Character Design Challenge is a monthly challenge hosted by Character Design Quarterly and is open to all artists interested in working on the prompt to show off their design skills. Each month applicants must work to a keyword or phrase and are expected to show 1 single character as the main focus but a few more are allowed to help push that character forward but can not draw attention from an obvious subject.
This months theme was “Hawaiian Dancer” and since I’ve finally got the spare time to work on a personal project this has slipped smoothly into my schedule, though after working so hard to finish my work for university recently I’m feeling pretty creatively drained. At the time I happened to be in an art block and found it hard to create a captivating design as well as composition, all my drafts felt empty and cold. In this post, I will be reviewing the design I contributed and explaining why I think it is bad and how I could change it or re-make something more captivating in the future.
The Dreaming Hula girl was a character inspired mainly by the elder dancers from the 2002 Disney film “Lilo & Stitch” as their design is what comes to mind whenever I think of a Hawaiian dancer. Their grass wrist and foot bands to match their head, neck and skirt fit in seamlessly with the younger dancers, but the white tops add an elegance the children lack.
Though their designs sport the large leaves I found them too tricky to get the right movement in my design so I decided to use a traditional dry grass skirt design with some green leaves and grass to accessories in ode to the Disney design. I wanted to include a giant jellyfish in this piece as I had recently seen one in a news article and was hoping to work one into an illustration soon, the idea of a hula dancer seems to remind me of a jellyfish in the way their skirts move.
When trying to draw the girl dancing in water I wanted her to appear limp as if the motion is unintentional as she falls down or is maybe hard to do from the weight of the water. Of course, the concept of dancing in the ocean with a giant jellyfish isn’t realistic so having this in a sort of dream-like state was the intent. The Jellyfish are designed in just 1 colour and have limited details as to not distract from the main focus of the illustration, that being the dancer herself.
Things I want to change
If I were to edit this final design to look better I would start with the hair as the details are unnatural and the way the hair moves doesn’t look realistic, instead it should be separated a bit more opposed to this spiral it sits in. The hair should spider away from the head but clumps can flow with the water, right now we can see from the grass skirt and accessories that there is somewhat of a flow of water that the hair should be following as it should blow out as if in a bubble and on the ends flow freely from the overall collection of hair.
My other major concerns with this design is the face and the choice of colour. The face is boring, the character shows no expression and this was just out of laziness. From her eyes as they look away from anything in the image as her eye lids drop, to her mouth that is sealed shut as her face shows no sign of smile lines or other expression. To make her face more emotional I would have her looking at one of the jellyfish in amusement or bewilderment, wider eyes and a slightly opened mouth, maybe even a smile if she can manage one.
As for the colour of course there needs to be a blue overtone as they are underwater but the colours I chose are too cold and it’s hard to even tell her skin tone. To add some more life to this I could show more orange light coming through the surface of the water and highlighting parts of her and the jellyfish around her, to show a time of day I would add a slight gradient to the top of the illustration such as pink, purple and orange for a sunset.
What I think would be the best option for this illustration however would be to start from scratch as there is too much about this piece I dislike or find doesn’t show my true skills. The anatomy is wrong in a few ways and the pose is too straight forward and basic, it’s almost impossible to make it entertaining. The colour palette is an eye sore and adds to the draining of emotion from the design, overall I struggle to see any personality from the character of from myself as the artist. I had an intent for some of the design but by the end of it the intent is gone and what’s left is a boring and cold illustration that doesn’t spark joy or interest to myself.
I am proud of overcoming my creative rut at the time to finish this piece however, I am not proud of the piece itself. Although the activity was enjoyable at the time and I can better use this experience to quickly move on to better projects after analysing all my errors and coming up with creative solutions.
Attached are some alternative concepts that would be more appealing to the composition.
Kozera, M. (2017). Tarot. [image] Available at: https://www.behance.net/gallery/57801609/Character-Design-Challenges-2017 [Accessed 19 Aug. 2019].
Lilo & Stitch. (2002). [DVD] Directed by C. Sanders and D. DeBlois. Disney.
Wuestling, J. (2019). Hippy. [image] Available at: https://app.artstation.com/artwork/QJ2Q3 [Accessed 18 Aug. 2019].