Character Development

3 Sep 2016

It has been about a year since we came up with the Mad Scientist Cat comic at the 24hr Comic Day event (Oct 2015). While we knew straight away that this idea could go beyond just the event, we both were fairly sleep deprived at the time, we knew we’d need some creative space after the event to properly develop the comic.

At the event there was very little time to think about character development. We spent time after discussing, debating and fleshing out both the visuals and background information. This definitely has been the advantage of working on the comic in a big batch rather than as we go along, which I often have done for past webcomics.

The creative process isn’t always pretty and often fraught with imperfection. I thought i’d share some of that art side of that process.

Dr Mad original character design

This was the very first character concept that I did the day before the event just to give myself a reference.

Laugh (panel 1) character -original

Laugh” was the very first panel where all 3 characters appear. Originally Kit was drawn male. The head shapes weren’t very defined and I probably didn’t have much sleep at the time when doing these sketches.

Laugh (panel 1) character -original v2

Even during the event I think I realized that Kit’s head looked off so changed it at the time. Lolz.

Laugh (panel 1) character development - March 2016

Finally 4 months later I had chance to work on the outstanding scripts Kat had written during 24hrcd. I worked on sketches on and off for 2 months and naturally the shapes and proportions changed and developed as I drew the characters over and over.

It was important me to have a female character in the comic, Kit was the easiest to change. Kit’s character was the hardest for me to realise, but I finally settled on a smaller character.

Character colour test (may 2016)

Again due to work commitments and some side adventures learning to watercolour paint, me and Kat agreed it was time to go to the next step and start to draw up the comics properly. We had to decide whether or not to do the comic in line art, greyscale or colour. It was a tough call and really more down to how I felt going into the future. Ultimately I felt colour would be better as we’d talked about doing a print version, even though I knew that might be more work. To compromise I keep the strips quite simple in the backgrounds so to make the time more manageable.

I had vague ideas for colours, but i made a mistake not adding colour during the early character development. Normally I would do it straight away, but there was nothing normal about how 24hrcd. I was super keen for Dr. Mad to be an orange tabby. I studied images of cats and was disheartened that tabby cats have quite complex coat patterns. Most illustrators know that character has to be something that can be drawn quickly over and over again. So I nearly switched the coat pattern with Kit who appears less, but in the end i just couldn’t imagine Dr. Mad as anything but an orange tabby.

Laugh (panel 1) character final

And there we have it. The final image. While it’s easier to draw stubby round hands, in the end having fingers was easier for the strips in the long run, they hold a lot of things.

I’m sure that the charters will continue to change slightly over time… but I think it worked out best to escalate that initial development.

The “Laugh” comic actually was the very first completed inked and coloured comic as I wanted to use it as reference to ink & colour the rest! Completed in May 2016, only 7 months later lolz! I worked on and off on the rest and we were happy to say that the printed comic showed up yesterday!

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