Robot Evolution

I got a little sidetracked with the last post but I hope you don't mind. Just like a director might do research for his film by watching other movies or looking at certain illustrators or photographers, I'll give you the DVD-behind-the-scenes-making-of-featurette to everything I'm digging into as I work on ONE. In some small way, I'm sure it all works itself into the final product. But I'll try to keep the occassional digressions entertaining with the inclusion of some pretty pictures.

Alright, back to work...

So once the robot idea emerged, I wanted to flesh out the design. Here's my first stab at him:

So far, so good. The Kirby-esque circuitry dots theme was moving in the right direction. And all that black makes him look kinda sleek (at least to me). So after performing a little Photoshop magic, here are two variations, all cleaned up and grayscaled.

As you can tell, the second cleaned-up robot has a few more circuitry dots thrown in. At first, I thought they made the design look too busy. But after going over it a few times (and showing it to my girlfriend), I think it's the better of the two. Considering that the robot is pretty much all black anyway, the dots make up for the lack of detail and add some texture. They also give the design that cool Kirby/Timm/DC animated cartoons/Dave Johnson feel.

Once I was done with these drawings, I went back to work on the final outline for the story. Most of the story was already cemented but I wanted to go back and nail down a few loose ends before putting more time on the drawing table (or my living room carpet, same difference). I'll drop a credit to my buddy Andre for being a good sounding board. We've been friends for a long time and his input on whatever I'm working on is always useful. Just like that episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where Picard and the Darmok talk in a language rooted in alien metaphor, Andre and I do the same thing but with movies, animation, comics, and video games.

I'm very much a visual learner so it was helpful to be able to stare at the the final robot and use the drawing as an anchor for the narrative. Sometimes that's all it takes. One solitary image can make the whole story come into focus.

But as I was looking at the robot, I came to a realization that he needed a face. A human face.

If the whole concept was based on one character performing one action, the audience would have to create some type of connection to the main character. I'm not talking about "feeling his pain;" I'm talking about being able to look at his face and see a pair of eyes, not a pair of dots (or a trio of dots, same difference). Taking into account the climax of ONE, I just felt that the dots don't allow for that connection to exist.

So it was back to the sketchpad.


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