To be honest, I find model sheets kind of boring to do, but I'm also the first person to argue when working in a studio that they are absolutely necessary. So although I've been dragging my heels regarding my graphic novel characters, sets and props, I decided this week it was time to bite the bullet and get going. To keep myself from being overwhelmed (there is a lot to design), I've decided to focus on the first three sequences. This character is in all three sequences and requires a different costume for each. Lucky for me, these three outfits show up frequently in the book (particularly the central robes as they are worn by various characters), so it's a great jumping off point.
I also thought I'd include a few thoughts/notes on how I approach character model sheets.
-I use animation paper for rotations, drawing each angle in the center of the page. That way I can flip the images and ensure that proportions are accurate. Good animation paper is also a bit translucent.
-I like to draw rotations nude... the characters, not me. Ha. Most characters will end up wearing more than one outfit and even if they don't, I want to know what's going on under that costume.
-I may not always draw a back and 3/4 angle, but if a character is going to be drawn several times, it's super important to do at least a profile and front view. Nothing drives me more crazy than character designs that no one bothers to design a profile for.
-I always do the rotation in a neutral pose. There is nothing more time consuming (and not that important) than drawing a character rotation in a complicated expressive pose. Plus, expressive poses can sometimes hide flaws in the design. If I can draw the character in the boring neutral pose and the design still says something about the character, I know I've got a design that works.
-For costume design, I do draw a more expressive pose that I'll use as a kind of "paper doll". It's not necessary, but the costume has a lot to do with personality, so I like some personality to be there. That said, it's also nice to have an uncomplicated 3/4ish pose, because that way you'll be able to see the most of the costume you are designing.
-When working on costume designs, I ask myself "Is this an outfit the character wants/likes to wear, or is this an outfit the character has to wear, like a uniform?" For example, the last costume in my line-up is an outfit I want the character to be comfortable in. The middle one, on the other hand, is something he dislikes wearing. I've tried to make it stiffer, heavier, more confining.
-I also like to think of costume design like a wardrobe. I want to think of the outfits as having pieces I might mix and match as the book goes on, to give the feeling that this is a real person who owns a bunch of real clothes. For instance, the first outfit has a long vest-jacket that could be worn with the last outfit. The boots could also be swapped.
-When it comes to colour, I like each outfit to have a colour theme and be cohesive. Ultimately, this character will be just one element in a drawing with many others, I don't want it to get too distracting.