Cartoon Character Development

I've wanted to make a children's story book for some time.  Right now I am in the process of defining a style and the level of detail for this particular project.  The plan is to used these characters in the future for animation. So, designing characters that are conducive to being "easily" rigged and animated is in the back of my mind as well.   I've been looking at different artist's styles to try and adopt something for my purposes (but that may be where I am going wrong).  The below Moses image I created is a result of taking design cues from physical puppets.  I like the lighting and the overall mood of the image. I also like the surface quality of the character and the rock, but I have not settled on the level of complexity of the character.  There are some elements that work, but it feels kind of generic to me right now.  I don't want to end up copying something that someone has already done, I would like to create something that has my individual style. (man...I sound like an art student...)  This image was modeled in Zbrush, rendered in Modo, edited in PS

So here is the next phase of concepts for the character designs. These sketches were created in Zbrush. For these characters I went from a simple 2d sketch I quickly scribbled in my notebook and tried to keep the overall shapes while adding detail and volume.  Translating a 2d sketch into 3d is interesting because it can be difficult to keep the gestural, loose nature of a sketch that gives it so much of its appeal and energy. Also, trying to make a nose that appears to lay flat to one side of a characters face in a 2d sketch doesn't really look that good from all angles on a 3d model.

This next iteration is taking the proportions to a more "normal" place...more normal than the last two cartoony images anyway.  My first inclination when sculpting is to be really detailed and add a lot of noise into a model.  Developing these models has been a bit of a challenge for me.  I think that is because I feel like I am trying to find that balance of real anatomy and detail for these cartoons while not making them look creepy. I have great respect for artist who can take a relatively "simple" design and inject massive amounts of detail and still keep it fun and appealing.  So I'm still working on striking that balance of subtlety and complexity.

Let me know what y'all think.  Leave me a comment or critique.  I really appreciate your feedback!


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