Step five…the modular, moveable character
Chimp is a character within a children’s book therefore he/she is an actor. Chimp must express emotion, gesture and story. I want this character to stay true to the Charley Harper style that inspired him/her in the first place. The tiniest movement of a line (path), the smallest positioning of a shape, the slight alteration of a value or color will make all the difference in the audience’s reaction and engagement.
With the front view of the chimp’s face designed, I make measurement guides (to keep proportions correct) and build a couple more point-of-views for the head.
The head is not finished yet, but it is far enough along that I can leave it and start working on the body. I’m not sure what all the poses will be for Chimp, so I read the manuscript and pick out a few poses that will most likely be used. I sculpt the character directly in Illustrator. This approach may not work for all styles, but for my Charley Harper style I think it works. And besides I am truly enjoying the 2-D sculpting process.
In the photographs that follow you can see a variety of poses for Chimp. You also see the character’s inside structure. The character is modularly built from a series of shapes that mimic the skeletal/muscular system. He/she even has joints (usually circles). Anytime I want Chimp to raise an arm or point a finger, I select the body parts needed and rotate them into position. In many ways I am a puppet master. In fact the idea to work this way started by looking at jointed paper puppets, the ones that often use metal paper fasteners for joints.