Thursday, June 20, 2013

What if I'd drawn ... Paddington?

Alternate Title 2: Icons of My Childhood
Alternate Title 3: Score, Paddington-1, Illustrator-0.
Alternate Title 4: A Journey in Character Development 

The idea for this project, when I began with Babar, was to play with character development. I wanted to approach the titans of my childhood as I would a book project I'd received. A bit of description from the publisher, a raw manuscript, and Go! Develop our character! 

April was my last post--there were things happening in May I knew would keep me from posting--but in the time passed I've been sketching Paddington. Roughing him. Playing with him. What would my Paddington look like? (As always, click the images to see them bigger.)

The final version.

I tackled him after Babar because I figured he'd be easy (easier than, say, a Pooh, or a Cat in the Hat). Turns out, he meant a LOT to me as a kid, was there in a time I needed him, and so--not to drag it out--I found myself pushing aside the cobwebs of memory and experience to forge my version of him. Here's who the character is to me.

He's a mess. His big hat and coat surround him, creating a physical barrier to protect this kind hearted fellow who is finding family after losing his own.

My style is a little more angular than I felt appropriate, so I rounded out the corners a bit to carry his personality.

I saw something I was looking for here.

This is the sort of journey in character development some characters take me on. Many times, the primary character gets the attention from the development team at the publishing house. Jacob Wonderbar went through a few versions, as did the main character, Chip, in The Incredible Rockhead. Secondary characters get love, but they will generally only go through a couple of approvals. Paddington took me for a ride.

Really, really soft style.

The back story of the creation of Michael Bond's brilliant character adds extra layers to the him. (He wrote the first book in ten days!?) I read it again during while working on it. It is still something special. (It is out of print now?)

This guy. I like him. But you put a hat on him...

... he looks like a panda.

Character development is following paths, grabbing the hand of an idea and seeing where it takes you. Sometimes you end up at a dead end and you have to turn around. I step away and take a day or two, let my brain percolate on it. I will often then push the character through extremes.

Taller, sporting a more "Peru" hat.
(For the record, bears from Peru are mostly black.)

Polar opposite of above : simplified "barrel shape."

Simplified cuteness.

Thumbnails of a couple of compositions.


ren said...

apparently, you and i had similar reading lists as a child, and i look forward to seeing if they continue. your paddington is lovely, and i really like the variations as well (i am partial to the "simplified cuteness" version). yay for paddington!

Amanda Sorenson said...

I loved seeing the progression of Paddington. Very fun! Actually I love all your work!