Jack O – 2 Heads Version (Round)

In college I had the opportunity to hear several animation industry types discuss character design. During the presentation, Doug Tennapel (Earthwork Jim, The Neverhood, Tommysaurus Rex, Earthboy Jacobus, Bad Island, Iron West) was showing a sketchbook filled with character designs for a proposed animation project that never materialized on screen but eventually became the basis for his graphic novel Creature Tech. One thing he stressed was that it was the job of the designer was to think through every possible difficulty or question that an animator might encounter in the process of animating a character. To demonstrate his point, his sketchbook was filled with page after page of the same heads, refining and exploring the shapes involved to maximize its “animatability”.

I’ll keep on posting designs of Jack O to demonstrate the thought process involved in his creation and development. This version is a 2 heads version incorporating a round head and a pudgy body like that of a 1-year-old. The head is a rounded octagon and most of the shapes and corners are also rounded to create an innocent, friendly appearance. Characters like Casper the Friendly Ghost share similar designs.

Using “heads” as a measuring device is common in figure drawing, comics, and animation. In Anime and Manga, “Chibi” characters are usually 2 heads tall to create cute and comedic versions of normally proportioned characters. The key to using this design convention is in remembering that fewer “heads” equates to less height for the body (since one of the heads will be the actual head of the character. This results in a younger, cuter look (babies have larger heads in proportion to their bodies). More heads begins to age the character. Seven eight heads creates superheroic proportions and anything higher emphasizes strength (often minimizing apparent intelligence) and eventually monstrosity or absurdity.


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