who chokes people with his mind (or the Force, for all you fellow nerds). And yet we adore this character, an evil one to add to that!
So what makes a great character? If a character is so vile and menacing, can he/she still be great and admired? What if this character is an inanimate object? Just like the Pixar lamp, even a simple object can have deep emotions and thought. Some of these questions fill my head as I start developing my own characters.
Here below is a sample of a character I have developed over 10 years. I always had his personality figured out, but I never gave him a permanent face. Recently I used a 3D PDF interactive skull as reference and I drew different angles of the skull on tracing paper. Using another sheet of tracing paper, I drew a realistic version and afterwards I drew a cartoonish version.
This character is a bold and rash man, a soldier who laughs at death but respects it at the same time. One moment he can be carefree and jolly, and the next moment he can be vengeful and evil. He has a simple lifestyle but he is the most complex of all. He has no grasp on the figures of good and evil, but he executes justice with a malice spite. People love and fear him, so he has all the respect he could ever desire.
What are his motives? His dreams and aspirations? Has he ever been in love, or better yet, has he ever lost someone he loved? At this point his actions will carry out his personality, but I am still playing around with a cartoon style that I could draw more easily before I start drawing him in a cartoon. Next week I will show different expressions that hopefully portray his personality better.
And that's what I have for this week. In the upcoming weeks I will be diligent in drawing different versions of this man, along with other characters I have developed. My goals are to draw a soldier in uniform, a majestic monster, and a wandering robot (surprise!). Stay tuned and feel free to add any pointers and/or criticism.