I explain how I illustrated and developed Stanley & Jim as characters and my thought process behind it.
When it came to developing Stanley and Jim, I was given an excerpt from Karen where I broke it down into keywords that would become the traits and attributes that create the character.
For Stanley, it was about the “life of ease”, “crackers and cheese” indicating Stanley was a sheltered mouse with everything handed to him on a plate. I then explored different outfits, facial expressions and body language that would express his personality and my interpretation of him. For example, as I see Stanley as more simple-minded, enjoying the luxury of life, I kept him to a “vacation/holiday” look with neat skin giving symbolism into how he has the luxury to live the way he lives on the seashore. I would reference domesticated mouses and also pull from my observations of different character stereotypes, archetypes and real-life people to establish Stanley’s character.
Similar to Stanley, Shona was given an excerpt from the script of the story to intercept the character design for Jim. She first broke down the paragraph into traits and attributes – For Jim, it was his “golden teeth”, “swagger”, “love for treasure hunts”, these are some of the words that helped me to establish Jim’s character as honest, wild, adventurous, resourceful and daring. For references, I looked up more wild mice and extroverted archetypes and stereotypes as well as looked at real-life people which influenced my choice for Jim to have open body language, less reserved facial expressions and clothing that was ragged and outspoken.
Once I had developed the character blueprints, I started drawing sketches based on the story’s script. Using Google Suite, I collaborated with Karen together on how to best represent the script’s description with the visuals. There was no fluffy idea on how to present the script, it was keeping it simple and easy to understand as it is a children’s book. Once the storyboards were approved, part of my style was that she would go over it in linework style. At the time, the style was established from the character blueprints for Stanley and Jim, Karen was looking for an immersive adventure for Children hence the bold style I had at the time worked perfectly for the picture book. From there, I coloured the linework with a mix of clipping masks and combination of soft/hard brushes to complete the illustration.
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