I recently had the opportunity to do a mascot design for The Salvation Army (TSA) Wardrobe line.
Fulton Hawk approached me a few months ago and invited me to participate with Wardrobe. So many other talented folks had made amazing contributions, so I was honored. The best part was, I could design something that was specifically my style. So, I decided to develop a character around one of TSA’s themes, “I’ll Fight”.
I love using the iPad with Dropbox to use with reference photos. You can’t beat it kids!
I watched a lot of Popeye cartoons (or as my son calls him PIEPIE…. mmmmm… pie) and studied WWII plane insignias. I also poured over loads of reference photos of TSA’s history, uniform design, symbols etc.. After drinking loads of coffee and reenacting scenes from Saving Private Ryan, I finally had enough direction to begin designing who this character would be.
Now, I have always believed that, as an artist, if you want to be better, you have to work with people that are better than you. You have to admire work that’s better than yours, and learn that everything is a step towards something better.
This is an example of some of the sketches I do, when trying to land on an idea.
After doing pages and pages of quick drawings, I finally landed on a pose that I felt worked really well. I liked the idea of some dude stepping out, rolling his sleeve up, and looking really pissy… like he was about to clobber the enemy. So, I did more sketches, and finally started to develop a clean pose. I thought this clean pose was “pretty awesome”.
I was wrong.
Now, even the crappiest, most terrible drawing I do is a step towards something better. I don’t know how LONG it takes to get to the “better” but most likely, I won’t draw that terrible ever again. I hope.
I have pre-conceived notions and bad habits when drawing that I constantly fight with. I’ll probably have them until the Terminators come and kill us all. The vacuum of drawing alone can really trick me into thinking I’m making progress, when in fact, I’m not. Drilling down into detail without paying much attention to the overall shape is a killer. Sometimes my brain races to finish the piping on a sleeve, without realizing the sleeve is coming out of my character’s butt. The more I draw, the quicker I realize bad habits, and the tricks and lessons I’ve learned to overcome them. This is why I draw a lot.
Todd really helped me understand how to build rhythm and flow into my characters. The man is brilliant.
Twitter has allowed me to encounter other artists that I normally would never have the opportunity to meet. One of the best artists I have met is Todd Bright. I have a lot of respect for Todd, and knew a critique of my drawings from him would certainly benefit the progression of this character design. I was right. He actually took time to draw over my drawings, showing me where weaknesses were, and how to improve the underlying shapes. He took my overly stiff design, and really made it come to life. I owe a lot of this character’s final design to him, and appreciate the lessons learned.
The evolution of design from sketch to final production art.
I’m excited to have been able to participate with The Salvation Army, and design something that I am proud of.
Buy your Major Joe T-Shirts via Merchline. Rad!
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