These are a few of my initial idea sketches for characters before I settled on the Lightning In A Bottle story... As you can see, they're not very good. Due to struggling to find the perfect narrative, I was also finding it difficult to find the right focus for my character, which led to me just scribbling down and playing with any idea that came to mid, no matter how vague or ill-formed.
Going back to the basics, I started by thinking primarily of eye and body shape, as I feel those are two of the most important aspects to character design. Eye shape is especially important to me as eyes are the windows to the soul, and if I want to breath life into my character, it's essential I draw her with the perfect eyes so the audience can connect to her through them. Face shape is also important to consider, but I often find that once I get the eyes right the face follows naturally afterwards. I know I want my character to have large, expressive eyes so I convey maximum emotion through them with ease, but if possible I'd like to stray away from the standard circular/oval eyes I usually do... In order to develop my skills as a character designer I need to push myself to experiment in order to ensure I don't wind up drawing all my character looking the same. I'm sure there must be a way to draw large, round, cute eyes without them looking identical to all my previous characters, which is why I've been testing out squashed ovals and tear-shapes.
Body proportions are something I need to be especially careful about, as I learnt the hard way from Specialist Study 1 that the big head/tiny body proportions I usually use have severe limitations when it comes to movement and the readability of poses. My character from SS1 achieved my goal of being cute and comedic, but due to her tiny body size and her very short arms, I found it difficult to convincingly exaggerate her actions as she was fighting her hair without being too cartoony, and as a result if I was to play her entire animation in silhouette, as lot of her poses would be impossible to read as everything overlaps into one shape. Since I intend for this film to have much more varied movement and action, I need a character with more elongated body proportions, longer arms, and most importantly, actual hands. She needs hands with digits that can articulate.
These particular experiments I'm not keen on, as I think I went a little overboard trying to elongate the body proportions, making her too tall. She now appears much older than I intended, possibly more like a teenager... I still need by character to look small and young enough for the lightning in a bottle story to be believable. Plus those face sketches looks horrendous, far too alien and not cute at all. I like the idea of her cheek sticking out slightly from her far eye in 3/4 view though... I think it gives he face a nicely defined shape with a little more depth.
These sketches are a bit of a throwback to my SS1 character designs I think... Far too melancholy and emo looking for the bright adventurous girl I now have in mind. Drawing her with straight hair has also made me realise that she looks far too plain and typical... I think my character needs to look a little on the wild side in order to make her desire to risk her life trying to catch lightning in a bottle convincing.