I realize I have not posted a lot of useful info on how the characters were designed so I thought I would use Blackie and show how I am making this new character. I have some great information on Blackie’s character and habits from Jack. Reading through the material gave me quite a vivid glimpse at life in Blackie’s household. I have read it a few times and I am just imagining all sorts of ways to illustrate it on the book-and actually I have to step back because with the clarity of blackie’s personality I end up thinking of it too much that the story deviates to become too focused on him. Kind of like when I was developing the book and I had a clearer image of the parents than of the kids-and I think that reflected on the initial artwork where 50% of the pages were shared with the parents. As it went on the parents took a backseat and the focus moved back to the kids.
So back to the design, part of info I have from Jack is that Blackie was a mix of lab and chow chow. Like I said I do not have a lot of knowledge on dogs so I went out to draw a few dogs of these two breeds. I am focused on the head and neck area only since the only pics of blackie that I have are older and I may have to draw the body based on that and just younger. I have been drawing dogs for the last few days and here are some of the ones I have focusing on the lab+chow mix:
Some of the benefits of this exercise: my hand and eyes get trained on the real thing-even before I start cartooning I feel it is important to draw from reality so as to build the cartoon out of. By cartooning I mean simplifying the original image into the artwork to be used. By drawing various profiles and angles I can equip myself with tools to do this in whatever view I need later on.
For the chow I learned the volume of his mane in relation to the actual head structure, shape of his ears, profile of his snout, folds around the eyes and distance of ears in relation to the center of his face.
Lab is obviously very different. More depth of the snout,length a bit longer. Ears are triangular and flap down with a particular bend and angle based on where the top corner of the ear is. A typical valley on the top of the skull and an often clear valley at the temple. Eyes are often serene looking. The mouth flaps down as is typical but somehow looks quite distinct and gentlemanly. The necks for both breeds are shorter than what I have been designing for.
I will probably keep drawing for a little more on these two breeds and intermittently sketch some concepts for Blackie (as in Blackie in the book-I think I will just keep the name) Will post any interesting concepts as they come.