These first four drawings are by Tom Bancroft. I asked him to just dive in and give me some quick new interpretations of the characters, with very little backstory of explanation beyond the animatic. There was some initial confusion about the boy and girls relationship to one another (they are of two different races, he assumed they were brother and sister, there was confusion, etc.) Some of his notes in general on my previous versions were:
I think you have some fun stuff going on in your character designs. Like I said, they aren’t broken, but they can always be improved. In general, my thoughts are that you have some sizing and age problems. The boy should be older and a bit taller and the little girl (since she is sucking on a pappy) should be smaller and more baby like in her design and sizing. Likewise, I thought the hippo could be a little smaller too, but that is up to you since there are scenes where he needs to lift them. He’s more flexible. My rough sketches were trying to stay within your general style/ shapes but I was looking for ways to push the shapes a bit more so you can get less generic characters. Especially the size differences between the head and body…
Having Tom say something like “they aren’t broken, but they can always be improved” is just about the highest praise you could hope for in my situation.
Based on some further conversation I took a stab at doing as many (I was shooting for 150, got 40) new drawings based on changes inspired by his sketches. I pushed some things back in the direction of my originals, but it was tremendously helpful to have is drawings to look at as I moved forward. It really freed me up to lean on his expertise as i figured out how to pose and get expressions from my characters.
Tom’s initial response to these new designs —
“You’ve done a really good job getting these three main characters in some fun poses and expressions.”
I’ll continue more with his notes and draw overs in another post.