Monday, 12 October 2009

Character Design: the usual

No drawings as predicted on Friday unfortunately but in reality it probably wasn’t going to happen anyway because I need to have some idea as to who my characters are before I’m able to start drawing anything and at this point I have no idea who my characters are. The biggest challenge I feel for me is how I’m going to make clear distinctions between the three archetypes and it’s something I’ve been pondering quite hard about these past days. Possibly too hard because I feel like I’m being a bit dense on the matter and there’s probably an easy to solution to this problem.

Forgetting about the mechanical aspect for a moment, firstly I think there’s key stuff that I need to set in stone. It’s important that the characters are fairly young, 19-21ish, basically young adults because that’s the age of the people Ellis tends to write about and it’s a key aspect that will make my characters unique and distinctive.

The problem with having the Hero, Villain and Sidekick archetypes and taking influence from Bret Easton Ellis is that these archetypes rarely exist in his novels. I’ll use Less than Zero as an example. The film version of Less Than Zero is fairly conventional Hollywood watered down schlock. Clay is a good-guy, he’s handsome, friendly, polite and he makes a big effort to save Julian from the bad crowd. In the book it’s completely different. Clay isn’t a ‘hero’, far from it. Though I’d say he is less morally bankrupt than the other characters, he still doesn’t really give a shit. There’s a part that isn’t in the film where a teenage girl is being raped and Clay just sort of ignores it. In the book he just leaves Julian to his fate and doesn’t look back.

The final scene where Amber Heard’s character is sunbathing on the beach, dying of AIDS (depressing no?) and not really caring that much captures the empty feeling quite well. Even though the film was completely and utterly panned by everyone because of this emptiness, it’s why I personally think The Informers works well as a Bret Easton Ellis film and it’s full of similar moments. In this project I don’t have go too in-depth about character back-stories and stuff. I’m presenting my characters from a visual stand-point but it really is something I want to get across to the viewer.

So where do I start? The only thing I really know is that the characters are all similar age. I think the villain character will be the most conventional and easiest to plan because even if there aren’t heroes in Bret Easton Ellis novels there certainly are bad-guys that’s for sure hoo boy. More to come I hope because I’m getting the feeling this project is slightly slipping away from me at this point in time before I know I’ll be turning up on crit day wearing just my red polka dot underwear wondering what exactly happened.


Justin Wyatt said...

Hi Tom,
Well its good you are considering the backgrounds of these characters. Since the villain may be an easier character to grasp, perhaps you should start with them. I wouldnt worry if you have to redefine what a hero may be - Obviously the direction you are going is not entirely typical. Since the characters are of a similar age, costume/props will play an important role in making these characters distinctive - adding mechanical parts etc will obviously help as well if you go in that direction. Since this is a very visual medium, a film or book can be a lot more subtle about characters inner feelings, emotions and roles, so you need to think about pushing these elements so that the characters can be read easily. Strong character design can tell the audience everything they need to understand, just from a single drawing. Anyway, my advice would be just to start sketching and throw around some ideas. You may even surprise yourself