Jan 27 2009

Care to offer some stylistic feedback?

Thanks, I’d really appreciate it.  Right now, the main thing I’m working on is character-design, specifically a mutant alligator that’s pretty much the Hobbes in a Calvin & Hobbes comic duo.

What do you think?  I have a few observations…

  • The eyes are still a problem.  They’re still too large relative to the rest of the head.  Also, the eyes are angled poorly, but that’s a temporary problem caused by my jury-rigging.
  • I like the new teeth, nostrils and snout.  He’s much more recognizable as an alligator.  The original version looks almost like an ape of some sort.
  • I suspect that the character’s expressions will give him the ability to show a wide range of emotions.  The main emotion I’m worried about now is “generically happy.”  Can he do a regular smile well, or will it look like a freakshow?  (On the left, he’s smiling nervously and I’m not sure what the right one is doing).
  • The sunglasses may be a liability.  They make it harder to show what the character is feeling and exacerbate the problem of the oversized eyes.  It would probably be easier for me to get rid of the glasses early on and reintroduce them in the Matrix scene.
  • The new snout protrudes more.  If we do a side-profile, it might look weird because his jaw will extend further than a human’s would.  I think it would also limit our ability to have him turning his head, because a shot like this would probably look really awkward.

17 responses so far

17 Responses to “Care to offer some stylistic feedback?”

  1. Ragged Boyon 27 Jan 2009 at 5:12 am

    I think you could do some hooding on his eyes and cut them down by 20-30%. I don’t know, but I think something on the top of his head would help him. I’m not feeling the bald look. Maybe spikes?

  2. B. Macon 27 Jan 2009 at 6:10 am

    What do you mean by hooding his eyes?

    Hmm, I agree that spikes might help. (Or horns, which are the same thing, right?) We used horns and fins in one version of the character, here. My main problem with the fins was that they look weird in straight-on shots. Admittedly, those don’t come up very often, but even so I’d like to keep the option.


    Agent Orange by ~superheronation on deviantART

  3. Ragged Boyon 27 Jan 2009 at 9:10 am

    I think “hooded eyes” is fashion terminology, it mean the eyelids slightly overlap the eye. It basically takes away from the size of the eye, which is a bad thing in fashion, but would be good here. Although, it would detract from his yuppy appearance (because it would get rid of the roundness of his eye) and give him a slightly more serious face. I’m having a difficult time explaining this. It kind of looks like…ahhh…I can’t come up with anything.

    Now, he looks too surprised or too botoxed.

  4. Ragged Boyon 27 Jan 2009 at 9:13 am

    I guess what I’m trying, very fruitlessly, to tell you is to maybe add eyelids to detract from the roundness and largeness of his eyes, and give him a slightly more serious look.

  5. B. Macon 27 Jan 2009 at 10:59 am

    Hmm, now that you mention it, his eyelids are drastically larger in the serious version (the one with horns and the dino-mohawk) than the comic versions. I’ll ask my artist what he thinks about using eyelids to make the eyes smaller.

  6. Holliequon 27 Jan 2009 at 12:17 pm

    What about the eyes themselves? They seem too human to me. I expect an alligator’s eyes to look more like this: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2050/2210673867_17e4da8c03.jpg.

    The two teeth overlapping the jaw also look a little strange to me – I guess it seems a bit too dragon/snake-like. I’d recommend either more teeth like that or none at all.

  7. Ragged Boyon 27 Jan 2009 at 2:43 pm

    I thought the difference between crocs and gators was that crocs teeth were visible from the outside and gators aren’t, but I could have it backwards.

  8. B. Macon 27 Jan 2009 at 5:05 pm

    When a crocodile closes its mouth, both its upper and lower teeth hang out of its mouth. In my opinion, that looks very sinister.


    When an alligator closes its mouth, just the upper teeth hang out.

  9. B. Macon 27 Jan 2009 at 5:44 pm

    I’m not sure about going real reptilian with the eyes. For one, the eyes will probably need to be drastically taller (proportionally) than a regular reptile’s eyes because a real alligator’s head is flat and not very tall.

  10. Ragged Boyon 28 Jan 2009 at 5:00 am

    I think those are a little too small and evil looking.

  11. B. Macon 28 Jan 2009 at 5:16 am

    I agree wholeheartedly. We tried a more colorful take on reptilian eyes here, and made them blue to make them more cheerful. It turned out better, but I still have some reservations.

  12. Anonymouson 28 Jan 2009 at 11:17 am

    I don’t think alligators have eyelids.

  13. B. Macon 28 Jan 2009 at 11:48 am

    I’m pretty flexible when it comes to adapting this alligator for the story. We can justify pretty much any stylistic change by saying that “the mutagen did it.” For example, I’m pretty sure we’ll end up tweaking the eyes to make him look more likable.

    That said, I think alligators actually have two sets of eyelids, one clear set for underwater and an opaque set for on land. But I’m not sure. The New York Times claims they have three sets.

  14. Anonymouson 31 Jan 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Of course, you’re right. Here’s another link.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jimaustin/3012865802/

    Not sure how to make it clicky.

    I was thinking of the fact that snakes can’t blink. My bad, sorry.

  15. Anonymouson 31 Jan 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Oh, the link is clicky… cool

  16. Anonymouson 21 Aug 2010 at 10:10 am

    I think the shape of the head could be worked more to look “gator-ish”. It is still a little too round for me. Also, if you do use sunglasses, the bridge ought to be wider to fit his snout.

    http://www.imdb.com/media/rm2982120960/ch0171517

    In Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog,” the character Louis still has a very reptilian head, but stylized enough to be non-threatening. Also, a little chubby, but that’s the character. Observe the very triangular shaped head, and the protruding ridges of the eyes.

  17. B. Macon 21 Aug 2010 at 12:49 pm

    Thanks for the input! I eventually switched artists and Rebecca came up with this.

    My target audience is high school and college-aged readers (and the character is a fair bit more violent than Louis), so I think the Louis style might be a bit too cuddly.


    Agent Orange with bulletproof vest

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