This is the very early part of the process where I begin designing the characters based off the rough outline I have for the story. I usually write the story in conjunction with the design/illustration phase because they feed off each other so well. The raw idea sometimes comes from an image or a drawing of a single character or it can come from a single sentence, or verbal conceptual idea. The writing then instructs the drawing and the drawing feeds back and instructs the writing. I suppose this is the benefit of being the writer and the illustrator as usually the writing is completed and illustrations are filled in after the fact; however, this can pose a challenge as well being that the writing is not in stone and allows for much variation and meandering. I think the visual aspect of illustrated stories (hence being illustrated and not novels or short stories) plays a stronger role than many give it credit and needs to inform the very construction of the story.
Here are the first few pages of the Captain character. Like I said in my previous post, this story has some of the same themes as “The Island and the Plough.” The main characters are going through a similar sort of learning, exploring the world around them, but yet have a bit more wisdom than the naysayer villagers. That said, he needs to be reminiscent of a boat captain, but not too stereotyped. He also needs to seem wise, but eager to learn anew as well. He is not hardened by the bitter landscape or the cynical villagers so his face needs to be somewhat kind. I fear already that he begins to look much like the character from “The Island and the Plough” so it may be that the beard needs to go. This is one of the most fun parts of the design phase, but can also be fairly frustrating. These are just four of the twenty plus character pages I have done for him. If the “what I think I want” phase does not work, then I often go in a radically different direction, maybe tall and thin, or short and beardless, perhaps younger even and begin to veer far away from what I had originally envisioned. That type of process usually helps to refocus what is working, what is not, to bring a vision of it I may have yet thought of but also help show me from what to stay away.
I will post some concepts of the village and landscape next.