Sometimes you can get obsessed by a drawing, especially if you were mentioned in a podcast (Art & Story Extreme!!) by one of the people you’re trying to immortalize as a cartoon character. No pressure, though.
Today I wanted to make a better cartoon character version of Mark, somewhat closer to the Asterix and Obelix universe. I tried all kinds of things, even removing the perspective from the reference photo. Although it was interesting to know how you can visualize a head inside a cube, and how perspective works, it didn’t help me create a better cartoon version of Mark.
So I drew several versions of the reference photo, until I found one that came pretty close. A bit frustrated by the lack of progress, I took a short break, and from across the room I saw the sketches on a piece of paper. Because I looked at it from an angle, the flat paper was foreshortened. From afar and in that perspective view, that version looked much better.
I tried to recreate what I saw with an image editor (GIMP), by distorting the scanned sketch with the perspective tool. This tool presents you with four corners on your image. Dragging the corners distorts the pixels into some kind of perspective view. Like this.
The upper sketch is the distorted version, and the lower the original. I guess the perspective tool can be useful at times.
The widest part of the face is halfway the nose, and the eyes are somewhat smaller and closer together. This means the lower part of the face has to become bigger, while the relative amount of area of the upper part shrinks.
I tried to incorporate that observation into a cartoon face, and after several attempts, I settled on this face. It isn’t entirely what I wanted, but it’s pretty close. It still has to be reworked into the style of Asterix and Obelix (drawn by Albert Uderzo), and then Mark has to change into a dog, which should look like Mark if he were a dog.
Integrating the features into a new character and still have some resemblance with the original means you have to keep looking at your reference material, while stylizing the drawing at the same time. Unfortunately I can’t describe it better than this: stare at reference photo, visualize the stylized version (using the rules of thumb you established), start drawing, and hope for the best. This drawing was the sixth attempt. I have never done this before, and I guess it will get easier with practice.
I’ve spent around five hours of my life on these sketches. It can be frustrating at times, so you have to really do have to like it to keep going.
I think I should use different reference material, because it’s hard for me to get any more out of the one fuzzy photo I used. On Art & Story Video there are some videos with Mark and Jerzy, which I going to watch for reference.
More to follow in part 3.