Sunday, October 01, 2006

Getting Inside A Character

We are have lots of fun here at TallGrassRadio. Marty is doing a personal project exploring the humorous side of a classic children's fable The Fox and the Grapes.

Here are some early character sketches captured during one of our story planning sessions.

Marty is always sketching out ideas while he is thinking. It is all part of his process of getting inside a new character. He begins with rough gestural thumbnails and tries to make an emotional connection. I'm often amazed at how many people think that they need to jump right into a series of finished colored models as the first step in developing a new character. That certainly is one approach, but Marty and I both seem to follow the school of thought that we have to have an internal connection with a new character and really understand them from the inside before we can evolve them from the outside.

So the first part of developing the latest star of a small screen cartoon is the process of virtually climbing inside the character and getting to know how it feels to be that character. How do they think? How do they act and react? And, how do they move?

This approach of making a personal connection allows the artist to craft their pending performance much the same as an actor would research a character for a part in a movie or a play. The old expression of "getting into character" is every bit as valid for a cartoonist as it is for any theatrical performer.

The vocal aspects of a characterization are as important as the visual aspects. Ideally the voice actor cast for a character will not only provide terrific personality in their vocals but they will also provide inspiration that translates into the look and mannerisms of that character.

Marty not only gets the chance to be inside the character visually, but in the Fox and the Grapes he is creating his own vocals. We worry sometimes if he may get lost inside one of these characters and not be able to find his way out. We recently began voice casting for Agile and Fatz a pair of lovable bugs who star in a new series we have been developing.

These are characters with whom we are very familiar as we have been working with them for the last six months, so it is interesting as we work on their voices how much fun it is trying to convert how we have imagined them sounding into a reality.

There are so many factors that enter into character development but the most important lesson we have learned is characters evolve from the inside out. All the initial sketches in the world aren't nearly as revealing about a character as the ones that evolve as the cartoonist takes on that character's personality. Initial sketches and even early models are important but my favorite character development expression is "you got to get to know them if you really want to grow them."


Post a Comment

<< Home