character design - could use some input

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    character design - could use some input

    These are 2 sketch closeups of a character design I've been working on. I currently don't have a fullbody yet that turned out alright. This character design is supposed to be that of a zombie-esue character who lives in an old abandoned fighter plane factory that dates back to WWII. She is supposed to resemble a ragdoll, albeit a rather macabre one. Do the designs so far evoke this? If you see any place for improvement so far, I would love to know.

    character design - could use some input

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    Last edited by Farah; May 29th, 2011 at 10:17 PM.
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    I think it's a very interesting concept. Macabre rag doll plus WWII era seems like a pretty sweet cocktail that I don't think I've seen before. I don't necessarily see a lot of WWII era here though.

    What I think might help is a little more personifying. Perhaps make her seem more unique amongst other macabre dolls. I see the tattoo, for example, but it doesn't really tell me anything. The wardrobe is very cute, but I don't see how it's any different than what any other doll might wear. I think that with some more details and accessories (40/50's memorabilia, aviator glasses, Lucky Strikes, etc) your illo will really stand out amongst the doll crowd. Usually what really strikes you in a good character design is the concept. Again I like what I hear and like the drawing I see, but the abandoned WWII base context don't show up with the sketches so far. I'd either really push that in her appearance or forget it.

    Keep at it, and looking forward to a full body comp~

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eichelberg View Post
    I think it's a very interesting concept. Macabre rag doll plus WWII era seems like a pretty sweet cocktail that I don't think I've seen before. I don't necessarily see a lot of WWII era here though.

    What I think might help is a little more personifying. Perhaps make her seem more unique amongst other macabre dolls. I see the tattoo, for example, but it doesn't really tell me anything. The wardrobe is very cute, but I don't see how it's any different than what any other doll might wear. I think that with some more details and accessories (40/50's memorabilia, aviator glasses, Lucky Strikes, etc) your illo will really stand out amongst the doll crowd. Usually what really strikes you in a good character design is the concept. Again I like what I hear and like the drawing I see, but the abandoned WWII base context don't show up with the sketches so far. I'd either really push that in her appearance or forget it.

    Keep at it, and looking forward to a full body comp~
    Thanks for your critique. I'll do a search on WWII factory girl uniforms, as incorporate more of that into the design. I'll post here later in the week with a full body, and hopefully she will evoke more of a WWII era image.

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    Well, to me it kinda evokes more "this person just saw Nightmare Before Christmas and is trying their hardest to be edgy" feeling. But that may be just me because I did pretty much the exact same character as a kid after seeing Nightmare Before Christmas, except without the corset and WW2 stuff.

    Which brings to me to some crits... Basically one of the problems I personally have is that the bust and the torso shot could be of different characters, in the way that the face (accompanied with the big ol' hat and makeshift hair) shows way more of that "ragdoll" feeling than the busty, sexy corset wearing, hip swaying body (which could be from any macabre superheroine) and I prefer the face a lot more. It looks like you're trying to convey the "rag doll" in the body only through some random cloth stitches which actually isn't that rag doll-ish overall.
    I would suggest you to do several fullbody sketches trying different looks, bodyshapes, and poses to define more of the character. Look actual dolls and how disjointed they are, what sort of old-fashioned clothes they usually wear (think "would my character try to hide her body by making makeshift clothes a'la rag doll" and how these things fit to her personality).

    Also on more of the actual parts of the character... the trouble with that sort of "cloth patchwork" body while trying to add it to a "realistic" human (I mean, yes your character is fairly stylized, but not really stylized enough to work without question and "fridge logic") is that you can't just add a piece of cloth to replace skin (as I'm assuming is happening here) with it just starting to work like skin. Muscles are sticky and bloody (as we can see, she's bleeding) and those liquids would darken and dirty the cloths very soon (especially because visually these seems just completely ordinary pieces of fabric and if the person who stitched her up used textiles like that, it's fair to assume he/she didn't put extra science on them to keep them magically clean).
    If we consider that she wouldn't bleed at all (which would probably be better, considering she's a zombie and constant bleeding would eventually dirty her with dried blood), the fabric would possibly rip (seeing how sturdier fabrics don't stretch as human skin does) or at least look worn.

    So basically she's bit too much "middle of the road" to really pop up. You obviously want some realism on your character and not be too cartoony, but the character still works on cartoon logic and it makes it look badly thought and unrisky. Like give it a go, try to go with as much realism as you can, think "what would realistically happen if I bled constantly. Would I be covered in dried blood? What would that look like, or what would I do?" and then, go with completely cartoony style where everything is possible and see if either of those benefit your character in any way.

    And most importantly, think "WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS?". Like, there must be a reason to her rag doll look. Did she repair herself? What problems would that bring (like the old, how do you repair your back)? Why would she (or her creator) use what she did? If she lives in a plane factory, wouldn't she use fabrics used in planes (or other war-related textiles). Why would she wear a corset? Why wouldn't she sew other clothes to her body, etc etc. That way you can figure out what her appearance tells about her personality and you can start molding the design.

    (Holy crap what a wall of text. I have put way too much thought onto this through the years.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by TinyBird View Post
    Well, to me it kinda evokes more "this person just saw Nightmare Before Christmas and is trying their hardest to be edgy" feeling. But that may be just me because I did pretty much the exact same character as a kid after seeing Nightmare Before Christmas, except without the corset and WW2 stuff.

    Which brings to me to some crits... Basically one of the problems I personally have is that the bust and the torso shot could be of different characters, in the way that the face (accompanied with the big ol' hat and makeshift hair) shows way more of that "ragdoll" feeling than the busty, sexy corset wearing, hip swaying body (which could be from any macabre superheroine) and I prefer the face a lot more. It looks like you're trying to convey the "rag doll" in the body only through some random cloth stitches which actually isn't that rag doll-ish overall.
    I would suggest you to do several fullbody sketches trying different looks, bodyshapes, and poses to define more of the character. Look actual dolls and how disjointed they are, what sort of old-fashioned clothes they usually wear (think "would my character try to hide her body by making makeshift clothes a'la rag doll" and how these things fit to her personality).

    Also on more of the actual parts of the character... the trouble with that sort of "cloth patchwork" body while trying to add it to a "realistic" human (I mean, yes your character is fairly stylized, but not really stylized enough to work without question and "fridge logic") is that you can't just add a piece of cloth to replace skin (as I'm assuming is happening here) with it just starting to work like skin. Muscles are sticky and bloody (as we can see, she's bleeding) and those liquids would darken and dirty the cloths very soon (especially because visually these seems just completely ordinary pieces of fabric and if the person who stitched her up used textiles like that, it's fair to assume he/she didn't put extra science on them to keep them magically clean).
    If we consider that she wouldn't bleed at all (which would probably be better, considering she's a zombie and constant bleeding would eventually dirty her with dried blood), the fabric would possibly rip (seeing how sturdier fabrics don't stretch as human skin does) or at least look worn.

    So basically she's bit too much "middle of the road" to really pop up. You obviously want some realism on your character and not be too cartoony, but the character still works on cartoon logic and it makes it look badly thought and unrisky. Like give it a go, try to go with as much realism as you can, think "what would realistically happen if I bled constantly. Would I be covered in dried blood? What would that look like, or what would I do?" and then, go with completely cartoony style where everything is possible and see if either of those benefit your character in any way.

    And most importantly, think "WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS?". Like, there must be a reason to her rag doll look. Did she repair herself? What problems would that bring (like the old, how do you repair your back)? Why would she (or her creator) use what she did? If she lives in a plane factory, wouldn't she use fabrics used in planes (or other war-related textiles). Why would she wear a corset? Why wouldn't she sew other clothes to her body, etc etc. That way you can figure out what her appearance tells about her personality and you can start molding the design.

    (Holy crap what a wall of text. I have put way too much thought onto this through the years.)
    Thanks Louis! I actually have not seen Nightmare Before Christmas yet, though I probably should. I'm doing more full body sketches, so I'll post back here soon with them. I'll make some changes, according to what you have said.

    Since you asked, I'll give you more of an in depth look into what I'm writing. When I wrote the first post, I decided to keep it short and simple, but I can see now that would pose as a bit of a problem. She is actually already in a story that is currently halfway through being written. In this story, the setting takes place in a world where all characters that someone creates lives in until their story is finished. Basically, everyone in this world is an unfinished character, waiting for their story to begin. As you can imagine, a whole hodgepodge of different types live here in different areas corresponding to their worlds. As their character and story becomes more and more fleshed out, they gain more and more memories and awareness of the world they will soon show up in. When they finally leave, and appear in their new world, they lose all memories of their previous life. Nobody knows how it happens, as each character disappears when it's their time, never to come back again. This character, whose name is Ophelia has been in this world the longest. She is the only one with nothing of the life that will come after, and she is frustrated. To be quite honest, she is scared too. She used to look fresh and new when she first appeared, but as time went on, she started to fall apart. Her only friend who visited her time and time again, was a tailor from a victorian era a story, who sewed her up as her pieces fell away, (ie, her hands or feet, etc.) until he too left. She had begun to like him as more than a friend at that point, so when he left, she was heartbroken. So she became lonely and depressed, and withdrew into her old factory, never going out, except onto the rooftop to look at the sky. It is at that point that someone who used to live here long ago shows up again on her roof out of nowhere, despite the fact that characters who have lived here never return. Sorry, that's all I can say for now. I don't want to give the whole story away, after all. If you have any more questions though, I would love to answer. Does the concept sort of make more sense now?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Farah View Post
    Thanks Louis!
    Louis...?

    Quote Originally Posted by Farah View Post
    Does the concept sort of make more sense now?
    So she was "born" as a zombie, or is that falling apart something that happens to everyone in that world?
    Well, it does give more context but opens new questions as well but doesn't really affect most of the crits. Like for example, why is there a WW2 era plane factory in an imaginary world where imaginary characters live? Are there just parts of real world stuff in that world or does it tie in any other way? Was the corset sewn on her by the Victorian tailor? If so, it would make sense for the corset to be Victorian, instead of modern-ish "goth" corset.
    Also if most of these stitches and patchwork are for fixing her, they are awfully clean cut and straight, considering how shoddy most of her stitches are. When things fall apart, they don't do it neatly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TinyBird View Post
    Louis...?
    Oops, sorry. I was groggy when I first replied to that, so I must have misread. Sorry! ^^;


    Quote Originally Posted by TinyBird View Post
    So she was "born" as a zombie, or is that falling apart something that happens to everyone in that world?
    No, it's only happening to her. I would explain fully, but it sort of ties into the ending, and it's supposed to be unknown until then.

    Quote Originally Posted by TinyBird View Post
    Well, it does give more context but opens new questions as well but doesn't really affect most of the crits. Like for example, why is there a WW2 era plane factory in an imaginary world where imaginary characters live? Are there just parts of real world stuff in that world or does it tie in any other way?
    Let me reiterate more on that world. Characters from all sorts of different stories live there, be they fantasy, historical fiction, mystery, etc. To that extent, the different areas where they live resemble the worlds they will show up in when they leave. For instance the area where the tailor lived resembles London in the late 1800s, and yet if you meander through the streets long enough, you'll suddenly appear in a shopping district that looks like it came straight out of the Arabian Nights. There are many other areas in this world, but this is just to give you an example. Her WWII era factory lies on the outskirts of an early 1800s reconstruction era New York City. The area her factory is in had once been populated, but now appears to be abandoned, and lies derelict. The people who used to live there appeared to come from her worlds era as well, when they were still around.

    Quote Originally Posted by TinyBird View Post
    Was the corset sewn on her by the Victorian tailor? If so, it would make sense for the corset to be Victorian, instead of modern-ish "goth" corset.
    Also if most of these stitches and patchwork are for fixing her, they are awfully clean cut and straight, considering how shoddy most of her stitches are. When things fall apart, they don't do it neatly.
    Yes, the tailor had sewn that part on. Odd though, I was using references from a victorian magazine when I first drew it. I supposed I'll have to do a redesign of the corset for it to appear more victorian. As to the patchworks, most of the cleancut stitches are from the tailor before he left. The more shoddy stitches are from Ophelia when she first started fixing herself, since he left. Her stitchwork got better over time, but the ones from earlier still show. I'll rework the stitches though, so that they appear more realistic.

    Anyhow, I came up with this idea concerning her design itself, and I'd like to run it by you. She will still have the corset stitches and the ragdoll appearance, but I thought it would be a good idea if over that, she wore the factory girl uniform. the uniform itself looks similar to that of a jumpsuit. I thought it would be better than grafting it onto her body, and it seems like something that would be practical for her.

    Last edited by Farah; May 31st, 2011 at 07:14 AM.
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    Huh, hadn't noticed there was a reply.
    Quote Originally Posted by Farah View Post
    Yes, the tailor had sewn that part on. Odd though, I was using references from a victorian magazine when I first drew it. I supposed I'll have to do a redesign of the corset for it to appear more victorian.
    What sort of Victorian magazine? And I don't suspect that corsets like this didn't exist back then or weren't used, but if you want to imply it being a Victorian and less sexual, it would probably look something more like this:
    http://thestaymaker.co.uk/gallery-corset-corded.php
    Especially since it's more of a late 1800 design.

    As to the patchworks, most of the cleancut stitches are from the tailor before he left. The more shoddy stitches are from Ophelia when she first started fixing herself, since he left. Her stitchwork got better over time, but the ones from earlier still show. I'll rework the stitches though, so that they appear more realistic.
    I didn't mean the stitches, but the fact that all the cuts (as in the pieces of her body) are pretty much perfectly square and straight in shapes.

    Anyway, I heartily suggest you to try out any idea you get for this character!

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